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Common Sense Business Solutions

What is your big business decision?

CBC has recently launched a brand new show The Big Decision which is a spinoff of The Dragon’s Den.

What we like about the show is the substantive business acumen that can be derived from the show.

Canadian business owner’s can actually learn something about the running of a business and get a handle on how business investors think without the theatrics of The Dragons Den. (I am sure some businesses are chosen on The Dragons Den because it makes good television and not necessarily a good business idea)

The candidates on CBC’s The Big Decision program have to date; been well vetted and weekly they bring the different struggles of running a business in Canada to the forefront.

The present format has Arlene Dickerson and Jim Treliving alternate weekly, with both having the opportunity to invest in the companies that they are examining. All companies are given specific direction and have approximately 2 to 3 weeks to accomplish the tasks.

The format of the show is as follows:

Each 1-hour episode of The Big Decision documents two Canadian businesses desperately in need of expert advice and a cash injection. With the banks calling in their loans and financiers tightening their wallets, Jim and Arlene are their last hope.

If the companies can rise to the challenge of changing their ways, they could be given a life-changing investment from two of the most revered business leaders in the country. At the conclusion of each episode, Jim and Arlene have to decide whether they'll invest in one, neither or both of the companies vying for their cash.

So let’s examine week 3 episode:

Jim Treliving has very considerable business skills,   and an ability to get to the heart of business problem in very short order. On CBC’s Big Decision, Treliving met with a brewery in Aldergrove BC., and a manufacturer of screws and bolts in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Overview: Dead Frog Brewery – Independent Brewery

Jim chose to invest in the brewery because he could roll in some financial controls very easily and the owners still had a passion for the business.

They needed sales help – the NEW campaign they designed was innovative but amateurish. They responded well to Jim asking for reduction in the number of labels they manufactured from 10 to 6 (Like a sample 6 pack ...no charge for the marketing idea!!!).

Their 10 lines of beer surely contributed to the quality control problems that bedeviled the small brewery and quickly they made an effort to make their production line more efficient by eliminating unnecessary product movement and by making the line flow naturally and smoothly from vat to door.

The absence of good financial information and a business plan were exactly the things that Treliving could bring to the table and make the company perform well so he decided to invest.

Overview: Westland Steel - manufactures screws and bolts

The fastener company on the other hand could have been salvaged but only by an injection of very hard work. After Treliving asked his questions and poked around the plant, the plant managers tinkered with the sales incentives. But the sales people had just gone on record as saying they had nothing to sell. They didn’t have the cash or credit to buy the raw materials for their orders.

Jim sensed the company’s lack of direction. The complete absence of leadership from anyone in the plant, the deadness behind the eyes of management and the energy to find to find a solution was missing. Jim knew that. To save the company he would have to drop in tons of cash and parachute a new General Manager into the building with a remit to overhaul the company from top to bottom. That would have taken months and perhaps years.

Further, the state of the company’s finances would have meant a partial receivership (a Chapter 11 in US speak) in order to buy time to re-arrange the finances and seek accommodation with suppliers and landlords. . At the very least Jim’s money would have had to finance the purchase of raw material.

What intrigued me about the fastener company is that in spite of the huge slowdown, nothing for the salespeople to sell, and no plan, they still had revenues of $200,000 per month. With that kind of revenue most companies are salvageable. With that kind of revenue, jobs could have been saved. It would have been a long turnaround project with some pain all around but do-able.

Conclusion:

At the fastener plant, there could have been the satisfaction of seeing the back end of delivery truck shipping to a customer. At the brewery, you could always crack open a beer on a bad day!!!

What is evident so far in the first three episodes this season of The Big Decision is the lack of direction by management for any business plan, sales plan, marketing plan and company direction. 

It is very interesting to watch the reaction of business owners when they are asked to do specific tasks by Arlene and Jim. Some of them cannot take direction and due to their inflated view of themselves lose the opportunity to get investment money and put their whole livelihood at risk.

Jim and Arlene are very successful business people who know how to run successful businesses and they are not willing to put up with people who are not keen to change and grow.

I highly recommend this show for any business that is looking to expand their knowledge and get great incite to what will help you Build Your Business.

All episodes can be viewed on line – Click here

Article written by Andrew Gregson and Donald Robichaud



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About the Author

Andrew Gregson, BA, MA, M.Sc. (Econ), holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Andrew's experience working with an international business consultancy and being a business owner for 15 years was the impetus for his book "Pricing Strategies for Small Businesses". He brings his expertise in finance, pricing and debt restructuring to the table to help struggling manufacturing and service companies to return to profitability. This has helped companies to rebuild value and often to sell at much higher dollar values.

Andrew has contributed to trade journals, "Spark" on CBC National Radio and has been a guest speaker at business networking groups, colleges, universities on his topics of expertise - pricing, exit plans and debt. He is also a frequent contributor to blogs and online postings for business help.

Andrew is currently the President, Board Of Directors intent Financial Inc., his role is overseeing intent Financial Inc., Intent Investment Corporation and other related ventures.

 

Website link:  www.intentfinancial.com

Contact e-mail address:   [email protected]






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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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