Building better business with bridges

Nick Seebruch
Building better business with bridges
Ian Portsmouth

CORNWALL, Ontario – To celebrate Small Business Week, the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre (CBEC) and the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) organized a Bridges to Better Business seminar.

The seminar included a morning of workshops designed to promote networking, and to generate new ideas for small businesses looking to grow.

The event was held at the Ramada Inn and was well attended with the conference room packed with small business representatives.

After lunch, the event was capped off by Ian Portsmouth, the Managing Director at Newcom Business Media Inc., which identifies itself as Canada’s premier business-to-business publisher. The keynote sponsor for the event was the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

Portsmouth started his talk by going over the recent history of entrepreneurship in Canada.

“1982 was the not so golden age of entrepreneurship,” he said. “Canada from its founding was about big government and big business. If you told your parents that you wanted to be an entrepreneur, they might frown at that.”

Portsmouth said that the country has come a long way and that recent years have been a Golden Age for entrepreneurship thanks to things like, advancing technology, outsourcing, globalization, more easily accessible capital and more cultural acceptance.

Portsmouth then engaged in an exercise with the guests in the room where he asked them to stand-up and then sit down once he identified what gave their business an edge over their competitors. Most of the room remained standing.

He explained that a business not only should be able to identify what their edge was, but also to be able to define it. He gave the hypothetical example of a business that made the claim to excellent customer service, but instead of simply saying that in their company mission statement, they would instead say that their response time was within 40 minutes and that 80 percent of the time their response time was within 30 minutes.

Portsmouth outlined five strategies for success that he believed small businesses should employ. These included Be like Advil, in other words provide a better product or service than anyone else and/ or at a better price point. Other strategies included, Steal the Best Ideas, Turbocharge your Team through insentives like profit sharing and open book management, Seek Trusted Advisors and Get Lucky.

He then gave some examples from Profit Magazine’s Profit 500 of businesses who embodied these successful strategies and these included South Dundas’ own Homestead Organics, which is based in Morrisburg.

According to Portsmouth, Homestead Organics has a board of advisors, uses open book management, has profit sharing and employee ownership.

Homestead Organics has 25 employees, has a profit margin of $10 to $20 million and has grown 157 percent in the last five years.

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