Karen Fischer

A True Entrepreneur - A Smart Way to Start a Business

November 2, 2014

We very rarely work with start-up businesses as 9 times out of 10 they are usually calling to get “free advice” and are not really serious about taking the risk and investing the time and cash needed in their business. Then there is that 1 out of 10 that exudes the term – A True Entrepreneur. That term does not even begin to describe Janet Sirko, of Ashbro Inc., who is on track to be a true Canadian entrepreneur success story. In addition to this story being about Janet, it is about building a solid team and how it can truly contribute to your overall success.

The Business Idea
Janet was referred to us by our mutual representative at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). She initially needed help with pricing a product she developed for market. The product was Ring Around the Bin™, which was a plastic moulded ring that fits around the kitchen compost bin to stop the compost bag from falling down into the bin. The compost bin fits under the kitchen sink, which is usually provided by the regions and municipalities in Canada. Janet came up with the idea after experiencing her own frustration with the messy compost bag always falling down. She visualized the idea in her mind for several years and decided that no one else was solving the problem, so she decided to do it herself. Janet then did research to see if there was anything out there like her idea. Though the issue was with her own kitchen compost bin, the issue exists with most of the kitchen compost bins being sold today. The solution in her mind was now under way.

Protecting and Development of the Idea
The first thing Janet did was look for a patent lawyer and find an illustrator to develop her idea. No one else had a similar product, but she knew there was always the possibility that someone else could copy it, so she knew she had to protect her idea. She now has a pending utility patent on her product, which means that no one will be able to copy or alter the design in any way. It was important to her that the product was manufactured in Canada, so she found a local manufacturer, MSB Industries / Epcot Plastics Ltd., in Pickering, Ontario who provides a one stop shop service from product development to developing the prototype, the mould, as well as the manufacturing. Janet knew she needed packaging of some kind depending on the different channels to market Ring Around The Bin™, so she engaged a friend of hers, Joanne Nichols of Mushroom Media, to develop her branding, website, packaging and trade show displays.

Hiring the Right Team and Investment in Her Business
Janet contacted us after being referred by CFIB to help her with the “business side” of starting her business. We have helped her with developing her pricing, channels to market, business processes and have provided coaching along with referrals for other services that she has needed. She has many channels to market with this product for multiple manufacturers. In addition she has hired a corporate lawyer for all of her contractual requirements, which is very important for any serious business.

To quote Janet, “she has created a team of experts” to help her be successful in the areas she needs help. And a team it truly is, as we all work together, and it turn, Janet has created a small virtual company as a start-up business owner. She has funded this business herself and invested her own money and time, as a true entrepreneur does.

Dedication to the Business
Janet has the energy of five people and does whatever it takes to get her business off the ground. She makes cold calls to the various kitchen compost bin manufacturers that her product will fit, as well as the regions and municipalities. And the good news is that she is getting the meetings. She has presented to City Councillors and Executives. She has knocked on doors of shop owners to sell her product and attends shows and fairs to promote her product, Ring Around the Bin™ and her business, Ashbro Inc., to both consumers to potential channels to market. Janet admits she does not know everything and cannot do it all herself and no one can. She trusts the expertise of the team she has hired and relies on their input in areas she is not sure about which is what leaders actually do.

I do not believe any of us on her team even speculate as to whether Janet will be successful with Ring Around the Bin™. It is forgone conclusion we already have made just watching Janet work and by her doing all of the right things for her business to make it a success.

For those thinking about starting a business, here is a list of the things that have been done right by this business owner.

  • Made an investment in her business by using her own savings and line of credit.
  • Has taken all of the risk, but has hired outside help in areas where she needs advice and guidance.
  • She knows her strengths and weaknesses and she listens to her trusted advisors, when needed.
  • She has created a working team out of the professionals she has hired and we are working together collectively for her instead of independently.
  • She is out hustling every day making phone calls, knocking on doors, doing presentations, networking, attending shows, and doing whatever it takes to make sales and make her business a success.

5 Tips For Getting The Most Out of Your Business Social Media

September 18, 2014

I have a client who works with a group of small businesses as their client. While working with them on their own social media, I uncovered that most of their clients will not realize the benefit of social media in their business.This is primarily due to how the sites are set up and how they are actually using them today.This is not an uncommon phenomena, as many businesses  know they need to use social media, but have never been taught what needs to be done, or  have just not had the time to ...
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Business Productivity Measures Made Simple

July 29, 2014

Ever wonder how productive your organization is?

We have consulted with many businesses and found that on the average, businesses are less than 50% productive. This usually comes as a surprise to the business owner. After the surprise is digested, the usual follow up question is: How did you come up with that number. Here’s how I did it.

  1. Determine how billing for revenues works. If it’s by the hour or quoted by the job, ask, how is the price worked out for the work being provided and how ma...

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LinkedIn - The Value of Their Post Blog Feature

July 26, 2014

Blown away is putting it mildly of how I felt this morning after posting my first post on the New LinkedIn Feature Blog Post feature. I  had noticed this feature was available a few months back as I watched my peers  and connections using it. I soon  began wondering why  as a  paying customer with a Premium Account why those that are paying nothing are receiving valuable features before those of us that pay. I was especially tickled at the young woman on their support desk's reply that as a P...
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Nurturing the Sale Funnel Using Social Media

July 22, 2014
About the Guest Contributor

Russel Cooke is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) expert and journalist living in Louisville, KY. His work often explores globalization, business relations, software development, and social media. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, spending his time with girlfriend, and fretting about hockey.

Since its invention, social media has slowly but surely infiltrated the lives of all its users. For a medium meant to connect people together over a site-specific interf...

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Finding The Hidden Costs of Choosing a Manufacturer Outside of Canada

July 6, 2014

I spent time with a client this week and a local manufacturer that is producing their new product.  The reason for the meeting was to understand all of the costs to help the client figure out how to price the product to market.  As we sat there talking about different scenarios with the manufacturer, I started asking myself why we have become brainwashed to automatically think about shipping our work overseas for a better price. This is definitely true if we watch the Dragon’s Den because t...

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Have You Truly Invested In Your Business from the Start

June 12, 2014

When many small business owners start their business, one of the first things that they usually do is look for financing for their business.  When one applies loan, the lender will want to understand a breakdown of how you will use the money.  In most cases the owner is thinking about the capital equipment they need, a mortgage or lease, as well as the inventory for the first month of their business.  In many cases, they completely forget about including funding to cover marketing and genera...

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So You Thought The New Anti-Spam Legislation Was Going to Stop Spam

May 14, 2014

Do you find yourself attending a network event and get home to find that you are now on everyone's distribution list and are being spammed or get emails daily from SEO companies in India?  If you believed the new Canada anti-spam legislation was going to save you, you are mistaken. The new legislation as defined, will require each business owner  to hire their own lawyer to explain all the caveats to them as well as additional people in order to track every email they send to ensure complianc...

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The Math of Bad Service

April 12, 2014

Ever wonder why you get bad service from “customer care call centers”? Blame it on math.

Often customers are talked about as being an investment to the firm. It is easy to understand; a company invests marketing and sales dollars to acquire you and through the money they make from you they can pay for the goods and services they deliver to you. This provides the ROI in the customer investment. In a commodity market such as telecom, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to see profi...

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Lobbying for Small Businesses in Canada

March 27, 2014

For those small businesses who have not heard of the CFIB or those that are not sure if joining is worth the cost,this article is for you. The greater question to ask yourself - Can you afford not to join. If you are a business that has employees beside the business owner, not joining could end up costing your business greatly in the long run. The CFIB is the Canadian Federation of Independent Business which is an organization that lobbies and advocates on small business owner's behalf agains...
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About Our Canadian Small Business Blog

Our Canada small business blog provides you with articles and small business advice across different areas of your business and in support of our small business consulting and small business coaching practice. Our business focus is on providing small business content and advice to small businesses in the Canadian market. Our only focus is on Canadian small businesses or businesses outside of Canada who want to do business and provide new jobs to Canadians, but welcome visitors from outside of Canada in hopes that the advice we provide can help them as well. Visit us often, or subscribe to our small business blog Canada, as we will continue providing small business advice, small business tips , and techniques on topics of interest for your small Canadian business, whether you are a start-up or a mature small business. We would also be interested in hearing from you on small business topics of interest, or hearing questions that you might have in areas of your business.
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