One of the most remarkable things about the Globe and Mail’s recent #remakablebiz contest is that the newspaper managed to narrow its winner’s list down to just 10 companies.
The Globe asked its readers to nominate themselves or a firm they know using Pinterest and the #remarkablebiz hashtag. More than 120 submissions later, a fascinating set of companies were profiled last month, detailing everything from their “elevator pitches” to their culture, challenges and “secret sauce.” The whole thing is worth looking at in its entirety, but in the meantime we’ve gone through each profile to capture some of the common traits that define a #remarkablebiz.
Be your own best customer: A growing number of Canadian non-profits have been taking workshops with Social Focus Consulting to develop more innovative ways to raise money. When the firm realized it was struggling with its own business development, however, the team decided it was time to run a similar workshop internally. “(It was essentially) a scaled-down version of our long-term premium service,” Social Focus Consulting told the Globe. “The workshop shortens the sales and project cycles, allowing us to quickly generate more client success stories.”
Get as busy offline as you are online: Well.ca represents the kind of Web-based success story that’s becoming more common across Canada. The company sells beauty, health and other products from its headquarters in Guelph. Like all great startups, Well.ca says collaboration is key, but the teamwork doesn’t end with brainstorming in a boardroom. When its warehouse recently needed to get a huge shipment out the door, everyone stepped away from their computers and rolled up their sleeves -- including the CEO.
Go where your competitors aren’t: Small Jobs Plumbing in Halifax carved out a niche for itself by taking the kind of work larger rivals avoided. Tammy Buchanan, its owner, extended that niche approach to social media marketing. “We had no resources to promote ourselves in advertising, outside of business cards and T-shirts,” she says. “We’ve relied on social media to get our message out, with great success, taking advantage of the lack of presence of our competitors there.” This was echoed by Changeroo, an online store for like-new children’s clothing, which cited social media as far more effective than traditional advertising.
Put your product before profits: Several #RemarkableBiz entries suggested that growth should never come at the expense of providing value to customers. This was true of William Tell Estate, which makes fresh fruit products, and UPPERCASE, a print magazine for the design world. In both cases, additional funding would allow them to invest in advanced technology to increase production or improve quality, but until that comes they intend to remain two-person or solo operations to keep existing customers happy and remain sustainable.
Accept the time deficit -- and transcend it: “Running your own business requires dedication and a complete disregard for the Monday to Friday 9-5 work week mentality,” said the founders of Skyline Studio, which produces videos and Web sites using by flying unmanned aerial vehicles to capture footage. “I’d also like to have more time to think about long-term strategy and ways to scale the business,” added Joan Sharp, who drives Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn Company, which takes the gourmet food truck model and instead brings knitting supplies to crafters across Kingston, Ont., and beyond. “I have more innovative ideas that I want to explore, but only so many hours in a day.”
The Globe started something great with this project. Let’s all keep the #remarkablebiz hashtag -- and the spirit of sharing great small business advice among peers -- going strong.