Leading a Horse to Water

It’s a classic saying, yet never more appropriate than when it’s applied to professional advisors in any field. Be it medical, legal, counselling or financial. All professions that deal with the public can relate to this expression. In the beginning I used to cringe when good advice fell on deaf ears. But as I matured and raised a family, I learned to let things play out.

Failure is good. We forget about that. I’ll borrow a line from Batman and use these lines as a great reference;

“Why do we fall down Master Bruce?” “So we learn how to get back up Alfred”.

Our culture and especially our families have become too protective over failure, to the point of stifling effort. In sports the score does matter. It provides a clear indication of ones reward or effort and also spurs reflection and drive for those on the wrong end of the scorecard.  Life is similar. It owes you nothing. Sooner or later you will learn its harsh realities. The longer you prolong or protect individuals from these lessons, the harder it will be for them to learn from them.

Parents, Teachers, Counsellors, Lawyers, Doctors and yes Accountants, are all there to help us make good decisions. As professionals, we must also understand that not taking our advice is also sometimes necessary for the greater good. I know I have learned the hard way several times, and wish I had just listened the first time. I also know that these consequences made me who and what I am today.

Rick Barbosa

 

Small Business Excellence: Find your Focus

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