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The Leading Edge May 2014
Small Business Success
Taking Care of Business  

    Contents
In this Issue

Motivate Your Team To Greatness (Part 2)

Flooring (Part 1)

Flooring (Part 2)

4 Quick Marketing Tips

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THE LEADING EDGE - your monthly link to groundbreaking ideas for entrepreneurs

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Small Business News:

Canada losing competitive edge, TD CEO warns - CALGARY - The CEO of TD Bank expressed a bullish view of the U.S. economic recovery on Thursday, while warning that Canada risks losing its competitive edge if small and medium businesses don't export more of their goods. Read more...


Canada Post hikes rates on small businesses - 98 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses rely on Canada Post every month. The Canada Post price hikes that took effect in March might do the crown corporation more harm than good, a small business advocate says. Read more...


Advisory boards boost Canadian small businesses, but only 6% use one, study says - TORONTO - Sales at small and medium-sized Canadian businesses grew a whopping 67% on average in the three years after creating an advisory board, yet just 6% of SMEs actually use one, a new study by the Business Development Bank of Canada shows. Read more...


ATB Financial to return thousands of personal guarantees for small businesses - "We're saying we're going to take a smaller guarantee and we'll give it back as the business performs," said Holbrook. Read more...

 
    Motivate Your Team To Greatness (Part 2)
 
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Last month we discussed how important it is to get the very best out of your team, and that motivation can play a major part in how well your employees work together and how effective they are at their jobs. We talked about the fact that you have to be awesome and that being awesome is contagious. We also considered the importance of understanding that personality styles play an important part in how we manage individuals. Learning which battles to fight and which to step away from was another important element in motivation as was the reverse - deciding when to hold people accountable.

This month we're going to look at four more things we can do to help motivate our employees and maximize the effectiveness of our teams.

Appreciate Good Work

I am sure you appreciate the work your employees do for you, but do you always remember, or have time, to thank them properly? Simply recognizing effort can have a huge motivational impact. One of the biggest complaints employees have is that they do not feel appreciated or valued. It doesn't take more than a minute to drop someone an email, or clap them on the back and say thanks. Employees who feel valued are far more likely to be loyal and that will show in their productivity and attitude toward others in the workplace.

Build relationships

The more you sincerely concern yourself about your employees wellbeing the more motivated they will be to support you, your company, and your customers. People respond to care and concern. Take time out to ask them what's going on in their lives, find out and talk about their hobbies and what they are passionate about. Learn a little about their families, their worries, and their concerns. Many years ago when I was in a senior management position responsible for business development of a fairly modest business, my boss asked me what would make me happiest, what would take the most pressure off my shoulders? I replied, "owning my own home" to which he said, "What's stopping you?" When I replied that my wife and I had been saving for some years but were still about $15,000 short of having a deposit, he took his cheque book out of his pocket and wrote me a cheque for that amount. He told me that this was an advance on commission he knew I would earn over the next year. I was flabbergasted; it was like I had won the lottery. Of course I earned it back and then some - I was so dedicated to the company that I increased sales by 80% that year; the company enjoyed its best year ever. In the end the owner of the company didn't actually GIVE me anything, but it sure felt like it!

Establish healthy competition

Competition can be healthy when directed positively. Bring your team together and talk about how you want your company to be better than the other companies competing in your market place - more than that you want your employees to be seen to be better than those of the competition. There are many customer review sites out there that publish reviews of products, services and companies. Check out what people are saying about you and use that as a way to incentivize your employees to provide better service and get more stars, or whatever way good service is rewarded. www.yelp.ca is the most popular site in Canada, unless of course you are in the hotel, or attractions industry when you should visit www.tripadvisor.ca

Great teams are great because together, they have a shared vision of being better than the other team! Tap into that and get your team fired up about how you can be better than your competition. Set goals that will give them benchmarks to strive for, and victories to celebrate.

Reward Success

I'm not talking about bonuses here, although they do have their place in motivating employees, I'm talking about celebrating success in simple terms at various stages of a project. Sometimes a box of donuts, or some specialty coffees can bring so many smiles, and create such a positive attitude that it will outweigh the cost and effort a hundred times over!

Rewarding success is about boosting morale - everyone loves surprises and what could be better than the boss going out of his, or her, way to bring treats? It shows your team that you were thinking of them, that you care.

A word of warning: with this motivational technique, a little goes a long way. You don't want it to become an expectation and you don't want the team to feel you are trying to buy their hard work and loyalty.

You know you've got a great team. Now step up your leadership and motivate them to even greater heights. It's good for business!

 
   
Flooring (Part 1) Top

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Here's a first for The Leading Edge, I don't think we've ever talked about infrastructure items before. But, it occurred to us that flooring is actually quite important and these days there is a wide range of flooring possibilities and all can impact your specific office or work environment.

Here are some things to consider when choosing new flooring:

  • Durability
  • Stain resistance
  • Low maintenance
  • Visual appeal
  • Cost
  • Comfort/cushioning
  • Insulation
  • Acoustic properties
  • Waterproof/moisture proof
  • Hygiene
  • How environmentally friendly

Types of flooring you might consider:

Carpet

Effective, functional, but easily stained - carpet needs to be chosen carefully for quality, durability and suitability for the space. Carpet is an inexpensive option, but you get what you pay for, so consider how long you are likely to be occupying your current space and choose quality accordingly. Ensure you buy commercial quality and not be tempted to buy a domestic product. With carpet, you must always have it professionally installed.

Carpet tile

There are many reasons to use carpet tile when replacing your existing office flooring, not least the fact that it's easy to install and can be installed section by section when your office is closed. This will involve less disruption, as you don't need to remove furniture from large areas all at once. Carpet tiles are versatile and easier to install and replace than carpet, they are available in many colours and qualities. Tiles can be used creatively to create unique designs. Stained tiles can be easily and quickly replaced with no cutting or measuring. On the downside they can become disjointed and look less aesthetically pleasing. They are also less durable than some other flooring choices.

Vinyl

The big plus is that Vinyl is inexpensive, quite durable (although can be dented and torn if mistreated) and easy to install. It also comes in 12-foot wide sheets which minimizes the need for joins. It is especially good in kitchens and bathrooms and is low maintenance. One downside is that it can be slippery when wet. Although fairly durable, it can go dull over time if not re-waxed regularly. Vinyl is not as environmentally friendly as some other choice as it is made from petroleum, which as we know is a nonrenewable resource.

Linoleum

Cost effective (although more expensive than vinyl), with lots of design choice, this is not be confused with the lino of the 1950s - the modern version lasts longer (up to 40 years), is biodegradable (making it environmentally friendly) and easy to clean. It isn't as waterproof as vinyl so care should be taken around water, and it will need waxing or polishing occasionally. It is difficult to install and requires a high level of expertise.

 
   
Flooring (Part 2) Top
 

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Concrete floors

Concrete floors are extremely tough and resilient, durable and long lasting. They are environmentally friendly if you already have concrete floors that need treating, but not so friendly if new floors need to be laid. These floors are hard and unforgiving if someone falls, if something fragile is dropped, or if someone has to stand for long periods of time. Concrete floors don't retain heat well and need to be properly treated to minimize moisture issues. Almost unlimited design finishes - in the case of new floors colour is mixed into the concrete before pouring. Existing floors can either be acid stained, dyed, or painted.

Hardwood

Aesthetically superior, and has a timeless appeal, however it scratches easier than laminate but single planks can be sanded, or replaced. It is quieter than laminate, and engineered wood and comes in a wide variety of woods. On the downside it has to be installed over a sub-floor so if your current floor is not suitable it can be costly. Maintenance and cleaning is harder than with many other types of flooring and the floors will need refinishing about every seven years.

Laminate

The number one reason for choosing laminate over hardwood is price of course, but it's also far harder wearing when you have a lot of people walking on it, and or dragging things over it. There's no doubt that hardwood looks great but it is easily scratched and needs more maintenance.

So, when it comes to flooring you have a lot to consider. First, what sort of environment are you putting it in? If it's in your office, or boardroom, where you entertain clients, you might want to splash out and buy something more expensive and comfortable. But if it's a high traffic area that's going to see a huge amount of traffic then look at something harder wearing and less expensive. For offices, think about the acoustics; you don't want to create an echo chamber where people are trying to concentrate so something softer might be in order. If you move desks, and other office furniture around occasionally, carpet tiles might be just the thing as you can move them around, or replace individual tiles to even out wear or repair damaged areas.

A little bit of thought could save you a lot of money and headaches down the line.

 
   
4 Quick Marketing Tips Top

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Invest In Being Real

Are you more concerned with your image, or your identity? An image can be fake - it can simply be a mask. There are many brands that talk-the-talk, but don't walk-the-walk. I'm sure some of your competition fall into the category.

Work on your identity - the real you beneath all the branding and hype. I'm talking about your corporate belief system, your organization's culture - what you really stand for and believe in.

Customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and knowledgeable - they respect integrity, and can spot a fraud in a heartbeat.

Don't Be A Copycat

Good ideas are commonplace and companies jump on the bandwagon with great alacrity. For every good idea, there are thousands of imitators. By all means learn from other companies but also learn to adopt, adapt and innovate. Real success is born out of originality. Find your own niche and capitalize on it - find your own way and stand out from the crowd, rather than ride the coat tails of others.

Love Your Customers - Even When They're A Pain

Someone once said, "this business would be great, if it wasn't for the customers" and I think we've all thought that on occasion. But, the reality is obvious, we need our customers and we need them to keep coming back time and time again.

So, make friendliness part of your value system not just something you ask your employees to be. Be that company that is known for its friendliness to all customers. I'm sure you regularly frequent a store, or a business, where all the staff are just so darn happy and pleasant. I'll give you a clue as to which one it is - it's the one you keep going back to!

And remember, your products and services should be customer-friendly too. Easy to use, easy to set up, come with user-friendly instructions, a help-line number - these are the things that make what you sell friendly.

Be Brave

Paulo Coelho said, "be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience." Don't get stuck in a marketing rut because it feels safe and comfortable. Be courageous, try something new - the worst-case scenario is that you will learn from it if it's not successful. We all have to pay for experience and failures can be worth every cent! You know that if you carry on doing the same old things, you'll carry on getting the same old results. If your current marketing strategy is working that's all well and good, but if it isn't then bite the bullet and try something new.

 
   
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