What it Takes to Become a Top Canadian Startup
Deciding to bring your “great business idea” into real life is a hard action to execute. Without the proper plan, your potentially profitable startup can fall face flat into bankruptcy. When planning a new business, there are important steps you must take to ensure that initial business success is immediate when opening the doors to the public. Business Review Canada will cover some essential points that start up business owners should keep in mind when venturing into the world of commerce.
Invest Time in your Product
First and foremost, you need to invest yourself into your idea and product. Without it your business won’t make it. Developing something to the best of your capabilities allows the opportunity for your business to go far. It may not be the complete or end all version of your idea, but a rough version is something you can show customers or investors as you break into the business world.
Develop a Business Plan
A business plan isn’t something you should obsess about, but it is important to have when starting your own company. Even if the plan only includes operations and manufacturing run by a limited workforce, it will guide you through day-to-day and month-to-month progress. Organizing your business structure in the beginning, while it’s new and small, makes your business easier to manage over time.
Start Scaled Down
You won’t be able to create a multi-million or billion dollar corporation overnight, so don’t expect to. Start small and leave room for growth. Keep in mind that you are the original owner and workforce. If you can’t pull it off, then it’s not going to happen. Find a small model to get operations started while preserving capital to keep the business afloat.
Keep an Open Mind
Learning is an important part of starting your own business. Using books, other business owners and previous work experience, you can build a knowledge base that will support you through the thick and thin of the business’ beginning stages. Analyzing your competition is another way to gain knowledge. Seeing what others do in the industry can easily help your company and may keep you from having to start from scratch.
Invest in Yourself
When starting your own business, you should expect to put up the initial funding yourself. If you’re not willing to invest in your business, who says anyone else will be interested? Additionally, many say skating by on low funds in the beginning can make an entrepreneur smart, especially when you have to be creative to get things done. Finally, most venture capitalists or other investors look down upon companies that are run on other people’s money, so it is extremely important to invest in yourself first.
Build a Good Team
Without employees, your company won’t exist. People are important in a startup business’ operations and so you have to find the good ones. Feel free to be particular about who joins the team as they can make or break your company’s productivity and culture. Additional minds in on operations are also helpful for different perspectives. Having a smart workforce could be the difference between failure and success.
Every business needs funding, especially startups. But how can you get your hands on some? First you should do your research. If you’re approaching a venture capitalist, or a group of them, you’ll want to know what they’ve invested in and why. Timing is also important, many venture capitalists want to see a solid product and business plan—proof your company just needs capital to expand and develop business. Canadians should also be aware of all funding opportunities available, such as funding from banks, the government or non bank financial corporations.
These are just a few of the many excellent points to keep in mind when starting your own business. Overall, business is highly competitive, therefore, there has to be some serious planning before venturing into business ownership.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.