The RBC Momentum Award Finalists are entrepreneurs that have overcome obstacles, capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% growth or more, and have done so for more than three years. Through their expanded management, empowered employees, and demonstrated success, these entrepreneurs have created a flexible and responsive business that is able to adapt to changing market environments and leverage opportunities for continued growth.
We asked their best advice for other entrepreneurs.
Allison had an extensive career in the world of investment banking, and left her high profile career to follow her passion of home building and design. Allison had renovated over a dozen luxury homes in her “spare” time, and witnessed first hand the lack of business sophistication and customer care of other builders. She started Rockwood Custom Homes with a mere $5,000 investment, working strategically to build her company from single-family custom homes, to winning competitive contracts like the Villas at Aspen Heights in Calgary and on target to launch many more exciting initiatives by the end of 2015.
Q: What do you think is the key to positioning your business for continued success and future growth?
A: Ensure that your company’s processes are current and directly aligned with the reality of your business. Constantly evolving and improving the processes of your company across all areas—finance, accounting, operations, customer service—is key to growth. Your foundations always need to be solid and that can be achieved through current and intelligent processes and procedures.
You must be very clear about what type of business you are in as this will (should) dictate what type of business you undertake; you should always focus on accepting only the business that fits your business model. Focus is key. Don’t dilute your core business or muddy it with projects that are not right for you.
Protect your brand. Maintain integrity in all of your operations and ensure all arms of the business are working together. Always deliver what you promise (or more!). For Rockwood, this translates to delivering top-notch quality, superior customer service and stringent financial processes with every build.
While Mene’s original intention was to simply survive and be self employed, she has far surpassed her original goals and currently has not one, but four incorporated companies. Mene purchased her first restaurant, a business that had previously gone bankrupt, in 1979 and from there grew her love of entrepreneurship. Mene’s most successful company to date is Mom’s Place Limited, which has survived and profited for 36 years through recessions, high interest payments, and the changing economy. Mene credits her success to education, perseverance, and hard work, which are values she inherited from her mother.
Q: What do you wish you knew at the beginning?
A: At the beginning of my entrepreneurial road, I wish I knew how to delegate more effectively and was more aware of the positive results and advancement that can be attained at a much quicker pace for everyone. I could have steered the ship with clearer vision from the bow rather than repeatedly rowing from the sides with the team.
Shastri combined her passion for geology and creative thinking to develop Orix Geoscience, a boutique geoscientific service to the mining and exploration sector. The success of Orix Geoscience is credited to filling a gap in the marketplace, by combining older, established manual methods of geological interpretation with newer, 2D and 3D visualization methods. Under Shastri’s influence, Orix Geoscience has successfully expanded their service base to include field management of drilling and mapping programs, scanning of historical datasets, and the development of new software programs. As the president and principal geologist, Shastri is proud to note their workforce is primarily women, and she has encouraged a young, entrepreneurial culture within her team.
Q: What do you wish you knew at the beginning?
A: In the beginning, I wish I knew how quickly I would experience the positive ups and the negative downs of being an entrepreneur that is growing a business. In normal life, the wavelength of the ups and downs happens on a monthly or yearly basis as broad ups and relatively modest downs. In entrepreneurial life, the wavelength of ups and downs can be mere hours! I wish I had known how confident and forward moving I’d be one moment, and wondering how to solve a major challenge the next. I’ve learned over time to appreciate the extremely high ups when they happen, and to know that the extreme lows will quickly dissipate.
The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 23rd year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.