On September 30th, Small Business BC welcomed a packed house of over 350 attendees at the TELUS World of Science to kick off Small Business Month with INSPIRE 2013.
The event featured a panel session of four of BC's top entrepreneurs, including John Fluevog (John Fluevog Shoes), Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia (Century Plaza Hotel, Absolute Spa Group and Soluzione Spa Products), Bob Rennie (Rennie Marketing Systems) and Matt Young (Innovative Fitness). The expert panel was moderated by Judy Brooks of Blo Blow Dry Bar Inc.
As the panel entertained and inspired the room with personal insights from their breadth of entrepreneurial experience, a few key themes emerged:
Seize Unexpected Opportunities
Several of the panel members became entrepreneurs by seizing an unexpected opportunity.
Bob Rennie had no idea he wanted to work in real estate until a real estate agent stopped by to appraise his parents’ home one day. A short time later – and at just 19 years old – he started selling homes.
Wendy was thrown into the family hotel business at young age after her father suffered a stroke. Later, seeing the potential of the growing spa industry throughout the 1990s, she decided to step out on her own and launched the Absolute Spa brand.
Give Back to Your Community
A major focus of the panel’s discussion was on the idea of giving back – especially when you can’t afford to do so.
"I love the idea of giving money away, it takes the power of money away,” said John Fluevog. He went on to explain that it means even more to support causes when you don’t have as much to give.
"You're happier if you give back,” echoed Bob, while Wendy said that connecting the right people with the right causes is what keeps her inspired professionally.
Each of the panelists agreed that giving back, whether it be through time or money is good business; it will come back to you tenfold.
Build an Inspiring Brand
The panel also has some advice on what it means to build an inspiring brand.
“Try to create an experience for people that is meaningful enough for them to keep coming back,” said Matt. For him, building a successful business was about building an emotional connection with his clients.
John noted that his approach to building brand loyalty involves tapping into customers’ emotions – he adds a personal touch to his shoe designs by including engraved messages in the soles.
Bob added, “Every one of you in this room is in the branding business.” He said that regardless of what industry you’re in, you build your brand with everything you do, and the hardest part is maintaining the brand you wanted to create.
More to Come this October
Small Business BC would like to once again extend thanks to our INSPIRE 2013 sponsors TD and TELUS for helping us kick off Small Business Month. Check out photos from the event on the Small Business BC Flickr page.
And of course, INSPIRE 2013 was just the beginning of Small Business BC’s month-long celebration – take part today by registering for one of our free seminars this month, or nominating a business for a Small Business BC Award.