All Posts By

Frank Cianciulli

Ask Frank

By | Wish Group, Comments & Opinion, Business Insights, Business Growth, Business Health, Foundations of Success, Leadership | No Comments

Ask Frank

Today highlight some of the comments and questions you submitted and getting Frank’s response on all topics.

As discussed previously funding is hard to obtain especially when asking from friends/family. It’s important if you go that route to understand at all times this is a business transaction. It’s not your money, and there is risk associated with borrowing money from people close to you. Notify them of the risks involved, possible obstacles and a realistic time frame to see an ROI, in addition, how you will handle these obstacles. Treating it like it’s an official pitch to a bank or investor helps take the emotion out of the situation and keeps everything professional.

Making a move to hiring a finance person is always tricky because it depends on what stage your bootstrap startup is currently at. Most time you may be able to sustain with an in-house bookkeeper a few times and transition them into a full-time position. The risk in going to a senior accountant before necessary is the cost associated can be expensive and sometimes unnecessary. Instead, consider having a person who can perform the daily accounting procedures until you reach the point where a CFO is needed.

What to Look For in Your First Office

By | Wish Group, Business Insights, Foundations of Success | No Comments

What to Look For in Your First Office

When starting off a business everyone needs a location work out from, but most bootstrap startups are unsure what options they have and what does it look like? Today we’ll discuss the best move for your bootstrap startup.

Working from home vs. office is a debate that nobody has mastered, but both provide their own advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, your main concern should be to keep costs down. Working from home gives you that freedom and space to move in a space which you’re comfortable and avoid having to sign leases. However, it may come at the disadvantage of not establishing the company culture and collaborate on ideas with others.

Working in an office is much easier today than its ever been. Things such as shared offices, small rental units, and collaborative spaces/software all help with growing a business. Staff get the chance to discuss ideas, build relationships and collaborate together. Although, this might require longer commute times to work, and additional costs for the renal space.

Ultimately, the decision will be based on the type of business you are conducting, and if the home/office culture is where you will thrive the most. For example, tech-based companies may be interested in an open concept area with lounge and relaxation space because staff want an area away from their computers. Contrarily, a sales culture where staff are working independently speaking to clients and want to be in a home environment or have a dedicated desk. Some companies are exploring the option of a hybrid office, which has both features, so they can cater to all personality types and working styles.

Finally, the hardest part is determining how much space you will need as a startup. As s bootstrap startup its hopeful to expect your business to grow as the years go by, but there is never a guarantee. Most rentals are 3-5 years so the best way to determine what to do is take a realistic approach to your business and assess if a larger office contributes to the growth of your business and the bottom line. A bad office lease or too expensive office can cripple your business quicker than anything else.

Always Be Selling Pt 2 – A Brave New World

By | Wish Group, Business Insights, Sales Advice, Foundations of Success | No Comments

Always Be Selling Pt 2 - A Brave New World

The sales industry has changed from the old school, knock on your door days, and referrals. People pick up the phones less, buyers are more educated, and sellers now need to take a modernized approach it customers. Understanding how to run a formalized BDR/SDR (Business Development Rep/Sale Development Rep) program is essential to staying active in the sales industry, including sending out emails and other touchpoints to prospective clients to make a sale.

Exhausting every option to gain a customer’s interest is now industry standard. The amount of activity and resources spent to make a sale has increased because the amount of relationship building with customers in the pre-sale stage has decreased. Sales are now primarily driven by campaign data, so business owners can start to understand where sales call drop-offs will be, expected responses, and bookings.

Hiring sales staff that are able to quickly understand the different types of personalities when speaking to people and adjust to them will bring in more sales every time. Using a combination of a call, voicemail, email, and backed up by marketing messaging (documents) provides the highest rate of success. Ultimately, coming up with a sales strategy, including script, target market, and campaign (based on data) will give your business the best opportunity to succeed in the sales field.

How to Set Up Your Finance Department

By | Wish Group, Business Insights, Business Growth, Business Health, Planning for the future | No Comments

How to Set Up Your Finance Department

Everyone is well aware that having a finance department is essential for any business in all industries to progress. However, when comes to startups its more about when is the right time to set one up, and who will be responsible for overseeing the company’s finances. We’ve seen the difficulties many startups are having with this conundrum and came up with a few tips to help you get started on setting up your finance department.

When a company is just getting started and can’t afford an accountant one of the best moves is look into accounting software programs. Options such as QuickBooks is reasonably priced and will do the number crunching for you. Most startups do their own accounting using multiple spreadsheets, ledgers etc. but technology has created a way for startups to save time on doing math and more time on marketing the business. Utilize the ability to let a computer do the work for you and start figuring out a way to get paid from any outstanding receivables.

Live within your means when it’s time to expand. As the business grows in revenue, you’ll need more help handling the finances, and hiring an accounting firm can be very time costly experience if you don’t know what you’re doing. Research both large and smaller firms, be clear about your expectations and budget when speaking to their agents. Do not discredit smaller firms because on occasion they can produce the type of financial assistance you require within your budget and building business relationships never hurts. A lot of startups can get swept up in the appeal of a large financial firm taking over but unable to maintain the costs associated. There is nothing impressive about going with a big firm if you don’t have the big budget to match it. Keep it simple.

Finally, consider hiring contract, part-time, or freelance bookkeepers to complete your finance department. Not every business needs a full time dedicated finance department. Take advantage of these options and seek outside help who can pick up some of the workloads where your business may be falling short. It’s usually just as effective and keeps costs low while you wait for your business to take that next step up in revenue to hire full-time staff.

Hiring for a Startup

By | Wish Group, Business Growth | One Comment

Hiring for a Startup

The process of hiring a new employee can be complex and tiring, let alone if your business is a start-up. Start-ups are unique business’ and rely much more on their staff achieving their goals and overcoming challenges that most larger business no longer require.

A key strategy in hiring for a start is, hire for potential not just track record. Past success is always great, but in a start-up, industry potential may be greater. Look for a person who has a strong interest or passion for the type of work your start-up is doing and see if their values align. Measure what potential you can unlock their skills and determine if the job position will give the applicant a chance to succeed and you’ll likely see results.

The culture fit is crucial. This is usually the hardest to pinpoint but it’s always important. Basically, it’s the fit between personality and organization. You will need to examine the behavior, attitude, and mentality of an applicant to see if they’re the right culture fit for your business. There is no guide to fitting into the right culture, it’s more of a feeling and unspoken understanding. Trust in your hiring staff to make the right decision and ensure they ask applicants questions non-work related to find out more about their personality.

Lastly, look for trainable people. Regardless of experience and culture fit, you will always need to train the new person. In a start-up industry training is essential to continued success. If the applicant is hesitant to new ideas or training styles and prefers to do things “their way” you may be setting you and them up for failure. Furthermore, ensure their ability to adapt to changing environments since the start-up field is constantly changing. Being unwilling to be coached or help coach others is how most new hires fail in their first year with a start-up.

How to Avoid Mid-Career Regrets

How to Avoid Mid-Career Regrets

By | Wish Group | No Comments

Are you living your best life?

If you’re not sure, use my blog about 5 Steps to Define Your Own Success to evaluate what matters to you and how you’re working to achieve your own version of success.

Once you know how to define success in a way that is meaningful to you, you can use your Success List to guide your career decisions.

Whether you’ve been working for years, or are just getting started, regrets can always set in.

We often think about the “what-ifs” and convince ourselves that the grass is truly greener in another job, but this isn’t always true.

Really quickly, I’ll go over the most common mid-career regrets:

  • Not Designing Your Own Life: Listening to other people’s advice instead of your own desires.
  • Not Investing in Yourself: Take the time to invest in your knowledge, health and soul.
  • Missing Out on Moments: A Work-life balance doesn’t always lead to happiness, think through the moments of your life that you’re happy to be at work, and the moments you want to experience outside of work.
  • Not Being Authentic: Being too focused on other people and how you are perceived instead of learning more about who you are and what you believe in.
  • Searching for Happiness Instead of Creating It: Learning about your authenticity will help you learn how to create happiness in your life.
  • Letting Fear Prevent Change: Doing your research and thinking through decisions is good, but letting fear keep you from making that leap is not a risk you should take.
  • Not Addressing Toxic Situations and People: Time is your most valuable asset and spending it in situations or with people who don’t build you up is a waste of your valuable time.
  • Being Trapped Around Money: Save up a cushion of savings that can last you 6-9 months of unemployment to help temper the fear you may have around changing your career. 

My Tips to Avoid Mid-Career Regrets are:

1) Continue to strive for growth

Even if you love what you’re doing, at some point you are going to have to put in hard work. It might be work that challenges you mentally, physically or emotionally, but it will challenge you.

You may think you want an easy job, or just to turn your hobby into a paid gig, but waking up each morning and looking forward to the day ahead often comes from experiencing continued growth through challenges.

Even something you love can become difficult when you turn it into a job, because when you do an activity all day long and depend on it for survival, the playfulness can disappear quickly.

Continue to strive for grow in your career in personal, professional, and spiritual ways.

Personal growth can come from trying to be early into work on a regular basis, or getting along with a co-worker who knows how to get under your skin.

If you’re a workaholic, personal growth can also come from learning how to find a better balance between your work life and life outside of work.

Professional growth can come from a mentor, and if you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend seeking one out.

Related: Bootstrap – Why Mentorship Matters

Professional growth can also come from company lunch-and-learns, reading books or blogs about topics you’re interested in knowing better, going to conferences, or enrolling in continued education courses.

Spiritual growth can come from starting your days with gratitude and meditation, or finding time at work to have a quiet mind to centre yourself.

Whatever your personal journey is, you can make room for spiritual growth in your career.

 2) Take More Risks

Naturally, our brains are designed to keep us safe. Taking risks of any kind can feel dangerous, even if the “danger” isn’t as real as it seems.

Our aversion to take risks is our brains way of trying to maintain a status quo, keep us in our comfort zone and feel safe. However, it is also what causes us to be stuck, resist growth and thus fall short of meeting our full potential.

Do your research and seek out advice from mentors/peers/family you trust, but in the end you need to make your own decision based on what you know is right for you.

When we ask for other people’s opinions they sometimes project their fears onto us in a bid to keep us safe.

Being authentic and designing your own life may not come easy, but part of living your destiny and not your shadow career is being able to live with and even embrace uncertainty.

If you know that it is time for you to move on, to learn something new, to change your career direction or to start your own business, you will not be fulfilled until you take action.

 3) Make Lateral Moves for Happiness

As a society, we are obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder.

Sometimes moving sideways, onto a new ladder, will bring you much more happiness and fulfillment.

Take time to look up; where is your career heading, and does that bring you excitement or apprehension?

Searching for happiness at the top of a corporate ladder can lead you to become disappointed and cause you to miss out on important moments in your life.

So every 1-3 years, take some time to consider how far you’ve come, the path that you’re on, and where you want your future to go.

A lot of people make career decisions without knowing what they’re working toward. If you make a decision that is only based on moving “up” you will most likely experience career regret.

Take the time to consider the type of work that plays to your strengths, develops some of your weaknesses and work that energizes you. Find ways to add more of that in your work life, and you will experience less regret.

Time you enjoy spending is never time wasted.

Sometimes it’s okay to take a step backward or sideways to get to a happier place.

 4) Consider Your Overall Wellbeing

A work-life balance doesn’t exist, we bring work home with us emotionally and physically.

Sometimes we spend so much time working it feels like we never go home at all.

Do you know why you’re working?

Is it to make more money, or is it bigger than that? While we do need money to support ourselves and our families, being trapped around money can keep us from making changes to get away from toxic situations or investing in ourselves to move towards a more authentic life.

There will be pros and cons to every job you have, in whatever career you’re in.

Weigh them carefully to understand what matters most to you.

In the end, your career path, your success, and your happiness depends on you.

Use your definition of success and your personal Success List to guide your career decisions.

Even with all of this knowledge, you may still find yourself feeling some mid-career regrets. Just know that your time has not been wasted.

You can learn valuable lessons from every experience in life, and mistakes do not lead to failure unless we fail to learn from them.

Frank

 

Get Your PR Right

By | Wish Group | No Comments

Get Your PR Right

Early in the beginning Wish Group didn’t have a Public Relations (PR) strategy. We did what we could and bootstrapped our way through.

In our first venture, we were partnered with Tony Lacavera of Globalive and he was recognized as #1 on the PROFIT Hot 50 list.

That was such an inspiration and I saw Tony get a lot of PR from that recognition.

So that’s my first tip, apply for awards.

You may feel like you’re not big enough to win an award or doing enough amazing things to stand out, but you could be pleasantly surprised.

Learn how to apply for awards because things like the PROFIT list have you competing against companies that started in the same year as yours, and they measure growth as a percentage instead of purely revenue.

Over time we have learned about a lot of other awards, such as Greatest Place to Work, Best Employers, etc. While we’re bootstrapping and don’t offer a lot of perks, we realized that what we do offer here is better than other companies.

Applying for awards is also a good process to go through to set goals for your business as you grow.

You might have blinders on while you’re working away in your business, and awards can help you feel good about where your business ranks amongst your peers. It can help you validate that what you’re doing is working.

Awards are also team activities, and winning them has a positive effect internally for your team. This in turn benefits your customers and clients too.

Once you start winning awards and getting some PR, it can become more of a domino effect.

Another Tip for Bootstrapping PR is Give Back.

We’ve done some things for our community without having PR in mind, but they ended up generating a lot of positive PR for us.

Growing up as a business in Liberty Village has been great, and the community has helped us grow. We wanted to do something to give back to our community, so we created an event named Calling on Liberty.

The event showcased a lot of local Liberty Village artists and raised money for the local community.

Just Tell Your Story.

You might think no one cares to hear what you have to say, but you would be surprised.

People want to hear what you have expertise on.

Get Digital and Social.

The newer digital and social media world can be intimidating, but it’s an amazing medium for telling your story.

Connect with your audience.

Even doing a video series like Bootstrap and sharing clips will help you get your story out to more people.

I wish I had started my video series years ago!

We are living in a very content centered world, and you’d be surprised about how many well-known magazines are hungry for content you can deliver.

Just get started somewhere.

For this episode of Bootstrap, click here: http://wishgroup.ca/s1e12-get-your-pr-right/

Frank

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