Monday, September 03, 2007

Lessons from Quebec’s fastest-growing companies

Some of you may not yet have checked out the executive summaries from the presentations at the Visa Small Business Big Thinking conference held in Montreal earlier this year.

What are you waiting for? There's a lot of good learning in the summaries, including the points of view of outstanding Quebec speakers and entrepreneurs whose opinions and learning don't usually break through into English Canada.

Besides, Visa’s team of Montreal writers did a bang-up job of compiling and translating the summaries.

Here’s a sample summary: someone named Spence analyzed the top 12 Quebec companies on PROFIT Magazine’s 2007 list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. Here, from his speech June 3, are the 10 best practices” of Quebec’s top growth companies.

1. Find a niche and make it yours. Companies that did well on the PROFIT 100 list tended to specialize in smaller markets that they could “own,” rather than offer products for everyone.
2. Transform the business model. Growth leaders develop innovative strategies such as turning software products into recurring services, or signing exclusive distribution contacts with key partners.

3. Build value for customers. For instance, RadialPoint creates a “triple win” with its online security products for Internet service providers that not only benefit the ISPs’ customers, but discourage them from changing carriers.
4. Overcome your fear and make cold calls. Some of Quebec’s best-known companies have grown by picking up the phone and asking strangers for their business.

5. Be financially conservative. Quebec’s fastest-growing companies tend to shun venture capital and high-cost debt by hoarding their cash and arranging financial assistance long before they need it.
6. Master technology, and use it to differentiate what you do. Companies such as MarketingIsland and Triglobal Capital Management lock in customers with proprietary technology that gives them everything they need.

7. Find the best motivational tools for your team. To retain god employees, top companies offer incentives such as performance bonuses, pension plans and frequent parties.
8. Upgrade your management structure. Make sure your people and systems grow to keep pace with the company’s expansion.

9. Share opportunities with long-term strategic partners. DuProprio.com, a web service that helps consumers sell their homes privately, recently partnered with national networks of lawyers and appraisers in a deal that creates long-term advertising revenue and supplies valuable services for its clients.
10. Think like a customer. Keeping in touch with customer needs can produce a constant flow of new products and strong relationships that shut out competitors.

You can find much more at http://www.visa.ca/bigthinking/presentations.cfm

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