What drives entrepreneurs? What caused them to start their first startup, and what pushes them to keep going? To find out, we ask some of Canada’s most successful serial entrepreneurs 7 Questions.
In this instalment, we talk to Greg Burghardt. Burghardt is president and CEO of Arrow Engineering Inc., a mechanical, electrical and civil engineering firm. Edmonton-based Arrow ranked #168 on the PROFIT500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies in 2014, and Burghardt has been named one of the city’s “Business Leaders of Tomorrow” by Business in Edmonton.
Before launching Arrow Engineering in 2006, Burghardt was President of oilpatch firm Flowstar Technologies Inc. We asked Burghardt to explain what makes his entrepreneurial life so rewarding.
Question 1: When did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
From as early as grade 12 I knew that I wanted to combine business and engineering—I even wrote that in my high school year book commentary! I’ve been thrilled with the rush of business ever since, and have worked my way through the construction and engineering industry in a variety of positions.
Question 2: Who is your entrepreneurial role model, and why?
I don’t have one.
Question 3: What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your business?
I wish I’d understood the importance of asking great questions. We’re not aware of everything, no matter how hard we try to be, and great questions can help us see things in a different light, sometimes even revealing a totally new understanding or lesson. I think it’s important to not be afraid to ask what you don’t know. Asking questions isn’t a weakness.
Question 4: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to do as a business leader?
It can be stressful to continuously ensure that we have enough work coming through the door regardless of the economic climate, so that we ensure we can avoid ever laying anyone off. That stress can be really challenging, because our team really feels like a family.
Question 5: How do you prioritize your time?
It’s always a struggle to balance the important versus the urgent, as both need to get done. Realistically I allocate time to both, with the understanding that I’m only human and, unfortunately, I can’t get to everything.
Question 6: How do you define success?
Success to me is achieving what you desire to the extent that you wish to, in the various areas of your life. I don’t believe in the theory of a “balanced life.” If one area is more important to you than another, and you achieve more in that area, then that is success.
Question 7: What excites you most about your company’s future?
I see a strong opportunity for Arrow to continue to improve, expand, and provide wonderful careers for great people. We continually evaluate our operations, and annually identify about 50 things we can improve upon. I see identifying weaknesses as opportunities to get even better, not as something to be afraid of.
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Have you recently reached a big milestone in your entrepreneurial career? Would you like to answer our 7 Questions? Email us your pitch.