Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Lone Wolves are Losers"

I think Friday was my busiest day ever for public speaking. In the morning I did two back-to-back 90-minute presentations at the conference for the Promotional Product Professionals of Canada: one on surviving and thriving in the “recovery” economy, and one on “Ten Trends that will rock your business.”

For the record, those 10 Trends are:
1. Increasing competition
2. Market Fragmentation
3. Customer First
4. Social Media and “Community”
5. Globalization and Trade
6. The Quest for Value: Quality and Price
7. The Quest for Values: Social Responsibility and Trust
8. Technology-based Innovation (especially nanotech)
9. The Generational Disconnect
10. The Experience Economy

In the late afternoon I popped over to the Learning Enrichment Foundation, in the old village of Weston, to address the graduating class of LEF’s latest entrepreneurship program. Lodged in a WWII-era factory building, the LEF is an amazing non-profit organization that conducts hundreds of training programs for thousands of displaced and underemployed workers throughout the GTA.

I was proud to speak to this group (a surprising number of whom hail from Colombia). Their business plans look very promising, from those of the organic lawncare guy to the photographer, the videographer, the Spanish website, and many others, including the beautifully designed invitations created by a former magazine designer.

(Those standing in the pic at right are among the new grads.)

I offered this group a few thoughts on “Staying Competitive in 2010.” My five key points for aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. Pick a niche and own it.
2. Always put the customer first.
3. Treat your employees as well as you do your customers.
4. Always watch your cash flow. Have backup financing in place long before you need it.
5. Surround yourself with smart peers.

My closing quote, related to point 5:
“Some people think of entrepreneurs as lone wolves. But lone wolves are losers. Lone wolves die alone in the cold and the dark. Successful wolves run in packs.”

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