As a leading business figure in British Columbia, U. Gary Charlwood has seen it all. U. Gary first arrived on Canadian shores, from Germany, in 1966 as a young man with dreams of making it in the airline business. In the early 1970s, he decided to pursue a career that had always intrigued him, Real Estate. Fifteen months later and 115 properties sold, U. Gary had found his calling. The decision to purchase the master rights for Century 21 Real Estate Canada was the next logical step, launching a career in entrepreneurship that continues to this day.
Five decades later Charlwood is a member of the International Franchise Association (IFA) Hall of Fame, with a portfolio of brands in 67 countries. Ahead of his keynote speech at the Small Business Summit on October 2, 2017 we posed 10 questions on entrepreneurship to U. Gary Charlwood.
When Did You Know Entrepreneurship Was For You?
From a young age. I grew up as an only child so I was comfortable going solo and doing my own thing. I also liked team sports so I felt like I had a good blend. My main motivation though, was that my paycheck was inadequate and I had a family that depended on it. I wanted my paycheck to be dependent on my efforts only, and that equals an entrepreneur.
What Is The Greatest Challenge Faced by Entrepreneurs And How Can They Overcome It?
Entrepreneurs can have to deal with a lack of confidence when making big decisions. It’s important to be an expert in your product and what you are selling, but you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help on things outside of your expertise.
On Your Journey Through Entrepreneurship, Did You Face Moments of Self-Doubt? If So, How Did You Overcome It?
We all face moments of doubt in life and I’m no different. I definitely had to deal with it from time to time, but it’s nothing that a good night’s sleep didn’t correct.
What Does Success Mean To You?
I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy almost 50 years in business. I’ve always kept my word. I’ve helped counsel many and seen many succeed beyond their wildest dreams, including my own staff. This plus having a loving family and circle of friends is how I view success.
What Challenges Exist For Entrepreneurs Now That Didn’t When You Started?
Doing business in 2017 is tough! There’s been a dramatic increase in competition for everything. Alongside this, has been the accelerated pace of change companies must deal with.
How Would You Describe Your Style Of Leadership?
I try to be inspirational to my staff, everyone who works in our organization is treated as a partner. I am a delegator, but I make sure to inspect what I expect.
How Important Has Family Been To Your Business Endeavours?
Very important! Involving them was key, otherwise the time I spent away from them made me seem the enemy. It’s been amazing watching them mature into very capable executives.
What Fellow Business Leaders Do You Admire The Most, And Why?
Locally, I have great admiration for Jimmy Pattison. An incredibly successful man, he is a great delegator but also follows the “inspect what you expect” rule. I also admire Jim Shepherd Senior, who succeeded as a CEO on many fronts, retiring from each with a brilliant track record.
What Is The Most Important Piece Of Advice You’ve Been Given?
Never give up unless things are utterly hopeless. In that case, don’t let ego get in the way, cut your losses and move on.
Across Your Lengthy Career, What Do You Consider Your Biggest Personal Successes?
I’ve helped a lot of people become successful, both from a wealth and general standpoint. I’ve tried to live by the creed of always having someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. I am lucky to be graced by having all those things in abundance.