“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”
— James Cash Penney, founder, JC Penney
Growing a business to reach its full potential is never easy. Businesses of all sizes are looking for smart, systematic ways to take their organization to the next level. But there’s not a one size fits all method to success. We would know. After all, we have over 100 business speakers who bring unique insights for audiences looking for ways to successfully grow specific aspects of their organization. What better way to look at strategic approaches than gaining insights from four Canadian business icons who have walked the walk by growing multimillion-dollar business empires.
Smart Ways to Grow a Business
On Growing a Business Through Partnerships
Now a household name thanks to her steady appearances on Dragons’ Den, Arlene Dickinson first made a name for herself in Canadian business circles as one of the country’s leading marketing, sales and communications experts by founding Venture Communications. Her success in building this highly successful marketing communications agency shows she knows exactly how to build powerful consumer brands.
She’s continued that forward through her new investment fund District Ventures, which specializes in early-stage food, beverage, and wellness consumer goods companies. Just recently, this CPG-focused fund reached the $70 million milestone. Arlene distills a lifetime of experiences into a powerful keynote, Lessons from the Den: Succeeding at Business and Being an Entrepreneur to reveal everything audiences need to know—and do—to start, to run, and to grow a great business.
When it comes to growing a great business – don’t make the mistake of assuming you have to figure it out internally. Arlene says you should never underestimate the power of a great partnership. One of her most memorable investments on Dragons’ Den was in OMG Candy. At a certain point, Arlene & OMG’s were looking to export but they didn’t know how to go about it. They made the decision to reach out to Export Development Canada who came to the table as a true partner. This means they didn’t just show up and tell Arlene & her team what to do, but instead, they educated them on the things to be aware of. These new partners helped structure the most effective means to export, which ended up being a true turning point in the business that helped build for the long term.
On Growth Through Diversity
Nav Bhatia is known around the world for his love of the NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors. But far fewer know the story behind how he got there. 1984 was a dangerous time for Sikh’s in Nav’s native India. The anti-Sikh riots spurred him to find a new home here in Canada. Even though he had a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he was unable to find work in that field. After months of searching, a Hyundai car dealership in Rexdale, Ontario took a chance on him by giving him a sales job.
Adjusting to a New Culture
It wasn’t easy for Nav. He was not only getting used to a new culture here in Canada, but he was also getting used to a new work environment…one that wasn’t all that welcoming. On his first day on the job, he was the recipient of offensive jokes and name-calling from his coworkers all because he looked different. Instead of getting upset and fighting back with insults, Nav decided to stay positive by showing them how business savvy he was. In his first 3 months on the job, Nav sold 127 cars (a record still standing to this day) by taking an empathetic approach to selling. His impressive results soon opened the doors to new opportunities.
He was named manager of that same Rexdale location, then soon after took on the role of General Manager of a new location. On his first day in that new role, 8 of his 10 salespeople quit because “they didn’t want to work for a general manager who had a Turban and beard” said Nav. He promptly rolled up his sleeves, hired a new sales team and turned that location around. Soon after he actually became the owner of those two very Hyundai dealerships. In 2013 & 2014, Nav was Hyundai’s best volume retailer in Canada, and has been tops in Ontario the past 5 years.
The Value in Newcomers
Throughout his presentations, Nav shares many of his insights on business success, but one core message permeates throughout: embrace diversity & help integrate those newcomers into your community. His keynote From Sikh to Superfan offers a new spin on the topic of diversity. He draws on his personal experiences in business to show how the value of individuals can’t be seen by how they appear on the outside. Like Nav, many newcomers to this country can have a deeper skill set than required by the jobs they are applying to (in his case: Mechanical Engineering). These skills can be transferable in positive ways. Newcomers often bring determination, positivity, business acumen, and a new way of thinking about things. The secret is creating an environment & culture where they have the opportunity to thrive.
On Hyper-Growth Through Coaching
A lifelong entrepreneur, Cameron Herold has touched thousands of businesses directly and indirectly through his work. By age 35, he had built two $100 million companies, and by 42, he had grown 1-800-GOT-JUNK? from $2 million to $100+ million in revenue in just six years. Cameron actually grew the company from 14 people to 31,000 people. His book Double Double showed readers how to double their profit in just three years or less.
Cameron continues sharing his insights through his business keynote From Zero to Good. He shows audiences the systems needed in order to build out a successful $100 million+ business. Cameron’s hyper-growth message for leaders: have a clear vision in where you’re going and get coaching on where you’re going rather than just executing on the path you know today. “Don’t try to grow into the future using what you’ve always done before. If you’ve never been there, how do you know what do expect or how to successfully do it?” says Cameron. He shows audiences how to use a unique visioning process called Vivid Vision to create alignment throughout their organization. This can help guide their strategic planning processes to help reverse engineer long term goals. Cameron’s advice can help you slay unproductive processes and guide your business on the shortest, simplest path to exponential success.
On Growth Through Vision & Goals
Another face from CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den, Bruce Croxon can be seen on BNN discussing the latest disruptions in the world of business. He spent the first half of his career as a hands-on operator, piloting online dating company Lavalife from infancy through to its sale in 2004 for $176 million. He then turned his attention to addressing the market opportunity around growth-stage digital companies in Canada by co-founding the investment firm Round 13 Capital.
Bruce’s business keynote Values & Vision helps equip audiences for long-term success. By being accountable in defining your vision and setting goals, your organization is far more likely to succeed than those organizations who don’t (or simply pay it lip service). This will help you in better managing quick growth by focusing in on what matters most, “Focus. Focus. Focus. You need to figure out what the priorities are and have a culture that lets you say – “good idea, but not a priority right now’ says Bruce.