The one trait shared by successful entrepreneurs – unwavering commitment to their vision
(As originally published in the Financial Post, January 2013)
By Colleen McMorrow, Leader, Entrepreneurial Services, and Program Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year, Ernst & Young LLP
As we kick off the new year, business owners are thinking about ways to sustain and grow their businesses in 2013 and beyond. Entrepreneurs seem to succeed despite the many uncertainties in today’s economy.
How do they do it? Is there a certain kind of person who makes a successful entrepreneur? Unfortunately, no one has yet found an entrepreneurship gene.
That doesn’t mean we don’t see some clear common traits among entrepreneurs. Above all else, they possess the ability to build solutions and businesses that push markets forward and essentially, change the game. Regardless of the ups and downs the economy takes, those core characteristics don’t seem to change.
And the numbers speak loudly to just that. An Ernst & Young poll of 1,000 award-winning entrepreneurs globally found 76% said great entrepreneurs are the architects of their own visions, and cited vision as their own top quality. They agreed that to succeed, a vision must be owned by investors, customers, suppliers and everyone the organization touches — with the entrepreneurial leader helping them picture the end result.
That’s something Dani Reiss, our 2011 Canadian Entrepreneur Of The Year winner, can attest to. As President and CEO of extreme outerwear company Canada Goose, Reiss has built a third-generation business into an industry-leader and premiere global brand. He established a ‘made in Canada vision’, stuck to it, and built the future of his business around it. You can now see Canada Goose outerwear in countries around the globe.
That kind of vision is something we’ll see a lot more of when our 2012 finalists compete for the national honour of Canada’s Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 at a gala celebration on 16 January 2013, in Toronto:
- Paladin Security Group’s Ashley Cooper’s drive to improve client and employee experience has taken Paladin to new heights in British Columbia, Alberta and across the country.
- Dr. Alan Ulsifer of FYidoctors, through his visionary leadership, has single-handedly changed the face of the Canadian optometry industry.
- John McCluskey of Alamos Gold Inc. risked everything when founding Alamos Gold Inc. at the bottom of a 20-year gold bear market and amid significant macroeconomic issues. But the risk paid off.
- Michel Gendreau of Garaga Inc. (a garage door specialist) showed fearless determination in the face of adversity, which has been essential to Garaga’s success.
- Patrick O'Callaghan of East Coast Catering Ltd. (a private company specializing in remote workforce catering and accommodations) has gone from humble beginnings to great heights. His story of success shows the power and potential of an entrepreneurial mindset.
These finalists demonstrate that no matter the scope, size or scale of their endeavour, they all share one thing: an unequivocal commitment to their vision.
While we continue to see major economic shifts here and around the globe, knowing and owning your vision are probably two of the most important qualities any entrepreneur can have.
So nurture your vision. Tinker with it. Consider how it aligns with what your clients are looking for. Come back to it again and again. Share it with the people you need to convince. Tweak it. And when the stars align, execute that vision with the same laser-focus you used to conceive it. Vision alone isn’t the only key to unlocking entrepreneurial success. But it’s the core. And with the right plan for executing it, the possibilities are limitless.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in Canada. Entrepreneur Of The Year honours the spirit and contribution of entrepreneurs here and around the world. Nominees are reviewed by an independent judging panel composed of several distinguished business leaders and previous award recipients. In June 2013, Canada’s Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 will move to the world stage to compete with more than 50 country recipients for the title of Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year®.