Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Report from Vancouver

The SOHO/Small Business conference in Vancouver yesterday was a huge hit, with folks lining up for the trade show all day long, and standing-room-only in the seminar halls. People seemed really happy with SOHO's combination of motivation and information, and they gave closing speaker Peter Legge a standing ovation after he challenged everyone in the room to live their "Olympic dream."

[Speaking of which, probably few Canadians outside BC are paying attention, but the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are going to be huge. Most of the formal business opportunities (e.g. licensing and contracts) have long since been locked up, but there are many other niches - accommodation, hospitality, communications, security, etc. - for hungry entrepreneurs to fill. The opportunities are many and varied - London Drugs was even selling Hallowe'en-themed 2010 Winter Olympics pins! For $9.99, no less. )

Thanks to a sponsorship from Visa Canada, my contribution to the SOHO conference was a presentation on "10 Ways to Fix Your Business Now." I even cited some local case studies from BC firms I have studied recently (such as City Express, Coastal Contacts and MediaWave Communications).

For posterity's sake, here are my 10 Fixes:

No. 1. De-commoditize your business. Distinguish yourself from the competition by finding new opportunities to add value to your traditional products and services.

No. 2: Get out and talk to your market. Become the Ed ("How'm I doing?") Koch of your industry.

No. 3: Adapt to the Web 2.0 world of burgeoning communications technologies.

No. 4: Make the Internet work for you.

No. 5: Jump into pay-per-click advertising. Now.

No. 6: Set up an advisory board for your business.

No. 7: Invite your banker to lunch. If the economy weakens, you need someone at your bank on your side.

No. 8: Add creativity to your HR skills. Innovate with talent-focused techniques such as group interviews and Try Before You Buy.

No. 9: Leverage your resources by making constant and strategic use of partnerships.

No. 10: Well, I cheat a little here. I ask members of the audience to break into groups of two to share fixes they have made (or are thinking of making) in their business. It's very powerful - the buzz in the room almost raised the roof.

When I finally reasserted control, I asked the audience to share the fix stories they had just heard from their partners. (I figure most people would rather brag on behalf of someone else than for themselves.) Congratulations to Leanne, who told us about her partner's decision to involve his entire management team in strategic planning. What a great fix that will be!

For her contribution, Leanne won a rare copy of my (still available on Amazon) book, Secrets of Success from Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies.


BWelford said...

Excellent list, Rick. That sounds like an exciting conference.

Anonymous said...

The 2010 Olympics organizing committee has only spent 12% of its (privately raised) $1.6 billion operational budget to date, Rick, and it's been in business for four years. It'll spend nearly all of the other 88% during the next two-and-a-half years, so I would suggest that there will be a lot more "formal" business opportunites as you call it, to come from VANOC in the next couple of years. Not to mention all of the spending by corporate and government sponsors and supporters who will need goods and services.