All Posts By

Frank Cianciulli

Know Where You’re Going, Even if You Don’t Know How to Get There

By | Wish Group | No Comments

As the CEO or leader, you need to have a clear vision of where your company is going.

You may not know exactly how you’re going to get from where you are today to your ideal future, but a vision is key to start.

I’ve talked a lot with my staff internally about Cameron Herold’s idea of A Painted Picture (now a Vivid Vision) and how important it is to visualize where the company is going to be in the next 2-5 years.

Take time right now to start visualizing the future or vision of your company, where will it be in 2-5 years?

This visualization process involves how your company is going to feel, how many employees you will have, what the culture is going to be like, and as many other details as you can imagine.

The process of visualization is widely used in sports, and as I have said before, I think of my company like a sports organization.

As the CEO or leader, you’re the coach of your organization and you need to know how to keep your employees engaged in the company vision and motivated to achieve results.

If you have your company vision, you’re one step ahead.

Often, business people are winging it and taking things one day at a time, but that’s like driving without a map.

You’ve got to have your destination (or vision) in mind, and then you’ve got to break it down into smaller goals with actionable steps.

Many people assume that management wants to see BIG goals, but they have to be believable.

Your goals should be challenging, but you’ve got to believe they are possible to achieve.

When you have your vision and your goals set out, I recommend meeting with your management team on a weekly basis and keeping a score card of how people are doing at achieving their goals.

Everyone from the CEO, to leaders to colleagues, needs to help others stay positive as they work toward the company vision.

As the CEO you’ve got to know your vision and be the company cheerleader.

Watch the full episode of Bootstrap – Know Where You’re Going, Even if You Don’t Know How to Get There for more tips on this topic, and check out other episodes of Bootstrap for more entrepreneurial insights.

 

 

Why Startups Fail

Why Startups Fail

By | Wish Group | No Comments

A global world is exciting, but it also opens up a world of competition.

There are six elements that can go wrong when you’re starting a business and cause your startup to fail.

CB Insights combed through post-mortem essays written by startup founders explaining why their business failed. The number one reason was no market need for the product or idea.

While this is important to understand, you may feel so strongly about your idea and believe it will create a need in the market once people know about it.

I am not here to tell you that you’re wrong, maybe you do have the next greatest idea to revolutionize our world. However, you need to go into business with your eyes wide open and ready to tackle the obstacles that stand in the way of success.

Create a plan for how you will tackle all six of these elements to give your startup the best chance of survival.

  1. Focus – without it, you will not lead your startup anywhere

Without passion and focus you will never get your idea off the ground.

It all starts with passion, and then you need to have a laser focus on exactly what you are working to create with your business.

Use that focus to create your business plan or model and set your startup off on the right track.

As you get your business off the ground, maintain your own focus, but don’t shut yourself off from feedback.

Listening to your customers and employees is essential to understand if you product is achieving what you set out to do and how you can continue to improve it.

  1. Money – a necessary piece of the puzzle to launch your startup

A focused business plan will help you in those tough conversations with possible investors or asking for financing from a bank.

At Wish Group, we are a self-funded company. My video series called Bootstrap provides more insights for self-funded entrepreneurs here: wishgroup.ca/BootStrap

Often, entrepreneurs are led by their passion and hope the money will follow after they get their product out into the world. Unfortunately, the money aspect is a huge factor for why startups fail.

Don’t forget to include your pricing and costing strategies in your business plan. Keep track of what is working or where you need to make adjustments.

  1. Product – a need in the market and a great product are keys to success.

Even great ideas and great products fail.

If there is no need in the market for your product, and you cannot generate a need, your startup will fail.

Sometimes great marketing is enough to get your startup off the ground to find a niche in the market or to reveal an area in the market where a similar product would fulfill a need.

Even with a need in the market, a poorly designed product or poorly executed business model can seal your fate and a ticket to failure.

  1. Team – Strategically plan your team from the start and always adjust.

Having the wrong team as you launch your startup can keep you from finding success.

I like to think of my company like a sports organization. The players you acquire during a building phase are very different from the ones you seek out to run for a championship.

Related: A Successful Company Has Asked “Who” Before “Where”

As a startup, you’re in a building phase and you need to focus on a team that is able to wear multiple hats and get things across the line.

Burn out is a very real threat for entrepreneurs and their teams. Consider this carefully and keep an eye on your team for signs of burn out.

Use these strategies to prevent burn out: Burning Out at the Beginning.

Disharmony on your team can quickly lead to your startup imploding or getting outperformed by your competition.

Work together with your team to create a company culture you can all enjoy.

Expand your team with a mentor.

Leverage your network for trusted advisors and to find a mentor who can help you move past roadblocks that your startup is bound to face.

  1. Adapt to change – the only constant in business and life is change.

As I mentioned, focus is a key element when you’re launching a startup.

Something that is important to distinguish from focus is failure to watch for changes in the market.

You may pride yourself on your focused approach to develop your product and grow your startup, but keeping your head down and ignoring feedback from customers or shifts in the market is not “focus.”

Ignoring feedback or shifts, will make you blind to the adjustments that are necessary to keep your startup afloat.

Failing to change or making a bad change are two common reasons why startups fail. Keep your eyes on the prize and be focused on where your startup is going, but don’t ignore the signs of change and keep your startup as nimble as possible.

  1. Timing and location – two cliché sayings come together: “timing is everything” and “location, location, location.”

Conducting research can help you plan the timing of your launch, but sometimes we are ready to launch a startup and we hope for the best.

Some startups will fail simply because they were ahead of their time and the market was not ready, only to have the same or similar products revolutionize the market at a later date.

Legal challenges with things like logo or product design can keep you tied up and cause you to miss a perfectly timed launch. Again, research can help you avoid some of this, and consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer before you launch your startup could help you mitigate legal risks before they drag you down.

In a global world, you might think location doesn’t matter as much, but it does.

A bad physical location can drain your monetary resources without generating foot traffic. A bad website or online presence can also hurt your chances for success.

Overall, something like 9/10 startups fail. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. These are six important elements to seriously consider and plan for when beginning your venture. If some of these six elements go wrong, they can cause your startup to fail.

I am all about connecting people with their calling and helping them develop their own success.

My video series for entrepreneurs provides a lot of insights, I recommend watching them and sending in your questions so I can help you on your journey towards success.

Frank

Employee Experiences - the Difference between Good and Great Companies

Employee Experiences – the Difference between Good and Great Companies

By | Wish Group | No Comments

Working is built into our culture, but if it’s so routine, what’s the big deal about creating lasting employee experiences?

Using part of your budget to create experiences for your employees will emotionally connect them with the business, create camaraderie and unity to increase performance, embrace families and personal lives to create more respect, and inject some fun into your routine.

People remember great employee experiences, quote by Maya Angelou. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

People remember experiences.

Craft Employee Experiences to Take Your Company from Good to Great

 

  1. Emotional Connection with the Business

Creating an emotional connection with your employees, and between employees is a key strategy for employee retention. People don’t wake up in the morning excited to work for a company, they are excited to work for great leaders and with great people.

  1. Friendships with Co-workers

Providing opportunities for co-workers to break down barriers and get to know each other will forge better friendships. Your workforce is made up of diverse employees, some may be more introverted while others are more extroverted. Creating experiences where people are able to interact in different ways and different settings helps break the ice.

  1. Family Friendly

For entrepreneurial work environments, it is nice to host events where families of employees can meet each other. In a start-up or entrepreneurial environment, work hours can be long or variable. Introducing families who are all going through similar obstacles of managing their work and home lives provides solidarity.

  1. Out of Your Element

Get away from the office and create an overnight experience for employees. While in-office events are good, getting out of your element and away from the office will help spark new ideas, create new or strengthen friendships of co-workers, break down silos or department roadblocks, and more.

Business organizations, no matter their size, are a group of people working collectively. The tighter they are, the better they’ll perform. So start with something small, like a company picnic and work your way up to an overnight employee experience.

Watch Bootstrap Episode 7 to learn more about using budgets to create employee experiences!

 

Frank

Failure as a Stepping Stone

By | Wish Group | No Comments

If you’ve failed at least once, you’re probably on the path to success. Most of us assume that success comes easily to a few lucky people, but it doesn’t. Lasting success is not easy. As an entrepreneur, you need to be ready to accept some failure along the way. Sometimes experiencing failure is the fastest way to learn how to improve.

Throughout my life I have typically seen two kinds of people, those who accept failure as part of the ride and those who avoid failure at all cost. The people who accept failure as part of life are able to learn from it, and those who avoid failure at all cost let it devastate them when it happens.

If you’re the type of person who avoids failure at all cost, entrepreneurship or leadership may not be the best path for you. If you are determined to move forward as an entrepreneur, you will need to learn how to accept stress and failure as part of life, and you will want to spend your energy learning how to move past failures with multiple plans.

You can learn to use failure as a stepping stone, or you can carry it around and let it weigh you down, the choice is yours.

Failure as a Stepping Stone

Learn to Embrace Failure

When the going gets tough, I encourage my team to see past the hardship of failure to find the lessons we can learn from it. If we gave up every time we failed, we would never have learned how to walk or talk. Babies are a great example of never giving up! They have incredible persistence and willingness to learn. While a fall might hurt us right away, what will hurt us in the long run is never getting up again.

Ask the Right Questions

It is human tendency to point fingers and play the blame game when something goes wrong. Effective leaders know that a time of failure is not the right time to blame someone, but to ask questions. “How did we get here?” “What went wrong?” and another effective question to ask would be: “What can we do to make this right?” These questions can be difficult to ask when you’re under extreme stress, but it is important to learn and evolve as a team when something goes wrong so that you can prevent it from happening again.

Grieve if You Need to

If you feel like you have failed at something, it can be a blow to your confidence. I don’t expect you to be able to move on immediately and learn from every failure you experience. However, some failures will seem harder than others. If you have failed at something and it makes you angry or sad or frustrated or any other emotion, allow yourself some time to reflect on why this particular failure has hit you so hard. Get your negative emotions out of the way so that you can move forward, and remember that “failure is something that happens, not something you are” (Patrick Allan, lifehacker.com).

Failure as a Stepping Stone

Change Your Definition of Failure

Why let the idea of failing hold you back when it can liberate your creativity and teach you lessons along the way. We have attached so much negativity to the word “failure” that we become afraid to try new things and challenge ourselves. Behind every great invention, there are millions of failures. Churchill believed that failure was part of the process and said, “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Believe in this idea and change your definition, welcome failure with open arms because it means you are trying something new and making waves. One epic failure could lead you to your next greatest success, but how will you know if you never try?

Failure as a Stepping Stone

Failure isn’t the end, and it’s not a bad thing when you can learn from it. Learning from failure turns it into your stepping stone towards success.

Frank

Constant Improvements are Key to Success

Constant Improvements are Key to Success

By | Wish Group | No Comments

Making it to the top is easier than staying there. Leaders who rise to the top need to be ready to continuously improve if they want to stay there. The world continues to change at a faster pace and changes to the business landscape happen daily. If you’re not trying to disrupt your own business model, someone else will.

Here are my top tips to continuously improve:

  1. Always be listening: Many leaders fail to listen to voices at the bottom, especially their employees. Employees may be at the bottom of a company’s hierarchy, but they are often more connected to the day-to-day of your business and they will have ideas about where the future of the business is heading.
  2. Learn from mistakes: When a competitor makes a mistake, it is the perfect time to learn from what they did wrong to keep yourself from making a similar misstep. It is also important to learn from any mistakes you or your employees are making. Mistakes don’t lead to failure unless you fail to learn from your mistakes.
  3. Plan your professional development: Outside of networking and trying to generate sales leads, conferences offer a chance to learn what is going on in the industry. Conferences are the place where you will find competitors discussing their best practices, which you can use to improve. In addition to typical networking, use conferences to build strategic partnerships.
  4. Teach others: Teaching is a great way to deepen your knowledge; you never really master a subject until you are forced to explain it in front of a group. I’m part of different entrepreneur and mentorship groups where I am able to learn from and teach others. Even if you aren’t being asked to present at big ticket events, seek out local opportunities where you can get started.
  5. Develop yourself: Learn more about yourself and analyse your strengths, weaknesses and biases. Understanding your personality and areas of personal development that you need to focus on will make you a better leader. You affect the people in your organization, so develop yourself every chance you get to improve your business from the top down.
  6. Engage with your peers: Every leader’s journey is different, but you can learn from others experiences. Other leaders can offer great insights on how to deal with the challenges that you’re going through or may go through in the future. While you may have handled certain challenges to the best of your ability, seeing other perspectives can improve your strategies for facing future challenges.

When you make it to the top, enjoy that moment, but don’t sit back for too long because “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement” (Helmut Schmidt) and there is already someone working hard to improve or disrupt your industry.

Frank

Changing the Lives of Toronto Youth

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | No Comments

Canadian Telecommunications and Collaboration for Business

I pride myself on connecting people with their calling—but there are kids in Toronto who haven’t even had a chance to figure out who they are before facing huge challenges. The Pinball Clemons Foundation has an Ambassador School Program here in Toronto that helps kids who have been plagued by destruction find the opportunity to finish high school and set their lives back on a successful track. Children are the future, they are the next generation, and they are the bright minds of tomorrow. The Ambassador School Program provides a safe space for kids to discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose.

In partnership with the Children’s Aid Foundation, the Pinball Clemons Foundation Ambassador School Program is empowering youth in Toronto to discover hope through the completion of high school, valuable life skills, and goal setting for a brighter future. Each year, this partnership ensures that 15-20 students aged 16 to 24 have access to a safe learning environment that provides a curriculum unique to their needs, career counselling, tutoring, nutritional education, financial literacy, adult and peer support, and public speaking opportunities.

The Victory Charity Ball is an event that raises money to support the Pinball Clemons Foundation Ambassador School Program. Last year’s event was sold out and raised a total of $234,000.00, which funded one full year of the program and started a scholarship fund. Victory Charity Ball 2017 will be on June 1st this year and a Wish Group associate, Kevin Lawler, will be one of the business boxers fighting at this event. I am proud to work with incredible individuals at Wish Group each day, and Kevin is no exception. He puts 100% into everything he does and he has been training hard to put on the best fight/show of his life. Matt Ley from The Streaming Network caught up with Kevin to do an interview where you can learn more about the event, the Ambassador School Program, and how to get involved.

Watch the interview now to learn more about this unique event and program that is changing the lives of Toronto youth and cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.

Growth Hacking Your Way to Success

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | No Comments

Growth Hacking Your Way to Success

There may not be a shortcut to success, but there are techniques that can make the path a little smoother.

Entrepreneurs are usually bootstrapped in terms of their time and money. A fallout from this can be the lack of marketing know-how or the ability to hire a marketing professional. This is where growth hacking can come in handy.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is the use of out of the box thinking and technology to achieve massive growth in a short time.” It involves a lot of experimentation with marketing and product or service development to identify the best ways to grow your business as quickly as possible. You will want to try a lot of ideas, track their progress and move quickly from one to the next if one isn’t working.

There are some things to keep in mind before you try growth hacking:

Make sure your product or service solves a problem

An example of this is Uber and their ability to offer people who don’t have cars an alternative to the traditional taxi system.

Offer something for free

When Dropbox got started, they offered free storage to each person who joined and they continue to offer 2 GB of storage for free. People love getting things for free, and when you need them to try a new product or service, you want to remove the barrier of cost so that they try it and then realize it is worth an investment.

Make your product or service easy and fun to use

In today’s world, we have choices for everything and people tend to prefer a product or service that is easy and fun to use.

Be the best

There may be a lot of competition in your space, but your chance of survival depends on your ability to be the best and to communicate your differences to your target market.

Use competition to your advantage

Collaborating with your competition can give you an edge. Airbnb used to advertise on Craigslist to expand their reach, and Instagram allows cross promotion on other social platforms to maintain their position as the go-to photo sharing platform.

No customer is too small

Keep all of your customers in mind and cater to the small ones because they are key for your growth hacking strategy. Eventbrite continues to show support for their smallest customers by offering free service for any event that is free to attend.

Be scalable

Before you try growth hacking, you need to be prepared to grow. If your business isn’t ready for growth, it can have a negative effect on the quality of your product or service, which can negatively affect your brand and drive customers away.

Growth hacking won’t work for every business, and it may depend on the stage your business is in. There is no one size fits all formula, so have your goals in mind, try growth hacking strategies and continue to learn as you grow.

Focus on where you’re going, not where you are.

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | No Comments

Focus on where you're going, not where you are.

There are reasons why a business that gets started in a garage becomes a massive success. One is that they are unapologetic about being a start-up.

Apologizing for where your business is at as you’re building it can distract you from reaching success. You want to make sure your organization stays disciplined in bootstrap or start-up stages.

Watch Episode 3 of Bootstrap: Don’t Apologize For Yourself to learn more.

A Successful Company Has Asked “Who” before “Where”

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | No Comments

Who Before Where

As an entrepreneur, you probably like taking on tasks and doing things to move your business forward. Recruiting talent is one of the most time consuming processes. If you’re not enjoying it, or not as proficient at it, it’s a good idea to start a partnership with a recruiting company. Jim Collins, author of the book Good To Great, compares a business to a bus and the company leader as a bus driver. He underlines the importance of asking who you need in each specific seat when it comes to identifying the talent that you need to grow your business

Strategy Play

I think of my company like a sports organization. There is a difference between teams that are in a rebuilding phase versus teams that are very close to a championship. The talent you acquire will be different based on your goals to make a run for the championship or to rebuild your team. A start-up company is similar to a team that is in a rebuilding phase; it’s not a 9am-5pm environment, you’re developing systems and processes, you’re creating infrastructure, and players on the team are wearing a bunch of different hats.

The role that recruiters play in an unfunded start-up is to identify passive talent, people who aren’t necessarily on the market looking, and to do the time consuming work of screening applicants for job positions. Peoplesource Staffing Solutions is part of the Wish Group portfolio, and they are the best resource when we’re looking for more talent to join our team. Recruiters will already know where some of the top talent is specific to your industry. You can set up a partnership with them where they are identifying and funnelling in talent for you to review, or they can be more heavily involved throughout the entire process.

When you identify and acquire who you need to have in each seat, you won’t be as worried about where your business is going, you’ll be able to see how far your business can go.

Watch Episode 1 of Bootstrap to hear more of my insights about People, Recruitment and Hiring Best Practices. Let’s see how far your business can go!

http://bit.ly/BootStrapPeopleRecruitmentAndHiring

Boot Strap People Recruiting And Hiring

5 Mistakes Leaders Make

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | No Comments

5 Mistakes Leaders Make

There isn’t one right way to be a good leader, but there are a few mistakes to avoid.

1. Losing the 10,000-Foot Vision:

As the leader, your vision needs to be the main source of inspiration for your company. In the Bootstrap series I talk about stepping back from your company to get the 10,000 foot view. Sometimes being too close to your company can cause you to change or lose your vision to accommodate short-term goals. Take the time you need to get clear about your company’s vision, and return to work with renewed power.

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

It’s common for employees to get consumed by their tasks of completing short-term goals and lose track of the company vision. One of the most important jobs as a leader is to create time to remind team members about the long-term company vision and show them how their day-to-day short-term goals are contributing to the overall vision.

As the leader, your vision sets the tone for your entire company.

2. Building a Lopsided Team:

All teams are built from employees who have strengths and weaknesses. We are all human, no matter what we say in a job interview, we have areas that we are trying to grow in. If an employee thinks they don’t have any weaknesses or areas to work on, they’re not going to grow within your company anyway. So accept that your team has strengths and weaknesses, and focus on building a team that is filled with employees who can support each other.

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

On sports teams, players are brought in to fill specific roles. While your company may be a start-up that requires employees to fill multiple roles, you need to recognize each employee’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to their roles. As the leader you need to manage the strengths of your team to maximize productivity, and you will also need to manage the weaknesses of your team to understand where your team has opportunity to grow, and the skills you will need to acquire to fully round out your team.

3. Being too Business Formal:

As the leader it makes sense that you want to leave your personal life at home, but our workplaces are such a big part of our lives. You cannot be impersonal with your employees and expect them to enjoy where they work. You need to allow for some personality to grow within the company and make employees feel valued for what they bring to the workplace.

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

Acting too impersonal can also keep a barrier between you and your team, which makes them hesitate to bring important matters to your attention. As the leader at Wish Group, I like to walk around the office and speak with everyone. These interactions allow me to connect with Wish Group associates; they’re informal so we’re able to talk about work or personal things, and they open up a two-way dialogue that lets my associates know they can approach me about anything.

Get out there and talk with your people on the ground floor to build personal relationships.

4. Discouraging Innovation:

Many leaders claim they foster innovation in the workplace, but when you look into their culture you don’t find any room for innovation. It is one thing to say that you want your team to be innovative, but if you don’t give them room to tinker, try things out, and make mistakes, you are not fostering a culture of innovation. Not all innovation will succeed, so you need to motivate your team to keep striving when they don’t achieve instant success.

5. Forgetting to Celebrate Milestones:

You may not think it’s a big deal to forget a birthday or work anniversary, but to many employees it is important to be recognized. These milestones will be important to your team members, so get creative with how you alert the company. Celebrating birthdays or work anniversaries builds a sense of belonging, company morale, and motivation.

Sending out e-cards for birthdays is a good way to get started!

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

Remember that there isn’t one right way to be a good leader. The best way to improve is to be open with your team and accept their feedback. As your company grows, new employees will be added to your team that require unique leadership. The job of a leader is never done and it is always changing.

If you have any tips to use or avoid as a leader, share them in a comment below.

Frank

Boot Strap Videos
Blog: Clarity is Power
Subscribe to Blog