Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Last Call for PROFIT 500 Ranking!

PROFIT Magazine is putting out a last call for companies that want to be considered for its annual ranking of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies. But you have to enter by April 1!

For the 25th anniversary of this ground-breaking project, PROFIT is pulling out all the stops. This year it is celebrating Canada’s top 500 growth companies.
The listing was known as “the Fastest 50” when it started. It then became the PROFIT 100, then the PROFIT 200. Now it is leaping ahead to 500, an undertaking that promises huge benefits to participating companies.

With 500 companies, PROFIT should have sufficient volume of entries to segment the national list into specialty rankings by region and by industry. Your company may be the 267th-fastest-growing company in Canada, but you may also be the 12th fastest-growing manufacturer or the top growth company in Manitoba. (These are just examples; the categories haven't yet been confirmed).

The benefits? Every PROFIT 500 company will be listed in PROFIT magazine, as well as on www.PROFITguide.com. This is PROFIT’s annual must-read issue, so your listing could go a long way. And those interested in personal exit strategies should know that many big companies consider the P200/500 to be Canada’s best shopping list.

PROFIT will also be profiling the top Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto companies in special supplements to be distributed the week of June 3. Quebec companies will get additional coverage in PROFIT’s sister magazine, L’actualit√©, and firms in Atlantic Canada will get coverage in Atlantic Business magazine.

All winners will be invited to the PROFIT 500 “CEO Summit” in Toronto on June 5. It’s an annual networking andprofessional development event that should blow the roof off this year with so many successful innovators in one place. PROFIT is also hosting regional events (in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary) in the fall for listed CEOs in those regions.

PROFIT has even changed the reporting criteria, to encourage more companies to enter. Companies are still ranked on five-year revenue growth. But for the first time, the listings will no longer refer to a company’s profitability. And private companies will no longer have to publicly disclose their revenue if they don't want to; they will be able to publish their revenue numbers as a range.

PROFIT insiders tell me that any company that has had five-year revenue growth of more than 50% has a chance to crack the listing.

Don't put if off any longer. Check out http://www.profitguide.com/microsite/profit500 now!

Rick’s comments: As the former editor and publisher of PROFIT (and the guy who named the PROFIT 100 and later expanded it to 200), I salute the plucky, hardworking PROFIT staff who are continually punching above their weight level. This is an ambitious leap forward that could have a huge impact on innovation and entrepreneurial success in Canada. You rock, guys. Good luck!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stronger Startups and Angels' Wings

I recently had the opportunity to meet with a group of young people taking an entrepreneurship course in the Jane-Finch area of northwest Toronto. I found them quite knowledgeable about business, engaged and curious. We had a good discussion about business successes and failures, and the traits that mark the best entrepreneurs. Part of that discussion turned up in my column in the National Post March 4, under the title “Do you have what it takes to run your own business?”

It’s a fairly basic look at entrepreneurship, but I heard from a lot of senior business people who said they liked it. The story features a list of the seven personality traits most required of startup entrepreneurs, as well as the seven biggest challenges they’re most likely to face. Here’s an excerpt;
Challenge No. 2: Communicating your unique selling proposition. Once you understand your competitive advantage, you have to articulate it. My advice is to create a three-part mission statement that clearly describes what you do, who you do it for and how customers benefit from dealing with you. Example: “I’m a technology consultant who helps manufacturers out-compete Asian producers.” When you know your audience and how you can help them, the right people will flock to your door.

The full story is here: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/03/01/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-run-your-own-business/

My column the previous week took an inside look at Halifax-based First Angel Network, a funding  program that had been criticized by prominent tech entrepreneur David Crow for soaking clients with inappropriate presentation fees. My story looked at both sides and found… a few things that need changing.
Excerpt: Crow contends angel groups should maximize value for entrepreneurs, not middlemen and no company should pay hefty fees just to pitch. He doesn’t like to see what he calls “brokers,” especially those who have taken government funding to help source deals, taking a slice of equity at such an early stage: “The alignment of interests is not there.”

Bonus story: A startup entrepreneur called me recently to ask how his company could reach more people with its online content. I dared them to think bigger.


Friday, March 01, 2013

Groupon CEO: "I'm OK with having failed at this part of the journey"

This is how you depart gracefully from a company.

Groupon founder Andrew Mason had just been fired from the innovative online marketing company, which  faces a rocky road (despite outlasting most of its copycat clones).  Here is the gracious letter he sent to reassure and inspire the troops he leaves behind. 

(This is for Groupon employees, but I'm posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)

People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we've shared over the last few months, and I've never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it's time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.

For those who are concerned about me, please don't be - I love Groupon, and I'm terribly proud of what we've created. I'm OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I'll now take some time to decompress (FYI I'm looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I'll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there's one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what's best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don't waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.


Here's what Forbes had to say about Mason's departure: "Mason left Groupon with the most powerful email marketing engine in the world, a growing income statement and a balance sheet with $1.2 billion in cash.  The music major from Northwestern has been sprinting since 2007; now is probably a good time to rest."

" I will miss you terribly." How many CEOs have ever said that?