10 Pieces of Advice from Successful Canadian Entrepreneurs

Profit Magazine’s 25th annual ranking of Canada’s Fastest-growing Companies, renamed this year as the PROFIT 500, have “raised the bar on what it means to thrive in a challenging economy,” according to the publication.

“The trailblazing entrepreneurs on the PROFIT 500 are a diverse group of super-achievers who prove that there are many paths to success,” Profit Magazine says.

As part of the list, Profit broke down the “anatomy of a CEO,” profiling their ages, compensation, and more. According to the PROFIT 500, the average age of a CEO of one of Canada’s 500 fastest-growing businesses is 46. Interestingly, only 15% have an MBA. Not surprisingly, 86% are males. 61% of the CEOs are serial entrepreneurs.

Here’s some of the best advice that these entrepreneurs dished when Profit asked for business-building tips relevant to both up-and-comers and seasoned entrepreneurs:

1. “Just because you own a business doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. A lot of people find themselves running businesses out of circumstance, and they’re miserable. You’re not an entrepreneur because you started a business, but because it’s what you were born to do.” — Kevin Gauci, Optimus SBR.

2. “Success is based on three factors: You have to do something you’re good at, that you love, and that you can make money at. I doesn’t matter which business you decide to go into; lack of any one of these factors will typically be sufficient grounds for failure.” — Dan O’Toole, Phoenix System.

3. “Make sure you’re truly passionate about your business. As in marriage, you need to make sure you’re truly in love; otherwise, you won’t succeed.” — Albert Iannantuono, Tri-Media Integrated Marketing Technologies.

4. “It is extremely important to partner with people who help complete your skill sets. It is a big mistake for entrepreneurs to launch with a few friends who all have the same capacities, such as three engineers or three salespeople.” — Didier Gombert, Objectif Lune.

5. “Figure out your competitive advantage. I had a professor who said, ‘Be first, be better, be cheaper—or don’t bother.'”  —Neil McDonnell, Wurldtech Security Technologies.

6. “Know what your exit strategy is before you even start.” — Andrew Au, CWC Well Services.

7. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure makes us grow up.” — Yves Perron, Sourcevolution.

8. “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger. Don’t limit yourself.” — Keith McIntosh, PQA Testing.

9. “Don’t dilute your vision. A lot of people start a business and then say, ‘Oh, what about this opportunity or that opportunity?’ And they start to lose the focus on what got them into that business. If you’re selling handles, then get really, really, really good at selling handles. Don’t think that just because you sell handles, you can also sell doors.” — Feras Elkhalil, WPCG.

10. “I think that advice is highly overrated.” — Sally Daub, ViXS Systems.