Franchise’s success myth

Each year about 26% of young businessmen start their first business as a franchise, but just 66% of them are successful. So what are the main problems that ending up with the wrong choice?

First of all it is an initial expense. Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection have a list of nonrefundable franchise fees from tens of thousands to tens hundred thousands of dollars. And it is not all expenses, most of people forget about ongoing royalty payments; operating fees; opening fees and advertising fees; rent equipment; marketing; inventory and business setup. There is no way of “just buy a franchise after viewing some webpage or talking to business owner once”. This kind of business needs a full research of the company’s history, owners, their other business activities and financial history. This information is not open and nobody will show it, so the investigator has to do their own research of how this franchise relate to other businesses within its league.

Secondly, even if the franchise is a well-known brand, including product logo and advertising campaign the new enter owner should have a clear idea of a franchiser’s control. There is an agreement that dictates mostly everything from the prices to employee pay rate. That may include the dress code, hour rates, and hours of operations and so on. Any default of these details may the franchise default without expenses refund.

Thirdly, it is incredibly difficult to work with it by your own. The owner need to have suggests from people who have an access to the right machinery and the right business partners, franchises owners. Start the business is a hard job and it always better to allow professionals do their job. Buy a franchise is not a buy a guarantee of your rich life. But who dares wins.

Canada’s condo boom

Despite the fact that the country has second-largest landmass and unlike most of the countries Canada is one, which population slightly smaller than any other. Worldwide consultants have been a confused by the real estate market. In past 2010, the Toronto’s real estate market was marked “red hot”. But some of the analytics fear that the real estate market is going out of control due to the fact that sales continue to decrease, but prices have reached maximum point record over the past 30 years total.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, housing prices are on average higher than the average annual income of Canadians 4,7-11,3 times, while for the normal functioning of the market value of property shall not exceed the annual per capita income by 3-4 times.

Over the past six months, the number of transactions fell by 25 percent, while prices and demand continue to grow. Only from May to June, house increased in price by 1.5 percent. According to experts, the output prices out of control almost inevitable.

Over the past 30 years on Canada’s real estate market was recorded three “bubble” story’s: In 1981 and 1994 in Vancouver and 1989 in Toronto.

Now the cost of housing in all six major Canadian cities on average more than 300 thousand dollars. Sufficiently increasing the percentage of mortgages at 0.25 to the crisis began in the housing market, like a landslide unleashed by the U.S. 2 years ago. For example, in Calgary and Edmonton housing has risen in price so rapidly as in the most affected U.S. cities.

Nevertheless, according to experts, more stringent rules for Canadian mortgages can prevent the collapse or significantly reduce its effects. Even despite the fact that Canada is not immune from the crisis, it will not be as strong as in the U.S., where the bankrupt steel 10 percent of households.

Rise and Shine above the Crowd: Taste of Video

As businesses struggle to have their websites more interactive and appealing, a video demo can help them do just that.

When PC became a necessity and was offered to more and more public, people started to think about making the Internet as a huge bill board – with lots of websites (post-its) and pictures (pictures). This turned out to be successful and now there are billions of websites on the web doing their job – whatever that maybe.

The idea of having a website for businesses came to entrepreneurs as natural as they could imagine. Some adopted earlier, some did later but eventually everybody had websites on the web, for it was a simple and effective way to approach the public and inform the visitors about what their company does, what it produces and what kind of services it offers.

Then again, some realized that their dry websites filled with text are boring and unattractive to customers. They started to work on visuals, background music, and other improvements that made their websites bloom and shine. They wanted to differentiate their websites from all the other ‘average’ ones.

Now, lots of business owners strive to have websites with both text and visuals that best describe the benefits of using and having their products. It is difficult to judge as visitors to say which websites are helpful and appealing and which are not.

Luckily, some entrepreneurs have their thinking cap on. They began to differentiate their websites again by adding demo videos of products and services.

The world we live is filled with television and online videos that boggle our minds sometimes. However, this is merely a product of its own good: many consumers would rather watch a short length video than read an articulate page-long text that offers valuable information.

Demo videos serve multiple purposes, if done well. First, they operate as an interactive mean to provide visitors with information about the company, products and services. Having a video can effectively lengthen the attention span of the viewers who tend to move on rather quickly, if the website fails to provide them with what they want instantly.

A good demo video can do at least one of three things: educate, engage or entertain. If a video does more than one, that is even better. Its ability to serve multiple roles makes a good return on investment for companies willing to spend the money to have a video – normally, $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the length, animation or involvement of having a demo video can make a good investment for any company looking for a way to rise and shine above the crowd and provide something that resonates with consumers.

Partnership with a big-shot: hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Partnerships within the survival-of-the-strongest business world don’t always end with ‘happily ever after’.

Microsoft Corp. was spending millions to find a new method to help people conserve energy and count the energy usage for its Hohm line products. The company looked for utilities and devices that could help households track their energy use – the purpose being, if you can see how much energy you are consuming as you go, you will save energy by reducing the usage, thus saving you from a large energy bill at the end of the month.

When Blue Line Innovations Inc. heard about what Microsoft was trying to do, the next thing to do was obvious: pick up the phone and call them. The reason being, Blue Line Innovations just happened to be the owner of technology that fits perfectly into Hohm line project. Blue Line Innovations had worked on PowerCost Monitor for years, a device with a display screen that measures power usage in real time. So they had every reason to call Microsoft, and they did. Let there be partnership.

Both companies had what the other lacked: Blue Line Innovation wanted to make its interface more user-friendly and mostly, to be recognized and help consumers save money. Microsoft had wanted to find a device that does just what PowerCost Monitor does. With Blue Line’s technology and Microsoft’s vast amount of resources, Hohm line was completed.

The partnership between these two companies is very common among small firms. In many cases, the small businesses have the technology or intellectual property that the large firms need, yet the small ones lack resources and network that the large companies possess. By partnering up with a big-shot, small firm gains access to the market and commercializes its technology. In addition, small firms also get affiliation advantages from a large company: in-house expertise, knowledge in production process etc.

However, such partnerships between small and large firms often create disastrous results. Small companies must be aware of the potential downsides of partnering up with big-shots. One of the major issues is theft of intellectual property. Once you have shared the essence of your idea, the big brother might just part ways and say, ‘who are you again?’ Some may contend, ‘They can’t do that because its against the protection law.

They will get sued!’ Sure, the large companies will get sued but the small companies just don’t have enough financial support of their own to take the fight all the way or even start a fight. It is lose-lose situation for the little David and the Goliath walks away with a smile.

Luckily, there are things a small business can do to help itself and minimize the damage when the misfortune happens. First, when negotiating a partnership, avoid dealing with one person at the bigger firm because after that person is no longer in charge of the deal, small firms find themselves in trouble.

Also, try to diversify your sales route as much as possible. Having all your income from the partnership often leads to cash-flow problems because you often have to spend a lot of money to provide services for the big firm.

Most importantly, you should carefully assess whether the partnership is the right business opportunity. The name value of the big company often cloud the judgement you make, so have a mentor or an advisor who can guide you through the process and making decision.

Sometimes, it is best to sell the company, so that you have something in your hand when you get out.

In short, if a small company makes the decision to have a partnership with a larger one, it must make the call carefully. Once it is done, it would be best to learn from the experience and the period of the partnership. The larger firms often have creative, innovative ideas. It is wise to learn how the ideas are developed and carried out, for the experience could be something valuable that small firms need.

Network Through Sprouter

This new free social networking website is spreading fast and wide: already rooted in 170 countries, connecting entrepreneurs across the world.

Sprouter is a networking site designed for entrepreneurs, by Sarah Prevette who is the only Canadian to be on the list as Top 30 under 30 in North America – the list was put together by Inc. magazine. It was less than a year that Sprouter was introduced to web, but it is already embraced by entrepreneurs in 170 countries. That is impressive.

What has made this website so special and fast-growing? One of the many possible answers to that is in it unique setup that creates an atmosphere that is similar to a seminar rather than an informative website or Facebook.

Sprouter is a forum where entrepreneurs log on and ask questions and state challenges they are facing which is followed by the answers from peers and connection through answering or making an introduction. It is a very active, and participation based community which spread throughout the web very quickly. Sprouter took off rapidly because many small business owners or entrepreneurs did not have a pool of information and resources that they can access to. Also, the information and advices are provided by people similar to them, making it more credible and precise.

Undoubtedly, it would have been difficult for Sprouter to have a strong base community when it was launched. Ms. Prevette explains that she marketed the site based on grass roots and voluntary support from the users over the course of its launching. Members referred Sprouter to other users, friends or even entrepreneurial publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Inc.

The success of Sprouter was inspired by the struggle Ms. Prevette had to go through while establishing her first company, upinion.com which is a pop culture website for teenagers. She noted that it would have been much easier to get help and find information if there was a source that she can rely on or a source kind enough to answer her cold calling wholeheartedly. The idea was based on the fact that there would be someone like her trying to set up her own business but lacking information and guidance.

As Sprouter became world-wide, the pool of information and potential connections grew larger; it began to provide possible clients, investors and partners as well for entrepreneurs across the globe. One of the issues of being too popular is that often the question you post on the forum may get pushed back before it is answered. This is why Sprouter is launching is new free Q&A service. This addition will provide a whole new forum where successful business owners can directly advise early stage entrepreneurs, on top of peer-to-peer service Sprouter offers. The new feature will have qualified – by Sprouter team – people who can answer questions that would have been lost in the wave of many others.

Sprouter offers a place where information and ideas can be shared and be improved through discussion. It also provides an environment for start-up entrepreneurs to acquire specific and need-to-know tips that may help them grow their business. The sheer numbers of its members speak for the quality and efficiency of the site.

CPR: Chatr Perks up Rogers

The launch of discount mobile phone brand ‘chatr’ arms the telecommunication champion with a counter for the rookies.

Rogers Communications Inc. announced the launch of its discount cellular phone brand ‘chatr’ a while back and upon its release, July 27th it became available in major urban centers in Canada. It is crystal clear that the company is aiming to regain its previously enjoyed market share which was notably hurt after the new competitors such as Wind Mobile and Mobilicity entered the market. Since late 2009, the new entrants have been focusing on the world of cheap, unlimited talk-and-text, cleverly finding its niche. Rogers’ launch of chatr will bring a new balance to this market.
Rogers announced chatr will be launching in major cities in Canada such as Toronto,Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal, with a $35 unlimited talk plan and a $45 unlimited talk and text plan. Not only it offers cheap plans but also it provides consumers with cheap phones that are as low as $60.
‘Cheap’ is a relative term and it is true in Rogers’ case as well: although chatr is offered in wide variety and range, it is still slightly above the prices ranges of other new companies. In an attempt to compensate this factor, chatr will be provided in Rogers’ national network, bringing an edge over the competitors, which are trying to build wireless network as large as Roger’s.
Some analysts frown upon this yet another new brand of the telecommunication giant: the new brand is supposed to bolster the existing brands such as Fido and Rogers Wireless by competing in a lower end of the market, however, it is speculated that Rogers is trying to overcrowd the market by adding another brand.
In light of launching of chatr, Wind Mobile acted quickly by offering chatr and Rogers customers $150 credit upon switching to Wind, and by holding a promotional event on the day of the launch. Mobilicity also reacted as well, perhaps a bit more aggressively, by threatening to file a complaint with the Competition Bureau. Chairman John Bitove explained that Rogers is trying to eliminate the new competition by implementing low price range of chatr.
Overall, while the well-timed launching of new brand chatr still needs some time to assess its full potential and data, it seems that Rogers have managed to find a way to prevail over its competitors.

Business 2.0

Hot on the heels of the global internet shift toward a more interactive experience, new ways of using old technologies have begun to revolutionize the way we do business.

Released on April 22, 1993, the Mosaic web browser made the internet truly accessible for the first time, allowing users to browse published information—which is about all they could do, as no real interface existed to facilitate interaction—in the comfort of their own homes. Then came “Web 2.0” and an entirely new user experience was created; an experience that now focussed on interaction, not extraction. Like the World Wide Web, the world of business is now in the midst of an interaction facelift, revolutionizing the way we do work.

As time went by, the web produced more ways for users to connect with each other, making the business world to keep both eyes on the internet. At last, let there be social media network, which made ubiquitous interaction possible. As a result, it is hard to imagine our daily lives without writing a post on a blog, a comment on a review, or leaving a short ‘how are you’ on your friend’s wall on Facebook. This process is an active interaction through the internet, done by billions of people around the world every day; thus, the market potential became unprecedented. Based on a simple strategy – where a lot of people are, we shall sell a lot – the world of business turned to a whole new field of interaction with customers. If it helps, the success stories of E-Bay and Amazon may give you the brief picture of businesses paying attention to the internet.
Grass Roots

This new method of advertisement is both subtle and intelligent because it maximizes the capacity of the social media network that now became a part of many people’s everyday lives in order to target customers. Now, let’s rewind for a tiny bit. Before the social media network was so popular, target audience method was still around but in a different way. Taking RIM for an example, when their signature smartphone BlackBerry was released, they launched it exclusively to the people of Wall Street and Bay Street, and let the word of mouth to its work. Soon enough, not only businesspeople but also their lawyers and secretaries started using BlackBerry and it created a snowball effect.

Grass roots work in a similar way but it is mostly done on the internet. Instead of using word of mouth, it uses word of web to target the consumers. Here is how it works: a blogger who has over two thousand readers writes a blog about a baby product that she recently had a chance to use and uploads pictures of her two-year-old daughter wearing the product, of course her daughter looks absolutely fabulous in the pictures. The avid readers of her blog will see the pictures and assess the product positively, regardless of whether they are parents or not. Behind the whole scene, there is a company which sent the blogger a sample of their product to be simply ‘reviewed’.

Integrated video technology

Video technology, with its multimedia applications, is not just a source of entertainment but also is a method of advanced communication. It has become a standard practice among executives to have video conferences in between their schedule and across the world. In addition, video resumes are taking an increasing role in employment by showing the extra advantage that simple paper copies cannot present. People looking for an edge over other people utilize this feature in order to display their virtues that recruiters maybe searching for. Also, corporations started to implement video interviews, saving times and travelling of both interviewer and interviewee.

There is a huge market value in visual component of our daily lives and large companies focus on such technology to present their products more attractively and accurately. For instance, there is Pico Projector, which is a portable projector that is size of a television remote allowing users to easily handle and operate it. And there is bendable, unbreakable, and scrollable screen that also projects clear images like television but only better because it saves up to 40% of energy compared to LCD screens and uses 90% less material in volume.

In a nutshell, the internet and its course of interactive experience led a whole new genre of business methods that we haven’t witnessed before. The methods are often clever and tech-savvy, plus they are presented in a very trendy way that consumers are drawn to them.

Small Business Management

Management consulting indicates both the industry of, and the practice of, helping organizations improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing business and technology problems and development of plans for improvement, and that is what we do.

Business Process Management – is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. We implement a holistic management approach that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. Business process management attempts to improve processes continuously.