Tag Archives: Professional Edge Consulting

3 Ways to Network This Summer

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Summer is fast approaching and as the days get longer and warmer entrepreneurs put their networking goals on hold.  Sadly many people think of networking as work and forget that a strong network is built through relationships not rules or business card quotas. Contrary to popular belief summer is a great time to get out there and strengthen your network. Here are three ways you can network this Summer:

Get in the game
Outdoor sports are extremely popular in the summer. Whether you’re a player or simply a fan get in the game by joining a sports team or attending a sporting event.  There are also some great charity sports events such as golf or volleyball tournaments that you can get involved in.  Sharing a common interest such as sports, brings people together and helps form better relationships.

Leverage your lunch break
The warmer summer weather is a great reason to be outside and an even better opportunity to invite a new connection out to lunch. Most people enjoy being out of the office during the warmer summer months and are more likely to accept a lunch invitation. The season also makes a lunch meeting more informal as you can opt for outdoor seating and enjoy your surroundings.

Attend some festivals
Summer is famous for its festivals. Attending a few summer festivals is a great way to learn about new music and different cultures. It also exposes you to many potential connections.  Most festivals are free and open to the public so it’s a cost effective way to enjoy the summer and build your network.

  Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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Business Without Borders – The Advantages of Outsourcing

Praveeni

The word outsourcing has a notorious reputation in the business community, you’re either a lover or a hater. Often times there is very little middle ground when it comes to views regarding outsourcing work. As a Canadian business owner it’s easy to get swayed one way of the other on the idea of letting someone else, possibly on the other side of the world do work for you.  However outsourcing can have some tangible benefits especially for small business owners. Here are a few advantages I’ve noticed while outsourcing some of my projects :

Cost Efficient
In most cases outsourcing will cut down your expenses significantly if you choose the correct market to work with. I say this because outsourcing services  are often advertised via online bidding websites such as elance. These sites allow you to choose from different bidders many of whom are located in emerging economies whose currency exchange rate is fairly low when compared to the Canadian dollar.

Focus on Core Principles
Delegating work via outsourcing will leave you more time to focus on your core business practices first. In many cases back office operations such as administrative and HR services can be outsourced. It’s easy to get caught up in back office tasks and lose focus of your core business processes. Outsourcing allows someone else to handle them so you are free to examine the heart of business and what makes it tick.

Time Differences
Although working with international partners can sometimes be challenging, a large time difference can also be advantageous. While you’re a sleep they’re working and vice versa. There is always someone working on improving and maintaining your business. Communication is key when working across time zones so make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to dates and deadlines.

Flexible Staffing
As a small business owner your workload can fluctuate. Hiring on-site staff whether permanent or on contract can often be cost intensive. Outsourcing tasks according to demand will allow your business more financial flexibility as you can increase or decrease the number of outsourced projects easily. Essentially you can expand or scale back your staff as needed.

 

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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6 Tips for Managing Your Employees

Praveeni

Managing people is a tricky job, even for the most skilled business school grads and experienced professionals. Running a business and managing staff is more than just delegating tasks and supervising employees; it means you are accountable to both your clients and your staff.

Here are a few tips for managing people :

  1. Delegate work according to skill level and capability
    As an entrepreneur your staff is there to help you achieve your goals and grow your business. Being in charge is doesn’t give you the right to palm off tasks you don’t enjoy on your staff. You must delegate work according to your staff’s skill level and capabilities. Each member of your staff is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses;  it is your job to recognize their strengths. You need to get to know your staff and their capacities in the workplace. Remember to be fair in your delegation, resist the urge to pile work on your strongest staff members and delegate easier tasks to those who might be struggling. Make sure everyone has a fair share of responsibilities within their assigned roles.
  2. Hold weekly meetings
    Weekly meetings are a common practice in most workplaces as it gives co-workers and managers alike a chance to discuss progress, plan the coming week, and initiate new tasks. Make sure you get status updates on the work you’ve delegated and ensure the participation of all your employees in weekly meetings. This  will allow you to assess how employees are dealing with the workload and determine where changes need to be made.
  3. Schedule open door time
    The “Open door” policy isn’t always the best approach to increase productivity. As a business owner and manager you may need time alone in your office to work, brainstorm, meet tight deadlines, and sort out your thoughts. However, your employees will have questions and concerns to discuss with you, designating a time when you will be available to address these concerns is a great way of showing your concern and approachability. It’s a good idea to schedule “open door time” every day or at least 3 times a week; this way employees know they can talk to you about their concerns.  This practice is often adopted in academia where professors have “Office Hours” within which students can meet them to discuss grades, assignments etc.
  4. Exercise open and effective communication
    Open communication is the key to effective management. Bosses are often the bearers of good and bad news. Inform all employees at the same time. Some business owners feel that they should only share information with certain employees who they determine “need to know it” or for whom it is “relevant”. However this scenario often results in closed door meetings between bosses and just a few staff members, leaving other employees feeling left out, suspicious and anxious.  Engaging in closed door meetings of this sort is highly discouraged as it promotes division and suspicion. Of course some information needs to remain confidential but as a business owner you must be discrete about how you go about disclosing information to staff.
  5. Keep it professional
    Sometimes as a business owner it may be tempting to befriend your employees since you hired them and they work directly for you, but it’s important to keep it professional. You may be closer to certain members of your staff than others but attempt to maintain the same level of interaction with all employees. Avoid going out to lunch with  the same staff members every week or sitting next to the same people at meetings. This makes others feel like you’re playing favourites and will result in jealousy, competition, and workplace conflict as everyone wants to be close to “the boss”. You can engage in conversations with employees outside of working hours but remember to keep your composure.  Be polite and keep it professional, don’t get too personal.
  6.  Introduce team building initiatives
    Initiating team building activities is a good way to foster a collectivist environment within your business and make employees feel included and welcome. Introducing office outings such as a lunch out of the office will allow you to connect with your staff in a new environment and boost morale. If going out is not feasible, organizing a potluck or simply celebrating employee birthdays with a cake or dessert is a great way to promote interaction. As a business owner you need to make sure employees are team players working toward a common goal.

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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5 reasons why entrepreneurs should travel

Praveeni

 

Life as an entrepreneur can often be stressful and overwhelming, with business commitments and client demands. Planning a vacation is usually the last thing on your mind when you’re trying to run your own business. Surprisingly travel can have some very real benefits for entrepreneurs, so if escaping the Canadian winter isn’t a good enough excuse here are 5 reasons why entrepreneurs should travel :

Relax and renew your mind

Many entrepreneurs overlook the fact that you can actually suffer from mental fatigue – your mind gets tired too! Travel allows you to let go of your troubles and focus on something other than work. Whether you’re lying on a beach or hiking up a mountain a new environment and change of scene can alleviate mental fatigue and relax your body as well.

See different business environments

Travel gives you the opportunity to learn not only about a new culture but a new business environment as well. Whether you realize it or not traveling as an entrepreneur will strengthen your business acumen as you are exposed to different races, cultures and countries. It’s always good to know about how business is conducted in different countries, if you do choose to go international at some point you’ve already got a head start!

Make new connections

Networking is an important part of business so don’t limit your network to just local or national contacts. You never know when someone from another part of the world may require your expertise or vice versa. Travel is a great way to meet new people and make new connections. Whether you travel in a group or solo you’ll inevitably meet and make new friends who in turn will become a part of your international network.

Discover new opportunities

Exposure to different environments and cultures is a great source of inspiration. Traveling can help you discover new business opportunities and ideas as you learn about how different people live and different countries operate. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck thinking inside the box. You can also discover new export or import opportunities based on needs at home or in other countries. Your next great business idea or solution may be only a trip away.

Learn new things

Traveling enriches your life with new experiences and new skills. Look at vacations and travel as a learning opportunity rather than an expense. Whether you’re simply taking a historical tour or using a guidebook to learn the local lingo, travel will always afford you the opportunity to learn new things. It’s a great way to learn a new language or skill. Learning is something that should never stop regardless of age.

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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6 mistakes entrepreneurs make when seeking out funding

Praveeni

Entrepreneurs often have many  “great” ideas and rely on funding in the form of a business loan or investors to bring their dreams to light.  Pitching your business and asking for funding can be an intimidating and grueling process. However if successful the payoffs can be huge. Unfortunately many entrepreneurs aren’t successful in securing the funding they require. Here’s a look at 6 mistakes entrepreneurs make when seeking out funding:

  1. Over-valuing their firm or product
    Ok you’ve got an idea- that’s great, but how much is it worth? If it’s your idea it’s probably priceless to you but how much is your business really worth? People tend to over-value their business in hopes of securing a greater investment but that very often fails. Take an objective stance when valuing your business – look at how much you’ve done in sales, your costs and how much revenue you’re really brining in. Remember sales do not denote firm value. Don’t forget to factor in your production, operational and carrying costs.
  1. Presentation & pitch is too long
    Your elevator pitch and investor presentation should be short and informative. Keep your presentation under 10 slides and make your slides concise with 3-5 points per slide. Your elevator pitch should be about a minute long at most. If you can’t summarize your business in under a minute you may need to spend more time understanding your business. No one wants to be stuck listening to a 20 slide presentation.
  1. No concept of market size
    Whenever you offer a product or service you must be aware of how large or small its market is. Whether it’s a nice or mass market item, every product/service has a market. It’s up to you as an entrepreneur to research your market and determine who your target audience is and how much of a market share you would like to capture. Remember 100% market share isn’t always a viable or profitable goal. Be realistic in your market share goals and understand the size of your market.
  1. No professional business plan

A well written, factually correct business plan can garner you the funding you               require. It’s important not to skimp on your business plan. Don’t rush it, take time     to understand the risks, opportunities and profitability of your idea. Make sure you     comprehend your product and what it will take to bring your idea to market.  Many     people overlook the financial aspect of a business plan. Projections can be                     intimidating so seek out professional help if you require it, never assume always ask.

  1. Inability to explain what problem their product solves
    Ok so you’ve got an idea – great! How can it help me? What problem will it solve? Many times entrepreneurs are unable to explain exactly how their product is useful to consumers. This can be off-putting to investors as they think – if a person can’t even explain their own product then how can they sell it? You must fully understand your product or service and how it benefits consumers. Be prepared to answer questions about your own product and your competitor’s offerings as well. The more informed you are the better.
  1. No flexibility
    When asking for funding you need to be flexible. Remember you’re asking someone else to put their trust and money in you and your business. You may not always get the offer you prefer and in some cases may have to counter offer as well. It’s good to be prepared with at least 3 different counter offers when pitching to investors. You should also be open to different kinds of offers. This doesn’t mean give away your whole company for free but listen to what they have to say and run the numbers before you decide to accept, counter or decline. Most importantly be realistic – have a realistic valuation and seek out the appropriate amount for the share you’re offering.

 

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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16 Inspiring Quotes for 2016!

Praveeni

Happy New Year! It’s time for a fresh start once again and what better way to kick off 2016 than with a little positivity and inspiration. Every new year is a chance to hit the re-set button, clear our the clutter and negativity in our lives and look at the world, ourselves and our businesses with a fresh set of eyes. Here’s my list of 16 inspiring quotes for 2016 :

  1. “For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.For poise, walk with the knowledge that you will never walk alone” – Sam Levenson
  2. “ Be yourself everyone else is already taken “ – Oscar Wilde
  3. “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible !” – Audrey Hepburn
  4. “ Be kind to those who are cruel to you, for they know not what kindness is ” – Praveeni Perera
  5. “Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you” – Margaret Thatcher
  6. “ Let no man pull you low enough to hate him “ – Martin Luther King
  7. Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of someone else” – Judy Garland
  8. “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t ” – Margaret Thatcher
  9. “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives” – Michelle Obama
  10. “Don’t waste time putting others down when you could be building yourself up “ – Praveeni Perera
  11. “ A girl should be two things : classy and fabulous” – Coco Chanel
  1. The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S’s: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy, and Serenity” – Emily Post
  2. “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness” – Oprah Winfrey
  3. “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman” – Coco Chanel
  4. “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much” – Oscar Wilde
  5. “What other people think of you is none of your business “ – Amy Hatvany

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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Four Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

Praveeni

Being an entrepreneur is a challenging and rewarding experience but it’s not without its pitfalls. Although a business idea may seem profitable  it may not always be the case and in business as in life failure (along with success) is inevitable. Everyone makes mistakes but it doesn’t mean success won’t come your way eventually, here’s a quick look at the 4 most common mistakes entrepreneurs make:

  1. Overvaluing their product/company
    Most businesses start off with funding in the way of a business loan or investors. Although there are many sources for investment, funding may be hard to come by if you’ve over valued your company. If you’ve ever watched the show Dragons Den you’ll find that many entrepreneurs do this,; not maliciously but because they believe so strongly in their product or idea that they fail to see it’s realistic value.
  1. Overly diversifying product offering
    As a new business owner it’s easy to get caught up in expanding your product offering as your business grows. Though it’s good to provide a range of choices, overly diversifying business services or products can lead to dilution of your company’s mission and vision. It’s important to take a step back and look at why you started in the first place. In most cases a few key products will drive sales and increase business, instead of offering new products work on improving the ones that are profitable.

 

  1. Calling themselves “experts”

The term “expert” gets thrown around way too often in the business world. These days everyone’s an expert at                    something, or so they say. Some may argue that marketing yourself as an expert gives clients the impression that no          one else can provide the same level of service.  However labeling yourself as an expert can limit your ability to learn            and grow as an entrepreneur. The key is never to be the smartest person in the room; this doesn’t mean downplay              your knowledge but rather be open to increase your knowledge base.

     4. Spending marketing dollars too early

Marketing is tricky as it can help increase and decrease sales. Many entrepreneurs end up spending too much money         on marketing campaigns that have no goal or focus and thus do not result in profitable returns. Simply building brand           awareness is not enough. In order to build awareness you must first build a brand, and this can only be achieved                 through clients and sales. Although it’s tempting to run ads or start accounts on all the latest social media channels               first focus on building a clientele, without clients you have no brand.

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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Ottawa Panel of Experts: Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of September 2015

Rima Aristocrat, Kelly Farrell, Catherine McGillivray, Praveeni Perera, Arti Sharma and Elcho Stewart are six dynamic women who will round up our Panel of Experts this year at our Ottawa Expo.  These women are experts in their own right and have made themselves available to support aspiring entrepreneurs.  The topic of this year’s panel is Women in Business, Technology and Healthcare.  The Panel of Experts discussion will take place at The Westin Ottawa on October 4th, 2015 from noon until 2pm.  Admission is absolutely free.  Find out about our ladies below and for how you can meet them and ask your questions, go to www.immigrantsmallbizexpo.ca

Panelists Elcho Panelists Kelly Panelists Rima Panelist Praveeni Panelists Catherine

Panelists Arti

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The Beauty in Business – 5 Reasons why looks matter

 Praveeni

Looks matter! We all know and have come to accept the fact that appearances, though sometimes deceiving do play a part in how successful we are in life in general. It may come as a surprise to some however that looks matter in business as well. Although this may be a tough pill to swallow for those who believe that clients choose you based on your knowledge, products and customer care, looks do play a large part in the business world. Here are five reasons why looks matter in the business world :

  1. The first impression is a lasting impression

You only get once chance to make a great first impression and it’s rather difficult to recover from a bad one. The initial part of a first impression is based solely on the way you look; when someone sees you for the first time they make a judgment about you before you even have the chance to speak. Thus it’s important to make sure your look represents the message you want to convey through your words.

  1. Potential clients are more likely to listen to people they find attractive

This may sound a little crazy and off-putting but research along with many hidden camera T.V. shows have proven that it is in fact true. If we find a person attractive we would like to spend more time speaking with them and listen to what they have to say. Although what each person finds attractive differs individually the overall package you present (i.e. yourself) should come across as well groomed, friendly and professional.

  1. A professional look helps establish trust

Trust is a key component of winning and retaining clients. In order to gain a client’s business you have to win their trust first. You can gain a client’s trust by looking the part – what would you like a client to think when they see you? Clients usually like to do business with people they cant relate to and those who offer a professional service. It’s important to portray an image of professionalism and approachability. Clients need to know that you have the skills required to provide them with top quality products and services, but they also need to know that they can come to you and speak with you directly if they have a concern.

  1. Looking healthy portrays energy and motivation

Clients ultimately want to do business with people who work hard for them and provide them with the best products/services. As we are now living in the health and fitness revolution maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being in shape is exceedingly important in business. If you look like you take time to look after yourself and make healthy choices clients will notice; looking healthy conveys the message that you are motivated and energized. You don’t have to be a body builder or a fitness model to portray this image but you do need to take time to evaluate your own health and fitness, an area that many entrepreneurs overlook. Make time for you and the results both physical and financial will show.

  1. Your look represents your brand

The way you look is a non-verbal advertisement for your brand. Whether you realize it or not you make a fashion statement everyday with the clothes you choose, the way you do your hair and make up and the manner in which you carry yourself. As an entrepreneur it’s important to make sure that statement accurately represents the brand you’re trying to establish.  People will judge your outfit, accessories, behavior etc. and try to draw parallels between them and the product/services you are trying to market. So before you step out each morning ask yourself – are you on brand? If not, it may be time to re-think that outfit or hairstyle.

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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5 Tips for Business Dining

 Praveeni

Business dinners and lunches are a great way to form and strengthen business relationships. Sharing a meal with an existing or potential client gives you the opportunity to get to know them better on a more personal level  and vice versa.  However there are a few rules you should follow to keep it professional while dining. Here are my 5 tips for business dining :

1.Choose an appropriate restaurant and make a reservation

When you’re hosting a business lunch or dinner it’s important to ensure that you pick a restaurant that suits the purpose of your meeting. Stay away from fast food joints or chain restaurants and avoid entertaining clients in your home. Choose a mid to high range restaurant that has a good ambience which is conducive to conversation. You should also reserve your table in advance.

  1. Arrive early

Always endeavor to arrive well before your guests. This way you can make sure you have a suitable table and make payment arrangements ahead of time. You should also greet your guests as they walk in to the restaurant and escort them to your table. After all you’re the host.

  1. Do your prep work

Whenever you’re meeting a potential or existing client it’s important to have appropriate and relevant topics to talk about. Familiarize yourself with what’s going on in the world in general, the business world and the client/potential client’s organization. You should ideally know about your potential client’s organization in terms of future plans, recent acquisitions or anything exciting that may help your case in securing their business.

  1. No laptops at the table

Nothing is worse than working at the dining table. Your guest would be expecting a relaxed meal and having your laptop out explaining facts and figures just ruins the mood. Ideally you shouldn’t be bringing any numbers to the table. Think of the meal as a way of building a rapport with your potential or existing customer. You want  them  to like you so don’t hide behind the numbers.

  1. Mind your manners

Basic table manners are a must when hosting a business meal. If you’re unsure of which fork to use or where to place your napkin simply seek the advice of an etiquette expert before your meal. This will help you brush up on your manners and increase your confidence.

Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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