You need a plan for your business exit

Last year the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that 47% of Canadian business owners are planning to exit their business within the next five years.

With statistics like that, if you are a business owner, there is a 1 in 2 chance that you are thinking of making an exit yourself.

81% of those surveyed said that retirement is the reason they will leave their business. Perhaps that is your story as well. Maybe your retirement will happen in that same 5-year window, or maybe you have a little longer to plan. Either way, there will come a time that you will make an exit. And when you do, what is the plan for your business? Will you sell it? Dissolve it? Hand it over to a relative? Do you even know where to begin?

If you are unsure about what your exit strategy will be, do not fret about it. You are not alone. That same survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business revealed that half of those surveyed have no formal exit strategy. 1 in 3 are not even sure where to start.

It might be comforting to know that you are not alone. But do not let that prevent you from taking action and making a plan for a well executed transition into your retirement.

Chicago-based business advisor, Ted Thomas, says that successfully exiting your business will require a series of proactive decisions rather than responding to situations and circumstances.

Thomas says, "It's almost like the military: Before you go in, you want to know how you're going to get out."

Creating a business succession plan and obtaining professional advice is a perfectly good idea.  Seeking the counsel and expertise of a business valuator is an important first step. A business valuation is a very complex financial process.

On June 26, APEX Alberta will be hosting a free session to provide business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with information on business valuations.  This session will guide you through important elements like ownership, tax strategies, contingency planning, and structuring considerations.

This upcoming Lunch & Learn seminar will be presented by Drew Jackiw, a local Chartered Professional Accountant with JMH & Co., and it is designed for business owners, family businesses, entrepreneurs, and aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to learn about the business valuation process.

Drew will dig deeper into specifics on: factors that affect value, valuation methods, preparing for a sale, financing an acquisition or a sale, transitioning without a sale to family and tax minimization strategies.

To register for this free event, please visit the APEX website or call 403-528-2824 to register.

Elizabeth Blair is the regional innovation network coordinator for APEX Alberta. APEX Alberta supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta. APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates. 

The use of assessment tools in human resource management

Every leader in business faces the ongoing challenge of maximizing the potential of their team. The goal is to hire great people, develop great people and, ultimately, to keep great people. As author Jim C. Collins has famously explained, we want to get the right people on the bus and get them in the right seats.

There are many variables that go into hiring the right people. Certainly having the right skillset, or the ability to develop the right skillset is critical. Chemistry is often a critical part of choosing the right people to join your team. Applicants vary widely in their skills, abilities, work styles and other characteristics.  These differences can and do affect the way people behave or perform in their job.

Perhaps you have a team of talented, experienced people but you are struggling to get them to perform to their fullest potential.

Or maybe you have a team that is not working well together. 

If you could understand how certain individuals work, you could produce a more productive and cohesive team.

As HR professionals are struggling to find and retain the best talent, there are tools often used to help increase communication and performance on a team.  In this article I will highlight three popular assessment tools that you can access online:

1.DISC® is a personal assessment tool.  By answering a series of questions, a detailed report will be produced that defines your personality and behavior.  The tool allows an individual to better understand themselves and adapt to others who for example, work in a team.

How to access the tool: DISC ® can be accessed at discprofile.com

2. CliftonStrengths assessment – The CliftonStrengths assessment helps you to discover your complete and unique talent profile.

How to access the tool: CliftonStrengths assessment can be accessed at gallupstrengthscenter.com

3.The Myers-Briggs Personality Test ( MBTI®:   MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR® ) – The MBTI assessment helps to improve interactions and to promote effectiveness in work and personal lives.   Organizations can use it to improve communication, teamwork, and leadership.

How to access the tool:  psychometrics.com/assessments/myers-briggs-type-indicator

These tools can provide a leader with a level of insight into the communication style, relational needs and personal drivers of an individual being considered for a position or for those already on your team. When used constructively, these can also help team members understand one another more effectively and improve communication and cooperation.

Assessment tools have been around for many years. The DISC® profile assessment dates all the way back to the 1920’s. As insightful as they may be, they should be utilized with a clear understanding of what it is that you want to measure.  These tools should not be used as a way to disqualify people but rather as a way to look at areas of strength and areas for improvement.

Community Futures Entre-Corp has been supporting small business since 1988.  We provide the tools and guidance you need to run your business.  For more information about our programs and how we can connect you with helpful resources, please call Community Futures at 403-528-2824.

Elizabeth Blair is the regional innovation network coordinator for APEX Alberta. APEX Alberta has programs to help support the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.  APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.

Social Media is a powerful tool to reach prospects and customers

Social media marketing is a powerful way for businesses of all sizes to reach prospects and customers. It can also be a painful and time-consuming monster you don’t have the capacity to understand it, let alone master it.

In order to understand social media, we must understand Digital Marketing first. So, what is digital marketing? In a nutshell, it can be defined as a method to create awareness and promote a brand or product by using all available digital channels.

The major components of digital marketing are:

Internet Marketing – Website, SEM (search engine marketing – includes SEO and Pay per click advertising), smartphones, mobile markets (i.e. Google Play, Apple Store), email marketing, online banner advertising and Social Media.

Non-Internet digital channels – Television, Radio, SMS, digital billboards (indoor and outdoor).

The difference between digital marketing and social media is that social media is just one of the available channels of digital marketing. Many people believe that by engaging on social media they are doing digital marketing but this is not 100% true, as there are many more components that make up a digital marketing campaign.

Ready to get started with marketing on social media? And if you’ve already begun, how can you maximize your time and energy you put into your social media marketing?

Here are five social media marketing tips to kick off your social media campaigns.

1.   Social Media Content Planning — Building a social media marketing plan is essential. Consider keyword research and competitive research to help brainstorm content ideas that will interest your target audience. What are other businesses in your industry doing to drive engagement on social media?

2.   Great Social Content — Consistent with other areas of online marketing, content reigns supreme when it comes to social media marketing. Make sure you post regularly and offer truly valuable information that your ideal customers will find helpful and interesting. The content that you share on your social networks can include social media images, videos, infographics, how-to guides and more.

3.   A Consistent Brand Image — Using social media for marketing enables your business to project your brand image across a variety of different social media platforms. While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your business’s core identity, whether it's friendly, fun, or trustworthy, should stay consistent.

4.   Sharing Curated Links — While using social media for marketing is a great way to leverage your own unique, original content to gain followers, fans, and devotees, it’s also an opportunity to link to outside articles as well. If other sources provide great, valuable information you think your target audience will enjoy, don’t be shy about linking to them. Curating and linking to outside sources improves trust and reliability, and you may even get some links in return.

5.   Measuring Success with Analytics — You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data. Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your most triumphant social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off abandoned. Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them. And be sure to use the analytics within each social platform for even more insight into which of your social content is performing best with your audience.

Your customers are already interacting with brands through social media, and if you're not speaking directly to your audience through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, you're missing out! Great marketing on social media can bring remarkable success to your business, create devoted brand advocates and even drive leads and sales.

If you need guidance or want more information with your digital marketing goals, contact Katie Taylor, Marketing Advisor at Community Futures Entre-Corp.

APEX, the Regional Innovation Network (RIN) collaborates to put their collective resources together to support and improve the development of innovation and technology among small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in our region.

For more information about this event, or how our programs can help your business, please call Katie Taylor at 403-528-2824.

Katie Taylor is the Marketing Advisor for APEX Alberta.  APEX Alberta supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.  APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.