Entrepreneurship is first and foremost a “state of mind”. It is less of something that can be taught than it is a core personality trait buried deep inside one’s soul, a drive, a hunger to succeed, a never ending feeling of dissatisfaction, sensing the necessity to do things differently and make things better. I think entrepreneurship is part of a person’s DNA, providing them with the capability to execute on a vision, like writing an award-winning book, starting from a blank page. The startup tech entrepreneur has the ability to “pick-up” on industry needs, on market trends, identify user pains points and find ways to deliver on those needs by building great products and great businesses.
Are you an entrepreneur? Want to build a successful business from scratch? Than this is for you.
All-in! An entrepreneur must first believe that he is addressing an untapped opportunity and that he has the willingness, drive and passion to go “all-in”. If you aren’t ready to jump, then don’t jump, get a job!
Connectedness! Be connected and stay connected. One of the most important qualities of an entrepreneur is to surround himself with amazing people. Always aim for the best, when seeking co-founders, employees, board members, partners, clients and even investors. It takes time to build real relationships. And every successful entrepreneur I know, have built amazing networks they then converted into relationships, which thereafter often becomes one of the enabling factors of their successes.
Get funded! Attract the right type of financing at the right time. As little as possible early on, in order to validate the product, business model and market demand. It is as critical to choose the right source of capital, as it is to choose the right amount needed at the right stage. Be aware that Venture Capital is made for a certain category of technology companies, tailored for certain stages of growth and is likely the most expensive capital an entrepreneur can attract. Take time to get to know your investors, their interest, their focus, their timelines and investment objectives before accepting any capital.
Build a great product! If you build something that is amazing (think RIM, Taleo, Softimage, Woozworld, iStockPhoto, Fixmo, …) people will adopt it. Think user interface, community virality, focus on customer pains and keep the number of features at a minimum. If you build something that is just “good to have” then your customers will have too many reasons not to select your product. Think “must have” clearly addressable needs and your customer base will thrive.
Don’t wait! Fast iteration provides the best possible results. It’s like continuous improvement, not just of your product but also of your team, your marketing plan and your business development efforts. Once you’ve decided to go a certain way, then go really fast. If something get’s in your way … turn.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." Mario Andretti, world champion racing driver.
The efforts and steps required to take an idea and develop it into a successful business often seem endless and painful. But the satisfaction for an entrepreneur to have built a successful business is so unique, so intense, that many can’t resist but go back to square one to do it all over again, and again.
Choice! Many forget that the common denominator to any entrepreneurial endeavor is the ability for any and every entrepreneur to choose. Even though some of the younger entrepreneurs may sometimes feel under-privileged, less-connected or not-as-commercially savvy as others, the bottom line is that all entrepreneurs have the ability to choose with who they want to build their businesses with and have an equal advantage of choosing the right co-founders, employees, partners, clients as well as investors. Understanding that your “choices” and “decisions” as an entrepreneur are what will make you succeed is priceless.
Entrepreneurs across Canada have access to all the resources needed to succeed in building competitive global companies. The Canadian economy is vibrant, has one of the best-educated workforce in the world, a deep research infrastructure across the country, an active venture capital and private equity community and our governments are providing support by acting as catalysts in the commercialization of innovation.
So what are you waiting for? Go out and show the world what you can do!
The author, Chris Arsenault, has been an entrepreneur in the technology industry since the early 1990’s and is, since early 2000, an active Canadian Venture Capital investor. Chris Managing Partner at venture Capital firm iNovia Capital, a board member of the Silicon Valley base C100 organization, co-chair of the Canadian Innovation Exchange, and a CVCA Board Member and the chair of the CVCA Editorial Committee.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.