Small Business Briefing

The after 'O' effect

The Globe and Mail

In this image taken from video Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 and provided by Harpo Productions Inc., talk-show host Oprah Winfrey announces during a live broadcast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in Chicago that her daytime television show, the foundation of a multibillion-dollar media empire, will end its run in 2011 after 25 seasons on the air.

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The after 'O' effect

In the eyes of many small business owners, Oprah Winfrey continues to be a benevolent, near-mythical creature able to turn a company’s fortune with the mere whisper of its name. An endorsement from the one who could sway the North American consumer as effectively as a snake charmer was like winning the lottery. And while her (so-called) swansong from network television left a void for those who aspired to be discovered, her legacy in the small business sector persists. On her website, she continues to dole out advice to small business owners.

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But Oprah's seal of approval obviously didn't answerevery business' prayer. Those ill-equipped – like this purveyor of smoked turkey who was included on Oprah’s legendary list of ‘favourite things’ – felt overwhelmed by the avalanche of demand following her endorsement (though eventually he admitted that “her endorsement is worth its weight in gold"). Others, like the makers of the Weemote, a child-friendly TV controller, an Oprah shout-out generated a big pop and then fizzled shortly after.

For this author and business owner, whose book Goal-Free Living was featured in O, the Oprah Magazine in 2005, the publicity actually alienated his core buyers, he claims. In this article, he goes so far as to claim that she nearly "killed" his business. A mention from Oprah, while one of the proudest moments of his life, managed to tarnish his brand in the eyes of his customers, who thought of him as “less serious.” Primarily they were left confused by the combination of self-help book and magazine publicity, and his website’s bounce rate flew threw the roof. In this moment, the author discovered that the old mantra was true: ‘A confused buyer never buys.’

Western startup heads to Chile

Edmonton startup – a smartphone app company that saves time and money by organizing your paper clutter – has been chosen to participate in Start-up Chile. The program, created by the Chilean Government, seeks to attract early stage entrepreneurs to bootstrap their startups using Chile as a launching pad.

During the six months, the 100 startups from 36 countries will work in in Chile– for which they receive $40,000 of equity-free seed capital, a 1-year work visa, and access to local financial and social networks. The objective is to raise funds, hire talent, create networks, and to launch their businesses from Chile.

Would you work here?

On the surface, a pirate ship, castle and giant shoe don’t seem to have much in common, unless you work for Davison International, a company that designs and creates kitchen gadgets, toys and other consumer products. For them, imagination is part of the job, and working in fairy tale world is all part of keeping the creative juices flowing. Check out there 61,000-square-foot building located in Pittsburgh, Pa, in this slideshow from WSJ to learn more about this “workplace wonderland.”


Creating a sellable service business

John Warrillow, who sold his own consulting and services business, former Report on Small Business columnist, and author of the book “Built to Sell,” is offering this intimate, hands-on workshop on building a sellable business. The event runs from January 16 to January 17, 2012 in Las Vegas. Learn more by clicking here.

Procuring patents for inventors and entrepreneurs

General questions about patents will be answered in a classroom setting in the seminar from 12pm to 1pm in Ottawa on January 18. For more details, click here.


At a crossroads: What to do with a labour of love

Peer-to-peer lending service CommunityLend’s founder is not ready to give up yet. Which of three options should he pursue?


Network your way into a great new job

Focus less on the open bar and more on maximizing events to make connections that will land you work

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