Wednesday, February 22, 2012

50 Ways to Save Money in Your Business

Entrepreneur.com has a great cost-cutting article on “50 Ways to Save Money in Your Business.” It’s chock full of practical, useful ways to cut expenses. You’ll find ideas for saving money on advertising and marketing, real estate, payroll, office supplies,  shipping, purchasing and financial services.

I have cited this story before, but they changed the link, so click here for 50 ways to Save Money.

I like these three tactics in particular. I think they can really make a difference:

“40. Form a buying alliance. Join with another business or a trade association for bulk purchasing discounts.”


“43. Query your consultants. Ask your insurance agent, accountant or attorney how you can cut back on their costs. You'd be surprised at the suggestions they might offer on ways to cut your premiums, reduce billable hours or avoid huge retainers."

“50. Seek at least three bids on everything. Even mundane purchases merit shopping around. If you quote a competitor's lower price, a supplier or vendor will often match that price to win your business.”

How are you cutting costs in your business?


This post provided by Allstream, Canada's all-business communications provider.


The Dragons are Coming For You!

It's that time of year again: CBC's roving gang of Deputy Dragons are searching the country for entrepreneurs to appear on next season's show!
 
Becoming a "pitcher" on Dragons' Den is a tremendous experience. If nothing else, you'll get some great lessons in how to communicate the investment value of your product or business. And if you're actually chosen to pitch to the Dragons, you'll get some good coaching, and you have the chance to appear on TV. Or even get an investment from Kevin O'Leary.

It's all good.

Auditions are already underway. Here's the impressive schedule of what's coming up. For more information, hit http://www.cbc.ca/dragonsden/auditions/index.html

Thursday Feb. 23 2012Kelowna BC11AM-6PMOkanagan College - Student Services Building
1000 K.L.O. Road
Kelowna, BC V1Y 4X8
250-762-5445
Thursday Feb. 23 2012Saint John NB11AM-6PMDelta Brunswick
(Saint John Hotel)
39 King Street
Saint John
New Brunswick, E2L 4W
Thursday Feb. 23 2012Port Hardy BC10AM-1PMQuarterdeck Inn & Marina Resort
6555 Hardy Bay Road
Po Box 910 Port Hardy BC V0N 2P0
Saturday Feb. 25 2012Calgary AB10AM-5PMUniversity of Calgary
Dinning Centre
2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2N 1N
Saturday Feb. 25 2012Sydney NS10AM-5PMCape Breton University
Student Culture and Heritage Building (Great Hall)
1250 Grand Lake Rd
Sydney NS
B1P 6L2
Wednesday Feb. 29 2012Quebec City QCNoon-5PMHilton Quebec
1100 Boulevard Rene-Levesque Est.
Quebec, QC
(Beauport Room)
Thursday Mar. 1 2012Barrie ON11AM-6PMGeorgian College
One Georgian Drive
Barrie, Ontario
L4M 3X9
Friday Mar. 2 2012Sherbrooke QC11AM-6PMDelta Sherbrooke
2685 King ouest, Sherbrooke,QC, J1L 1C1
Saturday Mar. 3 2012Burlington/Hamilton ON10AM-5PMRon Joyce Centre
DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University
4350 South Service Road
Burlington, ON L7L 5R8
905-525-9140 ext. 20536
(Great Hall, Room 132)
Saturday Mar. 3 2012Montreal QC10AM-5PMTBA
Saturday Mar. 3 2012Ottawa ON10AM-5PMCourtyard by Marriott Ottawa
350 Dalhousie Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 7E9
Thursday Mar. 8 2012Saskatoon SK11AM-6PMUniversity of Saskatchewan
Edwards School of Business
25 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A7
Reading Room (Room 244)
Saturday Mar. 10 2012St. John's NL10AM-5PMTBA
Saturday Mar. 10 2012Winnipeg MB10AM-5PMCBC Manitoba
541 Portage Ave.
Winnipeg, MB R3B 2G1
(Studio 41)
Tuesday Mar. 13 2012Whitehorse YT11AM-6PMTBA
Wednesday Mar. 14 2012Oshawa ON11AM-6PMTBA
Thursday Mar. 15 2012Charlottetown PEI11AM-6PMCBC PEI
430 University Avenue
Charlottetown, P.E.I. C1A 8B9
(Lobby)
Thursday Mar. 15 2012Dawson City YT11AM-6PMTBA
Thursday Mar. 15 2012Timmins ON11AM-6PMNorthern College
Porcupine Campus
4715 Highway 101 East
South Porcupine, ON P0N 1H0
705-235-3211
Friday Mar. 16 2012Waterloo ON11AM-6PMConrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology
295 Hagey Blvd., Suite 240
Waterloo, ON N2L 6R5
Saturday Mar. 17 2012Halifax NS10AM-5PMCambridge Suites Hotel
1583 Brunswick Street
Halifax, NS B3J 3P5
(Brunswick/Centennial Room)
Saturday Mar. 17 2012Sudbury ON10AM-5PMLaurentian University
TBA
Saturday Mar. 17 2012Victoria BC10AM-5PMInn at Laurel Point
680 Montreal Street
Victoria, BC V8V 1Z8
(250) 386-8721
Sunday Mar. 18 2012Nanaimo BC11AM-6PMVancouver Island Conference Centre
101 Gordon Street
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5J8
(250) 244-4050
(Shaw Auditorium)
Tuesday Mar. 20 2012Sechelt BC11AM-6PMSeaside Centre
5790 Teredo St.
Sechelt, BC V0N 3A0
Thursday Mar. 22 2012Sarnia ON11AM-6PMTBA
Thursday Mar. 22 2012Collingwood ON11AM-6PMTBA
Thursday Mar. 22 2012Kamloops BC11AM-6PMTBA
Saturday Mar. 24 2012Windsor ON10AM-5PMWindsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce
2575 Ouellette Place
Windsor, ON N8X 1L9
Saturday Mar. 24 2012Calgary AB10AM-5PMUniversity of Calgary
Dinning Centre
2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T2N 1N
Saturday Mar. 24 2012Montreal QC10AM-5PMTBA
Saturday Mar. 24 2012Vancouver BC10AM-5PMMorris J Wosk Centre for Dailogue
580 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC,
V6B 1L6
(Enter via Seymour Street courtyard entrance)
Monday Mar. 26 2012Abbotsford BC11AM-6PMBEST WESTERN PLUS
Regency Inn & Conference Centre
32110 Marshall Rd
Abbotsford, BC V2T 1A1
(Conference Centre)
Saturday Mar. 31 2012Toronto ON11AM-5PMCBC Toronto
250 Front St.
Toronto, ON
(Atrium)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pick up the phone and start negotiating

Looking to increase your personal power? You might start with a couple of my recent blogposts on other sites:

For the National Post I recently wrote a rant on the limitations of email, and why you really should pick up the phone and call instead, more often.

Excerpt: Here's just one of the reasons that the phone is better than email.

You get instant feedback. Does your colleague agree with your point? Is he or she going along, but grudgingly? Are you going to have to adjust your sales pitch for when contacting other prospects? The phone can give you instant, invaluable feedback that tells you how things are going and helps you get things back on track fast when they’re going off the rails.

You can read the full story here:
http://business.financialpost.com/2012/02/03/forget-email-make-the-call-instead/

Negoiating is one the most crucial skills an entrepreneur (or anyone, for that matter) can have. Yet I know few people who are good at it. We're so wrapped up in our own needs that we don't look at negotiation as an interpersonal skill, or a highly predictable process that we can all get much better at.

So I wrote a blogpost for PROFIT magazine's website, www.PROFITguide.com, summing up "Six Keys to Negotiating Success," from U.S. entrepeneur Arthur Wylie. He negotiates financial deals for his clients (many of them professional athletes) all the time, so he has a unique outlook on negotiating, and a formula you would do well to learn and adopt (or adapt -- use whatever parts works best for you).

Here's just one of his tips:
Key #3: Get buy-in for your vision. It’s not always easy to get other people on board with your ideas. A critical step in artful deal-making is to convey your vision of the outcome in such a way that other parties will seek the same outcome. The WIIFM factor (“What’s in it for me?”) must be made crystal clear to the other party as you present your position.

You can get all the tips at http://www.profitguide.com/blog/rickspence/71424--swagger-6-keys-to-negotiating-success

Now grab the phone and start negotiating!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The True Value of Social Media

The following post was originally written as a comment I recently submitted to a LinkedIn group, the Toronto Entrepreneur Alliance. I was responding to another member's request for social media success stories.

(You may have noticed that most companies still don't have a lot of success stories. I think that's because they haven't caught on to what social media is all about.)
So here's my comment:

My belief is that social media is not an add-on to your business. It's an add-back-on.

For centuries, all businesses had personal relationships with their customers. It was only in the 19th-century industrial era (with its breakthroughs in mass production, branding, transportation and distribution) that the producers of products and services became estranged from their immediate users and buyers.

Result: giant, faceless, untrusted corporations; mediocre or lousy products; and frustrated customers (because product information and good service are so hard to come by.)

With social media, companies can now once again communicate on a broad, ongoing basis with their customers. They can listen in as their users compare notes, and engage with customers who have questions and problems. They can learn from their customers' feedback, improve their products, and add new ones that people actually need. Best of all, they in stepping out from behind the curtain of anonymity, companies and brands show themselves to be human once again.

In business as in life, those who do the best job of communicating with their community, and creating greater shared value, will flourish. And those who cannot bear the light of day, and of honest, candid interaction, will slink back into the shadows where they belong.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Getting Toronto to Talk

I had a great time at Metro Hall yesterday doing my “TorontoTalks” presentation. More importantly, the audience seemed to have a great time, too.
My topic was “5 Secrets of Success for Toronto Entrepreneurs.” Normally in a gig like that I do seven or 10 “secrets,” but I have learned over time to go deeper on fewer, in order to really challenge people to see (and seize) the full potential of the opportunities before them.

It also leaves more time for discussion, because entrepreneurs love to talk about the issues they struggle with.

At any rate, last night I tried something different. I put the discussion and comments part first, reminding folks that the event was called “Toronto Talks” – not “Rick Talks” – and that I wanted to hear their secrets of success before I offered mine. We got some great comments – people wanted to talk about having passion for what you do, the need to hire more intelligently, the dangers of overselling. This sparked lively, interactive discussions we might not have had if I had waited till the end to draw people out.

After half an hour of that, a couple of people subtly suggested that they had come out in the dark and the cold to hear from me, so would I get on with it? So I presented my five secrets, which were:

1. Engage with your Customers
2. Create So Much Value, Customers Can't Not Do Business with You!
3. Make More Money from Every Sale

4. Measure Everything You Do

5. Define More Clearly How You Help Your Customers

For point 5, we went back into interactive mode. I asked people to develop one-sentence mission statements to describe themselves and their business, and how they create value for others in just a few words. The template I like to use is this:
I do this (or these things) for this market so they can do this (name a clear, tangible benefit the client/user will derive).
I like this format because the focus is only one-third on what you do, and two thirds on your customers and how they benefit from what your products or services.

My experience is that most people aren’t very good at describing what they do in a way that’s clear, concise, and, most important, interests other people. This template is designed to intrigue people and spur follow-up questions that lead to a profitable conversation.

Whenever I do this exercise I always find someone who's come up with a great mission statement on their own. Last night, William Stratus of Planetcast had the winner, saying: “At Planetcast we create websites and web applications solutions that click, not clunk.”

Click, not clunk. Short, clear and memorable. And now, no longer a secret.
If you need a speaker for your business, startup or entrepreneurial event, let’s talk. rick (at) rickspence.ca  I guarantee click, not clunk.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Rick Live! "5 Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success"

There are a few spots left to hear me speak on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Metro Hall in downtown Toronto. I’m giving a rare public talk as part of the Toronto Talks series.

I'll be pontificating on "5 Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success."
If time allows, there may even be more than 5!

Location: Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Room 303
Time: 7 pm

Members of certain local business associations may qualify for free admission. Otherwise, it’s $20 at the door. Proceeds go to Camp Oochigeas, a volunteer-based camp providing memorable experiences for children with cancer.
To RSVP, email rsvp@torontotalks.org or phone (416)-783-7526.
Seating is limited.
(That’s their wording, not mine.)
I hope to see you there!