Small Business Excellence: Find your Focus


  1. Why are you in Business?
  2. What sets you apart from the competition?
  3. How do you plan on growing your business or even staying in business in the future?

These 3 questions should make every business owner pause and reflect on how to answer them. Many times small businesses start out with the premise that they can do things cheaper than the competition. This business model or value proposition (consulting lingo) is the most common way to attract new customers or win contracts. Unfortunately, it can also commoditize your business. When business paint themselves into a corner as the lowest bidder or “cheapest” vendor they often limit themselves on exploring better avenues to separate themselves from the pack.

Here in Canada we’ve always relied on the currency cushion to make our products and services more attractive. When Stephen Poloz continued his race to the bottom with our dollar, he artificially propped up an aging manufacturing sector that has a diminished influence on GDP and is not productive enough to compete globally. How did this happen?

There are many examples of how the “Good Times” lead to a lack of focus on key areas that sustain a business. This laziness on the part of management to continually review, analyze, and invest in their businesses when times are good can mean loss of market share and potential business failure. Getting caught off guard is the product of an attitude that can grip even the best business. Here are some examples of what I’ve heard over the years:

  • “We do alright”
  • “We’ve being doing it this way for the last 10 years, why change now”
  • “My customers are loyal and wouldn’t go anywhere else”

To fight complacency we must learn to focus like a sniper on key areas of our businesses.

3 Key Areas that every business needs to focus on

  1. Innovation
  2. Quality (Product or Service)
  3. Employee Development

Change is constant and in an online and global economy we must learn to focus like never before if we want to compete either on a local or international stage.

Till next time.


Rick Barbosa

5 Things Owners should never say at work


Today’s business owners have it tough. Increased competition, controlling costs, and finding new customers has never been harder. How do you keep it together?

Most successful business owners know that hiring, keeping and motivating good staff is the key element to ensure your businesses prosperity and theirs. This sense of contribution is vital to the workplace. If employees feel they are not a part of the company then they become complicit in their work and attitudes. This complacency spreads like a virus and affects morale and productivity, and eventually profitability.

After being around many family and owner managed businesses, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some of the most dreadful phrases uttered in the workplace. These phrases drive employees to complacency and eventually out the door. If you ever get the urge to say these, take a step back and remember that you can’t do it alone and that you need good people around you.

5 Things Owners should never say in the Workplace

  1. This is my Company, if you don’t like it you know where the door is
  2. Remember who signs your Pay Cheque
  3. You should be happy to even have a job
  4. I don’t pay you to think
  5. I can find a replacement for you next week

‘Till next time

Rick Barbosa

Why Multi-tasking should be discouraged-Period


Back in the late 90’s and throughout the first decade in the new millennium, the workplace changed dramatically. The shop floor and offices were being automated with desktops and software at an alarming rate. With the newfound productivity a new buzzword was coined that still floats around today. Multi-tasking was used to describe performing several tasks at once. This was possible because simultaneous tasks could be performed by computers that were once done by individuals. At the time we did not think about how this increase in productivity would impact our work-life balance or the quality of work we were producing. Many early adopters were plagued with GIGO errors (garbage in, garbage out) as reports seemed inconsistent or unrealistic. The very promise of the computer was a paperless office with no errors as the “human factor” was minimized. Well, I don’t know about you but I produce more paper today than I ever did when I first started working. That’s because  today we are expected to handle increasingly larger workloads and more tasks in our modern and efficient workplaces. If you sit back and think of the definition of productivity as measuring the increase in production/service capacity of a business we are far more productive than our grandparents. But when you peel back the layers of the productivity onion to include re-work, quality concerns, recalls, order checkers, and forensic audits, have we really come any further?  Productivity and efficiency are two different beasts. One measures singular output, while the other measures lack of errors.

Yes we can all do many different tasks, but the key to efficiency is choosing when and how to perform them. Take the example of sitting in line at Tim Horton’s . I guarantee you that when Tim’s was serving just coffee and donuts you were served quicker and the donuts were fresher because they were baked by the local store and not shipped in like they are now for re-baking. Tim’s like many other quick serve restaurants has lost focus in trying to be everything to everybody. This has added multiple items to the menu. How good can you do your job if you need to know how to make 50 different menu items instead of focusing your attention on your primary products?

The law has started to catch on to the dangers of multi-tasking by banning cell phone use and other non-essential tasks while driving. The decision was obviously needed to ensure public safety, but did not come right away, nor is it still banned in every state or country under the “multi-tasking” mentality.  So I’ll leave you with this thought. How good is your work when you are handling multiple projects at the same time. Is your attention focused equally on each task or do your lower your standards on some work to get more work done?  Would  you want your surgeon playing chess and operating at the same time? (FedEx Commercial). Just how productive are you?

Take care,

Rick Barbosa