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Compilation of interviews with CEO's of small and mid sized companies on the top issues they're facing. Includes tips and tools any business owner can put to work in their own business.

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  1. 1. Top   5  issues  affec-ng  Ontario  business   A  report  for  Ontario’s  business  community     As  prepared  by  
  2. 2. Introduc6on   With  the  biggest  recession  in  our  history  star-ng  to  fade  away,  business   owners  are  now  looking  for  ways  to  build  sales  and  drive  growth.       Over  the  last  three  months  we’ve  spoken  to  over  50  Ontario  business   owners  about  what  their  greatest  challenges  are  moving  forward.    The   There  is  a  new   businesses  ranged  from  small  two  and  three  person  firms  to  large  mul--­‐ speed  to  business.     million  dollar  corpora-ons.   From  these  conversa-ons  we’ve  iden-fied  five  key  focus  areas  that  will  be   Are  you  ready?   most  important  for  not  only  survival,  but  for  future  growth.   This  report  also  includes  valuable  informa-on  to  capitalize  on  these  new   opportuni-es.   It  is  our  inten6on  to  pass  these  resources  on  to  you  in  order  to  give  you  a   compe66ve  edge  in  your  marketplace.  
  3. 3. What  Ontario’s  business  owners  have  told  us.   AGer  hundreds  of  hours  of  discussion  with  dozens  of  Ontario  business   owners  and  senior  managers,  we  have  iden-fied  the  top  five  business   issues  facing  Ontario  businesses.   1.    Finding  and  keeping  the  right  people   2.    Business  development   3.    Customer  reten6on     4.    Sustainability   5.    Accountability   Each  of  these  is  cri-cal  to  the  future  of  every  Ontario  business.   This  report  covers:   -­‐  How  each  issue  can  affect  your  business   -­‐  The  impact  of  non  ac6on   -­‐  Ac6on  steps  you  can  take  right  away  
  4. 4. Issue  #1  –  Finding  and  keeping  the  right  people   Ontario  businesses  spend  millions  every  year  trying  to  find  and  keep  the   right  employees.     We’re  sure  you  will  agree  that  you  will  not  be  able  to  grow  your  business   on  your  own.    Just  as  your  customers,  the  economy,  your  vendors  and   your  business  have  changed;  the  same  rule  applies  to  you  and  your  team.   The  business  owners  we  spoke  with  said  that  handling  change  and   engaging  their  people  is  one  of  the  toughest  yet  overlooked  parts  of   growing  their  businesses.   Recent  Canadian  studies  show  that  as  many  as  83%  of  employees  do  not   feel  engaged  with  the  organiza-onal  direc-on  and  goals.    Coupled  with   local  unemployment  rates  reaching  as  high  as  12%,  you  can  imagine   people’s  apathy  and  fear  of  the  unknown.    Your  number  one  job  as  an   owner  is  keeping  people  engaged.    The  rules  have  changed.   The  effect  on  your  business   The  people  side  of  business  is  oGen  referred  to  as  the  soG  side  of   business.  Right  now,  it’s  the  hardest  part  of  business.    In  our  recent   keynotes,  we  have  been  quoted  to  have  said,  “If  your  people  are  not   changing  faster  than  your  customers  expecta-ons,  you’re  in  a  lot  of   trouble.”       Just  ask  any  sales  person  how  tough  it  is  to  get  aZen-on  and  shorten  the   sales  cycle  using  tradi-onal  methods.    We  are  sure  you’ll  agree  with  our   statement  when  it  comes  to  building  your  results  using  the  same  old   techniques.  
  5. 5. Issue  #1  –  Finding  and  keeping  the  right  people   The  impact  of  non-­‐ac-on   Loss  of  ac-on  means  more  -me  spent  in  problem  solving  and  loss  of   innova-on.    A  business  will  never  grow  when  they  are  reac-onary  and   problem  solving.    Companies  out  on  the  edge  spend  more  -me  on   Do  you  have  the   innova-on.    The  people  side  of  your  business  can  no  longer  be  constrained   to  vague  human  resource  theories.    The  best  companies  we  talked  with   right  people?   today  are  involving  all  levels  of  owners,  management  and  staff  in  vision,   strategy,  planning  and  execu-on.   Are  they  in  the   Ge]ng  started   right  job?   Effec-ve  immediately,  begin  to  involve  everyone  in  your  organiza-on  in   dialogue  around  commitments,  expecta-ons,  ac-ons  and  accountability.   Ac-on  Steps   Develop  a  strategic  vision  and  goals  that  involve  everyone  contribu-ng  at   a  higher  level.  Get  the  vision  off  of  the  office  wall  and  into  daily  language.   During  our  conversa-ons  we  revealed  that  there  is  a  prominent   expecta-ons  gap.  This  means  that  what  people  feel  is  expected  of  them   does  not  match  what  the  boss  expects  of  them.    Begin  to  create  robust   dialogue  around  clear  expecta-ons  and  business  contribu-on.   Involve  everyone  in  the  organiza-on  in  understanding  the  business  the   way  you  do.  This  is  not  about  sharing  confiden-al  financials;  it’s  about   allowing  people  to  clearly  understand  their  contribu-on  and  its  impact  on   your  customers,  your  business  and  your  compe-tors.   Once  the  organiza-on  has  defined  its  vision  and  strategy,  have  every  key   leader  in  your  organiza-on  develop  a  vision  and  strategy  and  three  key   execu-on  goals  of  their  own  that  supports  the  same  as  the  organiza-on.  
  6. 6. Issue  #2  –  Business  Development   “Nothing  happens  un-l  someone  sells  something.”   That’s  an  old  quote,  but  it’s  more  true  today  than  ever  before.    AGer  a   recession,  especially  the  one  we’re  coming  out  of,  the  first  thing  on  the   mind  of  most  of  the  business  owner’s  we  talked  to  is  increasing  sales.    But   that’s  not  as  easy  as  it  used  to  be.   The  owners  we  spoke  with  said:     1.  I’m  facing  more  compe--on  than  ever  before.     2.  I’m  being  forced  to  compete  more  and  more  on  price.   3.  My  marke-ng  and  adver-sing  are  not  providing  consistent  returns.   4.  It’s  harder  to  stand  out  and  get  someone’s  aZen-on.   5.  I  don’t  know  what’s  working  and  what  isn’t.  There  are  too  many   choices  –  which  one’s  are  the  right  one’s.   6.  My  phone  has  stopped  ringing  and  my  order  takers  need  to  learn  how   to  sell.     The  effect  on  your  business   This  market  environment  is  not  going  away.  Technology  has  enabled   anyone  to  compete  anywhere.    Your  customers  have  access  to  more   informa-on  and  more  choices  that  ever  before.       So  the  ques6on  becomes,  what  makes  you  stand  out?  
  7. 7. Issue  #2  –  Business  Development   The  impact  of  non-­‐ac-on   By  remaining  a  “me-­‐too”  company,  you’re  leaving  too  much  to  chance  that   your  customers  will  stay  with  you.    Just  as  Apple  reinvented  compu-ng   and  Cirque  du  Soleil  reinvented  the  circus,  how  are  you  reinven-ng  your   business  and  industry?   Why  should   A  number  of  the  owners  we  spoke  with  are  re-­‐evalua-ng  their  companies’   someone  buy  from   offerings  and  crea-ng  new  and  beZer  ways  to  serve  their  markets.   you?   Ge]ng  started   As  of  today  stop  talking  about  your  products  and  services,  and  start  selling   value.       Ac-on  Steps   1.  Understand  your  customers.    Find  out  what  is  truly  important  to  them   and  deliver  it  on  a  consistent  basis.   2.  Determine  how  you  show  up  in  your  customer’s  mind?  How  are  you   perceived  vs.  your  compe-tors?     3.  What  can  you  deliver  to  your  customers  and  market  beZer  than   anyone  else?    Be  realis-c  and  ensure  you  can  live  up  to  the  promise.     Find  this  out.  Please  do  not  assume  you  know;  there  is  too  much  at  risk.  
  8. 8. Issue  #3  –  Customer  Reten6on   How  many  customers  did  you  lose  this  week?    That’s  a  valid  ques-on.  The   owners  we  spoke  with  stated  that  they’re  facing  significant  increases  in   compe--on  and  price  shopping.    Plus  they  say  their  customers  are  more   intelligent  and  web  savvy  than  ever  before.       Some  of  the  owners  we  spoke  with    said  that  their  greatest  opportunity  to   stabilize  cash  flow  was  reconnec-ng  with  exis-ng  customers.    Are  yours   being  wooed  away  by  your  compe-tors?    Do  you  know  who  your  best   customers  are?     At  the  same  -me  other  owners  we  spoke  with  admiZed  to  being  too   internally  focused  on  cash  flow  and  cost  cu]ng;  that  they’ve  lost  touch   with  their  best  customers.    Does  this  describe  you?   Most  marke-ng  and  sales  budgets  focus  on  new  customer  acquisi-on,  but   it  should  also  focus  on  reten-on  and  growth  of  your  exis-ng  and  best   customers.   The  effect  on  your  business   Right  now  you  could  have  a  20-­‐30%  sales  increase  just  by  conduc-ng  an   aggressive  re-­‐connec-on  campaign  with  your  customers.  They  may  have   forgoZen  all  that  you  do,  or  they  may  be  ready  to  re-­‐ini-ate  projects  that   were  on  hold  because  of  their  own  cash  flow  concerns.     The  impact  of  non-­‐ac-on   You  have  the  opportunity  to  grow  your  business  by  design,  not   circumstance.  The  recession  is  fading,  and  the  best  -me  to  become  even   more  valuable  to  your  customers  is  when  they  need  you  the  most.  
  9. 9. Issue  #3  –  Customer  Reten6on     Ge]ng  started   Effec-ve  today,  make  a  conscious  decision  to  re-­‐connect  with  as  many  of   your  customers  as  you  can.   Ac-on  Steps   How  can  you   Moments  of  Truth   become  invaluable   1.  Iden-fy  every  customer  touch  point   to  your  customers?   2.  Determine  the  expected  level  of  service  for  each   3.  Hold  your  people  accountable  to  deliver  it  every  -me   Client  Focus  Mee6ng   1.  Get  6-­‐10  of  your  customers  in  the  same  room   2.  Have  your  key  people  in  the  room  as  well   3.  Have  an  open  and  honest  dialogue  about  how  you  serve  them   4.  Shut  up  and  listen.  Take  great  notes  and  act  
  10. 10. Issue  #4  –  Sustainability     Many  of  the  owners  we  talked  with,  felt  that  the  future  of  the  company   was  squarely  placed  on  their  shoulders.    For  your  company  to  truly  grow   and  prosper,  you  need  a  team  approach  to  developing  your  future  leaders   and  business  thinkers.    Who  in  your  company  is  thinking  like  you?   This  means  more  than  one  day  obscure  training  and  leadership   development  programs.  This  is  about  crea-ng  a  true  learning  organiza-on,   where  individuals  hold  themselves  accountable  for  business  skills  and   acumen  development.   The  effect  on  your  business   You  create  a  culture  where  ongoing  development  is  the  norm,  not  a  yearly   budget  item.    People  begin  to  respond  how  they’ve  improved  their  game   daily.    Please  do  not  take  this  lightly;  this  is  what  the  best  companies   we’ve  talked  with  are  doing.   The  impact  of  non-­‐ac-on   In  the  absence  of  clear  development  goals  and  roles  people  will  play  in  the   future,  your  chances  of  disengagement  are  very  high.    People  want  to   work  for  a  company  where  they’re  recognized  for  their  contribu-on  and   they’re  challenged  to  learn  and  grow.     P.S.  the  typical  response  of  “I’m  too  busy  to  do  this”,  has  nothing  to  do   with  growing  a  company.  
  11. 11. Issue  #4  –  Sustainability     Ge]ng  started   Effec-ve  immediately,  every  key  individual  in  your  company  writes  out  a   learning  and  development  plan  for  the  next  12  months.   Ac-on  Steps   Draw  on  your   By  the  way  –  the  business  will  get  beZer  when  its  people  get  beZer.   People  get  beZer  immediately  aGer  their  leader  get  beZer.    That  means   collec6ve   you…  lead  by  example.     strengths.   1.  What  are  the  things  you’re  doing  now  that  you  want  people  to   replicate  in  your  organiza-on?       2.  How  are  you  challenging  them  to  raise  the  bar?   3.  Is  this  part  of  your  culture?   These  are  fair  ques-ons  to  ask.  
  12. 12. Issue  #5  –  Accountability     One  of  our  favorite  lines  is  “never  fire  someone  for  making  a  mistake,   however,  fire  someone  on  the  spot  for  not  doing  what  they  say  they’re   going  to  do.”   During  our  conversa-ons  we  asked  about  coaching  and  being  held   accountable.    Many  of  the  owners  we  spoke  with  said  that  they  ini-ally   resisted  those  types  of  conversa-ons.    But  upon  hi]ng  breakthrough   goals,  they  sited  coaching  as  an  integral  part  of  their  success.   The  effect  on  your  business   There  are  only  two  reasons  for  failure:  a  deficiency  of  knowledge  (you   don’t  know  what  to  do),  or  a  deficiency  of  execu-on  (you  don’t  do  what   you  know  you  should  do).    It  is  that  simple.   Take  a  look  at  your  business.  Are  you  constantly  derailed  because  you’re   pu]ng  out  fires  and  doing  the  things  other  people  are  supposed  to  be   doing?   The  successful  leaders  we  spoke  with  spend  more  -me  working  on  their   business  instead  of  in  it.   The  impact  of  non-­‐ac-on   How  much  longer  are  you  going  to  keep  doing  everyone  else’s  job?   Accountability  starts  with  you.  
  13. 13. Issue  #5  –  Accountability     Ge]ng  started   Effec-ve  immediately  hold  your  people  accountable  and  stop  allowing   excuses.  Take  a  stand  on  this.   Ac-on  Steps   Are  you  working  in   3-­‐2-­‐1  Formula  –  Incorporate  this  into  your  workplace.  If  someone   approaches  you  with  a  problem  they  are  to:   your  business  or   1.  Provide  you  with  3  solu-ons   on  your  business?   2.  Two  of  which  include  them   3.  And  what  they  feel  is  the  number  1  solu-on   This  simple  formula  has  produced  incredible  results  for  many  of  the   business  owners  we  work  with.  
  14. 14. So  what  do  you  do  now?     It’s  all  about  ac-on.     The  biggest  thing  we  learned  is  if  you  wait  for  the  perfect  moment,  person   or  situa-on  you  will  get  leG  behind.    Guaranteed.    The  speed  of  business  is   How  urgent  is  this   increasing.   to  you?   A  high  number  of  the  owners  we  spoke  with  regreZed  wai-ng  to  make   cri-cal  decisions  about  growth  and  people.  They  felt  that  this  has  caused   Are  you  ready  to   significant  harm  to  the  speed  of  their  recovery  from  the  recession.   make  a   commitment?   Star-ng  today  please  think  about  your  business  differently.   1.  Begin  to  involve  everyone  in  your  organiza-on  in  dialogue  around   commitment,  ac-on  and  accountability.   2.  Stop  talking  about  products  and  services  and  start  selling  value.   3.  Re-­‐connect  with  your  exis-ng  customers  today   4.  Iden-fy  the  leaders  within  your  organiza-on  and  give  them  clear  roles   5.  Create  a  culture  of  accountability  and  follow-­‐up   All  business  is  created  through  conversa6on.  If  you  keep  having  the   same  conversa6ons  you  will  undoubtedly  get  the  same  results.     What  conversa6ons  are  you  having?  
  15. 15. A  few  of  the  companies  we  work  with   Ironworks     Benefit  Partners   Exocor   Corporate  Chemicals   Mountainview  Homes   For-s  Ontario   Niagara  Parks  Commission   Tremont  Yacht  Furniture   Cataract  Savings  &  Credit  Union   Dell  Smart  Home  Solu-ons   Rogers  Link  Wireless   Erie  Personnel  Corpora-on   Brand  Blvd.   Glenn  MerriZ  Collision   Canadian  Tire   Dominion  Auto  Body   Rinaldi  Homes   Bea-es  Basics   Boldt  Pools   CRL  Campbell  Construc-on   Meridian  Credit  Union   Cedarway  Floral   Renaissance  Fallsview  Hotel   Primeway  Companies   Handling  Specialty  Mfg.  Ltd.   Desjardins  Caisse  Populaire   Horizon  U-li-es   Aquatrue  Water   Hy-­‐Grade  Precast   Bosch  Rexroth  Canada  Corp   Janco  Steel  Ltd.   Design  Electronics   Ministry  of  Transporta-on  of  Ontario   F-­‐B  Tool  &  Die  Limited   Niagara  CliGon  Group   Giro]  Machine   Regional  Municipality  of  Niagara   Homes  by  Hendricks   Salit  Steel   Millers  Auto  Recycling   Seaway  Marine  &  Industrial  Inc.   Modern  Mosaic   Skylon  Tower   Regional  Doors  &  Hardware   Sobey’s   Sheehan  &  Rosie  Ltd.   TRW  Canada  Limited   SVAT  Electronics   Vintage  Hotels   Vermeer’s  Greenhouses   Weinmann  Electric  
  16. 16. What  they’re  saying  about  us   Their  service  and  crea<vity  has  brought  value  to  our  company  in  terms  of   increased  market  share  and  profitability.  We  are  very  pleased  with  the   work  they  have  done  for  us.   David  G.  Benny,  CEO   Cataract  Savings  &  Credit  Union   This  has  been  an  absolute  worthwhile  experience.    Why?  Coaching   emphasizes  real  life,  common  sense  principles  and  transforms  them  into  a   logical  framework.  Our  coach  challenged  each  one  of  us  to  establish  real   goals  (in  my  case,  business  goals)  and  applying  the  tools  to  achieve  these   goals.  And  the  results  are  "real".      My  successes  are  all  about  focus,   accountability  and  discipline  leading  to  real  results.   Roch  Lafontaine,Manager  Business  Accounts   Desjardins  Caisse  Populaire       The  coaching  experience  allowed  me  to  uncover  myself  and  to  challenge   the  things  that  hold  me  back.  I  am  more  open  and  willing  to  take  on  the   challenges  of  life  and  to  have  more  confidence  in  my  ability  to  achieve  my   dreams  and  succeed  no  maLer  what  happens.  It  helped  me  have  2   consecu<ve  successful  years  in  my  financial  planning  career  where  I   exceeded  my  annual  goals  by  over  125%.   Andre  Sarkis,  Financial  Planner   RBC  
  17. 17. What  they’re  saying  about  us   Coaching  has  allowed  people  to  harness  skills  in  managing  all  of  our   business  objec<ves.    Managers  who  have  completed  the  coaching  have   naturally  climbed  to  the  highest  levels  of  execu<on  in  the  organiza<on.    In   the  end,  the  boLom  line  improvement  to  this  hotel  is  up  20%  and  climbing.     We  will  and  are  achieving  results  above  expecta<ons!   Jeff  Ransome,  General  Manager   Marrio^  Halifax   I  can  actually  say  that  while  I  was  involved  in  coaching  I  had  a  4  <mes   return  on  my  investment.    On  one  order  we  saved  7200  dollars.  I  take  a  lot   of  risks,  however  I  some<mes  lack  finesse.    Coaching  has  given  me  the   tools  to  have  much  more  finesse  injected  into  my  sales  calls  and  my   everyday  interac<ons  with  other  people.    The  most  important  thing  that   was  learned  from  the  coaching  was  how  to  stop  worrying.      The  tools  I   received  have  taught  me  how  to  deal  with  stress  in  a  much  more   manageable  way.    You  have  a  unique  process  that  to  me  is  more  valuable   than  my  four  years  earning  my  B.A.  in  Law.     ScoD  Boisvert, Owner   The  Elegant  Vending  Company  
  18. 18. About  the  authors   We’ve  worked  with  over  500  companies  in  Ontario,  and  we  keep  ge]ng   invited  back  to  help  them  achieve  even  more.   We’ve  helped  them:     1.  Develop  a  clear  and  executable  vision  and  strategy   2.  Find  and  keep  great  employees   3.  BeZer  understand  their  customers  buying  process   4.  Make  their  communica-ons  with  both  customers  and  employees  clear   and  impacqul   Neil Thornton Trigger Strategies But  most  importantly  we’ve  helped  them  grow.   Direct: (905) 401-1434 We’re  about  ac-on  and  producing  results,  not  theories  and  seminars.  If   you’re  ready  for  new  conversa-ons,  new  ideas,  new  tools  and  beZer   results  than  you’re  ge]ng  today,  let’s  talk.   Trigger  Strategies   Larry Anderson Trigger Strategies Direct: (905) 321-2663