Game-changers: building more than just businesses

(As published in the Toronto Board of Trade, June 2012)

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By Colleen McMorrow, Leader, Entrepreneurial Services, EY

A. Our EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® winners are creating jobs, strengthening communities and improving Canada’s global competitiveness. A great example is Dani Reiss, President and CEO of Canada Goose Inc., who’ll represent Canada at the upcoming EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year® Awards in Monte Carlo. His bold vision is paying off, posting significant growth in revenues and impact. A fierce dedication to “Made in Canada” has dividends for our domestic economy, both in the GTA and beyond, while an innovative marketing approach has created a premium global brand.

Other examples of game-changers include social entrepreneurs like Toronto-based Free the Children’s Craig and Marc Kielburger, whose vision is improving people’s lives around the world, and Razor Suleman, a Toronto based entrepreneur who is redefining the way companies celebrate success through his employee rewards company, Achievers. Our economy and communities benefit from their “disruptive” thinking.

Q. What can we learn from the gamechangers who are managing to thrive in a challenging economy?

A. Achieving success in today’s volatile environment is not easy. Here are some of the key characteristics we’ve observed among game-changers:

  • A laser-like focus on the evolving needs of customers
  • Operational agility: they spot market changes and react with speed or flexibility.
  • A holistic approach to cost competitiveness, knowing the lowest cost doesn’t guarantee success.
  • Great communication that builds stakeholder confidence.

These factors aren’t limited to entrepreneurs: large and small companies alike can benefit from a strategic balance of these growth drivers.

Q. What’s holding us back from reaping the full impact of these game-changers?

A. Our national brand isn’t resonating globally as well as it could. We’re seeing growing confidence among our Canadian entrepreneurs. Yet our research reveals that global executives think Canada offers neither a strong entrepreneurial culture nor superior market-growth prospects. Considering our stable business environment, brisker growth and relatively easy access to the US market, we should address this perception gap.

Entrepreneurs are the cornerstone of our economy. From mentoring and education programs like the Next 36 ( to red tape reduction and improved credit access, to promoting game-changers through programs like Entrepreneur Of The Year (, we must help entrepreneurs achieve their potential, create a brand that shines and change the game.

After all, Canada has a diverse, hyper-talented pool of entrepreneurial game-changers. When they succeed, so does Canada.