Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Business not so tough - if you do it right?

Having grown up in a big business (Cooper Sporting Goods) and created his own award-winning small business (Alive & Well fashion warehouse boutique), Donald Cooper is one of Canada's most creative and original business speakers.

In his recent newsletter, he really nailed one of the key paradoxes of business today. I'll condense. You read, feel guilty, then adjust as required.

The Donald's main point is that many people believe that business is getting harder and tougher than ever. He's not so sure.

With today's easy to use technology for tracking sales, controlling costs, managing inventories, communicating with customers personally, measuring productivity and generating financial statements, he says, in some ways "running a business today is 10 times easier than it ever was. "

Donald remembers how Cooper, which was Canada's leading manufacturer of sports equipment in the 1960’s and 70’s, used to operate.

"Invoices were manually typed and then manually recapped onto 11,000 bin cards to record current and future orders, plan production and control inventory. The bin cards were recapped from time to time to create hand written reports for analysis. The information was late and the reports were inaccurate. As a result, we were frequently out of stock of key items and we turned our inventory fewer than three times a year.

"We were also flying blind when it came to product costing, scheduling and factory efficiency. And we call these the “good old days”!"

The moral? If you're not taking advantage of all these technologies for tracking your business and selling more personally and efficiently, you're risking a slapshot upside the head.

Donald offers you this basic question: “How successfully are you using all of the tools and technologies now available to control costs, proactively serve your customers, make better and faster decisions, expand your business, grow your bottom line…and have time to have a life?”

His advice: "Embrace the latest software, tools and technologies available to proactively manage your business, then get professional coaching in how to use it effectively …or just sell and get out before it’s too late!"

Wise words from someone who knows exactly what he's speaking about. Which puts Donald Cooper on my list of National Treasures.

Check out his website and other articles here.
See Donald in action! You can watch his June 12th presentation at Visa Canada's Small Business Big Thinking conference here.

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