3 Canadian Entrepreneurs: How to Set Yourself up for Success

June 8, 2016

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"A goal without a plan is just a wish". But, growing a solid business on a wish makes for a shaky foundation for the long-term success of your business. And even if you have a bulletproof business plan, it’s still easy to get lost.

We spoke to three Canadian entrepreneurs, and despite their very different experiences, they all had one thing in common: they made a clear plan to reach their goals and stuck to it.

 

Hollywood Suite

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In a world teeming with online and offline entertainment options, sometimes the amount of choices available can be overwhelming. Canadian broadcaster Hollywood Suite collects and curates great movies that help guide your decisions. Co-founded by David Kines and Jay Switzer, the company launched on July 2, 2010 with the goal to build the best collection of Canadians' favourite movies — from the 1940s to the 2000s.

They realized that focusing on the following four organizational and planning pillars was essential for success.

1. Have your structure in place. Kines and Switzer needed to have a clear master plan. Their goals: obtain financing, secure movie rights, convince service providers to carry the channels, and convince customers to sign up.

2. Be accessible. While Hollywood Suite’s content is curated, they offer it to consumers on a multitude of platforms, from a traditional television to streaming on a mobile device.

3. Be flexible. Every plot has twists, and in late 2015 Hollywood Suite re-launched its channels dedicating each network to a specific decade; the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000's. Which puts to use Kines’ favourite piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: In order to reach your goal, sometimes “you must be able to stretch!

4. Stay the course. While it’s good to be able to adapt and evolve, if you throw out your map midway through the journey, you’ll never know if the plan worked or not. The biggest benefit of sticking to one’s plan, is success. And you’ll always get more satisfaction if you find it on your own terms.

 

Goodfolk

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Online entrepreneurs and real world partners Emilie Dolenc and Matt Hodgins, both came from a background in design. But it was a shared passion for collecting vintage and antique pieces that inspired them to open their home goods retail business, GoodFolk.

Here are the five elements that helped this Etsy seller stick with the plan.

1. Define what success means to you.Becoming entrepreneurs was a very different path from what Matt and I were doing previously,” says Dolenc. The ultimate goal is to be successful on our own terms, to create a space that we are proud of that is an evolving business revolving around creativity.

2. Be unique. Goodfolk decided to showcase vintage pieces that were made to withstand the test of time alongside new handmade objects from mainly Canadian artisans.

3. Make your Plan B part of your Plan A. Dolenc and Hodgins also knew that they would need a plan as well as passion to sustain them while they established their shop, GoodFolk. They spent almost two years defining their objectives before opening in 2014. While passion fuelled their drive, realistically they needed to be able to pursue personal design opportunities to keep cash flow consistent.

4. Be open in the planning stage. When you are running your own small business for the first time, everything is a new experience so it's all about learning the different aspects. Take on roles you wouldn't normally to give yourself a complete understanding of your venture, from business Management, to how to do your own accounting, even how to deal with the media.

5. Leave room to grow. Staying true to their objectives helped when an unexpected opportunity led the couple to move to Abbotsford, British Columbia in 2015. Having solid objectives helped them re-imagine their business model and move their business from a brick-and-mortar shop, to an online and pop up shop presence. “In this era, a large part of success relies on the ability to be flexible and an openness toward new possibilities,” says Dolenc.

 

My Artlab

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When theatrical costume designer Andjelija Djuric’ daughter turned two in 2009, she decided to start a business that was flexible enough to work around her family and career as a costume designer. This is how My Artlab was born.

I wanted to share my passion for creativity with children,” says Djuric. She started offering up art classes in her Toronto home. After a tentative start, she realized that she needed to go back to the drawing board and come up with a more robust business plan. Here’s how Djuric found success the second time around.

1. Do your research. Djuric spent the next two years exploring all the possibilities of what the studio could be in order to formulate her plan.

2. Think bigger. Originally Dura’s objective was to simply find a way to inspire local kids’ creativity by sharing her experiences in designing costumes, props, sets and art works for the theatre. But the more she looked into ways to reach out to local families, she learned that there was a larger audience for her classes. Now her next goal is to turn her love of art into a non-profit to make the program available everywhere.

3. Focus on your strengths. There is an epithet attributed to David Allen (the creator of the Getting Things Done productivity system) that’s going around the internet that states, “You can do anything, but not everything.” To stay on course, Djuric’s advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to do what you know how to do best. To fill in the gaps in your knowledge, look for guidance from people and partners who excel in those areas.

4. Don’t stop. If you really believe in your ideas, says Djuric, “Never give up until you have a sense of satisfaction. Your point of view may change along the journey, but you will eventually find a way to get that satisfaction.

 
 
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