evolving companies & preventing revenue loss

Often leadership or management in small companies get so involved in daily operations that key areas begin to develop challenges. New business intake in evolving businesses shouldn’t be overlooked; they are often the first area to notice organization problems and revenue loss.

Deficits maim any department, but they utterly choke new business. There are 5 elements many businesses need help organizing and optimizing that greatly affects getting new business


Strategy. New business that doesn’t support a balance of tactical AND strategic goals steers you away from true success. The best deals offer the business you WANT and NEED to win. Targets that are both close and far are necessary and good leadership defines the criteria for the balance of both. A solid plan ensures your current work leads to the target markets and are aligned with the vision for the company.

Prioritizing. Winning business you are unable to deliver is sabotage. It stresses out delivery teams. If you fail to meet expectations, you earn a sticky bad reputation costing you future work, and might get sued. Sometimes you need to pay the rent and pick the low hanging fruit. However, never lose sight of the bigger strategy: objectively and routinely evaluate your sales funnel. Make sure all teams are onboard and clear about the priorities so the deal gets the right support to transition clients from sales to delivery.

Transparency. Communicating routinely and clearly with all resources what is in the pipeline and the critical path ensures that the new businesses flows. It shows disregard for the delivery teams when they are caught off guard. Share forecasts and expectations so all teams can be ready for the transitions. Pre-mortems that highlight the risks for failure are essential. When you create a transparent culture, pre-mortem failure warnings prevent catastrophic mistakes. Smart new business groups have communication plans and frequently check to ensure that their sales funnel is accurate.

Process quality. Defined role, responsibilities and process avoid dead ends and bottlenecks, allowing new business to integrate effectively. Good process supports ensuring the opportunity-cost evaluation is accurate and ensures you are winning business is profitable enough and that your company can truly deliver. Checks, balances and accountability are all very clearly defined in high performing team documentation and supporting systems.

Skills. Hiring mistakes happen due to not validating skills adequately in the hiring process or resources shifting into roles they are not suited for. When the wrong resources are estimating costs or creating sales documents and collateral, mistakes and poor client-facing documentation can be catastrophic. Too often costs are incorrectly estimated, contract terms are not accurately reflected in legal agreements. Good leadership ensures timely role and responsibility documentation and governance is created and communicated and owned as a company evolves. Having the right team in place for new business ensures a transition to both the delivery organization and finance that makes a company strong.

It is challenging to recognize issues or areas for improvement in a business that is quickly and constantly evolving. Many companies find it very effective to source an objective outside professional to share perspective on the maturity of operational logistics, and to evaluate the range of gaps and challenges a company in transition is facing. It takes a brave leader to look for help. We all know that fortune favours the brave.

Check back soon for blogs on creating solid strategies, optimizing operational plans and governance on each of the key areas!







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How to get MBA smart for free

I started an interview saying he should fire me.

This was in a meeting with a VP of “Special Projects”. I was his last appointment of the day.

In 10 minutes he knew exactly how I ran my department. I handed over the process flow diagrams, document templates, our group org chart and the sales funnels.

I showed that it would benefit the company twofold that I was no longer the director of my team.

  1. save money and hire a second manager for ½ the salary
  2. continue the intake of new business having two managers with resource failover, reporting directly to our VP.

First, he asked where I got my MBA. Then he asked if I would help him restructure the company, even after I told him I had no MBA.

I studied languages and sociology. A whole lot falls under those categories.

When you are born super curious, you might get spanked a lot. As a kid, I got into a LOT of trouble. It’s a miracle I have any subsequent siblings.

I blame my parents though. No subject was off limits growing up. We still talk about anything.

Our Sunday big family lunch discussions are pretty insane and you won’t ever leave without learning something useful.

So here is how I got my MBA smarts for free:

I want to know everything about everything. Almost.

The cut-off for my hyper-intellectualization obsession follows the T.H.I.N.K criteria.

T- Is it Truthful

H- Is it Helpful or Humourous

I – Is it Inspiring

N- Is it Necessary

K- Is it Kind

Add to that the perfect storm: I was given and I hunted opportunities to grow in corporate environments and startups.

My hyper-intellectualization genes went to work. I absorbed lessons on how to run and how to ruin a business very fast. It was probably the steepest learning curve in my life so far.

The time in my life was right (young and no kids and the dot.com boom and bust) and I was motivated.

The faster I learned, the faster I could change jobs and the faster I learned….repeat cycle 10 times. Bonus: I demanded better pay each job jump. The more useful my skills were, the more I got paid.

So how to here are my 5 tips for learning something you (formally) know nothing about.

  1. Define what your criteria is for what makes the cut to learn
  2. Determine who the contemporary and historical “experts” for that specialty are.
  3. Dedicate specific time every day to play to read and watch and listen to your “experts” daily.
  4. Develop fresh ideas in that specialty every day and give them away. Share them via blog, email and any media format you have.
  5. Decide if the specialty really lights your fire. If not, STOP. Do it all again.

May you fail fast, learn faster and follow what lights your fire.

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The long goodbye

It was a pretty good day for a funeral.  It was predicting rain but instead we got fluffy snow, a less sombre end to a long goodbye process.

My aunt, and godmother, was buried this morning after more than 15 years of frontal lobe dementia. I honestly can’t recall when we last were able to talk to one another, the memory is so distant now.

I wondered for whom it would be hardest and who already said goodbye when she slipped away years ago.

I was a bit surprised. It shows everyone processes life events in their own way.

Every year the stigma gets lifted a little more around mental illness.

The more we talk about it, the better it is for everyone.

Nothing like a funeral to aid in a daily re-evaluation of whether I am really living my life or is my life living me.

Breathe deep. Every day gets better.

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Dear Craigslist Joe…I replied to my first personal ad today for a BFF in downtown T.O. ….

I saw (on Netflix) a fantastic documentary: Craigslist Joe

It’s by a young man named Joe Garner who took a month off his normal life to live off Craigslist.  It took him from coast to coast and back.

No money, no social network, no human safety net, no help from family.

Brave. Crazy. Impossibly wonderful. He is positively adorable.

I watched this movie with my family.  It was the best holiday film ever.

Today, I decided to check out the “Strictly Platonic” postings, and wading through all the shit, I did manage to find a really unique posting.

It’s a shot in the dark but from how she described herself, she sounds cool, if she isn’t a total lying weirdo    ever replies to my reply.

Here’s to finding grace in strangers, and besties where you never imagined.

Winter solstice is around the corner. Thank heavens because the dark and the house re-development are really depressing me.





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Time, Time, Time…See What’s Become of Me… (Bangles)

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time,” is like saying, “I don’t want to.”
~ Lao Tzu

I am trying to be mindful of this because all I seem to hear around me is “I have no time”.

We have sold our home (whew).  In the nerve wracking process we had to purge and conceal all of our extra stuff. 

Aside from the agony of trying to find something that you have stashed away (the wheat with the chaff), the zen feeling of having just a minimal amount of things around you was inspiring.

Originally we were sure we had to renovate the downtown home with a 1 bedroom and washroom addition and expand the main floor for a mudroom and laundry area.

Then I had an idea.  What if we actually had less stuff? Could we actually fit in the smaller spaces.  So we taped out each of our rooms using the measurements we took and our Visio diagrams for furniture layouts and pulled in our stuff and stood in the rooms.

That made it easy to mark what we had to give away.

It’s a bit scary at first thinking of a more compact space.

It gets easier to realize that stuff eats time like mofo.

The less stuff you have to dust and re-organize and neatify…the more time you have to live away from your stuff.

That is a good trade because I’d rather figure out how we can manage with fewer bathrooms than waste my time cleaning three bathrooms.

I just hope not to upset the kids with the minimizing process.

Any suggestions on figuring out how to language “get rid of it” in a way that doesn’t feel like they’ve just become refugees would be appreciated.

Making more room for life, one day at a time.

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The Great Escape

I adore this Patrick Watson song The Great Escape. It’s sad and sweet all at the same time.

Last night we sold our home of 5 years. It was our dream home for many reasons. 

Our ‘20 year house’.  We poured our love into it.  Mended it with as many efforts as we could.  Sacrificed vacations for it at the drop of a hat. I practically earned an engineering degree researching updates and investment work on the house.

Mid summer the air conditioner broke down in the midst of a crazy hot one in Toronto.

We had just booked flights to Miami and for a real week vacation by a real ocean with a real beach.  Shockingly, we went anyways. It was nasty to suffer the heat when we got back.

I think that vacation was tipping point to making our escape from being under the thumb of one expensive house after another. Four house purchases and sales.  Each time a move up he society ladder.

Laying on the beach watching our girls frolic, something came undone. And it could not be done up again.  It was the realization that lifestyle is a choice.

We came home and purchased and installed a new A/C unit. Still the escape hatch kept opening to owning less house and more life.

I no longer felt joy as we continued to obsessively make plans for house.. I normally was excited to keep ahead of the next home maintenance thing.

Suddenly it felt like buying a new dress for a date when your gut is telling you to break up.

Breaking up with your neighbourhood is hard to do.  We all  have met some heart-squeezing friends.

As I stood in the school line-up the first day of school though, I just felt out of place and sad.

We had been flirting with moving to the west Annex in Toronto. It’s a fairly gentrified but urban pocket.  We had been cheating on our neighbourhood with it for a long time. 

Every weekend we were taking off first thing Saturday morning returning only to sleep.

Out of nowhere a house that needs more mending than ever,  found us.

Despite all the scary things it may have hiding underneath it, the energy in that house made us buy it after seeing it for just a few moments.

The fall market to sell a home is a tricky thing.  It could be lovely and leafy and colourful. Or leaf-rotting can begin.  We decided to make a super-human effort to finish up our last projects for this home to get it to market  while the weather was lovely. 

It would be a quick job for regular people but with my crazed standards for how things are done, it was hard physically and mentally.

We had to hurry because my dad was in Italy for only a few more weeks. It would have killed him to watch us sell the house we happily offered our retirement funds to every year for upgrades.  My mom joined him in Italy and he found out we had bought. He called me 8 times trying to talk me into staying.

A huge leap of faith, 14 hour days of tidying up and mending and tiling and karma took care of the rest.  We showed the house to 150 people.  Crazy with open houses and constant showings.  The girls were starting to feel homeless.  “Please can we go home NOW mommy?”

Polishing the taps. Picking up every crumb. Every piece of clothing laundered and put away.  I wanted to make everything perfect so a nice family would see this home had the right energy for them. 

We had some really unpleasant people come through and several were serious about the house.  I was grinding my teeth when they presented their offers.

I now understand who gets your home matters when you put your soul into a house. 

So while we are ‘status downsizing’ homes and it is sad to leave our schoolyard friend big and small, I hope we friends we have made are real and will last.

Getting ready for taking offers today, I did a first nations smudging ceremony.  My mother-in-law bought the items for me.  I needed to cleanse the house of the bad energy some people brought in here.  The sage burning smelled like pot but the sweet grass afterward smelled less illegal. It allowed good energy in. I could feel it.

Here’s to a new adventure of simpler living, bigger life. I wish the new family living here many years of joy together.

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Well it looks like the road to heaven But it feels like the road to hell. (g. michael-Freedom ‘90)

I saw this quote on Pintrest and it pushed me to post finally:
Follow a passion, not a paycheque.

I have been a reader of LifeEdited.com ever since I saw the founder, Graham Hill on a TED talk. Every human being needs to see this TED talk. I purged like a mofo afterwards.

The movement is so small, it’s enormously impactful.

I was stuffing my brain with more Big Life, Less Stuff information, when I came across official Small House movement.   I was also stunned by Gary Chang living in Hong Kong in 330 square feet. A space that transforms before your eyes with sliding walls. It has had over 7 million views.

I purged even more after watching the “We The Tiny House People” .  My desperation seized me to change and make a life the focus of my work,  not making a living. 

If you think this won’t affect the way you look at your stuff and life and (non) use of things, I challenge you to watch the videos. If for nothing else, you might be blown away at the sight of home something the size of your living room having moving walls to repurpose the space over and over again.

Warning, watching these videos might lead to becoming obsessed with  downsizing and recapturing passion for a life without over-consuming habits and debt.

It sure has driven me to hourly daily review of the MLS for a more lifestyle oriented neighbourhood and a more compact, efficient and usable home.

Now I am having major lust for the furnishings for a super small space. Be still my beating heart. Resource Furniture is beyond dreamy in form, function and design.  I could live gladly in a closet-sized super compact home with this furniture.

And YES they have a store in Toronto.

If they can do this with a bunk bed, imagine how swanky a master bedroom suite looks. The website has full videos that nearly made me cry from the brilliant design.


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