Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Survivor: Tofino

Belated congratulations to CBC-TV’s Venture for winning a Gemini award this month. One of the Corp’s longest-running shows, Venture consistently proves just how fascinating business can be when you focus on the personal challenges of doing business.

The Gemini for Best Reality Program went to a Venture episode from last February, “The Town Doctor.” It showed what happened when Venture brought in a big-time U.S. marketing consultant to help three stressed-out small businesses in Tofino, BC (fabulous town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Email me for my whale-watching pics off Tofino one blissful summer evening.)

Can Doug Hall deliver big-city marketing miracles for the town grocer, a cleaning lady and a whale captain? You have to watch the show to find out. I will look into whether they plan to broadcast the episode again.

A show like this exists at the very epicenter of journalism and blatant stunting. But it’s all the more valuable for that. Business is all about outside-the-box solutions – and the simple belief that we can shape our own destinies by thinking in new ways.

Kudos to Venture – a tiny little part of the CBC that actually “gets it” – for daring Canadian entrepreneurs to think bigger.

(A few years ago, we tried something similar at PROFIT Magazine. We had a contest where the prize was a chance to work with sales consultant Tom Stoyan [AKA “Canada’s Sales Coach”]. It would have been a great story if we had been able to match Tom with a company whose sales force could benefit from his mentoring. But the guy who won was a self-employed sales consultant. We never got the happy ending we had hoped for.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Your Weekend Smile

Last post of the week. So let's make it pointless, but fun.

I was talking to a client the other day, and they were boasting that when their people go to a customer site on a service call, their sole concern is just that: service. Unlike many of their competitors, "our guys have no incentives to sell the customer anything he doesn't need."

And then my client sighed and added, with a sad grin, "We can barely get them to sell the stuff the customer does need."

Can you help?

Canadian Entrepreneur is garnering more reader comments lately, which I appreciate. They add life and depth to a blog!

But here’s a comment you may have missed, since it was recently attached to a post from six weeks ago (Oct. 11).

Cheerily titled “Let's All Work with Google!” the post linked to a blog entry from Chris Sacca, who is one of Google’s principals for New Business Development. I thought his discussion on how to partner with Google amount to a manifesto on how to do business today. (Click here for my original post.)

Well, somebody (his name's Kevin) googled Sacca and was led here. He read the post, and – well, I’ll let him tell it. Can you help this guy? His e-mail address is at the end of his note.

“I just read about Mr. Sacca in a Business 2.0 (print edition) article, Googled him and ended up here. The hints are good ones and compare well with the ones I found at garage.com.

I have a new media idea that I have been researching and test-pitching to friends and family. The idea involves the reuse of digital content (songs, movies, still images) and addresses the copyright issues that arise from the creation of combined and/or re-edited presentations (of existing, legally licensed, copyrighted content.

I would like to approach Mr. Sacca of Google or firms like Garage Ventures (Guy Kawasaki) with this idea, but need to make a solid first impression. I do not wish to dilute the idea's reputation or risk it being stolen by spamming VCs with poorly written or incomplete proposals.

I am not sure whether I should be pitching the intellectual property (and IP licensing) opportunities, or the finished products. Perhaps both are appropriate, depending on the target audience.

I have ZERO experience pitching VCs. I come from an engineering background and already have a couple of patents that have earned me nothing.

Mr. Spence's post states that "Sacca’s job is to find new ideas and new people to partner with – even though 90% of the people he meets will never be appropriate partners." I want to be in the 10% that succeed.

Success in this journey requires a sherpa, a guide, someone who has successfully (or near-successfully) pitched ideas to VCs. If you are reading this and are (or know) someone who is up to the challenge, I promise not to waste your time.
I will, however, require an NDA.

E-mail: kpkpkp AT gmail DOT com

--posted by Kevin Pierce to Canadian Entrepreneur at 11/23/2005 10:27:22 AM

C'mon, folks. Let's prove Canadians still care. (name that tune!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Microsoft Way... out

Fascinating post by Toronto venture capitalist and blogger Rick Segal on his survey of fellow Microsoft alumni now building other businesses.

The always curious Segal interviewed 25 ex-colleagues, and asked if they believe their Microsoft experience gives them an edge in face-to-face meetings, either with people still at Microsoft, or in new interactions.

60% said no. “I was shocked," writes Segal. Probing the point, he got this response from a seven-year Microsoft vet who seems now well on the path to recovery: “I never knew just how arrogant, snotty, and rude it is to flip open a laptop and read mail while in a meeting. I feel like I need to find the hundreds of people I dealt with over the years and apologize. It might be this swaggering, hot shot crap works with internal meetings, but man, is it rude.”

Segal asked if they would go back to MS if they got a call from Bill Gates or another senior guy. 80% said no, with the rest saying maybe. No one said yes.

Then Segal asked if they were using MS-based technology in their new or current role, or “open source”? Three quarters of the respondents said “Open Source,” or some non-Microsoft variation.

Think of these people next time your broker suggests investing in Microsoft.

For the full article (and more questions and lots of comment) click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Your Next Big Thing

The December issue of PROFIT Magazine features the 10th annual Opportunity feature, Your Next Big Thing: The Best Businesses to go Into Now.

(Sometime next week I will look up that first issue and let you know what some of the predictions were way back in 1996. I hope they’re not too embarrassing).

As a free preview of that special issue, PROFITguide.com offers a story on what four prominent Canadians see as the best business bets of the next few years. Here’s a quick summary:

Andy Macaulay, founding partner, ZiG, Toronto:
"There's a market for a concierge service for boomers, to take care of all those little tasks around the home: trimming the tree, getting the fridge fixed, taking care of car maintenance, walking the dog and shopping for groceries.”
Elyse Allan, president & CEO, GE Canada, Mississauga, Ont.
"There is a need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy and for more abundant clean water.”
Jean-Marc Léger, president, Léger Marketing, Montreal: "Older people are having a difficult time adapting [to new technology]. So manufacturers that can simplify technology products that are in wide use, such as e-mail, cellphones, the Internet and iPods, will have an advantage.”
David Foot, professor of economics, University of Toronto: "The boomers need financial-planning and wealth-management services. They also have the money to buy second homes, so security-system suppliers will do well.”

To read the whole story, click here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hard Times in the magazine business

I was just breezing through the pages of the latest issue of Fast Company and wondering if I should renew my subscription when I noticed just how far that magazine has fallen.

They are offering a combined one-year subscription to both Fast Company and Inc. magazine (yes, 12 isues of each!) for $15. That's 24 isues for the price of three on the newsstand.

Or you can get a two-year sub to FC for $15.

I'd pick the combo (except that that offer is good only in USA). I don't think FC will last two more years.

How NOT to market to small business

Strange “special feature” in yesterday’s National Post.

Roynat Capital took out an ad that wrapped around the business section to salute the winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards program.

Instead of telling us anything intelligent about the winners, this 1.5-page supplement showed us black-tie pictures of some of the winners and their spouses – along with a lot of sponsors (the publisher of the National Post got in there somehow).

The pictures were taken at the unveiling event, held in Ottawa, um, Nov. 3. The text identified the various winners, but actually spent more time talking up the sponsors (look! there’s the publisher of the Post again!).

So here are my questions:
Why is Roynat paying to promote the National Post and Ernst & Young?
Why were the entrepreneurs short-changed in an ad that was supposedly a tribute to them?
Why did it take so long (nearly three weeks!) to recognize these winners?
Why is there nothing in this ad addressing the needs of Roynat’s customers?
And why is this newsprint wraparound called “Special Feature to National Post / Presented by Roynat Capital” instead of just being called an ad?

I have nothing against Roynat. In fact, I appreciate that it is one of the most aggressive supporters of small business in the Canadian marketplace. I just don’t understand why it pisses so much advertising money down the drain.

This “feature” ended with a full-page Roynat ad much like those it has been running every week in the Post. These ads showcase boring, nearly unreadable profiles of supposedly interesting Canadian companies. I actually complained about these ads recently to a Roynat exec, because I think they are the exact antithesis of anything that will help, inform or impress an entrepreneur.

To get entrepreneurs to read this profile, it should be short and punchy, with lots of color and personality, and end with the entrepreneur’s best experience and advice (entrepreneurs don’t care about your company, they want to know what you know that can help them).

Instead, Roynat runs a 900-word profile, with lots of unnecessary history and product detail. No subheads, no boldface, no sidebars to break up the tedious columns of copy. And no advice, no lessons. Which means this is all about him (the profiled entrepreneur), and not about you (the person reading the ad). Which makes for bad advertising, no matter how much they spend.

The executive agreed with me. But he wasn’t in marketing, so he wasn’t about to rock the boat.

Monday, November 21, 2005

New threat to industry productivity!!!

I’ve been meaning for some time to blog about the study that came out last month reporting that this year, U.S. workers will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs.

A study by U.S.-based Advertising Age found that 35 million workers -- one in four people in the labor force -- visit blogs. On average they spend 3.5 hours, or 9%, of the work week, engaged with them. Time spent in the office on non-work blogs this year will take up the equivalent of 2.3 million jobs.

Ad Age even quoted the sales director at Gawker Media, blog home of Gawker (media), Wonkette (politics) and Fleshbot (porn), saying that its audience “is very at-work; it’s an at-work, leisure audience -- a.k.a., people screwing off on the job.“

And a research manager at Nielsen/NetRatings said at-work blog time probably comes in addition to regular at-work surfing -- meaning more total time spent on the Web, and less time on the job.

I’m not sure how one determines what non-work blogging is; many executives make reading the morning newspaper a regular part of their work schedule (and I firmly believe that includes Sports). And I believe that reading even peripherally work-related blogs can offer information, insight, ideas and motivation that might not be available anywhere else - certainly not in today's rushed, erratic workplaces.

Let’s face it: many offices have become soulless, cheerless places where people with very little in common – and in many cases, no continuing business relationship - work side by side. Blogging reconnects with your most interesting, idea-filled industry colleagues or other like-minded people – and it may provide the peer support and social engagement that today’s workplaces lack.

And in case you're wondering, most of this blog’s traffic comes during the daylight hours too.

Says Blogads founder Henry Copeland. “Bottom line: At work, people can’t watch TV or prop up their feet and read a newspaper, but they sure do read blogs.”

OK, back to work. You and me both.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Two milestones for this blog!

Today this blog will receive its 2,000th visitor. That's not a lot for some websites, but I believe it's quite a feat for a blog whose title consists of two long, four-syllable words, neither of which (let's admit it) set most people's hearts a-flutter.

It's also a factor of the steady growth of this blog. It took us seven months to gain our first 1,000 visits, and less than three months to gain our next thousand. Almost a hockey-stick growth rate!

Thank you for visiting.

Anouncement No. 2: Yesterday Google introduced Google Base, its attempt to create a free global bulletin board to compete with eBay and other private databases. As a test, I posted a promo ad for this blog on Google Base yesterday afternoon. At 12:01 am, I had my first visitor click through from that ad.

If this keeps up, I may use Google Base to auction off Pez dispensers.

More Bad Bosses

Trying to get more productivity out of your employees? According to a new study by HR consultants Towers Perrin, there is a vast reserve of untapped “employee performance potential” at most companies. If you can engage these employees, you will have a new resource of effort, ideas and productivity.

The global survey of more than 85,000 employees found just 14% are fully engaged on the job and willing to go the extra mile for their companies. In the U.S., that figure is just 21%.

“The vast majority of the people we surveyed are moderately engaged at best, and a quarter of them are actively disengaged,” said a TP analyst.

How important is engagement?
* 84% of highly engaged employees believe they can positively impact the quality of their company’s products, compared with 31% of the disengaged.
* 72% of the highly engaged believe they can positively affect customer service, versus 27% of the disengaged.

Engaged employees are also less likely to leave for another job. Worldwide, 59% of the highly engaged survey respondents planned to stay with their current employer, compared with just 24% of the disengaged group.

If you think disengagement is not your fault, think again. The survey find employees have scant faith in management’s ability to inspire and lead.
For instance:
* Just 41% think their senior management supports new ideas and new ways of doing things.
* Only 40% think senior management acts in a way that’s consistent with their values.
* Just 37% believe management tries to be accessible to employees.
* Only 36% think senior management effectively communicates the reasons for important business decisions.
* And a mere third believe management communicates openly and honestly to employees.

“Employees are looking for guidance, direction, vision and clarity -- from both top management and their direct supervisors,” says another TP spokesman. “They don’t believe either are delivering.”

Add that to your to-do list. And in upcoming posts, we’ll look at some solutions.

Click here for our previous post on Bad Bosses.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Change your language, change your life

The language we use can make a big difference ... in life and in business.

In a recent newsletter, retail sales and marketing expert Kelley Robertson asked us to consider the possible customer impact of restating negative concepts as positives.

As an example, compare:
"Oh, we're out of stock."
"We can't get any until next month."
"All we have left is a demo model."

"We're completely sold out!"
"They're selling so fast we can't keep them in stock!"
"We have a display unit available that works great."

Simply rephrasing a sentence, says Kelley, “can change the entire message that the customer will hear. When we emphasize the right words with the appropriate tone of voice, the end result will be a positive message.”

A few more examples:

Change “I can't do that” to "Here's what I can do."
Change "It wasn't my fault" to "Let me help you resolve this."
Change: "I don't know" to "Let me find out."

Small, subtle changes can make a difference in the message your customers hear.
Can you think of any more examples?
Post them in Comments, below.

For more on Kelley Robertson and the Oakville-based Robertson Training Group, click here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The magic of GrowthCamp

"Entrepreneurs are generally huge skeptics. So you can imagine the frustration as a room full of aggressive entrepreneurs found themselves baffled by one frizzy-haired magician.

"The CEOs from the PROFIT HOT 50 list of Canada's Emerging Growth Companies have faced down steely-eyed bankers and bull-spewing sales reps. But early this fall at GrowthCamp, PROFIT's annual HOT 50 conference, they couldn't figure out how conjuror David Ben knew exactly which cards had been selected from a deck by five volunteers spaced randomly around the room..."

For the rest of my inside story on the 2005 GrowthCamp conference, from the November issue of PROFIT, click here.

Highlight (for those too busy to click):
After lunch, PROFIT editor Ian Portsmouth interviewed Bill Tatham, founder of Janna Systems Inc. Campers were amazed to hear how Tatham transformed Janna from a slumping service provider into a red-hot provider of customer-relationship management software acquired by Siebel Systems Inc. for $1.8 billion.

Tatham showed a hint of his fierce drive in one anecdote. He was working a trade show when a key buyer from Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs walked by without even looking at his booth.
Tatham sent a staffer after him with the warning: "Go get him and bring him back — or don't come back at all."

For more management lessons from GrowthCamp, point your canoe here.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Peter Drucker

They’ve been calling him the Father of Modern Management, an influential business guru, Visionary of Visionaries, the pioneer of social responsibility, the grand old man of provocative theory, and the greatest management thinker and writer of all time.

And those are just the headlines since Peter Drucker, the Austrian management thinker who fled to the U.S. to escape the Nazis, died Friday (Nov. 11) at the age of 95.

Drucker not only made a science out of management. He shaped many of our concepts of business (he invented “management by objective'' and the term, “knowledge workers''), and was also an influential thinker in entrepreneurship.

Here is the introduction to entrepreneurship in his 1993 book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

“The husband and wife who open another delicatessen store or another Mexican restaurant in the American suburb surely take a risk. But are they entrepreneurs? All they do is what has been done many times before. They gamble on the increasing popularity of eating out in their area, but create neither a new satisfaction nor new consumer demand. Seen under this perspective they are surely not entrepreneurs even though theirs is a new venture.

“McDonald's, however, was entrepreneurship. It did not invent anything, to be sure. But by applying management concepts and management techniques (asking, What is "value" to the customer?), standardizing the "product," designing process and tools, and by basing training on the analysis of the work to be done and then setting the standards it required, McDonald's both drastically upgraded the yield from resources, and created a new market and a new customer. This is entrepreneurship.”

It’s the process, not the product.

In tribute to Drucker, here are some of his best quotes:

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”

No decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone’s work assignment and responsibility.”

"Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate non-performing individuals in important jobs.”

"Most discussions of decision-making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives' decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.”

“Almost everybody today believes that nothing in economic history has ever moved as fast as, or had a greater impact than, the Information Revolution. But the Industrial Revolution moved at least as fast in the same time span, and had probably an equal impact if not a greater one.”

Drucker was a big fan of disciplined, sound management – not today’s fetish for leadership. “The three greatest leaders of the 20th century were Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. If that’s leadership, I want no part of it.”

Saturday, November 12, 2005

75 Reasons to Be Glad You're an American Entrepreneur

Forgive the jingoism. That’s the title of an article at Inc.com (and in the October issue of Inc. magazine) by Michael S. Hopkins. It takes a contemporary and slightly pop-culture look at why entrepreneurship is such a popular and powerful concept right now.

And most of it applies equally to Canadians, eh (not to mention just about everybody else.)

Some of it’s just plain silly, but many of these reasons are important – and even inspiring. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Because things are changing, still and again. But now the changes are incremental and diverse, not overnight and obvious. Start adding the changes up and themes emerge.
5. Jim Collins's website (www.jimcollins.com).
6. Better coffee. Easier to find. Now available in every American hamlet (thanks to Starbucks and its spawn) in time for that next all nighter you swore you wouldn't pull.
9. Because English is, more than ever, the language of international business. There are more Chinese learning English than Americans speaking it.
17. Moore's Law--despite anyone who says it no longer applies. We guarantee that tomorrow the computer your company needs will again be faster, better, and cheaper than it is today.
18. Peer groups. More of them. Less formal. Simpler to start (not least because there are simply more peers). The counsel, empathy, and bracing inspiration of veteran fellow travelers can be as close as you decide to arrange it.
19. Because not just your business problems but our social problems, too, are being attacked more and more frequently with entrepreneurship.
21. Because corporate America's burden of satisfying shortest-term financial performance expectations has never been more crippling.
23. Because big companies still keep Dilbert in fresh material.

It goes on and on, but it’s worth it. Click here for the full story.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Building better business relationships

I recently overheard a very successful entrepreneur advise a less experienced employee on how to build great customer relations.

The employee was just about to fly to the U.S. to meet a new marketing partner and seal a promotional deal that could prove huge for the company. In a gentle, low-key way, the entrepreneur shared some hard-won advice that will probably stay with the employee forever.

“Like always, concentrate on relationship first,” he said. “Make sure you ask her a lot of questions. What’s your agenda? What are you trying to do? What are your objectives?”

Details of the deal - and a valuable new relationship - come later.

The Four Wins in Business

Much like you, I was too busy to attend last month’s Future Leaders event in Toronto with Thomas Caldwell, chairman of Caldwell Financial Ltd. (My excuse was better than yours, though, 'cuz it was my daughter’s birthday.)

We both missed a great session. Fortunately, Future Leaders writes up summaries of its meetings, so here are a few highlights from Caldwell’s provocative presentation, A Barbarian at the Gate.

Caldwell, now one of the largest seat holders on the New York Stock Exchange, says many successful people were not great achievers early on (think high school). What drives many leaders, he says, is some form of unfinished business.

Caldwell has experienced many setbacks in his career, at one time losing everything. But he considers this the best thing that ever happened to him. He changed his life and his work habits to ensure it never happened again. “Success is great,” he said, “but you only grow in adversity.”

Caldwell identified four wins in business:
1. Win for the customer: a valuable product at a competitive price; keeping the customer satisfied, especially after the sale.
2. Win for the employees: encourage employees to keep going; give them another chance when they screw up; energize your team.
3. Win for the owners: share what you are doing and don’t be greedy.
4. Win for suppliers: pay accounts right away, and pay fair prices; don’t be like the big companies and banks that abuse the system with their payment practices.

For more on Future Leaders, click here.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Women helping women

Today I moderated a roundtable discussion among seven distinguished women entrepreneurs. They all rank on PROFIT’s 2005 list of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs, and were tremendously successful and articulate.

Nonetheless, the goal at the W100 Idea Exchange, held at the Vaughan Estate in Toronto, was to discuss the challenges these entrepreneurs are currently facing. Graciously, they each came up with one or two.

Here’s a sampling of the issues they are facing, and the solutions offered by their peers.

1. One business owner asked for help improving the margins in her business. Suggestions included raising prices, hiring consultants to cut costs, and selling the company’s real-estate assets. When the entrepreneur said she was reluctant to raise prices, another participant said her company raised prices 15% last year. When it received no complaints, it raised them again.

2. One participant complained about the high cost of buying custom end-to-end management software. Several entrepreneurs said they had found it cheaper to hire their own IT staff to produce home-made solutions where the mass-market packages leave off. Another said she actually asks competitors for advice on topics like this, as they understand her needs best.

3. “I need help finding, contracting and keeping sales people,” said another entrepreneur. “’Good sales people’ is becoming an oxymoron.”
Among the suggestions from the table: Ask more process-oriented questions in the interview to better understand a sales candidate’s abilities and experience; revise commission structures to better reward desired behaviour; offer better training to encourage good people to stay; hire two or three salespeople at a time to reduce training costs and hope that at least one makes the grade.

4. One entrepreneur said her business is ‘plateauing,’ and competitors are eating into her margins. What should she do? Did she need an exit strategy?
One peer picked up on the real problem: “Are you bored with the business?” The table offered several solutions, such as delegating the parts of her job she doesn’t like, or investing in new startups to give her the growth fix she seems to crave. She seemed pretty happy with the feedback.

For more on PROFIT’s W100 list, click here.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Circle the date, save your pennies

On Wednesday evening, November 23, I will be speaking as part of the Future Leaders Entrepreneurs Forum at the National Club in Toronto.

Update Nov. 8: For various reasons, the organizers have put off this event till February. I will let you know the new date when it's finalized.

My topic will be all-new: Lessons from Canada’s Newest Growth Companies, based on my work this year with the PROFIT 100, Hot 50 emerging growth companies, small-biz clients, and other businesses I have been spending time with and learning from.

I did many presentations on this topic during my years at PROFIT Magazine, culminating in my book, Secrets of Success from Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies. But that was then, this is now, and my content will be all new and updated for 2005 - and beyond.

Here's the promo blurb:
"Far below the radar of the mainstream media, Canada is home to thousands of exciting, successful growth companies. How do they succeed in the face of powerful competition, both at home and abroad? Through a canny combination of vision, strategy and systemsand a bias for execution that is bold, yet measured.
In this exclusive presentation, Rick will introduce you to some of Canada’s top growth companies and share the secrets of their success!"

How can you miss it? For more information or tickets, e-mail info@futureleaders.ca

Bad Bosses mean so much

I believe entrepreneurship is the source of Canada's future jobs, innovation, and economic security.

That's why one of Canada’s greatest natural resources is its near-infinite supply of bad bosses. Bad Bosses inspire talented employees to quit and start their own businesses, to do things smarter/faster/more independently. Their hostility and ineptitude have inspired many great companies and family fortunes.

So it is with pride and relief that I saw a recent Monster.ca poll in which more than 100,000 Canadians rated their bosses on seven factors. They used a scale ranging from -50 to +50, with zero representing fair performance, +50 representing the perfect boss and -50 a clear failure.

Responses to all seven statements produced an overall score of -3, indicating that Canadian bosses rank just below the middle point. In other words, most of them are bad.

Though Monster puts a positive spin on the results, saying “Canadians are sending a clear message: their bosses are halfway to being perfect - with room for improvement."

The poll says bosses have the most room for improvement in the following areas: - Acknowledging their mistakes -7.1; - Being a born leader -6.2; - Helping employees reach their potential -4.3; and - Taking employees' viewpoints into consideration -3.5.

Our bosses performed best (if you can call it that – look how low these scores are) on: - Letting employees know what is expected +3.6; - Taking employees' well-being into consideration +0.7; and, - Making work challenging and stimulating -0.4.

Monster’s press release concluded that “A good boss can make all the difference, and we hope these results will encourage bosses out there to take a look at how to raise their game every day."

If not, don’t worry about it. Canada needs Bad Bosses, too.

Best Reasons to be an Entrepreneur, part 1

(First in an occasional series)

From a 2004 story in Strategy magazine, Chris Staples, partner of Rethink in Vancouver, talks about why he left a big agency to form his own company:

"Someone once said, 'When you're independent, the accountants work for you. When you're part of a network, you work for the accountants.'"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Free! Glossary of Business Terms

Even veteran business people are stumped regularly by unclear technical terms or impenetrable acronyms.

But entrepreneurs are practically defined by their ability (and eagerness) to access needed resources.

So here's one to bookmark. (Or "Add to Favorites," as Bill Gates would put it.)

VISA Canada offers an online glossary of small business terms to help you wade through the jargon and balderdash.

From "abstracts" to "WBT" (Web-based training), you can find help here.

The word list also offers a lot of Internet-related technical terms, although they could use an update. It includes "ListServ", but not Google, permission marketing, or search engine optimization.

On the plus side, it doesn't cover "rightsizing," "going forward," or "Crackberry."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Young and the Restless

Entrepreneurship, says Business Week, “is no longer a dirty word.”

Well, better late than never, I guess. Thanks for getting on the bus 20 YEARS LATE.

B-Week Online is celebrating entrepreneurship this week because it’s running a stunt to identify America’s Best Entrepreneurs Under 25. It’s a pretty impressive list of ventures for folks so young: software companies, video services, telecom, publishing, even hazardous waste transport.

You can read all about these disgustingly young, smart and accomplished people here. At the end of your tour, you can even vote for your favorite.

BusinessWeek: last on the entrepreneurship bandwagon, but first in Web interactivity.

By the way, cynical readers may notice that only two of the 20 nominated entrepreneurs are women.

The stats, as we have noted before, show that women are now starting more businesses than men. But the fact remains that most of those firms are personal-services business – not the fast-growth tech businesses, manufacturers or B-to-B services that tend to impress (or even interest) journalists and VCs.

If you want to read a list of impressive women entrepreneurs, PROFIT magazine published its list this month of Canada’s Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses. Check it out at http://www.profitguide.com/w100/index.asp.

By the way, when I left PROFIT a few years ago, I advised my successor, Ian Portsmouth, that three ambitious lists a year (the PROFIT 100, the Hot 50 emerging growth companies, and the Women 100) were too many for a magazine with limited resources.

Ian didn’t listen. He thinks all three lists are essential to our understanding of today’s economy and to the promotion of Canada’s best entrepreneurs, and he’s exactly right.
(Though overworked.)