In just a couple of days you will have the opportunity to meet and hear some budding entrepreneurs in our area at an event called FRESH! Fraser Valley. So mark Septemeber 25th on your calendar and plan to spend the day, it will be one the best investments to learn that you’ve ever made. The Fraser Valley is the eastern corridor of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada in case you were wondering. This includes the  communities of Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission, Aldergrove, and Langley.

An incredible line-up of speakers is on the docet, an opportunity to learn and grow through planned workshops is available to you. For a list of speakers and their topics, just go to this link: FRESH! Conference Speakers

Be sure to register, you can do that here: Register for FRESH!

It is with great pleasure to be one of the speakers at this event, I’ll be speaking on why sharing and resources can contribute to entrepreneurial success. I teach and preach the Open & Free Business Model, how to give away content and generate revenue. I know you want to know : )

I look forward to meeting you, and having the opportunity to share how you can give yourself away and increase revenues at the same time. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy informational booths with some of the sharpest entrepreneurs in our area. Come learn and network with like-minded people at FRESH! Fraser Valley.

The Venue:

The Ramada Plaza & Conference Centre
36035 North Parallel Rd. (Whatcom Road Exit on the Trans Canada Highway)
Abbotsford BC, Canada, V3G 2C6

See you there!

I wrestled with this question for some time, I mean the whole idea of charging for my content was foreign to me when I started running my first site. In studying the trends of online commerce, and the Open & Free Business Model, it was clear that many people were asking the same question, what should I be writing about and what content should I be charging for.

In working with local business owners, they aren’t even paying attention to what’s really going on, online commerce is just a nice to have rather than a strong component of their business. Meaning, they think it won’t get much bigger than another advertising medium or to just make a few extra dollars. They still practice the price & item approach, the control business model is what they know and trust. My goal is to help as many local businesses understand a different way, and to see the tidal wave that is coming, to pay attention and change the way they think.

A simple exercise is to walk through following:

1.) What is your CORE business about? The first question I usually ask is, what does your business do? Normally, the answer coming back is a description of what the person does or a very high level answer. I would say I am a Technology Strategist, that really doesn’t tell you much does it? You have to ask that question differently two or three times before you get to an answer that gives you a much better understanding. Keeping asking yourself until you get to the real thing that you do.

Knowing what your CORE business is about, helps you with your content, it will help you focus on what the free part might be over the paid part. This seems overly simplistic but it’s not, working through this is much tougher than I’m writing it.

2.) What’s your vision? This is the WHY, why are you doing what your doing and where are you going. That’s pretty simple isn’t it, not really, there is a process to working through what your vision might be.

3.) What is your Mission? Again, something that seems simple but really isn’t. What’s your mantra, your war cry? You want everyone to know it and to be shouting it throughout your organization, even if it’s just you.

You might ask these questions in reverse, whatever makes sense to you. Someone once said recently, keep it simple, simple is hard enough, I try to keep it simple by asking simple questions to tough problems.

These three questions can help you, and it can help you determine what will be free and what will be paid. Keep in mind, there are only three ways to get paid…I pay, you pay, they pay.

This is one way of figuring out what should be free, if you are a writer, write! But write about the thing you are passionate about. Write short stories for free and offer paid for lessons on how to write short stories properly, or writing construct, get creative. Hold writing workshops that are paid for and offer writing tips for free on your blog or newsletter, help your community get what they want, and they will help you get what you want.

This is just one small part of the Open & Free Business Model, the framework is actually straight forward but the details are much harder to figure out. The sooner you start, the better your Blogging experience, and knowing what content should be free makes your blogging life alittle easier.

We’ve covered Vision & Mission, KRA’s and Objectives so far, today I want to talk to you about Action Plans. As you know nothing happens without action of some sort, even writing this article requires action on my part. This area of your strategic plan does not have to be an exhaustive list but a substantial one, these items should also have dates beside them as targets for delivery or completion.

This list might look like a To Do List in or on any other document but this is your bigger picture stuff that goes into your short & long term plans. I am listing for you a few items that might be on your list but you’ll have to assess your situation and build your list. This action list should be in line with some or all items listed in your objectives, this list will cover a broad scope of projects & items you want to get done over the next 12 to 18 to 24 months. Also keep in mind this list is not written in stone, it is like a budget, it’s a guide to keep you on track with the organizations needs. You may make changes to this plan as circumstances arise and technology advances.

1. Identify the most effective software package for the organization – 2Q – 2010

2. Prepare 5 year budget for core applications – 3Q – 2010

3. To prepare a general implementation plan and schedule for core applications for the next 18 – 24 months – 3Q – 2010

4. Develop strategy to train staff – 3Q – 2010

5. Complete a formal review of Network Infrastructure – 2Q – 2010

This list could have over 20 projects or items on it, it’s like a to do list you want to complete in a timely fashion in the upcoming months. At this point you have been assessing your organizations needs and requirements, then documenting your findings. You should have met with all departments and subject matter experts to learn as much as you can about the current shortcomings of your existing core applications. You also would have collected a wish list from each department to assist in assessing or identifying the appropriate software package that will handle 80 – 90% of the organizations process. Your goal is to make the staff’s job easier and giving customers better support by automating as many processes as possible.

As you can see these plans can take on different shapes and sizes but you as the I.T. Leader must know your organizations needs, if you don’t, that’s your first task before you can build an intelligent I.T. Strategic Plan. In the next part of our mock plan, we will shift gears and move into the Analysis part of our plan.

boardroomEvery organization has politics that shapes the culture of an office, this culture also determines whether you’re satisfied with the role you fill and or find the work you do is meaningful. Now I’m generalizing of course, there are many organizations that have healthy environments, they allow those they hire to do what they do best. They foster creativity and the opportunity to improve and actually keep the organization inline with business objectives. There’s also many that don’t, and there are many good and very smart people trying to shine there too.

One thing an I.T. Strategic Plan can’t solve is the politics of an organization. Great strategies never see the light of day due to the political climate of an organization, right or wrong it happens everyday. Some of the brightest minds in an organization won’t be fully utilized, or worse yet, a business could go out of business if the political culture doesn’t change. I don’t have the answer for this and there is no silver bullet, but each office has it’s dynamics to deal with.

Don’t give up, there is hope. As head of I.T. you have a way to ensure your strategy get’s a fighting chance, start with developing a departmental Vision / Mission statement that aligns with the organizations business plan. Pull your team together, brainstorm and start building your purpose statement that makes the political field in your firm take notice. A solid I.T. Strategic Plan germinates from a great Vision / Mission statement, you and your team is the one that has to get it done. Deliver a message that shows everyone how you are committed to the organizations overall vision and then tell them how you are going to help them achieve the goals laid before each department. Every person on the team has to be committed, has to read it, memorize it, learn it and above all believe it or you won’t be able to sell it.

Once you have a strong Vision and Mission you must deliver the message by doing exactly what you said you would do in your strategy. It’s the first step in your I.T. Strategy, taking inventory and paying attention to what the organization is trying to accomplish at a high level. Fly at 50,000 Feet and look for the patterns no one else sees. Look for ways to tie technology to business objectives and you will be golden when you deliver.

Once you have a purpose, you can then focus on the services your team will deliver, these services will be tied to the objectives and Key Result Areas (KRA’s) in your plan. Those are the next two steps and I’ll touch on those another time, for now, sit down and get familiar with your organizations business plan, fly at 50,000 ft. and look for the patterns, then pull the team together to build a MANTRA, a war cry and then get to work. This is just one way to manage the politics in your office, but it’s just one way to proceed. There are many ways to skin a cat my Father used to say but at least do something positive to help the organization win, you and your team will be viewed as a solution provider.

SRC-Tech-LogoThe Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech, (SRCTec), was founded in 2006 and is supported by key Regional strategic partnerships, including Chilliwack Economic Partners (CEPCO), City of Abbotsford and Community Futures for South Fraser.

The role of SRCTec is to actively attract technology companies to the Fraser Valley Region, which includes; the City of Abbotsford, City of Chilliwack and City of Mission, located just east of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.   SRCTec has exclusive responsibilities for economic and educational development specific to the high tech sector.

SRCTec will focus on attracting investment to the Region from the high tech sector including information technology, information services and telecommunications / wireless technology based firms.

SRCTec provides a single point of contact for the high tech industry, and a doorway to the comprehensive information and resources in the Region. High technology organizations will find that SRCTec understands their business, and that the Region has a range of advantages. This coupled with development factors will assist in establishing operational and research facilities.

SRCTec is a not-for-profit organization governed by an operating Board of Directors and supported by sponsors, the community, and our high calibre Advisory Board.

My disclaimer, I used the text from the SRCTec site, also, I’m on the Board of Directors and can’t promote this initiative enough 🙂