Entrepreneurs…What’s On Your Bookshelf?

Becoming a successful entrepreneur involves much more than simply having a marketable idea. That is the first step, but so many entrepreneurs fail because they simply don’t understand the “how” behind their business. They fail to arm themselves with the knowledge needed to successfully run a business or market their product or service for success.

Learning from those who have already succeeded is one such way to gain invaluable knowledge; and there are literally thousands of resources right at your fingertips. Taking time to read and improve oneself is the surest way to make a positive difference in your life and your business.

“Knowledge is the key to confidence,” states Roy Murad, Business Advisor & Canadian Entrepreneur. “Imagine you are at a networking event and join a conversation with a potential business partner. Being knowledgeable about a range of topics will help you join that conversation more confidently, and share your opinion. Imagine the alternative.”

It is easy to spot a well-read entrepreneur. They are typically more thoughtful and ambitious in their approach to their business. They are voracious learners, taking in all they can get their hands on. For those starting out, take a look at these 5 MUST READ books to get you started.

  1. The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb: If you are following my writings, you may remember an article I wrote on the theory of the Black Swan and how companies, large and small need to prepare for that unexpected disruptor to their business. A must read for all companies about the necessities of creating a thorough risk analysis and crisis management plan.
  2. You Can Be a Stock Market Genius, Joel Greenblatt: Joel brings his years of experience as a successful hedge-fund manager to this book that teaches even the most rookie investor, where to find those hidden gems that can turn big profits. Filled with case studies and real-life situations, you can learn from one of the best.
  3. The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham: While many point to chapters 8 and 20 as the real gems, the entire book is worth reading. While written 40+ years ago, certain investing principles are timeless and are never outdated. Learn which of the two categories you belong – the Defensive Investor (a passive investor who will be satisfied earning the average market return), or the Enterprising Investor (one who are willing to put in the work to try to beat the market). 
  4. Skin in the Game, Nassim Nicholas Taleb: In this thought-provoking book, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. He examines the part ethics play in risk assessment & decision making. It will have you looking at the world and your own decisions in an entirely new way.
  5. The Little Book the Beats the Market, Joel Greenblatt: One of the classics of finance literature, this book explores how investors can outperform market averages by simply and systematically applying a formula that seeks out good businesses when they are available at bargain prices with easy to understand language, concepts and humour.

Ensure that you are also including books on topics of interest to you outside of business. Gaining knowledge on a variety of topics will enable you to converse more confidently with business associates, as well as personal acquaintances; and often provide you another perspective into the world we are living. You never know where inspiration will come from, so spread your net wide and soak in as much as you can.

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.

Truth Matters. Your Word Matters.

How did we get to the point that we now have a “running lie-tally” for the leader of arguably one of the most powerful countries in the world? My question is, does this pave the way for leaders in business to assume that they can also get away with telling blatant lies as well?

Don’t misunderstand… I am not under the misconception that lying doesn’t take place in boardrooms across the country, but are we seeing a shift in acceptance of that behaviour?

If you aren’t a high-ranking political figure, chances are that you don’t have anyone fact-checking you, or tallying your broken promises. However, there should be someone who does that… and that someone should be you. You should be holding yourself accountable for any mis-truth or broken word that comes out of your mouth.

“Doing what you say you’re going to do is a very difficult thing for people,” says Roy Murad, Business Consultant & Canadian Entrepreneur. “For example, you promise to buy a widget from Vendor A for an agreed-upon price and then Vendor B walks into your office offering the same item for a cheaper price. What do you do? Do you honour your commitment? I say, always. Without exception. That doesn’t mean that you can’t return to Vendor A and ask for reasoning as to why another Vendor, one who does not have the relationship with you, would be able to offer the widget at the lower price, but you have to consider the value of your word.

Your word is your brand, your identify. When you don’t keep you word, what you are really saying to someone is that you don’t value him or her and that you have chosen to put something ahead of that relationship. That immediately creates a break that is hard to fix. If you are known in business as someone who doesn’t honour their word, that reputation will spread quickly and damage current and future relationships.

Before you make another promise or give your word to another person, make sure that you can follow-through and that it is a priority for you to keep that word. Your words matter, so if you aren’t certain that you can keep a promise, don’t make it. You will earn a lot more respect from your business partners and yourself.

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.

You Have 27-Seconds to Make a First Impression…Go

A recent study released by American-based Dollar Shave Club indicated that a first impression is made within only 27-seconds of meeting someone. Clearly in that short of a time frame, personality can only play a small part of the equation. Whether they admit it or not, visual cues are what people use to base their first impression. That is true in your personal life as well as in business.

In business, that first impression might just dictate your future success, so it is critical to pay attention to the details and gain every advantage you can. First impressions are hard to change – especially negative ones – and that is if you are even given the chance. Sometimes in business a first impression is all you get.

As superficial as it sounds, it does start with your appearance. Walking into an office, a coffee shop, a boardroom, all you have is your physical presence to speak for you. That doesn’t mean you have to wear expensive designer outfits or thousand-dollar shoes, but you do need to look neat, confident and put together. Even before the initial hello and handshake, the judgment begins.

Understanding the business culture of those you are meeting can be important clues. Take time to conduct due diligence so that you can confidently “fit in” with those you are meeting. It could be a simple as a scan of the website or a quick visit to the business office.

Reflect the Business Culture

“Whenever I went to a meeting, I reflected the culture of that business to allow for an easier interaction,” says Roy Murad. “I did my best to portray the image that those I was meeting with would be most comfortable. For example, when I met with bankers, I always wore a blue suit and red tie. It automatically made those in that meeting more comfortable because I was reflecting their innate culture back to them. It starts with knowing your audience.”

By setting yourself up for a positive first impression, you are also setting yourself up for success moving forward. Often a bad first impression is a barrier to the flow of business and ideas. Take the extra few minutes to ensure you make the most of those first 27-seconds.

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.

Hire Slow. Fire Fast.

Creating a solid and positive culture begins at the hire

It can’t be said enough the important role “people” play in any business. Having the right employees and support team in place is critical to success. Alternatively hiring to fill a role rather than to complement the company is a mistake often made when hiring strategies are not a part of the overall business plan.

“Hiring slowly and firing fast is a very good model,” says Roy Murad, Business Advisor and Canadian Entrepreneur. “Taking time to hire will increase the odds that you find the right people who will work within the culture you have created. Hiring slowly helps safeguard against panic decisions that could negatively impact the business in the end. On the flipside, firing quickly ensures that you are ridding your business of a potentially toxic situation before it takes root.”

Employees as Brand Ambassadors

Looking for people who share like values is the first step in ensuring that your team is committed to your corporate vision. Creating a values-based hiring protocol allows you to focus on identifying how well a candidate’s values align with the organization’s. At the end of the day, your decisions should be based both on who has the best experience as well as who is the best cultural fit. Both are critical.

Once you have hired a team based on a common vision and values, you will find that they will act as a brand champion on behalf of your business. Employees as brand champions will help you build credibility and word of mouth amongst their contact pool. Employee ambassadors are known to be one of the strongest marketing tools small business owners have at their disposal. If an employee is NOT acting as a brand ambassador, you need to ask yourself why and determine if they are a long-time fit for the business.

Hiring Strategy Correlates to Position

The time you should earmark into hiring can often be correlated to the turnover rate for the actual position. Let’s take a look at hiring for telemarketers, a position with an extremely high turnover rate. You will likely have a condensed hiring strategy due to the transient nature of the role.

Now let’s look at the HVAC business – you will have to spend time not only finding people that would be a good fit and representative of your brand, but people who have spent time becoming certified for the job itself. These employees have to be protected; you can’t have them churn through the job as you will likely have less people at the ready to slide into an open position. To support and retain your highly skilled employees, it is important to consider the quality of pay, environment, training, mentoring and ongoing support.

Keeping quality employees requires a commitment to employee engagement.

Recruiting for Your Bench

“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. If a president of a company decides to leave, for whatever reason, I have a pool of people I can approach to step in, either for the short or long-term.”

This bench can only be achieved with a slow-hire process, which begins before a position needs to be filled. If you wait until a position is available, you are immediately under the gun to fill it and that can lead to panic hiring. Avoid by recruiting constantly and understanding who might be available should you need. Think internally and externally to create those supporting roles for your key positions.

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.

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.

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.