ANYONE CAN RUN a business, but few
entrepreneurs take a direct approach to
ensuring their brand is continually innovating and excelling. As a serial entrepreneur,
I’ve found that the following four elements
are essential to taking the lead in your
Always be different
What is your business doing that is new,
exciting and different? If you’re hearing
crickets when you ask yourself that, it’s time
to get creative.
Differentiating in a competitive market is
the only way to survive and thrive. Whether
it’s a quirky and engaging brand profile or
personalized customer service touches (or
both!), evaluate why your company deserves
to lead the pack in your industry.
Paint a picture
At my company we share our long-term
vision in a “painted picture” that’s communicated to all new hires. It’s a one-page
document that describes what each of our
brands will look like, act like and feel like
at a point in the future. If they respond to
the vision with something beyond enthusiasm—with a gleam in their eye—they not
only understand our goals, they possess the
passion needed to help us achieve them.
Craft a clear and compelling vision for
where you want to take your brand, and
only hire people who will help you get there.
Find staff with spark
A winning company is created with a
team of winning workers. These are self-motivated people who drive toward both
personal and professional goals with determination and spirit.
Remember that you can only encourage
and reward your employees; motivation is
something that is innate in a person, and it’s
a trait driven by values beyond money. But
you can still help someone’s enthusiasm
by ensuring there is something stimulating
and meaningful about your business that
motivates your employees as much as it
I’ve always believed in the axiom that
people don’t fail, systems do. Building
strong, proven systems will not only ensure
your business is running optimally, it’ll also
give your people the scope they need to
get creative and come up with new ways to
stand out in the marketplace. C
BRIAN SCUDAMORE: LEADING YOUR BUSINESS
is the founder and
CEO of 1-800-GOT-
JUNK?, WOW 1
and You Move Me.
HAVE YOU THOUGHT about setting up
an advisory board for your business? If
advisory boards work for large enterprises,
why shouldn’t they work for small and
medium-size companies? According to a
study from the
Business Development Bank of
Canada ( bdc.ca),
found that although
only 6 per cent of
small and medium-size ventures in
Canada that responded used advisory
boards, 86 per cent have benefited from
the advice of their advisory board and
believe it has had a significant impact on
Here are a few tips for assembling and
getting the most out of an advisory board.
WHEN VACATION TIME arrives, you
may leave the office wondering how
everyone is going to manage without
you. And so you pack your bags, unable
to mentally switch off from work. This is
why some people get headaches or full-blown migraines just trying to unwind.
Some of us sit at the side of the swimming pool clutching our cellphones just in
case, and of course we check our emails
before going to bed and immediately upon
waking. Is that really a vacation?
That kind of vacation can leave you
flat, and the precious time with your children, significant other or friends gets lost
along the way. Here are some tips on how
you can mentally switch off for vacation.
; If you head up a team, build some
time into your schedule to brief them
before you leave the office and discuss
any outstanding issues or commitments.
; Think through any possible problems that might arise, and make sure that
your assistant or colleagues are aware of
what to do during your absence.
; Before you actually leave the office,
make a to-do list and “brain-dump” all
outstanding matters to be addressed
upon your return. This will help you clear
your mind so you can relax.
; If you are job-sharing, make sure
your colleagues are aware of any clients
or customers who might wish to make
contact with your company in your
; Tell your team, colleagues or assistant that you are available in an emergency, but not otherwise.
Organizing your office should minimize any need for you to be disturbed
and serve to ensure that you have a restful, stress-free vacation so you can actually switch off your cellphone and stop
worrying about work. Try to remember:
No one is indispensable.—Carole Spiers
Enjoy your time away
Advisory boards for small businesses
; Ask your accountant, lawyer or business network to refer potential candidates.
Some business associations offer a service
to help find advisory board members.
; Effective advisory board members
tend to be veteran
offer expertise an
lack. They should be
dent of the company
and objective about
should meet with their advisory board reg-
ularly—for example, on a monthly or quar-
terly basis. A restaurant meal or retreat
can also be a way to thank your advisers.
For more information, go to your favou-
rite Internet browser and search “small
business advisory boards in Canada.” C I M A