Small Business

Small Business

 

Amanda Setili was interviewed on the Quest for the Best podcast where she shared how to identify and act on opportunities in a fast-changing world for small business leaders.

I would have to say (I was inspired by) my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Tidwell. She grew up on a farm and she’d tell us stories about growing up on a farm and what it was like, and she had a great experiment that she ran with her kids every year, which was to take fertilized chicken eggs and put them in an incubator, and every few days we’d open one, just to see what the state of the growing chick was, and it was just a great example of, kind of running experiments, seeing for yourself, and just getting really immersed in the physical world of how things really work that really helped to foster my lifelong love of science and experimentation. 

…I thought, when I was in college, that I wanted to work in R&D because I thought that was where you’d get to invent things and find new theories and things like that, and so my first job was at Kimberly Clark in R&D, and it did not suit me at all. It was interesting that your interest as a kid doesn’t turn out to be the correct direction to go, so after I had worked in R&D for a year and a half or so, I was just kind of thinking, ‘this is just moving to slowly’ and I’m spending too much time thinking and writing, and I want something more immersive, and luckily at that time there was an opportunity available to work in a production facility, a mill, so I moved there, working in a small town, in a mill for Kimberly Clark, and I just loved it. It was everyday something happening, working with a small team to optimize operations and develop new products, and there was never a boring minute at all.

 

Key points covered in the interview include:

  • Agility as the ability to see what’s going on in the marketplace 
  • How marketplace changes create new opportunities 
  • Finding a way to create something good whatever changes

 

Listen to the full podcast, How to Take Advantage of Marketplace Opportunities, on myquestforthebest.com.

 

 

When interviewed on the P is for Profit podcast, Susan Meier exposes the biggest myths about branding, identifies what a small business can do to establish its brand and create a competitive advantage, and explains how to make your business relevant to your target audience.

A visual artist is just a fancy way of saying, I make art, like, sketching, drawing, sculptures. And that’s what I studied in my undergrad, visual art and making art as well as art history. So it’s a little bit of a zigzag path from there to strategist, isn’t it? But the way I, the path that I took started out with management consulting, which was really just a leap of faith, first job out of college. 

And okay, I’ll try something new that I don’t know anything about, but sounds pretty interesting. The way the company described it, I worked for the Boston Consulting Group which is, you know, a terrific company and they really gave me a great education. And the way they described what they did and the job that I would be having was like solving puzzles, which is something I like to do. 

And in general, I guess I’m a curious person, I like to try new things. And so that was how I jumped off into a completely new world, much of which I was totally unprepared for. But like I said, it was a great learning experience. And where I came out of that, with this really strong interest in branding because I had the opportunity to do a lot of customer research as part of their consumer goods practice. 

And I found it fascinating how people had these really intimate emotional connections with the products or the brands that they were using. And I wanted to learn more about that and get involved in that. And when I discovered that there was this whole discipline or industry called branding, which looked at that connection, that relationship between humans and brands and also have this visual component because, you know, an important component of expressing your brand is design. I thought, wow, that’s for me.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • How Susan defines brand
  • Branding myths busted
  • Small business branding

 

Listen to the full podcast, Susan Meier | Small Business Branding, on the CFO Project website.

 

 

As the disruption continues, many businesses struggle to retain their employees. This post from David Burnie’s company provides strategies that can help keep employees on board, engaged, and motivated.

Happy, successful employees are critical for a successful company. While companies must consider how to retain employees at the best of times, employee retention is an especially pressing topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Ontario continues social distancing indefinitely, maintaining an engaged staff will offer a sense of stability to companies amid flux.

How can companies retain top talent to ensure maximum productivity, motivation and success?

Employee retention strategies can be implemented by employers to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged, even with current remote working practices. This can support lower turnover rates, higher productivity and improved organizational performance.

 

Suggestions included in this article:

  • Recognition programs
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Health, safety and wellness programs
  • Communication 

 

Read the full article, Employee Retention Strategies During COVID-19, on the Burnie Group website.

 

 

Sarah Ralston Miller and Zaheera Soomar co-authored this article on how to support and strengthen company culture during the current crisis. 

Through the Covid-19 pandemic, our world of work has changed almost overnight. In the past few weeks, we’ve spoken with senior leaders at organizations with whom we have been working to strengthen their ethical culture. These leaders understand that their culture is an essential resource to navigate through the current crisis, and are finding new ways to cultivate ethical culture under these radically-changed circumstances. Drawing on our conversations with leaders across business and civil society, here are a few reflections on ways to guide your own culture during this period.

Be deliberate about your remote-based culture. It is important that we understand how the shift to remote work environments impacts our organizational culture, no matter how temporary we hope it will be. Being intentional about what we put in place can enable benefits and mitigate risks. Transitioning to remote work without building a corresponding culture creates multiple risks, including loss of employee engagement and inclusion, impact to productivity, lack of connectedness between individual and overall organization goals, increased fragmentation and risks of misconduct related to changing accountabilities.

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Remote-based culture
  • Communication
  • Scenario-planning
  • Agility and adaptability

 

Read the full article, Cultivating Culture in a Crisis, on the Principia website. 

 

 

In this detailed article, Surbhee Grover identifies the decision-making inputs and new market approaches that will be required to survive in the new economy.

For entrepreneurs, coming out of COVID-19 isn’t the end of a crisis. It’s the beginning of a new way of thinking about their approach to product-market fit, financing, marketing and go-to-market strategies. And for some, will be a time to reflect on their personal approach to risk. The exponential pace of change to society will mean that only those entrepreneurs who have the greatest ability to adapt will survive. 

Framing how the world will be different is important, as these differences will both unlock new opportunity and create new goalposts for innovation, user adoption (B2C and B2B), team building, product-market fit, and venture funding. We believe a few things will be true:

 

Areas covered in this article include:

  • Brand relationships
  • Purchasing behaviour
  • Migration of talent and teams
  • Re-imagined supply chains
  • Data needs and sources

 

Read the full article, Shakeout of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem What will it take to survive? And thrive?, on LinkedIn.

 

 

As more employees work from home, it is important to establish clear guidelines and routines, this post from David Burnie’s company provides ten questions businesses should ask to ensure the switch to working remotely runs smoothly. 

Establishing a work from home (WFH) program is an essential part of a business continuity plan.

In the current COVID 19 crisis, executing a work from home (WFH) policy is a top priority for organizations. A robust work from home policy will enable an organization to continue operating during a significant disruption while limiting the impact on employees and customers.

A WFH policy requires a broad set of considerations to ensure it is adequately developed, including the provision of tools (e.g., laptop, headset, increased VPN capacity) and revised processes and practices. To assist organizations in making the shift to working from home, we developed ten questions to consider to build an effective WFH policy.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Tool required
  • Secure access
  • Scheduling
  • Tracking and managing performance

 

Read the full article, Work from Home Best Practices, on the Burnie Group website.

 

 

Dan Markovitz explains why some methods of measuring performance and quality seriously lack the data to make an impact.  

Pity the employees at a Starbucks in midtown NYC. In a misguided attempt to improve quality, the management posts monthly scores on a variety of metrics. . . without understanding anything about effective use of metrics. Measurement is a good idea, but only if it’s done well. These measurements? Not so much. 

If you read Mark Graban’s blog or book, you’ll immediately see problems with this chart. For one thing, three data points don’t make a trend. With no upper and lower control limits, the movement in scores is nothing more than management by emoji — we have no way of knowing whether the movement is just random noise in a stable system, or a real signal indicating something significant happened. And why are they looking at the scores monthly? By the time they see a decline, it’s far too late to figure out what the root cause was and how to address it.

 

Read the full article, When Leaders Torture Their Employees, on the Markovitz Consulting website.

 

 

Stephen Redwood provides answers to commonly asked questions that help his clients increase the strategic value of Human Resources (HR).

If there is one thing that has been a constant over my years in HR and decades as a consultant, it has been the sense that the HR function is too often a supplicant to other functions and lacks the confidence to see itself as an equal. So, when clients ask me how they should be thinking about the evolution of their own HR function, in my mind is the question of how to overcome this mindset and establish a better understanding of how it can provide greater strategic value. 

With that said,Winston Churchill’s words “It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see” resonate with a challenge that faces HR: people and cultures take time to change so, what exactly should one be changing to and with what timeframe in mind?

 

Questions covered in this article include:

  • Given no constraints, what is the most positively impactful contribution HR could make to the organization?
  • How can HR gain the “permission” and latitude to achieve its potential?
  • What should HR be working harder at?
  • How can HR gain sufficient agility to build and sustain a high impact contribution?

 

Read the full article, How Can We Increase the Strategic Value of HR?, on LinkedIn.

 

It takes more than talent to become a valued employee in today’s workplace. Sherif El Henaoui identifies the benefits of finding the right fit. 

Top people are desired. Every company wants them: the intelligent, creative, endurable, high-performance worker. Since this desired workforce is rare, there is a “war” as suggested by the HR literature. I once heard a quote of a McKinsey partner commenting on the Internet bubble crisis saying, “We won the war for talent, but we ended up with too many prisoners.”

Cultural fit

We want to suggest a more peaceful view on the matter. High-performance is also a result of the cultural fit. This applies to societies and corporations. An aggressive, forward-looking sales professional works well in one type of company but is perceived as too pushy and less collegial in another. Is that the fault of the employee?

 

Read the full article, Fight Your Own War for Talent, on LinkedIn.

 

Mike Cox answers a question that is close to the heart of every business owner and entrepreneur who may be considering bringing new people into the business, “How much equity should I give a new hire.”

 

This question greys the hair of every business owner and entrepreneur. After all owners bear the burden of risk regardless of how they answer that question and the more that they choose to let go of equity, the less they feel like an owner and the more they feel like any other executive -except that they incurred a risk others didn’t.

While holding equity is fundamental to being a business owner, the distribution of equity from owners to employees is not fundamental and happens for a wide variety of reasons – some justified and others misguided. And while few employees would ever shun being given equity, their rationale for and level of interest in equity varies for many reasons.

 

Points covered in this article include:

  • Equity distribution, the tool of last resort
  • The appeal of equity to employees
  • Alignment of agendas

 

Read the full article, Don’t Give Equity away too Freely, on the Cox Innovations website.