Innovation

From the Editor: Canada's heroes for hard times

Written by Ian Portsmouth

WHY DO CANADA’S FASTEST-GROWING COMPANIES GROW SO FAST? The fundamental answer has not varied in the 21 years that PROFIT has charted the success of this country’s entrepreneurial leaders: create innovative products, apply smart management practices or fill market gaps, and your company is likely to grow. Do all three, and you’ll have yourself a PROFIT 100 business.

So, what makes this year’s crop of fast-growth firms worth knowing? They’re blazing the path to prosperity, not only with their products and processes, but also with their infectious optimism.

We asked the leaders of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies to predict the performance, over the next year, of the economy, their particular industries and their own enterprises. Their resounding response: the general business environment will stink, but our companies will rock. On average, the PROFIT 100 leaders scored the economy at 4.5 out of 10 (where 10 represents the highest performance); they gave their own industries a score of 6.3; and they rated their own companies at 8.0. Fully 16 bosses gave their companies a perfect 10.

Admittedly, entrepreneurs are a naturally hopeful bunch. But why shouldn’t the PROFIT 100 believe they’ll have a particularly bright future? They’ve already blasted through such barriers as a strong Canadian dollar, high fuel prices and a shortage of qualified labour. They’ve also overcome the traditional challenges of entrepreneurial existence, such as finding sufficient capital and beating the stigma that accompanies being the new kid on the block — or just a different one. And in doing so, they’ve achieved average five-year revenue growth of 2,262%. (Even our 200th-place company on the Next 100 achieved five-year growth of “only” 323%.) And, as several stories in this special issue of PROFIT illustrate, they’re putting their optimism into action.

That’s all very nice. Here’s why their attitude should matter to you: “The first rule of leadership is optimism,” says Roger Hardy, founder and CEO of CoastalContacts.com (No. 152 on this year’s ranking). For sure, pessimism is a valuable leadership trait when applied surgically — call it sober second thought — but not as a general mindset; no one wants to be led to a bleaker place than they’re in now. However, the purpose of optimism is more than to avoid pessimism. As Dr. Richard Wiseman documents in his 2003 book The Luck Factor, there’s scientific evidence that optimism breeds good fortune. The CEO who believes good things are around the corner will find — yes — more good things around the corner.

Optimism could be the most cost-effective tool you ever put to use in your enterprise. So, stay positive — even when the economy tells you not to.

DON’T YOU DARE MISS THIS DEADLINE

You’ll find the final call for entries for the bigger and better W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs here; the 10th annual HOT 50 ranking of Canada’s Emerging Growth Companies here; and the Canada Export Achievement Awards here. You can’t win if you don’t play, so enter before the deadline for all three programs: June 30, 2009.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com
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