If you are in a leadership position, you are responsible for the morale of your team. “The culture of an organization is set by its leaders, and if those leaders are not consistent with their positive messages, both explicit and through their actions, it impacts the culture.” (Kevin Dee, The Eagle)
You need to lead your team toward success by being the first one to go the extra mile. “It’s difficult to resent managers who roll up their sleeves and wade into the trenches when they need to, and who share the same sacrifices their teams do.” (Victor Lipman, Forbes)
Early in the beginning Wish Group didn’t have a Public Relations (PR) strategy. We did what we could and bootstrapped our way through.
In our first venture, we were partnered with Tony Lacavera of Globalive and he was recognized as #1 on the PROFIT Hot 50 list.
That was such an inspiration and I saw Tony get a lot of PR from that recognition.
So that’s my first tip, apply for awards.
You may feel like you’re not big enough to win an award or doing enough amazing things to stand out, but you could be pleasantly surprised.
Learn how to apply for awards because things like the PROFIT list have you competing against companies that started in the same year as yours, and they measure growth as a percentage instead of purely revenue.
Over time we have learned about a lot of other awards, such as Greatest Place to Work, Best Employers, etc. While we’re bootstrapping and don’t offer a lot of perks, we realized that what we do offer here is better than other companies.
Applying for awards is also a good process to go through to set goals for your business as you grow.
You might have blinders on while you’re working away in your business, and awards can help you feel good about where your business ranks amongst your peers. It can help you validate that what you’re doing is working.
Awards are also team activities, and winning them has a positive effect internally for your team. This in turn benefits your customers and clients too.
Once you start winning awards and getting some PR, it can become more of a domino effect.
Another Tip for Bootstrapping PR is Give Back.
We’ve done some things for our community without having PR in mind, but they ended up generating a lot of positive PR for us.
Growing up as a business in Liberty Village has been great, and the community has helped us grow. We wanted to do something to give back to our community, so we created an event named Calling on Liberty.
The event showcased a lot of local Liberty Village artists and raised money for the local community.
Just Tell Your Story.
You might think no one cares to hear what you have to say, but you would be surprised.
People want to hear what you have expertise on.
Get Digital and Social.
The newer digital and social media world can be intimidating, but it’s an amazing medium for telling your story.
Connect with your audience.
Even doing a video series like Bootstrap and sharing clips will help you get your story out to more people.
I wish I had started my video series years ago!
We are living in a very content centered world, and you’d be surprised about how many well-known magazines are hungry for content you can deliver.
Most people have incremental mindsets that believe in minor improvements, but people who have exponential mindsets believe leaps of improvement are always possible.
A person with an exponential mindset isn’t a pie-in-the-sky dreamer, they simply believe there is a different way of doing things that will change the game. This way of thinking may seem less practical than an incremental mindset, but the trade-off is seeing past limitations that hold others back. Incremental thinking puts a limit on what you think is possible.
With an exponential mindset, anything feels possible.
It takes work to develop an exponential mindset, but if you believe you can do it, you’ve already got a head start!
Working to develop an exponential mindset gives you an edge over your competition, and it helps keep you on your toes so that you can adapt with rapid changes in your industry.
Even if you doubt any technological advances are going to swoop in and change the entire way you do business, keeping your mind open to those kinds of radical ideas keeps you ahead of the curve.
“Take a leap now to immerse yourself in the future so you’re able to get the most out of what’s coming.” (Lorenn Ruster)
Intrigued by this idea and want to develop your exponential mindset?
Watch this Webinar with Mark Bonchek where he takes you on a guided journey to shift your mindset from incremental to exponential.
As the CEO or leader, you need to have a clear vision of where your company is going.
You may not know exactly how you’re going to get from where you are today to your ideal future, but a vision is key to start.
I’ve talked a lot with my staff internally about Cameron Herold’s idea of A Painted Picture (now a Vivid Vision) and how important it is to visualize where the company is going to be in the next 2-5 years.
Take time right now to start visualizing the future or vision of your company, where will it be in 2-5 years?
This visualization process involves how your company is going to feel, how many employees you will have, what the culture is going to be like, and as many other details as you can imagine.
While this is important to understand, you may feel so strongly about your idea and believe it will create a need in the market once people know about it.
I am not here to tell you that you’re wrong, maybe you do have the next greatest idea to revolutionize our world. However, you need to go into business with your eyes wide open and ready to tackle the obstacles that stand in the way of success.
Create a plan for how you will tackle all six of these elements to give your startup the best chance of survival.
Focus – without it, you will not lead your startup anywhere
Without passion and focus you will never get your idea off the ground.
It all starts with passion, and then you need to have a laser focus on exactly what you are working to create with your business.
Use that focus to create your business plan or model and set your startup off on the right track.
As you get your business off the ground, maintain your own focus, but don’t shut yourself off from feedback.
Listening to your customers and employees is essential to understand if you product is achieving what you set out to do and how you can continue to improve it.
Money – a necessary piece of the puzzle to launch your startup
A focused business plan will help you in those tough conversations with possible investors or asking for financing from a bank.
At Wish Group, we are a self-funded company. My video series called Bootstrap provides more insights for self-funded entrepreneurs here: wishgroup.ca/BootStrap
Often, entrepreneurs are led by their passion and hope the money will follow after they get their product out into the world. Unfortunately, the money aspect is a huge factor for why startups fail.
Don’t forget to include your pricing and costing strategies in your business plan. Keep track of what is working or where you need to make adjustments.
Product – a need in the market and a great product are keys to success.
Even great ideas and great products fail.
If there is no need in the market for your product, and you cannot generate a need, your startup will fail.
Sometimes great marketing is enough to get your startup off the ground to find a niche in the market or to reveal an area in the market where a similar product would fulfill a need.
Even with a need in the market, a poorly designed product or poorly executed business model can seal your fate and a ticket to failure.
Team – Strategically plan your team from the start and always adjust.
Having the wrong team as you launch your startup can keep you from finding success.
I like to think of my company like a sports organization. The players you acquire during a building phase are very different from the ones you seek out to run for a championship.
Disharmony on your team can quickly lead to your startup imploding or getting outperformed by your competition.
Work together with your team to create a company culture you can all enjoy.
Expand your team with a mentor.
Leverage your network for trusted advisors and to find a mentor who can help you move past roadblocks that your startup is bound to face.
Adapt to change – the only constant in business and life is change.
As I mentioned, focus is a key element when you’re launching a startup.
Something that is important to distinguish from focus is failure to watch for changes in the market.
You may pride yourself on your focused approach to develop your product and grow your startup, but keeping your head down and ignoring feedback from customers or shifts in the market is not “focus.”
Ignoring feedback or shifts, will make you blind to the adjustments that are necessary to keep your startup afloat.
Failing to change or making a bad change are two common reasons why startups fail. Keep your eyes on the prize and be focused on where your startup is going, but don’t ignore the signs of change and keep your startup as nimble as possible.
Timing and location – two cliché sayings come together: “timing is everything” and “location, location, location.”
Conducting research can help you plan the timing of your launch, but sometimes we are ready to launch a startup and we hope for the best.
Some startups will fail simply because they were ahead of their time and the market was not ready, only to have the same or similar products revolutionize the market at a later date.
Legal challenges with things like logo or product design can keep you tied up and cause you to miss a perfectly timed launch. Again, research can help you avoid some of this, and consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer before you launch your startup could help you mitigate legal risks before they drag you down.
In a global world, you might think location doesn’t matter as much, but it does.
A bad physical location can drain your monetary resources without generating foot traffic. A bad website or online presence can also hurt your chances for success.
Overall, something like 9/10 startups fail. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. These are six important elements to seriously consider and plan for when beginning your venture. If some of these six elements go wrong, they can cause your startup to fail.
I am all about connecting people with their calling and helping them develop their own success.
My video series for entrepreneurs provides a lot of insights, I recommend watching them and sending in your questions so I can help you on your journey towards success.
Working is built into our culture, but if it’s so routine, what’s the big deal about creating lasting employee experiences?
Using part of your budget to create experiences for your employees will emotionally connect them with the business, create camaraderie and unity to increase performance, embrace families and personal lives to create more respect, and inject some fun into your routine.
People remember experiences.
Craft Employee Experiences to Take Your Company from Good to Great
Emotional Connection with the Business
Creating an emotional connection with your employees, and between employees is a key strategy for employee retention. People don’t wake up in the morning excited to work for a company, they are excited to work for great leaders and with great people.
Friendships with Co-workers
Providing opportunities for co-workers to break down barriers and get to know each other will forge better friendships. Your workforce is made up of diverse employees, some may be more introverted while others are more extroverted. Creating experiences where people are able to interact in different ways and different settings helps break the ice.
For entrepreneurial work environments, it is nice to host events where families of employees can meet each other. In a start-up or entrepreneurial environment, work hours can be long or variable. Introducing families who are all going through similar obstacles of managing their work and home lives provides solidarity.
Out of Your Element
Get away from the office and create an overnight experience for employees. While in-office events are good, getting out of your element and away from the office will help spark new ideas, create new or strengthen friendships of co-workers, break down silos or department roadblocks, and more.
Business organizations, no matter their size, are a group of people working collectively. The tighter they are, the better they’ll perform. So start with something small, like a company picnic and work your way up to an overnight employee experience.
Watch Bootstrap Episode 7 to learn more about using budgets to create employee experiences!
If you’ve failed at least once, you’re probably on the path to success. Most of us assume that success comes easily to a few lucky people, but it doesn’t. Lasting success is not easy. As an entrepreneur, you need to be ready to accept some failure along the way. Sometimes experiencing failure is the fastest way to learn how to improve.
Throughout my life I have typically seen two kinds of people, those who accept failure as part of the ride and those who avoid failure at all cost. The people who accept failure as part of life are able to learn from it, and those who avoid failure at all cost let it devastate them when it happens.
If you’re the type of person who avoids failure at all cost, entrepreneurship or leadership may not be the best path for you. If you are determined to move forward as an entrepreneur, you will need to learn how to accept stress and failure as part of life, and you will want to spend your energy learning how to move past failures with multiple plans.
You can learn to use failure as a stepping stone, or you can carry it around and let it weigh you down, the choice is yours.
Learn to Embrace Failure
When the going gets tough, I encourage my team to see past the hardship of failure to find the lessons we can learn from it. If we gave up every time we failed, we would never have learned how to walk or talk. Babies are a great example of never giving up! They have incredible persistence and willingness to learn. While a fall might hurt us right away, what will hurt us in the long run is never getting up again.
Ask the Right Questions
It is human tendency to point fingers and play the blame game when something goes wrong. Effective leaders know that a time of failure is not the right time to blame someone, but to ask questions. “How did we get here?” “What went wrong?” and another effective question to ask would be: “What can we do to make this right?” These questions can be difficult to ask when you’re under extreme stress, but it is important to learn and evolve as a team when something goes wrong so that you can prevent it from happening again.
Grieve if You Need to
If you feel like you have failed at something, it can be a blow to your confidence. I don’t expect you to be able to move on immediately and learn from every failure you experience. However, some failures will seem harder than others. If you have failed at something and it makes you angry or sad or frustrated or any other emotion, allow yourself some time to reflect on why this particular failure has hit you so hard. Get your negative emotions out of the way so that you can move forward, and remember that “failure is something that happens, not something you are” (Patrick Allan, lifehacker.com).
Change Your Definition of Failure
Why let the idea of failing hold you back when it can liberate your creativity and teach you lessons along the way. We have attached so much negativity to the word “failure” that we become afraid to try new things and challenge ourselves. Behind every great invention, there are millions of failures. Churchill believed that failure was part of the process and said, “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Believe in this idea and change your definition, welcome failure with open arms because it means you are trying something new and making waves. One epic failure could lead you to your next greatest success, but how will you know if you never try?
Failure isn’t the end, and it’s not a bad thing when you can learn from it. Learning from failure turns it into your stepping stone towards success.
Making it to the top is easier than staying there. Leaders who rise to the top need to be ready to continuously improve if they want to stay there. The world continues to change at a faster pace and changes to the business landscape happen daily. If you’re not trying to disrupt your own business model, someone else will.
Here are my top tips to continuously improve:
Always be listening: Many leaders fail to listen to voices at the bottom, especially their employees. Employees may be at the bottom of a company’s hierarchy, but they are often more connected to the day-to-day of your business and they will have ideas about where the future of the business is heading.
Learn from mistakes: When a competitor makes a mistake, it is the perfect time to learn from what they did wrong to keep yourself from making a similar misstep. It is also important to learn from any mistakes you or your employees are making. Mistakes don’t lead to failure unless you fail to learn from your mistakes.
Plan your professional development: Outside of networking and trying to generate sales leads, conferences offer a chance to learn what is going on in the industry. Conferences are the place where you will find competitors discussing their best practices, which you can use to improve. In addition to typical networking, use conferences to build strategic partnerships.
Teach others: Teaching is a great way to deepen your knowledge; you never really master a subject until you are forced to explain it in front of a group. I’m part of different entrepreneur and mentorship groups where I am able to learn from and teach others. Even if you aren’t being asked to present at big ticket events, seek out local opportunities where you can get started.
Develop yourself: Learn more about yourself and analyse your strengths, weaknesses and biases. Understanding your personality and areas of personal development that you need to focus on will make you a better leader. You affect the people in your organization, so develop yourself every chance you get to improve your business from the top down.
Engage with your peers: Every leader’s journey is different, but you can learn from others experiences. Other leaders can offer great insights on how to deal with the challenges that you’re going through or may go through in the future. While you may have handled certain challenges to the best of your ability, seeing other perspectives can improve your strategies for facing future challenges.
When you make it to the top, enjoy that moment, but don’t sit back for too long because “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement” (Helmut Schmidt) and there is already someone working hard to improve or disrupt your industry.
I pride myself on connecting people with their calling—but there are kids in Toronto who haven’t even had a chance to figure out who they are before facing huge challenges. The Pinball Clemons Foundation has an Ambassador School Program here in Toronto that helps kids who have been plagued by destruction find the opportunity to finish high school and set their lives back on a successful track. Children are the future, they are the next generation, and they are the bright minds of tomorrow. The Ambassador School Program provides a safe space for kids to discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose.
In partnership with the Children’s Aid Foundation, the Pinball Clemons Foundation Ambassador School Program is empowering youth in Toronto to discover hope through the completion of high school, valuable life skills, and goal setting for a brighter future. Each year, this partnership ensures that 15-20 students aged 16 to 24 have access to a safe learning environment that provides a curriculum unique to their needs, career counselling, tutoring, nutritional education, financial literacy, adult and peer support, and public speaking opportunities.
The Victory Charity Ball is an event that raises money to support the Pinball Clemons Foundation Ambassador School Program. Last year’s event was sold out and raised a total of $234,000.00, which funded one full year of the program and started a scholarship fund. Victory Charity Ball 2017 will be on June 1st this year and a Wish Group associate, Kevin Lawler, will be one of the business boxers fighting at this event. I am proud to work with incredible individuals at Wish Group each day, and Kevin is no exception. He puts 100% into everything he does and he has been training hard to put on the best fight/show of his life. Matt Ley from The Streaming Network caught up with Kevin to do an interview where you can learn more about the event, the Ambassador School Program, and how to get involved.
Watch the interview now to learn more about this unique event and program that is changing the lives of Toronto youth and cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.
The Canadian telecommunications and collaboration space has changed. As of May 1, 2017, three of the most distinguished companies have merged together to create a truly national powerhouse. Momentum Conferencing, The Streaming Network (TSN), and Evolve Collaboration (Evolve) have been providing highly specialized services in telecommunications and collaboration for years. This merger allows each brand to move to the next level, expand further into the Canadian market and offer even more benefits to clients.
Momentum Conferencing will join TSN and Evolve under the Wish Group umbrella with Matthew Ley as the President of all three merged companies. Although the companies have merged, they will maintain their individual brand identities.