Sometimes it's not your business plan—it's you!
When it comes to striking a deal, personality often trumps a good pitch. Few appreciate the concept more than the most beloved venture capitalist on Dragons' Den, Arlene Dickinson, CEO of Venture Communications, co-host of the CBC series The Big Decision and author of Persuasion: A New Approach to Changing Minds.
"Good persuaders don't try to ram ideas down your throat or fool you with half-truths. They don't have to," Dickinson writes in her book. "You're compelled to listen because it's clear they're not simply promoting their own interests; they're also thinking about yours. They're looking to create a relationship that works for both of you."
Dickinson has had little difficulty conveying her message over the years. After becoming a partner in Venture Communications in 1988, she became sole owner in 1998, and has grown the company into a strategic and creative powerhouse for a blue-chip client list that includes Toyota (Prairie Region), Travel Alberta, the Mayo Clinic and Husky Energy. She is a pioneer in demonstrating how marketing can be accountable to delivering on clients' business goals. Her vision and leadership have been recognized with a number of honours, including: PROFIT and Chatelaine magazines' TOP 100 Women Business Owners; the Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence; Global Television's Woman of Vision; and Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Venture has also been recognized as one of the 50 Best Managed Companies in Canada for three consecutive years.
Dickinson also enjoys travelling and relaxing with a good book, and has even been known to run the occasional halfmarathon, which is likely the only time she isn't on her BlackBerry.
So what's your purpose in life anyway?
"Own your brand." What do I mean by this? I mean nothing is more important in making your company succeed than a well-expressed brand that employees and customers understand.
Most entrepreneurs keep their vision and values locked in their heads and then expect everyone to somehow magically just "get" them. Vision Quest Taking the time to write down your vision in a way anyone can understand is key to attracting the right people who share your vision to come and work for you; and to attracting and keeping customers who want to do business with you.
At Venture, we ask business owners questions you can use: "What is the DNA of my company? What is the brand promise I expect my team to deliver to our customers? What truly sets us apart from our competition?"
Take the time to think it through, write it down and share it with your team. And make sure all your communication and marketing efforts support that same message.