Small business blog posts we liked this week

By Samantha Garner | July 22, 2017

small business blog postsWe wanted to share with you four articles and blog posts we came across recently that we hope will offer some small business inspiration or useful advice. Let us know in the comments if there’s something you read this week that you want to share!

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Entrepreneurs Get Strong By Recognizing Their Weaknesses

By GoForth Guest Blogger | July 15, 2017

entrepreneurs get strong by recognizing their weaknesses

It takes a lot of confidence and ego to start a business. Although these attributes are major components of success, ego and confidence can lead to failure if they blind entrepreneurs to their own weaknesses.

A common trap for entrepreneurs is trying to do everything; delegation requires trust (a legitimate concern), a willingness to involve others in strategic and tactical decision-making, and recognition that someone else has greater expertise in a particular area of operations. These latter two requirements can be high hurdles for the entrepreneur to get over.

If entrepreneurs take a cold, hard look at their abilities and interests, they will soon realize outside help is needed somewhere, somehow — and probably, right away. Here are several typical situations; perhaps you see a bit of yourself in one of them:

  • Entrepreneurs with a passion for sales are often weak in detail management. Selling requires high-powered multitasking, risk taking and terrific communication skills. Detail management requires focus, patience, and methodical and repetitious work activity. These two mindsets are seldom found in the same person. A sales-minded entrepreneur needs a reliable and skilled operations manager to steer the ship and make sense out of the chaos this type of entrepreneur is bound to create.
  • Entrepreneurs who are technical wonks — creative geniuses in the design and application of a particular product, such as software — sometimes have little understanding of basic business finance. All small businesses need to button down financial operations, but in particular, startups launching a new product must be very careful in how they project and manage operating costs, as well as in raising capital and structuring debt. Brilliant, innovative product ideas that could produce millions of dollars in revenue sometimes go unrealized because the startup couldn’t get out of the gate financially.
  • Not all entrepreneurs are high-powered, extroverted sales and marketing stars. Some (and potentially successful) small business owners are rather reserved and more comfortable behind the scenes. This is fine if such an entrepreneur finds someone to be the organization’s “front person” in terms of sales and marketing. Many, many entrepreneurs dislike sales and are quite uncomfortable networking, pushing their products or trying to create a personal brand on social media. Get help! It’s not a fatal weakness.
  • When a business grows quickly, entrepreneurs who handled all facets of the business in the early days now find themselves in over their heads — and refuse to accept it. This situation, becoming a victim of one’s own success, is perhaps one of the most widespread killers of potentially successful small businesses. The key here is to develop a middle management function; a group of trusted managers who can both oversee critical areas of operation and work harmoniously under the owner’s direction. Accomplishing this very hard mission requires several components, including:
  • Being an owner who is ready, willing and able to learn how to delegate — and then actually delegates.
  • Selecting managers who are trustworthy and competent. A great way to find managers is to look for people who have been where your company wants to go in terms of scale of operation.

To help in the effort to assess weaknesses, a small business owner is wise to establish an outside board of directors — friends, business associates, referrals with solid track records in marketing, sales, finance, etc. An outside board (with no voting rights) that holds quarterly meetings imposes a bit of discipline on the entrepreneur, but more importantly, provides a mechanism to expertly review and evaluate the business’s progress, strengths and weaknesses. Whether annual revenues are $10,000 or $10 million, such a process is the best insurance against self-inflicted business wounds.


Brad ShorrAuthor Bio:

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing firm that offers SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Entrepreneur, Moz and Forbes.

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13 questions to ask before you start a small business

By Samantha Garner | July 8, 2017

small-business-planning

Deciding that you’re going to become an entrepreneur is exciting. Finally, you’ve had the great business idea you’ve been waiting for!

But, wait. Not so fast. How do you know your business idea will work as an actual business? How do you know if you’re actually ready for the hard work and personal stress that comes with entrepreneurship? Ask yourself these 13 questions before you start a small business, to make sure that you’ve got the right foundation for success.

  1. How well do I handle risk?
  2. How do I cope with stress?
  3. Do I have the support of my family and friends?
  4. Am I willing to work longer than usual to start my small business?
  5. Are my finances strong enough to support me if my small business doesn’t see income immediately?
  6. Do I have management or technical experience in a business similar to the business I want to start?
  7. How well do I lead or manage others?
  8. Do I have any accounting or bookkeeping knowledge?
  9. What is most important to me in running a small business – making money or doing what I love?
  10. How adaptable am I?
  11. How do I make difficult decisions?
  12. Do I have a long-term plan for my small business?
  13. Do I have a business model?

If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, don’t lose heart! Knowing what you don’t know is important, and can help you determine the gaps in your knowledge. Training in entrepreneurship skills will also increase your odds of success. After all, nearly one half of all small businesses close within two years of start-up in Canada, so knowing as many business skills as you can will help reduce your risk.

For more, find out when a great business idea becomes a great business opportunity.

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GoForth is proud to announce its 150th partner

By Samantha Garner | July 1, 2017

It’s Canada 150, and we’re excited to announce our 150th education partner! EDAC (Economic Developers Association of Canada) is Canada’s national organization of economic developers. EDAC offers its members professional development, networking opportunities and a comprehensive offering of resources.

In addition, EDAC also offers the Certified Economic Developer designation, Ec.D., which signifies an economic development professional has the tools and experience necessary to analyze regional problems, provide advisory or consulting services to the public and private sectors, and plan development strategies.

At GoForth, we’re proud of each and every entrepreneur that has helped to make Canada successful, and our extensive network of partners are equally committed to helping Canadian small business succeed through education.

Happy 150!

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Can small business creativity be learned?

By Samantha Garner | June 24, 2017

small-business-creativityPerhaps the question should be “Can creativity be re-learned?” Many studies of creativity in children and adults show that children are more creative than adults. Why is this?

Many researchers point to our education system, built on principles developed during the Industrial Revolution. People in this time period were producing linear-thinking, hard-working, conforming factory workers. Innovation, initiative and creativity were not encouraged.

However, those days are long gone, and now anyone can learn to be more creative – and we’re not just talking works of art, here. Take, for example, the story of the invention of Velcro.

Creative people aren’t creative in everything. They are creative in specific areas of activity, a particular domain of knowledge. Psychologists now believe creativity is domain-specific — knowledge directly related to a think you’re currently learning about.

No one can be creative without first internalizing this domain-specific knowledge, which is why a certain level of education is now believed to be essential to creativity. It’s easier to be creative in a certain area when you have a good foundation of knowledge in that domain. That’s why we believe a good, well-rounded small business education is essential for success.

What are your favourite ways to foster creativity in your small business?

Topics: GoForth Institute Small Business Training | No Comments »

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