Bombardier-A an example of why welfare does not work

This is a family run company who’s only raison d’etre is to make themselves wealthier, and provide votes for Quebec friendly politicians. All this is at the expense of the Dumb Canadian Taxpayer. Yes I say dumb because no one ever really cares until it affects them personally.

When something is given to you without you earning it, do you really value it? It’s like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk. Do rush to the bank to save it , do you use it to pay a bill or do you spend it right away?

We as a country and Quebec as a Province have poured billions into a company that does not care about those outside its class A structure. If it did, it would have made profits and been profitable at any cost. Instead, they know that they will be propped up by different levels of government in the name of saving Canadian Jobs. If you did the math, we could have funded a national drug program or a national daycare program with all the lost funds poured into Bombardier.

Now, because there were no strings attached with our money, they went looking for another Sugar Daddy in Airbus. Airbus is a shrewd company who paid nothing for the deal and got all the Intellectual Property that we as Canadians paid for.

Welfare is something for nothing. You (and we as a Country) get what you pay for. Remember this next time you’re at the voting booth.

Rick Barbosa

 

Trust and Competency

Companies and Individuals that exude both trust and competency in their work are increasingly hard to find.

A few recent examples:

Samsung

  • Leadership charged with collusion
  • Produces sub-standard home appliances
  • Revealed only recently that “Smart TV’s” are prone to hacking and can be used to record behaviour

City of Toronto

  • Road maintenance contracts awarded to “select” firms who are then sub-contracting to lower bidders

Province of Ontario

  • Contractors using sub-standard asphalt to win the bid, only to keep repaving because of the poor quality
  • Ontario Power Generation/Ontario Hydro-Ridiculous solar re-purchase agreements for residential producers that lead to super high hydro rates

I could go on but would rather focus on why this continues to happen. When we accept sub-standard and poor performance as the new “Norm” we endanger the very existence of our institutions and companies. Dealing with poor performance adds costs and inefficiencies. We must go back to demanding more from our workers, management and governments to live up to what is expected of them.

Holding people, managers and representatives to account is not easy, nor HR friendly, but it must be something we are prepared to do. Accepting sub-par performance will mean that people will go elsewhere or lose faith entirely. Both scenarios are not good, but losing someone’s trust can be devastating.

If you are not happy with your product, service or government representative, make it known that you demand better. Hold them to account, vote, or find someone that you can trust and is competent.

Remember

Are you with me?

Regards,

Rick Barbosa

 

 

 

Has “Free Trade” really helped us?

In my humble opinion NO.

Here is what I used to base my answer on. When we lowered tariffs in North America it was meant to encourage a freer flow of goods between nations. Economists tell us that increasing trade creates wealth and was essential to grow economies on both sides of the border or for that sake internationally (TPP, CETA). Free or tariff reduced trade is only a recent trend so we must look at why we had tariffs in the first place.

Tariffs or “taxes” were meant to protect our local and mature markets that were the envy of the world. Our Markets (Canada/US) harbored a healthy working population with disposable income and a robust manufacturing sector. Unlike other parts of the world North America (Canada/US) had made investments for the betterment of it’s population that included:

  • Health and Safety
  • Organized Labor
  • Minimum wage
  • Social Security/Government pensions
  • Workplace or Self-Directed retirement plans
  • Workers Compensation
  • Employment standards Legislation
  • Environmental Protection

Anyway you cut it, these programs increased our cost of production, albeit while producing a higher standard of living. The Tariffs made cheaper goods that were made in countries or states that did not have any of these obligations competitive by increasing their landed cost. In most cases local was cheaper when you factored in tariffs. This drove investment in both countries by companies who wanted to serve these rich markets by making it cost effective to produce locally.

We were told that lowering tariffs would drive competition and innovation because we would be allowed access to their markets on an equal footing in exchange for access into our markets. That did not happen. Restricted or limited access is what we got.

Too often national or state interests fell outside of NAFTA like Health and Safety, minimum wage, and environmental standards. So what in essence happened is that for companies to survive the onslaught of cheaper goods they too had to go offshore to remain competitive. In fact the standard of living has not increased in Mexico, the U.S and Canada. All the wealth that has been created did not raise the standard of living in any developed country, instead it only boosted the multi-national corporations bottom lines. This came at the expense of blue-collar and lower level white collar workers.

I am a strong proponent of responsible capitalism and competition. It’s the best system period and one that drives growth and innovation. When Free Trade was introduced and as other European and Pacific agreements pop up we must ask ourselves one fundamental question:

Is the playing field really level on  both sides?

Rick Barbosa

Albert

 

Small Business Excellence: Profits over Sales

shutterstock_180962612 PvS

Growing a business can be difficult, especially if your business is price sensitive. Many a competitor will try to undercut prices and take a loss in the hopes of winning customers. This “loss leader” strategy works against them in the future as they try to re-coup losses by raising prices anyway. Consumers and clients who play this never ending game are not ones that you want to attract and do business with.

Focusing your attention on maximizing profits based on sustainable relationships is key to enabling moderate and realistic growth well into the future. Top line sales numbers grab attention, but it is profitability that pays the bills and provides cash flow to sustain your operation. I often ask owners and managers what would they rather have, 5 clients and good profitability or 500 clients and breaking even?

We must remember why we got into business in the first place, to make money. If you are working like a dog just to turn a small profit, then your time would be better spent on investing the capital you have in your business.  A good rule of thumb is 7-10% profit before tax. The rate of inflation is roughly 2% and the market historically returns 5-7% per year. If you are not making more than the market + inflation then you need to consider changing your focus or staying in business altogether.

The Discipline of Profit needs to be engrained in every relationship and in every process that is present in your operation. Without that discipline, that focus, you are just turning money over and not improving your life and the lives of those that depend on you and your company.

Till next time

 

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

5 Things Owners should never say at work

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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. Theses 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

Small Business Excellence: Manage vs. Micromanage

Manage v Micro2

From Wikipedia
In business management, micromanagement is a management style whereby a manager closely observes or controls the work of subordinates or employees. Micromanagement generally has a negative connotation.

Having worked with a number of small businesses over my career, it’s easy to spot the ones that will flourish and the ones that will hobble along and stagnate. One of the key elements that distinguishes between the two is the management style employed by the owners or senior staff.  Managers or owners have, and should have, a vested interest in the performance of the company, especially if it’s theirs. Because the performance of the enterprise is so closely linked to their or their families livelihood it can lead to protectionist tendencies. This often morphs into micromanagement.

When employees feel the overarching strings of management and are held back from exploring new and better ways to do their jobs, or are afraid to fail, then they become trapped. They relinquish ambitions to improve their surroundings and their natural tendencies to better themselves through their work.  Good employees want to do a better job. Like in Nature, the most common need is to survive and thrive in one’s own environment.

It is up to management to hire the best people for the job and steer them in the general direction of company goals. When bright and talented people are given a wide berth for exploration and ownership in the organization, great things happen.  Mistakes will happen too, but it is crucial that managers see these mistakes as learning points and use them to keep top performers on course. We must mot be afraid to fail, as failure like so many have said before me is the greatest teacher.

Be like the Shepherd, not the Warden.

Rick Barbosa