A Winning Growth Strategy Includes Collaboration

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

The discussion surrounding Nationalism versus Patriotism in the news lately has me thinking about how we approach relationships and collaboration amongst competitors in business. Where patriotism is grounded in loyalty to an ideal, nationalism is much more about putting others down to build yourself up. Two seemingly interwoven terms that have very distinct and opposing meanings.

Simply put, a patriotic approach to business based on a foundation of collaboration can be the key to success for all involved. There’s even a term for it… coopetition. When organizations work together to achieve a common goal, the result can be growth for the overall market allowing each independent business to capture a bigger piece of the pie down the road.

Once the goal has been achieved and market demand is created, then it’s up to each individual company to fight for their own share of the market. That’s when the gloves can come off. It is when companies are too busy fighting each other and not focusing on customer need or demand that the entire market suffers. As Henry Ford so eloquently said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.

When Collaboration Amongst Competitors Succeeds

Let’s look at industries where collaboration was key to growth amongst competitors, the most notable being Amazon. Amazon was the first to introduce a new way of online shopping that invited competitors right onto their platform with the “Amazon Marketplace.” While there was both internal and external pressure to change course, Amazon stuck to their business model, understanding that in order to evolve, grow and survive, they needed to look at business differently. Not only did their competitors and industry benefit, but Amazon grew at a rate that they couldn’t have achieved independently.

While this is an extreme example of coopetition on a grand scale, the concept is grounded in common sense business. As an independent operator, look for opportunities to collaborate on a specific part of your business to benefit both parties.

Take a look at your business and the businesses around you. Be honest about your skillsets and what others could possibly bring to the table to complement your business growth. If you open up lines of communication between your competitors, you might be surprised at what can be achieved together. It’s worth a look.

About Roy Murad

Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.

Find out more about Roy Murad on his social media platforms: WordPressYouTubeVimeo, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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The Risk You Know and the Risk You Will Never See Coming

Black Swan: A metaphor that describes an event, whether environmental, economic, political, societal, or technological in nature; that comes as a surprise, has a major effect and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.

Businesses large and small spend a lot of time hypothesizing over potential risks to their bottom line and overall sustainability. Analyzing industry trends, competitors and market fluctuations are some of the key benchmarks, but should businesses be less concerned about what they see coming and more concerned over what they don’t?

In Nassim Nicholas-Taleb’s book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbably, Taleb discusses the often-catastrophic impact a “Black Swan” event can have on a business and how we should prepare for future unexplainable events in addition to the foreseeable. Taleb’s theory is really based on three simple and essential elements:

  1. The event is hard to predict as it is typically beyond the scope of expected risk.
  2. It is often catastrophic to the business.
  3. With the aid of hindsight, we produce plausible explanations to predict future behaviour.

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as high risk or low risk,” says Roy Murad, Business Advisor and Entrepreneur. “There is a constant delta of risk or the chance that you take on a particular decision based on the reward you expect to receive. When assessing risk, you have to assess from the point-of-view of that one event that was unpredictable.”

How do you do that if by its very nature, a “Black Swan” is unpredictable and unexpected? Most companies focus solely on the risks that businesses most frequently encounter rather than on “Black Swans.” To look outside the perceived normal risks, you have to look at disruptors… what is it in the industry and around the world that can have a sizeable impact on the business. You need to look beyond the obvious.

The Power of “What If”
As a business owner of business risk manager, you can and should take certain precautions:

  • Prepare for the risks that you see and scan the market for those disruptors or events that might come out of nowhere
  • Ask yourself, “what if” and consider possible catastrophic environmental, economic, political, societal, and technological events.
  • Do your best to make your business resilient and capable of withstanding a “Black Swan” event
  • Prepare for crisis and have specific and actionable contingency plans in place that are ready to roll out if needed
  • Regularly review and stress test your risk assessment and plan
  • Learn from others and adopt those practices that worked and make note of those that didn’t

In hindsight, these events that blindsided you may seem obvious, but in the moment, they are anything but. Don’t assume that because you are a small business you are exempt from a “Black Swan” event… you are not. You might never need experience a “Black Swan,” but you should act as if one is just around the corner.

About Roy Murad

Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.

Find out more about Roy Murad on his social media platforms: WordPressYouTubeVimeo, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Working With Family: Succession Planning Part 3 of 3

Succession planning is a vital, yet often undervalued, process for many entrepreneurial businesses, especially family-run businesses. Often there is a sense of entitlement or expectation that goes along with the succession of a family-run business, but that is often to the detriment of the business itself. Succession planning, regardless of size or situation, is necessary for long-term sustainment. It not only addresses the people-piece of the puzzle; it allows business owners to manage change and align priorities.

Roy Murad, Business Advisor & Entrepreneur, is shocked at the number of business owners he advises that have not taken into consideration, nor had a plan to conduct, succession planning. In fact, a recent CFIB poll shows that only 9% of Canadian small business owners have a formal succession plan.

“For every job you have in an organization, no matter the size, you have to have a bench of players ready to pick up the slack,” says Murad. “I have spent years building and maintaining relationships with people to allow my business to access talent should we need. When we look at family-run businesses, you can’t simply take for granted that there will be a seamless transition from one family member to another. A committed approach to the transition of ownership or power, regardless of whether it’s between family members or not, is the only way to confidently ensure as little disruption as possible.”

Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t think too much about succession until it is right upon them and then there is little time to put the pieces in place necessary to mitigate the impact of a transition. Ultimately, you are leaving a business mess in the hands of those succeeding you.

“The problem is that business owners think of a succession plan as simply an exit strategy,” says Murad. “However, the value in the exercise alone is so much more than just about the ultimate transition. The process crystalizes a lot of problems that are inherent in the business and forces a transparency that will allow you to address these problems before you place them on someone else’s plate. It is about putting the pieces in place that need to be there for you to leave behind a legacy of which you can be proud.”

The succession process doesn’t happen in mere weeks, but should happen gradually over the months and years prior to the change of ownership. Taking time to look at all the pieces of the business and communicating effectively with all involved, will increase the odds of a smooth transition, benefitting you, your successor, your employees and all other third-parties connected to your business.

Working with an expert in succession planning can provide you with an un-biased clarity you need throughout the process. You will undoubtedly learn things about your company that you don’t like, but with effort can help you better prepare your business for the future, regardless of your ultimate involvement.

Transitioning a business if often like selling your home. How many times have you heard, “if it looked this good when we lived here, we wouldn’t need to move.” Same principle applies to your business. Implementing the changes that are discovered through the succession process will enable you to realize a more efficient and more productive company before you move on.

Working through a succession planning process well in advance of your actual retirement, will help you see the value of your business and how to best prepare so that an eventual transition is not detrimental to those taking over.

About Roy Murad

Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.

 

Find out more about Roy Murad on his social media platforms: WordPressYouTubeVimeo, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

 

Working with Family: Understanding & Respecting Roles Part 2 of 3

As we watch the news today we are witness to a family feud that is seemingly fueled and motivated by business and money. The Stronach family, owners of Magda International, are currently having their private and public lives scrutinized by the media as the patriarch of the family, Frank Stronach, has launched a lawsuit against his daughter, Belinda, two grandchildren and others, for allegedly mismanaging the family’s assets.

This unfortunate battle is sometimes the result of toxic family dynamics entering the workforce, however, there are many more success stories that aren’t shared or played out in the public eye. As Belinda Stronach penned in social media following the news outbreak, “Family relationships within a business can be challenging.”

While most businesses won’t reach the levels of Magda International, the importance of family dynamics within a business cannot, and should not, be downplayed. Understanding the potential pitfalls and challenges that can come from blending family with business will help set the groundwork for a positive working relationship.

In Part One of our Working with Family series we looked at the importance of “normalizing” roles and salary to set expectations and avoid disruption amongst the entire team. We looked at the impact not normalizing structure can have on corporate culture. Now we take that philosophy and add to it an understanding of the various role, or roles each team member might bring to the table and how to manage those roles while leaving opportunity for growth.

Wearing One Hat at a Time

What happens when members of the company, especially family members, wear different hats? For example, an employee in the creative department is also a Member of the Board of Directors. It becomes critical that each member with varying roles understand when to use their influence and power in each of their individual roles and realize that they should never wear both hats at the same time.

“There are times when a board member has to act in a way befitting a board member,” says Roy Murad, Business Advisor and Canadian Entrepreneur. “A board member mentality, however, should never be brought to anyone’s day-to-day role. Looking at the example of a creative employee, it is important that they act in the best interests fo the company as their role suggests. Crossing lines between roles often occurs when people are looking to advance their own priorities and not for the good of the company.”

Growth Opportunities

Once roles are defined, identifying growth opportunities becomes important for long-term commitment and productivity. Those with a purpose, drive forward more meaningfully than those with a task.

“Give family members a role that they can succeed in,” says Murad. “Mentor them in that role so that they are what you need in the business and allow them to grow out of that role into something else. This mentality is crucial for those with a succession plan that allows for their family to eventually control the business.”

Part three in our series of Working with Family will focus on the need for, and role of, succession planning for business.

About Roy Murad

Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.

 

Find out more about Roy Murad on his social media platforms: WordPressYouTubeVimeo, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Working with Family: Prioritize Normal Part 1 of 3

Could Dickens have been talking about the reality of working with family members when he penned this infamous phrase, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?”

While working with family can often have its challenges; when it works, it can be a triumphant success. While there are those out there who say never mix business with family, if you know how to manage the transition and expectations, it can often work well. It does take trust, honesty and a commitment by all parties to put the health of the business first during working hours.

It can be hard to separate our personal and professional lives when faced with those who know us best, but when transitioning a family member into an employee, it is crucial that you do so with a rational, logical and unbiased approach. You have likely hired and onboarded many employees in the past and the process should remain the same, regardless of familial ties.

History Impacts Perception

When working with family it is easy to put up blinders and make assumptions based on your combined history. That should be the first red flag that the working relationship will fail. Think about it this way: do you assume your Creative Director missed the deadline because his daughter spent the past three days sick and up all night? Do you share inside jokes with your Accounting Manager? Probably not.

The idea of creating an unbiased fair workspace means that all employees, regardless of familial ties, are treated the same. No special conditions or treatments should be in place just because your nephew, son or sister has joined the business. Alternatively, you do not have to be “extra demanding” on family members to prove anything to your other employees. Creating a normal working relationship from the start will drive a positive work environment and quiet any nay-sayers. That often starts with normalizing salary and the reporting chain.

“It is critical to apply a concept of normalization to the situation,” says Roy Murad, Business Consultant and Canadian Entrepreneur. “Normalizing salary and chain of command will showcase that it’s business as usual and no special treatment will be given regardless of family status. You have to think, if this person weren’t family, how much would they be entitled to earn and how would they work into the business. Onboarding any employee should disrupt the business as little as possible.”

If you would be paying anybody coming into the position, $50K a year, why would you even consider paying a family member one dime more? That goes the same for the chain of command. If a non-family employee coming into the same position would report into someone other than you, that has to remain in place as well. Any special treatment will be noted by those looking to see how you manage the business and can cause a negative corporate culture.

If managed properly, there’s no reason family members can’t work together successfully. When both parties put the health of the business first, these stumbling blocks can easily be avoided.

About Roy Murad

Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.

Find out more about Roy Murad on his social media platforms: WordPressYouTubeVimeo, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

What is Your Business Karma?

Entrepreneurial Success Starts (and Ends) with a Positive Outlook

I dare you to find an entrepreneur who is successful while filled with negativity. Let’s say that another way… entrepreneurial success is 100 per cent dependent upon a person’s ability to drown out the negative and focus on following a more positive path, regardless of the situation they find themselves in.

Think about it. Some of the most successful business people, athletes, politicians, etc… get their inspiration and drive through positive visualization. Knowing exactly what you want from life, or in this instance, from a business or entrepreneurial venture, will keep you focused on a positive outcome. There are enough outside distractions surrounding you every day. Do not fall into the trap of letting negative thoughts and attitudes creep into your day-to-day, ultimately becoming a barrier to your success.

Business Karma…What is Yours?

“The reality is that when you’re an entrepreneur, you want to keep a positive frame of mind,” says Roy Murad, Canadian Entrepreneur and Business Consultant. “You cannot allow negativity to truly enter into your mind. That doesn’t mean that you have to smile at every bad thing that happens, but you do have to wake up every morning and view the day as a positive day. I have found that giving back in business and in my community helps me keep focused on the bigger picture and helps to drown out the noise.”

Roy believes that entrepreneurs can, and should, take time to nurture a philanthropic mindset. At the end of the day, Roy determines success by looking at what he gave back in both his personal and professional interactions. “Giving more than you take” is a highly under-valued rule of business, yet is a guiding principle that has steered Roy to success while helping him remain focused on the positive.

While this is an ideal mindset, it takes constant work. There will always be setbacks that could veer you off course. It’s how you recover from those moments that ultimately determine your success. Roy has found these few tips useful over the years to remain positive and involved:

  • Surround yourself with family and friends – they are your anchor
  • Keep focused on your end goals – live and work with purpose
  • Set short term and long term benchmarks – regular success will keep you driving forward to reaching that next level
  • Find balance by scheduling time for outside interests & hobbies
  • Remove the negative influences from your life – personally and professionally
  • Look for small opportunities to make a difference – it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment
  • Find your passion

About Roy Murad

Roy Murad is a father, husband, business consultant, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.

Find out more about Roy Murad on his social media platforms: YouTubeVimeo, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Sustainability & Success

From Start-up to Relevant: Every entrepreneurs goal

“We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.” -Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

According to Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada thousands of businesses exit the marketplace every year in Canada. Business failure statistics show that about 96 percent of small businesses (1–99 employees) that enter the marketplace survive for one full year, 85 percent survive for three years and 70 percent survive for five years (Key Small Business Statistics). Approximately 7,000 businesses go bankrupt every year in Canada.

“What makes a company successful in today’s world isn’t about how much money they make in the moment or how much they sell their company for,” says Roy Murad, Canadian Entrepreneur & Business Advisor. “While that is a short-term goal, true start-up success is based on a company’s ability to adapt and evolve into something that the market demands, creating a sustainable presence.”

Creating a long-lasting and relevant company requires dedication to understanding market trends, listening to customers, and anticipating or leading market disruption, all while you are running a business. Where small businesses or start-ups go wrong is right from the get-go… in the planning stage. Setting your business up for success starts before you even make that first sale. Thinking long-term while acting short-term is key.

Plan

Planning is one of the most common reasons for failure; people start businesses because they want to do a particular thing or love a particular product but at the end of the day, your business has very little to do with your wants or needs… it’s about your potential customers; the people spending their money. Understanding actual market demand is one of the hardest things for a business owner to do because they often do not see the opportunity that exists beyond their initial ideas. Removing ego from your business, and actioning change that market demands, is key to long-term success.

Innovate

We find that smaller businesses are able to better innovate to meet or exceed market demands. Less “red tape” means that change is easier to put into action given the right circumstances and ability. Responding to market shifts and demands is only possible when the business is in tune with the industry and its customers.

Listen

A company that doesn’t truly listen to its customers is doomed to fail. Tap into the many sources of information available to you including, online chatter, reviews (yours and your competitors, your sales force, your family, your friends, etc… While there may not be a diamond in every piece of information you find, each individual piece when woven together, will tell you a complete story about your industry and your place in that industry.

Evolve Internally

To change externally, you may require change internally. As you grow and innovate to meet market demand, you may find that your internal operations can not sustain the change. You might find that as you transition from start-up to growth there is a need to standardize business processes so that your experience is managed consistently. Perhaps you need to bring in new people wth specialized expertise or you need to offer training and growth opportunities internally. Whatever the case, when external shifts take place, look internally to ensure you have the right pieces in place to take advantage of the shift.

Taking a critical look at your overall business model to ensure it allows for reaction to market demands will help you become one of the 70% of companies that succeed past year five.

About Roy Murad

Roy Murad is a father, husband, business advisor, investor, advocate for new business ventures, and consummate entrepreneur. Over the course of 35 years building businesses, guiding companies and identifying strong investment opportunities, while nurturing a thriving family, Roy Murad has amassed a wealth of experience; experience, that may be of value to others who are looking to shape a balanced and successful life experience.

Find out more about Roy Murad on his social media platforms: YouTubeVimeo, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.