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The Leading Edge August 2013
Small Business Success
Taking Care of Business  

In this Issue

It's NOT Facebook!

Re-charge Your Batteries It's Summer!

What is Social Enterprise?

Beware The Toxic Sludge


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

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Small Business News:

Small Business: Powering the Canadian Economy By Robert King - Small business owners play an essential role in moving Canada forward. They are risk takers, they are inventors, they are community builders - but perhaps the most important title a small business owner holds is "job creator." Forty-six percent of Canada's private sector workforce is made up of small business employees. That's 5.1 million Canadians who count on a small business for their livelihood. Read more...

Business Barometer®: Small business confidence down sharply in June - Toronto, June 27, 2013 - Small business confidence fell sharply in June, and is now at its lowest point since July 2009, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Business Barometer® index fell almost three points to 59.4 from May's 62.1, a fourth consecutive monthly decline. Read more...

Branding is Big for Canadian Small Businesses - New survey from American Express finds SBOs are focused on differentiating themselves from their competition amidst continued decline of overall business outlook. Read more...

Close to 300,000 vacant jobs - Small businesses face biggest recruiting challenges. Ted Mallett, Vice-president, Chief Economist. Canadian businesses continue to struggle to attract and retain the staff they need. CFIB's latest Help Wanted report, for Q1 2013, shows that 2.5% of private sector job postings remain unfilled. This represents 295,000 jobs across Canada. Read more...

    It's NOT Facebook!

As businesspeople we all know the value, and importance, of having a website and a social media presence, but what about our personal image? Is yours restricted to an old, formal, portrait and a brief bio on the About Us page of your website?

Increasingly, customers and potential customers want to see who the key player in the company is - who they are going to be doing business with. Your company has a brand image I am sure, but do you, personally, have a brand image?

If you said yes to that last question and thought about your Facebook page, you might want to read on and consider something a little less 'friends and family' oriented and a little more designer clad.

I'm talking about having a personal landing page that exudes panache; one that tells visitors just enough for them to want to investigate further and click on one of many links to your other social media sites (if you have any) and your corporate website.

If you've not heard of a personal landing page, take a look at the following two examples, and then come back and read a little more about how you can build your personal and business brand.

The first is from and the second is from -

The idea of a personal landing page is to give you a unified web presence - one place where people can go, and from there get access to every other area of your social media world. It also allows you to provide people with a little insight into the real you - graphically. From this page visitors can click on links to your business website, your Twitter feed, your LinkedIn profile, or anywhere else where you have a presence.

I should probably tell you what these pages are not - they are NOT like Facebook, or LinkedIn constantly needing attention and notifying you that you have been 'liked' or 'poked' or 'endorsed' and you don't Tweet, or message anything - these are simply a chance to have a wonderful high quality photograph and a concise biography featured on a high-impact page. It's all templated, so quick and easy to set up, and for the most part free. Flavors offers premium memberships, but you don't need these to get set up.

With both these sites you can simply put it up and leave it, no need to go back unless you want to update your information. Its sole purpose is to provide people with a snapshot of you, and provide links to the rest of your world.

Once you set up an account you can use Facebook, or Twitter to sign-in to your page, saving you yet another user name and password to remember.

The other good thing about these pages is that they look good on Smartphones - which may be more than can be said for your corporate website; we are all scrambling these days to make our websites 'Smartphone friendly.'

One thing to check out is the ability to use an, or email address, allowing you to keep your personal, or business email address private - beware the spam!

The sites even help you drive visitors to your landing page, so make sure you check out all the possible bells and whistles, in particular being able to submit your new URL to Google and other search engines.

So, which do you choose? Flavors allows you to have your own URL, and has masses more features, but benefits from simplicity and style. Of course, there's no reason why you couldn't sign up for both!

Re-charge Your Batteries It's Summer! Top


Many of us in small business are workaholics, we're never happier than when we are working flat out - going at full tilt. But, how many times have you been told that taking some time off to give your mind and body some time to rejuvenate itself will pay dividends in productivity? I certainly have, and it always seems counter-intuitive somehow. Okay, I am going to take time away from the office and you're telling me that somehow this is going to increase my productivity? Yeah, tell me another fairy tale. In reality however, we do need time to decompress, to distance ourselves from the stress and pressure. It's only when we escape from it that we gain perspective - most of the time we are simply too close to the challenges and problems we face on a daily basis.

The flip side of course is that it's incredibly difficult for small business owners to get away - after all we ARE indispensable aren't we?

Before you say, "Well I took a long weekend a few months ago" - they don't count, especially as you almost certainly took your phone, iPad, or laptop with you and checked emails several times a day. What all small business owners need is some downtime; time to let the stress die away from both our business and personal lives. Otherwise it will catch up with us at some point down the line and we'll end up sick, perhaps without notice - wham - hospital - enforced time off - no advance planning - chaos.

It's better to plan ahead and take some time for you - allow you time to decompress, to gain some perspective about your life, your business, your family. There's NEVER a good time to take time off - accept it - face up to it. But if you don't just stop - you may be stopped.

But how? Well first of all, make it a priority - if you had to go away for a week on a business trip, or to a conference, or tradeshow, you'd plan it right? You'd arrange for someone to cover your daily duties whatever they were. So, treat your vacation in the same way.

Right now, as you are reading this, get your calendar out and choose a week within the next three months for a vacation. Choose a time when business is less hectic, and don't say it's always busy - there must be some times when it's quieter. Remember, this is a commitment to your business - it's as important to your business as it is to your personal and mental health. Remind yourself that you will come back refreshed, better able to cope with the many crises that crop up, and with lots of new ideas for how to make your business more successful.

As your vacation time gets closer, ensure you have a contingency plan in case there is a last-minute emergency. Something always crops up, that's Murphy's law - plan for it so that nothing prevents you from getting away.

Think about what you need from a vacation; is it laying by a pool reading novels, spending time with family, or climbing Everest? What does escape mean for you? Do you need time to refocus? If so, perhaps a week at a retreat, meditating, doing yoga, or even something extreme such as spending time at a religious silent order (you can find many of these on the Internet, and you do not have to be religious yourself) might work for you.

If you already take regular vacations you will already know the benefits, so tell everyone in your network; tell those workaholics that they'll achieve more in the long run if they take a break!

What is Social Enterprise? Top


An extract from: Social Enterprise: An Introduction by Ken Stratford

One of the most positive developments, in terms of social responsibility in the first decade of the 21st century, has been the global growth of what has become known as social enterprise; hastened by the world-wide spread of social media. It is important to differentiate, however, between these two developments. Social enterprise merges the interests of shareholders and entrepreneurs with society's challenges: assisting the poor, the disenfranchised, the under-serviced or helping to ameliorate the changes brought about by environmental degradation and climate change. Social media is essentially a communications system that serves the most diverse market the world of communications has ever seen. Users range all the way from people posting trivial messages (I washed my dog this morning) to messaging by major organizations and governments, aware of the instant reach of media such as Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Pinterest and others. Many change agents recognize the power that comes from merging their commitment with the enormous power of social media. More will be said about that in this publication as we identify opportunities to blend the power of both.

In the fall of 2012, Victoria, BC's 'Douglas Magazine' carried an article summarizing some basic reasons for the explosive growth of social enterprises. Quoting the BC Centre for Social Enterprise, the article suggests that non-profit organizations are acting increasingly like regular businesses, rather than frugal NGOs. This is apparently the result of uncertain economic times, difficulty securing government funding, and the drying up of private donor contributions.

Non-profits are attempting to address social issues in a multitude of areas. And through their revenue generation programs, social enterprises can provide training and follow-on employment for vulnerable people who have had limited access to the workforce in the past.

Social enterprises occupy a grey area when it comes to taxation and regulation. The scope of a social enterprise's operation as a non-profit or charity is determined by the Canada Revenue Agency. In February 2012 the province of BC introduced Bill 23, modelled after legislation in the UK, to bring more clarity to taxation issues for social enterprises. The proposed changes to the province's Business Corporations Act will bring in a new business sector known as the Community Contribution Company, or CCC. CCCs will combine "the flexibility and ability to attract capital with the entrenched community benefit purpose of a non-profit."

A 'true' social enterprise ... set-up as a not-for-profit initiative, is rarely the cash cow the founders hope it will be. Profit margin is likely to be in the 10 - 15 per cent range for this model, without the benefit of an innovative product line to generate revenue.

Beware The Toxic Sludge Top


I don't think any of us like conflict, especially in our workplace, and if we do then it's likely we are more part of the problem than the solution. If you are like me and try to avoid conflict at all costs then your workplace may be building up a bunch of resentment that will at some stage burst forth and flood your business with toxic sludge.

In past issues we have discussed the four primary personality, or behavioural styles (check back on some past issues and you will find lots of good stuff on this) and once you understand that all people are different it's easy to see that if you have four people faced with the same situation each will see it very differently. To give you a very quick reminder of the styles we have discussed in the past, they are Analyticals (people who use logic and see things in black and white - they need lots of information before making decisions); Drivers (controlling people who want things done and done now!); Expressives (excitable, enthusiastic and fun, they move fast); Amiables (slow decision-makers who want a win-win solution and for everyone to remain friends). Of course, within these four distinct styles there are dozens of sub-styles, but you get the idea; if you have an Analytical faced with an Expressive they will frustrate the heck out of each other, as will a Driver and an Amiable.

So, when trouble brews the best thing to do is treat it as an opportunity to do some team-building. One of the most important things is to see the conflict coming down the line. It may seem like the storm came out of nowhere, but usually it builds gradually. If you can catch it early it will be a whole lot easier to control, as the level of animosity will be lower.

If you spot even minor conflict, get the issues out in the open, and explore what other issues might be hovering in the background.

Conflict almost always centres on ideas and viewpoints, rather than on simple personality clashes. Try to get people to focus on discussing the issue, rather than the people at the centre of the situation. Tell those involved that they can disagree with someone's opinion, or view, but not attack the person. Once things get personal the conflict grows beyond all proportion to the issue's importance. Focus on the problem; ask for everyone to help find a solution, while respecting everyone's input.

Identify the problem and define it as a problem shared by all those involved. Get the group to face the problem as a team, in this way the team is invested in solving it and will have a stronger commitment to the agreed outcome.

If the conflict is between two people, try to isolate the issue from the personalities and bring in non-threatening perspectives from other people - again this is widening the problem, sharing it and making solving it a team effort. This can diffuse the personal aspect of the conflict, and move those involved toward embracing other ideas and perspectives.

In any conflict it is always good to see if there is any common ground - areas where people can agree. Once you have this foundation you can build on it. If there is no common ground, seek their agreement to put the dispute on hold for a short period of time. This will allow emotions to calm and provide some space for reflection. It will also give you time to think about how you might help them work on a solution.

If the situation is difficult to resolve, or the parties remain intransigent, then you might want to encourage them to agree to either mediation, or arbitration (both parties should agree on, and respect, the mediator, or arbitrator chosen). This can allow an outside body to sort out a fair solution that takes into consideration both parties points of view.

Dealing with conflict effectively can often strengthen a team; leaving it to fester will only bring down that wall of toxic sludge.

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