Taking family dysfunction out of the family business

The invigorating power, money and control involved in running a business can cause evil decisions

Taking family dysfunction out of the family businessIn early 2000, I had to fire my wife from our startup business. The business was struggling and my wife was involved in running one of the departments part-time, between looking after our kids and working as a counsellor. Sales in the department and the store as a whole weren’t going as expected and we…

The world needs fewer leaders and more good managers

Management is responsible for turning a leader's vision into reality

The world needs fewer leaders and more good managersBusiness and management guru Henry Mintzberg argued a few years ago that businesses are asking for trouble because of their penchant for separating "leaders" from "managers" and placing leadership in a superior role over management. We are suffering, in other words, not from a lack of leadership but from the absence of good management. Mintzberg…

Tips for terminating employees with dignity

Most managers handle the uncomfortable task of terminating employees badly

Tips for terminating employees with dignityMost managers, regardless of level, handle the uncomfortable task of terminating employees badly. The biggest mistake managers make is terminating them in a harsh, unkind and insensitive way. The manner in which employees are fired often fuels lawsuits. Right or wrong, if employees feel that they are being unfairly treated, they perceive it as grounds…

Five things you should know about selling your business

Selling a business is no easy walk in the park – there’s considerable hard work to prepare your business for new ownership

Five things you should know about selling your businessAfter a couple of years of pandemic stress, business owners are pondering their next steps. You might be an owner who has decided perhaps you’ve benefited from the crisis, had some great years and are ready to move on. Maybe you’ve realized you don’t want to deal with the stress of lockdowns and crisis management…

Being a good leader means being a good listener

When you aren’t listening you’re missing an awful lot

Being a good leader means being a good listenerLast week, my friend was lamenting that she was away for her 16-year-old son’s first day of school and wouldn’t be there to pick him up. Obviously, her son doesn’t need his mom there. But driving him home lets her listen to him vent. It gives her insight into what he’s thinking, how he’s doing…

5 Leadership Lessons from the Tokyo Olympics

The lessons you can learn from competition are significant

5 Leadership Lessons from the Tokyo OlympicsMy Olympic fascination started in 1976 when the summer games took place in Montreal. As a 12-year-old, I was glued to our black and white 12-inch TV for the duration of the Olympics between chores on our family’s hobby farm. I imagined myself on the track pole vaulting 20 feet in the air, swimming on…

Business in decline? Start calling your customers back

Reaching out to wayward customers will reinvigorate your sales and allow you to do a lot of market research

Business in decline? Start calling your customers backGrant was on the ground yelling as I came around the corner at high speed on my mountain bike at dusk. He had flown off his bike instead of hitting a moose standing on the trail. I skidded to avoid him. I could still see two moose, a cow and her year-old calf, on the…

Face to face still most powerful communication medium

For your communication to have any emotional charge, face to face is the best choice

Face to face still most powerful communication mediumAs we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic Zoom burnout, one universal truth is becoming even clearer: Face-to-face is still the most preferred, productive and powerful communication medium. In fact, the more business professionals communicate electronically, the more pressing becomes the need for more personal interaction. Here's why ... In face-to-face meetings, our brains process the…

Global tax cartel is a march to higher taxes

... and more corporate welfare

Global tax cartel is a march to higher taxesCanadian politicians like Chrystia Freeland see tax competition as a “race to the bottom.” But for the rest of us, a global tax cartel will mean an inevitable march toward higher tax bills and more pork for companies with access to politicians. Freeland agreed to the American-led proposal for a global minimum business tax of…

Three things every business needs to do to improve sales

Implement a plan, hold your sales team accountable, and keep updating and changing your sales campaigns

Three things every business needs to do to improve salesDebra was flustered. She had taken over a business with the intent of growing it but had come to the realization that increasing sales might be easier said than done. She recognized that because of the added overhead expenses of her operations, sales would have to grow 50 per cent from current revenue to ensure…

Emotions integral to all that happens in an organization

We need to view challenges and solutions in ways that validate our emotions and influence the way we feel about our jobs, and ourselves

Emotions integral to all that happens in an organizationPreparing for a speech to the leadership of an organization facing major restructuring pre-pandemic, I asked the meeting planner for background on the audience. "We've presented all the facts," she replied. "But it would be much easier if everyone weren't so emotional!" In the business world, it seems, people are supposed to think logically and act…

Incremental change will help you grow and strengthen your business

The results will lead to an outstanding future for your business

Incremental change will help you grow and strengthen your businessHelp is a word that’s foreign to many entrepreneurs, so when a caller says they need help, I listen intently. I received such a call in November 2019 from an entrepreneur who had bought into a company and realized that the management team was struggling. “Dave, I need an outside perspective on how to move…

What we lose in a virtual workplace

Essentially, we lose the amazing power of human-to-human connection

What we lose in a virtual workplaceRegardless of how the future plays out in your organization, one thing is certain: virtual meetings are here to stay. It’s easy to see why. They are cost-effective, as there is no need to pay employees to travel and incur related expenses and, when successful, they enable talented peers to work together regardless of location…

Why many leaders are lonely and what to do about it

Find someone you can trust to communicate what you’re going through

Why many leaders are lonely and what to do about itOn a recent Sunday afternoon, I went over the handlebars of my bike, bent my front wheel and landed on my head. My son Caleb wasn’t surprised – in fact, I’ve noticed he worries about me when we go riding. And I admit I’ve had my share of accidents on my mountain bike. The thing…

What you and your business can learn from Strava

A Strava-like mentality can take your business to a whole new level

What you and your business can learn from StravaMy cycling buddies have been using the phone app Strava for years to track their rides. While this isn’t novel, the appeal of Strava is that, like Facebook, you can see what your friends are doing and comment on their activity. Unlike Facebook, there’s honesty in postings because your whole activity is measured, not just…

Are we ready for the tourism rebound?

As tourists start their migration toward Canada, there’s hesitancy about the industry's readiness to manage the tsunami of people

Are we ready for the tourism rebound?Canadians are ready for the borders to reopen and will flock to sun destinations next winter like never before. The number of people who have said that they’re ready to “get out of Dodge” and “fly the coop” is an indication that there’s a pent-up demand for travel and excursions that has been bolstered by…

Working from home may revolutionize businesses

And lead to a reshaping of communities

Working from home may revolutionize businessesStay-at-home orders related to COVID-19 have changed working habits. The mandatory work-at-home advice for office jobs has created a debate about work after the health crisis. Will we continue to work at home or will we return to the office? Some have stated that people who work from home must have lower pay. The research team…

Five questions to ask yourself before you start a new business

The big one: Are you willing to make sacrifices?

Five questions to ask yourself before you start a new businessPeople reach out to me weekly for advice on whether they should diversify their business and sell an additional product or service. There also seems to be a flurry of entrepreneurial types who see opportunity as a result of the current changes in the economy. They believe they have the next great business idea that…

Buying or selling a business? How much is it worth?

Lockdowns, inventory disruptions, staffing issues and cash-flow challenges have sapped many entrepreneurs of their passion

Buying or selling a business? How much is it worth?The economic climate has changed the way business owners think about their businesses. While my firm worked with companies before the pandemic, helping them to prepare their businesses for transition, there seems to be a flurry of interest from owners ready to exit their businesses. There are several reasons why people are thinking of selling…

We can’t fire him, so how do we inspire him?

We have an employee who is always convinced he’s right. It’s so fundamental to his personality that he refuses to take direction

We can’t fire him, so how do we inspire him?Faith Wood knows how to resolve conflict. Her years in front-line law enforcement taught her how to effectively de-escalate any situation to a successful conclusion. Faith will use her knowledge of conflict management to guide you through the often stressful experiences you may encounter in your personal or professional life. Her Conflict Coach column appears…

Your business is destined to fail if you’re not consistent

Your success in life and business is dependent on consistency and congruency

Your business is destined to fail if you’re not consistentA client of mine was buying a new business. The company they were purchasing had been successful, but the pandemic had caused it to fail and the value was only in the equipment. When I asked why they thought the business failed, they told me they believed the owner hadn’t been consistent through the pandemic.…

Jumping on the next great idea could cripple your business

Entrepreneurial diarrhea can leave leaders and their teams exhausted, sapping their energy and consuming valuable resources

Jumping on the next great idea could cripple your business“I need your help!” were the first words out of John’s mouth when I walked into his office recently. “We’re starting a new business and I want you to help us figure this out.” As I looked at John, my first thought was: “Oh my god, he hasn’t got this business running properly yet, and…

When opportunity knocks, answer the door

Experiencing a life beyond our limited imaginations

When opportunity knocks, answer the doorEarly last year, I received a call from Sergey Shchepotkin asking if I would be his assistant coach for the University of Northern British Columbia’s women’s basketball team. I met Sergey when he coached my daughter’s basketball club over a couple of summers and I helped him out at a couple of tournaments. I was…

Going digital a business investment that needs to be made

U of A students providing free support to hundreds of business owners looking to create an online presence

Going digital a business investment that needs to be madeWhile Paige Lutz didn’t know what she wanted to do when she joined the Alberta School of Business four years ago, she certainly didn’t foresee herself balancing the final classes of her degree with a University of Alberta-linked job she loves, helping traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses make the jump to virtual. “The fact that I’ve landed…

Four things you can change to improve your bottom line

The list of expenses for business owners sometimes feels never-ending

Four things you can change to improve your bottom lineProfit is one of the most misunderstood and misconstrued words in the English language. Customers often think that profit is anything between a company’s cost for a product or service and the customer’s purchase price. Employees think profit is the difference between the selling price and the cost, less their wages. In reality, profit is…

Fun can be the ticket out of workplace angst

Managers are worried about accountability and employees are wondering if they will have a job next year

Fun can be the ticket out of workplace angstLife seems very serious at the moment. Everywhere we turn, people are challenged with discouraging news about health, the economy, job losses, rising home prices and inflation. Add in mental illness and a raft of other concerns that sometimes seem contrived to keep us worried, scared and paralyzed. This seriousness has pervaded our workplaces, homes…

Trust is the foundation for success

Whether it’s a manager having trust in a staff member, employees having trust in their leader or leaders having trust in their decisions

Trust is the foundation for successAs a child, I had a tremendous fear of falling. I would climb a tree and couldn’t trust that the branch wouldn’t break. I climbed cranes, cliffs and buildings, and was always afraid that my footing would slip and I would fall. Perhaps that fear was grounded in the fact that I had already fallen…