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Weekly Business News Roundup

News Roundup for SME Businesses & Startups

Want Your Business to Succeed? Hire Moms. Hire Vets. Hire Boomers. Hire People With Disabilities. Here’s Why

Companies are competing to recruit the same Harvard MBAs and Silicon Valley talent, but the co-authors argue that this overlooked talent pool of underrated people might actually be the best recruits: Moms, “The most overqualified talent stuck at the playground”; Veterans, “Wired for everything from customer intel to robotics”; Retirees, “Who wants to golf when you can reinvent yourself”; People with disabilities, “They’ve spent a lifetime problem-solving”; and Career Pivoters, “Hungry to recast their agility to fit your industry.” For each talent pool, there’s the case for hiring them, where to find them, how to help them succeed, and “worth knowing.” Additional points for some include what roles they fill, tech-savvy, female strong, and companies that are doing it right.

3 Pros and 3 Cons of Working from Home

The choice to run your business from your home rather than rent an office is largely determined by your personality and what environment fosters your productivity. For many entrepreneurs, working from home is a dream come true – but there’s always a downside to an upside.

The three pros discussed by the author are saving money, controlling your workload and schedule, and “the kicker” of learning and personal growth. The cons? “You’re the boss” so you’re carrying all the weight; “Google hates you,” meaning you cannot register for a Google My Business account with a valid address for an actual business (this presupposes that using your home address on the internet lacks “professionalism”); and “your personal and professional lives become one.”

The latest millennial trend? Buying a franchise business

A & W Canada has built a special program to attract millennials, and with good reason. Millennials are showing strong interest in buying their own franchise business, and are even creating new franchise concepts. Statistics from the Canadian Franchise Association show that over 30% of the people indicating interest in owning a franchise represent the millennial demographic. A & W has instituted an Urban Franchise Associate Program that makes its franchises more affordable for millennials, and has established three millennial franchisees in Toronto restaurants already. It plans on establishing another three in Toronto before expanding its program to Montreal.

6 Ways Poor Communication is Ruining Your Business

Did you know that poor communication is the number one reason for employee dissatisfaction? This issue also adversely impacts customer relationships. In this post, the author discusses six ways poor communication can hurt your business, from unmet customer expectations and poor customer service to stress-related deterioration in employee productivity and increased employee absenteeism.

Lazaridis Institute Launches 15-City Canadian Tour to Assess Tech Companies Readiness to Scale

The Lazaridis Institute at Waterloo’s Wilfrid Laurier University is collaborating with scaling experts to provide an opportunity for 10 tech companies across Canada evaluate their potential to scale. The Institute’s Scale-Up Program, now in its third year, provides a customized approach to help tech company founders overcome the challenges faced as they scale their businesses for global competition, with a heavy orientation toward execution. From June 5th to the 27th, the Institute will travel to 15 Canadian cities, starting in Halifax. The tour will introduce business models that support rapid growth, shifts in strategy needed at each level of scale, and the management challenges that arise as a tech company grows.

To apply for the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program, visit the Institute’s website.

Why “go with your gut” is terrible advice

Using the example of interviewing a job candidate you somehow feel uncomfortable with, the author discusses that while you (like most employers) may tend to trust your gut in this situation, you shouldn’t.

Research on decision-making shows that most leaders don’t know when to rely on their gut and when not to, and that interviews are actually poor indicators of future job performance. The quick, automatic emotion-based reaction is the “autopilot” system of thinking and makes good decisions most of the time, but also regularly makes systematic thinking errors, referred to as cognitive bias. The trick is to learn how to turn on the deliberate and reflective intentional system so we can catch and override our autopilot thinking errors. Also, creating structured interviews with a set of standardized questions may help in making rational hiring choices.

Why Your R&D Budget Should Be the Last Place You Cut

Adapted from the recently published book, Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy, this article highlights five critical principles responsible for the turnaround of 3M (the 100+ year old company known for innovative products such as the ubiquitous Scotch tape and Post-It Notes). The new chairman and CEO inherited a company suffering from slow growth, severe layoffs, cost cutting (25% of R&D) and a demoralized executive team and workforce. Here’s what turned things around:

Knowing short-termism hurts innovation: To compete in today’s environment, you need to invest in cutting-edge R&D.

Finding the money elsewhere: Free up capital.  He reshaped the portfolio of businesses and made the supply chain and operations more efficient.

Listening to the rank and file: He got their input about new product and growth potential and how much they wanted for expenses, R&D included.

Nurturing an innovation culture: Provide executive-level support for an environment where it’s safe to take risks (and fail).

Seeking innovation in the everyday: There can be as much gain in improving processes and materials as there is in new product launches.

How to Build and Promote a Culture of Learning

When employees feel stuck and unhappy, their professional and personal lives suffer, ultimately affecting the employer. Here are six tips on how to empower employees to grow on multiple levels and develop new skills by cultivating a positive culture of learning:

  1. Provide regular, interactive reviews and feedback
  2. Don’t be afraid to get personal
  3. Offer innovative workspaces and solutions
  4. Give employees room to grow
  5. Develop mentorship programs
  6. Encourage continuous learning

VCs say these startup metrics don’t really matter

Trying to formulate a winning pitch for your startup? Investment and accelerator founders advise relying less on the conventional metrics they believe are overrated, and instead focus on those they value much more:

Revenue Projections: In the earliest stages, revenue projections are a hypothesis. Investors are far more interested in understanding how you are going to spend, not what you’re projecting your startup is going to earn. Rather, they’re actually looking for a startup’s growth rate.

Product-Market Fit: This issue certainly matters, but likely at the stage when you’re first wooing investors. Rather than focusing on market gaps, focus instead on your core team and culture, ensuring team members are high-performers with some diversity in background.

Contacts and Connections:  Rather than showcasing you high-caliber personal and professional networks, focus instead on grabbing the attention of someone outside of your connections as a better gauge of the market’s need for your solution.

Press Accolades: At the prototype stage, the greater indicator of success is demonstrating that prospective customers are eager and excited about your product.

Proofs of Concept and Letters of Intent: Too many POCs can actually be a liability that diverts resources from actual product development. More valuable is your startup’s customer attrition rate.

6 Ways to Incent Breakthrough Innovation in Your Team

While we might not be the latest Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, we do have the potential to be and to encourage innovative breakthroughs in our teams. Based on innovation expert Melissa A. Schilling’s new book, Quirky, which profiles the lives and foibles of eight of the world’s well-known innovative leaders, there are several ways to nurture individual talents (including your own) and foster a culture in which they’ll thrive:

  1. Encourage rather than crush the sense of being an outsider, as that provides incentive for people to challenge norms and accepted constraints;
  2. Give people time alone to ponder ideas without judgment, so they can tap into their intrinsic motivation;
  3. Reinforce people’s belief in their ability to succeed by encouraging them to take risks by lowering the price of failure;
  4. Inspire ambitions by setting grand goals and purpose;
  5. Tap into people’s natural interests and favorite activities; and
  6. Increase focus on technological and intellectual resources.

 

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