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No secret: 3 reasons to share your startup idea


by Roger Pierce

Do you believe that good ideas are a dime a dozen? Or you do think the power and originality of your business idea will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams?

Here’s an eye opener: your idea is worthless – and here’s why:

  • With over 7 billion people on the planet, chances are good that someone somewhere has the same idea.
  • Execution is what makes an idea valuable – not the idea itself. The world is full of poor dreamers with brilliant ideas that never see action.

So if you can wrap your head around both of these hard-to-swallow points, then you should be able to subscribe to the notion that keeping your idea to yourself isn’t in your best interest.

Here are three reasons why you should share your business idea.

1. You’ll enjoy feedback

Contacting potential customers, industry insiders and other entrepreneurs who are already in the marketplace can help you get a feel for how your business idea might perform in the real world outside your head. Use their comments and suggestions to improve your idea, shape it and sharpen it. As a result of feedback your ida will emerge stronger, which makes it more likely to succeed given proper execution.

Professionals such as lawyers, accountants and small business advisors – anyone who has worked with a number of businesses -- can also supply valuable feedback.

If you are worried about someone stealing your billion-dollar idea, you can try to protect it by attaching a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed by the reviewing party.

Caution: be prepared to receive negative feedback. Don't get defensive about your idea because you can elect to accept reviewer feedback or reject it and plough ahead anyway, as so many entrepreneurs stubbornly do.

2. People will help you to launch your idea

Sharing your idea with others is more likely to make your idea a reality when people step up to help you. Assistance may come in several forms:

  • Feedback to improve (or abandon) the idea, as discussed above.
  • Introductions to people willing to back your idea with money.
  • Marketing people interested in promoting your business once launched.
  • Employees or suppliers eager to work with you.
  • Introductions to professionals able to protect your idea (lawyers, accountants)
  • Advocates and advisors who want to see you and your idea succeed who are willing to share their network with you.
  • Potential customers who express interest in buying from you.

3. You’ll commit to your idea

Sharing your idea publicly commits you to doing it. Too often ideas rattle around in our heads for years without anyone else ever knowing what we are thinking about. By saying it, you’ll do it.

It’s kind of like committing to a weight-loss goal: you’re more likely to lose that extra 10 kilograms if you tell your friends and family you will start dieting and exercising immediately. Fear of public humiliation and disappointing personal community is a great motivator to follow through on individual promises.

And, finally, don’t worry too much about people ripping off your idea. Most people are too busy thinking about their own brilliant start-up idea to bother doing yours.

 

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

How to think like a leader


by Roger Pierce

BY ROGER PIERCE

Leadership is an intangible quality; it encompasses so many other traits – drive, communication skills and tenacity, to name a few – but it is more than that. Leadership (or lack thereof) can make or break a company, or an entrepreneur.

The good news is that leaders can be trained, and there are a number of skills you can foster that will position you as a true leader in your business and industry.

Think like a planner

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of planning. A good business plan can get you off on the right foot and is a key component to success. Beyond that, regular planning can help you anticipate future needs well before they arrive and stay ahead of the curve on industry trends.

There’s no need to keep your plan secret. Consider drafting and sharing a strong plan to make it much easier for your employees and colleagues to follow along and participate.

Think like a facilitator

As an entrepreneur, your job is to make your business plan a reality. That can often mean you’ll do much of the heavy lifting, especially in the early days, even as you should be thinking about how to execute the next step in your business plan.

Think of yourself as a facilitator. Try to avoid get caught up in routines or in doing it all on your own. Instead, step back and think, “What’s best for the business?” and then figure out how to make it happen. If outsourcing your manufacturing is best, you may want to facilitate a strategic partnership or hire a new employee to manage the production. If landing a marquee customer is what’s called for, consider spending some hands-on time supporting your sales department.

Think ahead and stay focused

It’s easier to reach your destination when you have an idea of where you’re going. Staying on top of the goals you've included in your business plan may stave off discouragement and help you and your business to avoid getting sidetracked.

Stay flexible, though. The business landscape is constantly changing, and you may find it necessary to alter your strategy in order to reach your goals. By regularly revising your business plan, taking into account market fluctuations, and working towards what is reasonably attainable, you’ll be able to give your business the guidance it needs.

Great leaders don’t just charge headlong into any opportunity that presents itself. They take the time to chart a course, facilitate creative ways for their organization to succeed, and change strategy when necessary. Hone these skills and you’re well on your way to leading your company to success.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Meeting with your accountant? It pays to prepare


by Roger Pierce

Taxes. - olde_scratch - Flickr
If you’ve decided to hire an accountant to prepare your business and personal tax returns this year, chances are the process will start with an appointment.

It’s an important meeting because you and your accountant have a lot to discuss, such as past year revenue, expenses, and any major purchases you might have made. Your accountant will also ask about your projections for next year and the general state of your business. Plus, you can expect to answer some questions about your household income and personal financial situation.

It’s an important meeting because of what’s on the line: taxes. Get it wrong and you may end up paying too much tax.

Keeping in mind that you and the tax preparer are both busy people, it makes sense to prepare as much as possible in advance of the meeting so you both maximize your time together.

Consider these suggestions.

1. Organize receipts. Handing over a shoebox full of messy receipts to your accountant to sort out is a waste of high-price talent. It's better to have your accountant spend their valuable time reviewing your numbers and recommending strategies to reduce your taxes.
 
Take the time to sort through your receipts before you see your accountant.
  • Ask your accountant to supply a list of receipt categories, such as Automobile Expenses or Office Supplies.
  • Write the name of each category on a large envelope and enclose the receipts.
  • Total the amount of all receipts for that expense category and write the number on the envelope.
  • Once you’ve done the same thing for all expense categories, summarize the numbers in a simple Excel spreadsheet – or better yet, enter them into accounting software such as Sage One. Bring that file to your accountant

2. Review last year’s tax return. Going over last year’s tax return before you meet with your accountant is a good way to check and see if you’ve forgotten to do anything to help prepare for this year’s tax preparation process.

3. Write down any questions. You likely won’t have much time in your meeting with the accountant, so come prepared with a list of questions or concerns. If possible, email your questions to your accountant in advance of your meeting so he or she has a chance to review them.

4. Make notes. During your meeting be sure to record answers to your prepared-in-advance questions. For example, you might want to ask your accountant if you can afford to hire additional help during the next fiscal year based on your finances. Careful notes can be used to guide your key decisions for the upcoming year.

A meeting with your accountant – in person, by telephone or online – is an important event. Even though you are paying your accountant a fee to prepare your tax returns, you’re the one who will prosper by coming to the meeting as prepared as possible.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Does your small business overspend in these areas?


by Roger Pierce

a new cause

What gets a small business in financial trouble?

Too much money leaving your business places uncessary stress on sales. Whatever you can do to reduce expenses will help to relieve that pressure and help your business to enjoy profitability.

Take a closer look at these reasons why a business overspends.

Lack of planning

Without a plan for the year, a business is vulnerable to the whims of the business owner and staff.

A business plan is essential to organize your team, your resources and your strategies. A plan is especially important if the business must achieve certain goals on a very limited budget. It can help your business to map out activities across marketing, finance, human resources operations and administration functions.

Without a plan, owners and employees may make costly and ineffective decisions -- like hiring a new employee when the existing team has capacity for extra work. Take the time to update your business plan and share it with your team.

No analytics

Management guru Peter Drucker said, “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.”

Small businesses must do what they can to capture and measure meaningful data across key performance areas – such as online marketing or social media. Decisions made without the insight of analytics can be costly, shot-in-the-dark mistakes.

For example, analytics can identify which marketing activities are contributing to revenue. Or which pages on your website are most popular. Explore online apps (like Google analytics for your website) or consider hiring a consultant to help you collect and interpret the results of your business activities.

Wrong fit supplier

Hiring the wrong supplier(s) can cost your business big time. The wrong-fit vendor can be expensive in less obvious ways if that supplier proves to be inexperienced, inefficient or even incompetent.

For example, to win your business a supplier may overstate their qualifications to perform a certain function or supply a particular service.

Take the time to investigate industry-leading suppliers for any product or service your business is looking to buy. Look closely at the past performance of that supplier and talk to other customers. Remember, the lowest-cost supplier is not always the best choice.

Paying suppliers too much

When’s the last time you conducted a supplier review?

An incumbent supplier may be taking advantage of your business and charging you more than competitive market rates for products, materials or services.

For example, very few small business owners shop commercial insurance rates because it’s too easy to just renew the same deal every year.

Conduct an annual review of your suppliers to make sure your business is enjoying competitive prices, great service and the kind of vendor relationship where you feel you have a partner willing to go an extra mile.

Working the numbers by yourself

The talents that brought you into business may not include financial management – and that’s okay. But it is important to work with someone who does understand financial management – someone who can specifically:

  • Prepare, review and interpret your financial statements to assess year-over-year performance.
  • Provide tax strategies to minimize tax liability.
  • Help your business to raise capital if required.

An accountant can provide all of this expertise and much more. No matter the size of your business, you will realize value by working with an accountant qualified to advise your business. Ask other business owners for a referral or search for an accountant or bookkeeper in your area. 

Checking your overspending isn’t something you do once. Make it a regular habit to review your expenses and spending policies and you will be creating a lean, profitable business.

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

6 habits to help small business owners succeed


by Roger Pierce

[5:52/44] inner light - light thru my lens - Flickr

ROGER PIERCE

The things we do repeatedly we will do increasingly well. Good habits, therefore, are the foundation to business success. Develop these habits and watch your business grow.

  1. Get to work early in the day. Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney, wakes up before dawn. Rising early gives you the chance to do your work before the rest of the world awakens to distract you. It will also allow you enough time to organize your day, get some exercise, or travel to wherever you need to be.
  2. Put first things first. In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey famously encouraged us to “put first things first.” Place your most important task or activity first in your daily schedule and get it done.
  3. Exercise daily. Exercise of any kind will help to improve your focus, give you more energy and boost your confidence. No time to hit the gym? Try a short 15-minute walk during your lunch break or a few push-ups in the morning after you roll out of bed.
  4. Place important calls before 9 a.m. Donald Trump likes to do his important telephone calls before the rush of the workday. Make your important calls before 9 a.m. to avoid gatekeepers and reach the decision maker directly.
  5. Recharge regularly. Playing hard should accompany working hard. Take a vacation and consider it an investment in your well-being. Your business will be better off as you return refreshed, relaxed and re-focused.
  6. Finish one thing at a time. Multi-tasking leads to burnout and poor focus. Tackle your task list one item at a time and finish each task that you start.

 

(Image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Small business lessons from David Bowie


by Roger Pierce

Blue David Bowie - Fridge Boy - Flickr
 
BY ROGER PIERCE
 
I think everyone who loves music felt a personal loss this week with the news of David Bowie’s death. He died on Sunday, January 10, 2016 in New York City.

His music touched us all in different ways. I remember roller skating to the Bowie/Queen hit “Under Pressure”. A few years later, I was the shy boy at the high school dance looking for a partner when the DJ played the hit single, “Let’s Dance.”

Although deeply saddened by death, there are many things we small business owners can learn from the life of rock star David Bowie.

Here’s four lessons I’ve learned from Mr. Bowie that may help your business.

1. Produce quality work

Few will argue that David Bowie produced amazing music (he was also an actor, painter and record producer to name a few of his other talents). From 1966 through 2016, David Bowie produced 25 studio albums – his most recent album, titled Blackstar, being released just two days before his death. His 111 singles included soulful tunes like “Absolute Beginners”, introspective songs such as "Sound And Vision", and toe-tapping dance-floor hits like “Modern Love”.

Similar to Bowie, the best way for a small business owner to succeed is to start by producing quality products or services. Gain the advantage of quality. Offer something people recognize as worthy of their time, money, or attention. It’s unlikely Bowie would have become a superstar without getting the basics right: creating music people liked.

2. Get noticed in a crowd

David Bowie made it his business to be memorable. He was a master at standing out in the crowd. Not your average rock star, he constantly changed his appearance on purpose. He was never boring! Over time his fans learned to expect change – and we loved every persona he inhabited – from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to the Thin White Duke. We paid attention to Bowie and bought his albums and attended his concerts.

Standing out from your competitors in order to win new customers (or fans) isn’t easy for small business owners who may lack the kind of creative genius inherent to the likes of David Bowie. But do try to make some commotion in your industry in order to attract some well-deserved attention to your business: launch creative promotions, hold customer parties, or give fantastic rewards. Like Bowie, being a bit outrageous never hurts.

3. Collaborate with other talent

David Bowie clearly enjoyed working with other singers and musicians. He sang duets with superstars Mick Jagger (“Dancing InThe Streets”), Tina Turner (“Tonight”) and belted out “Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy” with legendary Bing Crosby.

It’s easier (and way more fun) to work with other business owners to together build your collective fortunes. For a business owner collaboration may come in different forms:

  • Cross promoting two complementary businesses.
  • Teaming up to bid on a large project.
  • Entering a foreign market by working with a local partner.
  • Simply meeting with experienced business owners to learn from them.

Bowie obviously believed there was more success to gain and more fun to be had by making music with other talented people. You can too.

4. Follow your passion forever

As mentioned earlier in this article David Bowie released his final album Blackstar on Friday, January 8, 2016 – just two days before his death. That means he was still making music while battling cancer, a fight he endured for 18 months. Many fans today believe Bowie, recognizing the end of his life was near, intended to release the album as a final gift to his fans. It’s absolutely inspirational because it demonstrates how committed the man was to his craft and his passion.

Like Bowie, business owners should never stop doing what they love. Constantly creating new products, imagining fresh schemes, reaching out to new business partners or embarking on fresh challenges is the very essence of entrepreneurism. Be true to your inner rock star by always pursing your passion, no matter what that is.

 RIP David Bowie. And thank you.

(Photo image courtesy of Flickr)


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

Take a winter break from your business – and mean it


by Roger Pierce

Bahamas09_4078 - PADI Image Library - Flickr
If you have committed to a vacation this winter, congratulations! You have taken an important step toward building a healthy relationship with your business. For the sake of mental and physical health, it’s essential for busy entrepreneurs to step away from their businesses a few times each year.
 

But the hardest part of vacation is keeping it just that: a vacation. Sitting on a beach you may find it difficult to keep your mind focused on family fun instead of thinking about some business issue you forgot to deal with before you left, or one you’ll have to deal with when you return home.

Here are some ways to keep your mind from wandering back to the office while you’re on vacation.

Leave knowing your business is in good hands

A common worry for entrepreneurs on holiday is how their business is managing without them. While this concern is understandable, it may also be a symptom of a larger issue such as a lack of trust in your employees.

If you’ve properly invested in training your employees they should be more than capable of covering the work that needs to be done during your absence. Your vacation is a good opportunity to see how they handle the added responsibilities while you’re away. Take the time to properly prepare your staff before you leave, and once you go on vacation be confident that your business is in the right hands.

Really unplug

It’s not truly a vacation unless you’re taking a break from email and other digital devices. The easiest method to prevent work from consuming your holiday is to leave the laptops and mobile phones at home.

If you do need to bring your electronics with you, then set some boundaries such as:

  • Limiting laptop use to one hour in the morning,
  • Checking email on your smartphone only once a day, and
  • Never using your devices by the pool or beach or during an outing.

Say you’re away

It’s hard to keep your mind off work if you keep getting calls from your customers or employees. Tell everyone at the office not to contact you (except in an emergency situation – and define what that is) and feel free to politely inform customers of your vacation plans. People will be much less likely to get in touch if they know they’ll be interrupting your holidays, and fewer calls will mean fewer distractions.

Don’t let work eat into your precious vacation time. There are plenty of benefits to taking some time off but you risk returning from holidays just as tired as when you left unless you can free your mind from thinking about your business while you’re away.

(photo courtesy of Flickr)

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

New infographic! Why employees love working for start-ups


by Roger Pierce

With a limited budget but unlimited ambition, a small business can find it challenging to compete with the deep pockets of large companies in the battle to recruit staff.

So business owners have to be creative and apply outside-the-box benefits to attract great people – especially millennials.

Here’s some good news: a high salary isn’t the fruit employees crave the most.

Use this infographic we created for Scotiabank to identify reasons why your small business is a wonderful place to work.


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

New cartoon strip: Sully's Startup


by Roger Pierce

Meet Sully!

(Second of three cartoons)

Like millions of people across the continent who dream of a better life, Sully recently quit his corporate job to launch his own business. 

With high hopes for entrepreneurial success, Sully started a website design company. The results so far? Let's just say it's a work in progress -- much like Sully himself.

While Sully relies on different people to help him run his business, no one is more important to him than his wife, Jules. She's a brilliant school teacher who admires Sully's starry-eyed ambition but worries his dreams may not become reality.

This cartoon strip comes from the heart-breaking, maddening, and downright funny real-world self-employed experiences of entrepreneurs Paul Chato and Roger Pierce.

Let us know what you think of Sully's Startup with an email to roger.pierce@piercewords.com .

Why did we create Sully's Startup? Because you must have a sense of humour to run your own business! Watch this space for future strips to make you chuckle.

 

 


Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  

New cartoon strip! Sully's Startup


by Roger Pierce

Meet Sully!

Like millions of people across the continent who dream of a better life, Sully quit his job to launch his own business. He started a website design company along with his best friend, Xiang, who manages the sales department. Like many small business owners, Sully also relies on his family for some help -- including his grandmother, Ruthie, seen here doing her job as company bookkeeper.

This cartoon strip comes from the heart-breaking, maddening, and downright funny real world self-employed experiences of entrepreneurs Paul Chato and Roger Pierce.

Let us know what you think of Sully's Startup with an email to roger.pierce@piercewords.com .

Watch this space for future strips that we hope will make you chuckle -- because you must have a sense of humour to run your own business!



Roger Pierce is one of Canada’s top small business experts. He’s the founder of 12 businesses, co-author of the book Thriving Solo, and a writer for leading business publications such as Star Business Club, PROFIT online, YouInc and CBC’s Dragons’ Den website. Articles, blogs and videos produced by Pierce Content Marketing are used by national brands to win small business customers. LinkedIn

 

 

  
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