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Is Music Good for Entrepreneurs?


by Roger Pierce

music bro - mike_856 - FlickrI’m always surprised and amazed by how much music affects my mood.

Just a few minutes ago, as I sat down to post this article, I was feeling tired and uninspired. I didn’t want to do any work (it’s getting kind of late!). So I opened up my favourite station on iTunes Radio, and now my fingers are now flying across the keyboard.

My mood is better and my energy levels have risen.

I’m tapping my feet to the beat of a great Rolling Stones’ song.

My attitude is improved. I’m feeling good – much better than I did ten minutes ago before I turned on the tunes.

Music is such a wonderful drug. It can motivate, energize and inspire. It can entertain. It can give us an escape, if that’s what we want. It can instantly take us to a time and place that we like. It can make us think. It can calm us down, or lift us up. It can make us laugh, or cry. It can warm our hearts.

I think music could be counted as an ingredient to business success. It has such a profound impact on our mood, our work output and our energy level. For me, music is a really important background element to most of my workday. Without it, I’d likely be lost in hours of unproductivity.

Music is a not-so-silent partner and I welcome its presence. Unlike some past relationships, I appreciate what this partner does for me.

Now, go and listen to something that makes you feel good. And let the music play.

 

(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

 

 

  

Sell Your Business? 3 Things to Think About


by Roger Pierce

Business Front Door - chunter01 - Flickr

As unthinkable as it may seem today, you will eventually sell your business.

The reasons to sell a business vary. 

Perhaps you are tired of working and want to retire (chances are you’ve earned it). A child or a relative wants to take over the business. You are facing a health challenge and need to focus your energies on getting better. There’s another business opportunity tempting your attention. Or, market conditions are so ripe it would be irresponsible not to cash in.

Whatever your motivation, it’s better to proactively plan your exit now so you can prepare for the process, involve key people and get the buyer deal you deserve.

Just think about these 3 things as you make your exit plan.

How long?

Decide on a timeline to sell the business. Rather than set a deadline, pick a two-year window of time to get the transaction completed. There are plenty of moving parts to tend to during that period: grooming the business for a buyer, hiring a broker, shopping for buyers, negotiations, buyer due diligence, closing, and some time for management transition.

For example, you may decide to start the selling process in 2018 with an eye to finish it by 2020.

Your selling timeline must mesh with the rest of your plans – be it retirement, health needs, succession planning or simply meeting your own professional objective for the business before moving on. Be sure to consult with your team of financial advisors when contemplating a timeline.

  • Tip: Shop for a reputable business broker to represent your company to buyers – or, if your revenues exceed $3Million, consider hiring a Mergers and Acquisitions firm to do the deal.

How involved?

Most buyers will insist on a period of management transition. Attaching that condition reassures the buyer your business is as sound as you promised, and it gives them a period of time to learn how you run things. Problem is, you may not want to stick around. And some deals see former owner glued to the company for 5 years post-sale.

Decide now how much time (if any) you are willing to offer to the buyer. It will become part of the negotiations and may affect the price.

How will you use the cash?

Money is never a problem until you have it! And the proceeds from the sale of your business will likely represent the largest financial transaction of your life.

Begin to talk with financial advisors now – such as a wealth management expert, your accountant and your lawyer.  These experts will help you design a strategy to minimize taxes and maximize returns on your money. They’ll work with you to figure out how you can use the money to do the things you want to do with it.

Selling your business is a big deal. There are big steps to take and big decisions to make. So talk to people whose opinions you value – including other entrepreneurs who have been through an ownership transition.

(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

 

 

  

Soar or Crash? What Makes a Business Succeed


by Roger Pierce

business plan - getfrank. - FlickrIs there a secret to small busienss success? You bet. And, the good news is building a successful business is not as complicated as you might think.

Your business will grow and prosper if you follow these five strategies:

Work Smart

Any fool can sit behind a desk for 12 hours a day. It’s not the amount of time you spend at your business, but rather what you do with that time. Turn on your brain and roll up your sleeves to tackle complex challenges that will really advance your business, like improving your selling skills or learning to use new technologies.

Start Cheap

If your idea requires you to spend tens of thousands of dollars before you make one dollar, it’s probably the wrong business idea for you. Most service-based businesses can be started for under $1000. Find another way to launch for less.

Be Different

Repeat after me: It’s not what you do in business, but how you do it. Offer a twist or an innovation on an existing business idea and you’ll beat the competition. Computer billionaire Michael Dell turned the industry upside down by selling customized computers directly to the public instead of going through retail stores.

Test It

Before you spend one dollar or one hour building your new idea, be sure to test it with your prospective customers. Too many entrepreneurs get over-excited about their idea (“I just know this will work!”) and jump in without doing any market research. There's just too much risk involved (your money, your time, your family's future) to skip the homework.

Find Advisors

It’s impossible to know everything about running a small business. Reach out to your personal or professional network to find these advisors: an accountant, a business lawyer, a banker, and a marketing consultant. While your at it, find a volunteer business mentor willing to answer your questions and serve as a guide.

Put all of these activities into a Business Plan. It should be about ten pages with appendices. By committing your idea to paper you’ll be forced to think through every angle.

 

(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 in Person is Good for Business


by Roger Pierce

Business South West 2010 - Meet the Buyer - Business South West - FlickrIt seems to be an activity in danger of extinction: the face to face conversation. For a business owner, that’s a shame, because a good old-fashioned chat can work wonders for a growing company.

Our digital age presents more convenient communication options. Rather than meet face to face with someone, it’s far easier to dash off an email, post a tweet or share a status update. But, is it as effective as a little face time?

For these reasons, I think not.

Demonstrates commitment

Meetings are a hassle. It takes time to prepare for the meeting, get to the meeting, run it and return to your workplace. Yet there’s something magical about meeting face to face.

It says to the other person, “I’m committed to this relationship with you.” While you both could have opted for a phone call or online connection, you and your meeting partner both decided to invest your valuable time and energy. And that kind of mutual respect is the basis for a fruitful relationship.

Visual cues

Face to face meetings let you do more than just hear the other person’s words. You can extract meaning and emotion by absorbing not only what they are saying, but how they are saying it. 

Stronger results

Live meetings let participants to get more work done because everyone is “in the room.”

Given sufficient time, you can hash out the details for a new plan, solve a sticky problem or reach a decision that makes everyone happy. With everyone in the room, there’s more investment in the meeting (calculate the hourly wages of all participants!) and therefore more incentive to “get it done” – whatever that may mean to the group.

I realize that face to face meetings aren’t always possible as busy schedules and geography keep us apart. Where they are possible, however, arrange a live meeting – your business will be better for it.

(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

 

 

  

Attracting Media Attention to Your Business


by Roger Pierce

Media Waiting - Family Man Studios - FlickrA little free publicity can make a big impact on your small business.

When your story is printed in a newspaper, broadcast on television or published on a popular blog you’ll likely reach a much larger audience than you could afford to reach with paid advertisements. And, media coverage is more credible than ads because you didn’t pay for the exposure.

Follow these tips to get the media attention your business deserves:

Write a release

A media release will present your news opportunity to editors, reporters and assignment desks. Ideally less than a page long, the media release should present legitimate news about your business or relating to your business. For example, a bicycle shop could review the latest safety features of a new line of bicycles released this spring.

Catchy headline

With hundreds of media releases to digest in a day, you’ve a got a limited opportunity to catch the attention of a busy editor. It all comes down to the headline. Your headline should be memorable, clear, short and topical. Controversy sells, too – think along the lines of “The Real Cost of Love” headline. An editor scans headlines and subheads to see if the release warrants further reading, so you've got to get creative. (Courtesy of our friends at Pointman! Public Relations)

Be objective in tone

Write your media release like an article in the newspaper. In other words, like it already appeared. Called an objective tone, it’s the style used by most professional reporters. Your release should not be written in the first person (with words such as “we” or “I” or “you”). You’ll likely secure the coverage you seek if an editor can use your story with minimal editing.

Finally, subscribe to the media outlets where you want coverage. Learn what they publish or broadcast, get familiar with the columnists and reporters, and soak up the kind of material they use. Apply that knowledge to improve your own media release to those organizations.

(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

 

 

  

Love Capital Requires Some Rules


by Roger Pierce

It's not raining money - semantico - FlickrWhen your new or existing business needs money you have several financing options to explore.

One of them is ‘love capital’, which is money supplied from your family or friends for business purposes.

Many entrepreneurs got their start thanks to love capital. And it’s relatively easy to raise love capital because the application process is pretty easy: these are people who already know and trust you. And it’s unlikely they’ll negotiate harsh repayment terms and ask you to submit to a credit check.

Nonetheless, accepting love capital is a serious business –  because the traditional rules of lending and investing are so relaxed.

Please consider these issues before you take any money from the people you care about the most.

Loan or investment?

There’s a big difference between the two, so you’ll want to be clear about it.

A loan is a debt to be repaid usually with interest. Terms are negotiated (for example, five years to repay with 5% interest applied to the outstanding principal) and a first payment date is set. Also, who is incurring the debt – is it you personally or the business? A personal loan means the business will need to pay you to pay your debtor, and puts your personal finances on the line in case of default. A business loan to a corporation becomes the responsibility of the company – which may make your lender uncomfortable and ask for some guarantees of repayment.

An investor in your business will typically receive ownership shares in exchange for an agreed price. Depending on the type of shares issued, the shareholder may gain the legal right to vote on your management strategy and decisions.

Boundaries

Since you know your benefactor personally and will see them at social occasions (think holidays, birthdays, Canada Day picnics), you may want to establish some boundaries in terms of when and where you talk about business.

For example, you may squirm when Uncle Larry, who lent you $20,000, asks about your sales this quarter while you’re trying to eat your turkey dinner.

Written agreement

We typically don’t ask people we know very well to sign a legal agreement, often preferring to proceed on a handshake instead. Surely you can trust Mom!

And that can be a big mistake. Good paper makes good friends. Both parties have a right to clarity: Mom will want to know when to expect her money returned and you’ll want to know what terms she expects. Treat the deal like you would any other important transaction by preparing a simple letter of agreement to communicate your mutual understanding in terms of repayment, interest, rights, and default.

Set a limit

Loved ones are the easiest source of capital because your lender personally believes in you. They may believe in you so much that they will give until it hurts. It’s irresponsible to accept more money than your loved one can afford to invest or lend. Your parents, for example, may be counting on their nest egg to fund their retirement plans – you could be risking their future by taking that money.

Communicate openly and honestly with each other to discuss reasonable and safe financial limits.

 

(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

 

 

  

Why You Should Love Your Competitors


by Roger Pierce

Competition Collective To Win ... - FaisaL HamadaH - Flickr“I have such a great business idea – and no one else is doing it!”

Red flag! Why is that?

If you plan to open a small business, don’t be afraid of people or companies already doing what you propose to do. Existing competition is healthy – here’s why:

Customers already understand your product

Being new or first to market usually means you must educate customers about your product or service before you ask them to buy it. Why should I use your compact disc player when vinyl albums work just fine? That’s a conversation for large companies with marketing budgets big enough to persuade millions of potential buyers.

If it’s unfamiliar it’s risky. People avoid risk. Those potential customers will stick with what they know – and continue to enjoy their albums.

Competitors make you stronger

How much fun would it be to play hockey without an opposing team? Sure, you will score lots of goals on an open net but you won’t get any better at the game. Competitors make your business stronger, smarter and better. Competitors force you to outperform.

Attract more customers

Three people clapping their hands will together make more noise than just one. The commotion created by multiple competitors in a marketplace does three things: 

  • Customers get familiar with the type of product or service you are selling.
  • Because there is more than just one vendor, customers are kind of reassured the new product or service is here to stay (few people want to be the first buyer), and
  • The industry draws customers away from indirect yet competing offers (buy a tablet instead of a notebook computer).

While you may curse and swear at your competitors occasionally (and who doesn't!) they will actually help you to grow the overall revenue potential for your business. Just get out there and claim your share of the market. 

(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

 

 

  

Entrepreneurs are Olympians, too


by Roger Pierce

Sochi logo - SnoCountry.com - FlickrLike our wonderful athletes competing at the Olympics in Sochi, starting and running a small business requires a long-term commitment to reach success.

Planning

Be it a gold medal or selling a business for millions, you won’t reach your goal without some careful planning to get you there. Set goals that are beyond your reach and repeat your commitment to them each and every day. Make a plan with milestones along the way so you can see progress.

Training

Like any good athlete, a startup entrepreneur must get better and better at their chosen craft. It takes time and discipline to improve our skills in marketing, sales, operations, human resources and financial management. Set aside time each day to improve your skills in a chosen area by reading books, taking courses, attending seminars or working with a mentor.

Perseverance

Quitters don’t get to the Olympics. Quitters don’t grow successful businesses. It’s that never-say-die attitude that separates the dreamers from the doers. Commit to your goals, find a way around obstacles, associate with positive and helpful people and don’t ever, ever give up on your dream.

Congratulations and best wishes to our Canadian athletes!

 

(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

 

 

  

Will Your Business Idea Work?


by Roger Pierce

Question Mark - Doug Caldwell - FlickrThere's a lot of uncertainy and fear around launching a business so it's natural for a startup entrepreneur to ask that question. It’s a valid question, but impossible to answer. And my response usually annoys people: It depends on you.

What excatly does that mean?

It depends on your research. Finding out who will buy from you and how much they’ll pay are cornerstones to market research – as is checking out the competition.

It depends on your finances. Starting a business without any money is not recommended. A little bit of money will help you to print up business cards, create a website or buy a computer. It’s also nice to have some money to pay your own living costs.

It depends on your business model. Be clear about revenue. Will you charge by the hour? Will you re-sell products for profit? Is it a web-based business? Can you earn a sales commission? Is there a recurring revenue stream? A solid, proven business model supports future success.

It depends on you. Above all else, the entrepreneur is responsible for the success or failure of a new venture. That's a tough nut to swallow, but it's true. You need to be committed to ushering your business idea through all of the not-so-glamorous launch steps. You need to be smart enough to know what you don’t know, and seek guidance. You need to remain motivated, positive and energetic - not matter what happens.

Will your idea work? I hope so, but it’s up to you.

(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

 

 

  

Want to Improve Your Pitch? Try Toastmasters


by Roger Pierce

Public speaking - brainpop_uk - FlickrEntrepreneurs need exceptional communication skills.

The ability to share important information, articulate your intentions or plans and persuade others is absolutely critical in order to build a successful business. I’ve encountered too many very smart people with very clever business ideas who failed to rally interest in what they were launching because they communicated so poorly.

One way to improve your communication skills is to join the non-profit organization Toastmasters. With over 270,000 members in 13,000 clubs around the world, Toastmasters International is a leader in communication and leadership development.

While many people falsely believe Toastmasters is only for accomplished speakers, it's quite the opposite. A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop where participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere. It's really a peer support group. And, no, you don't have to deliver a speech on your first visit!

The one-hour weekly meeting is like a public speaking workout. Club members can volunteer to deliver a short keynote speech, give a toast, provide a speaker evaluation, or participate in another brief speaking role. Or you can just observe others to learn a few tips.

I learn something new every week at Toastmasters – like how to use my hand gestures more effectively while I speak.  Some members enjoy learning how to construct a persuasive presentation. Or how to tame those 'word whiskers' such as 'um', 'ah', 'so' and 'er'. Others may enjoy the helpful speech feedback received from club members.

You can learn more about Toastmasters or locate a club near you at www.toastmasters.org. Or, feel free to drop by my chapter called Downtown Toronto Toastmasters.

Like any skill, you must practice to improve. Even if you visit a meeting a couple of times a month, you'll experience a dramatic improvement to your speaking ability as well as your self-confidence. And that's always good for business.

(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

 

 

  
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