Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Company of Wolves

As you may know, I wrote the book on Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies (Secrets of Success from Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, 1997, Wiley and Sons.) http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471642339.html

Yesterday (Monday) I was back on the case. I think I set a record for interviewing four PROFIT 100 entrepreneurs in one day, for a series of profiles in the June issue of PROFIT Magazine. I can’t tell you who they are, of course (Top Secret till early June), but I can tell you that these leaders of three of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies (two are partners in one business) are as impressive as ever.

In each case, they are building a new type of business, innovating both in their industry and their business model. They are using new technology, industry contacts, creative financing and savvy partnerships to build their business, and – most importantly, given the industries they’re in -- they are staying a step ahead of the competition by keeping abreast of emerging regulatory trends. And all four are frighteningly articulate.

What’s their secret? No secret, actually. They all learned their trade at an early age, working for other people. All of them got paid training in their chosen industry or sector, which enabled them to learn a lot from others’ mistakes. In some cases, they tried first to change their industry from within. But when they learned how hard it is to change other people, they decided to set out on their own and get it right from the start. And now all are working hard, in close collaboration with industry partners, to make the future happen their way.

My point? You hear a lot about “lone wolf” entrepreneurs, people who toil alone to challenge the world in pursuit of their private dream. Nothing wrong with that myth, so long as new and aspiring entrepreneurs don’t buy into it.

The best entrepreneurs work within a vibrant community of collaborative partners and teams.

The lone wolves starve in the woods.

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