Bryan Santone, H Two Consulting Inc., Toronto, ON

Like any entrepreneur, I have made many mistakes since leaving a corporate environment to build a company. Listed below is what I consider my most important lessons. These lessons may be helpful to entrepreneurs thinking about a start-up, or to those who are in their first year of business.

  • Give it time: Don’t underestimate the time it will take to meet your revenue or profitability targets. Many start-ups in Canada fail in their first year so be realistic about what it is going to take (time, effort and capital) to succeed. When developing your business plan, double the estimated time to profitability, and then double it again.
  • Keep an even perspective: It is important to approach the highs and lows of your business with and even perspective. My uncle, a successful entrepreneur, once said, “when things are good, they are not really that good, and when things are bad, they are not really that bad”. This made sense to me, particularly in the first year when there were many highs and lows. These cycles are a reality of business whether you are in your first year or tenth – so keep a balanced perspective during good times and bad.
  • Always look ten steps ahead: Your sales may be steady and climbing, but that can change. Be prepared by continually asking important questions for your business:
    • Do I have enough or too many resources? How will I scale? When?
    • The sales pipeline is full today, but where is my next contract coming from in three months? Six months? Never stop selling!
    • Are my current clients happy? Why or why not? How can this create opportunities with existing and potential clients?
    • What is happening in the marketplace, with competitors, or related to government policy that will impact my business in the foreseeable future?
    • Is my strategy and approach to the marketplace still relevant? How should I adapt or pivot to continue to thrive?

In my mind, failure only happens when you quit.

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