President & CEO
Xchange asks Canada’s leading businesswomen to share their most meaningful business lessons. Each issue brings you the advice that has helped shape the lives and companies of these winning businesswomen.
Shannon Bowen-Smed is president and CEO of BOWEN Workforce Solutions Inc., temporary staffing agency in Calgary. Founded in 1974, sales in its most recent fiscal year reached $28 million, up 498% from five years earlier.
BEST ADVICE: “Begin with the end in mind.”
Many people don’t consider their ultimate goal when they embark on a new business, program, advertising campaign, relationship, or other initiative, says Bowen-Smed: “But until I have some clear idea of where I want to go, it’s pretty hard to start the journey.” Bowen-Smed received this advice years ago from a former boss who is now a BOWEN employee, and she now applies it to every area of her life.
“If I’m going into a meeting, for example,” says Bowen-Smed, “I need to understand what I want the outcome to be before I can start the meeting.” That preparation ensures she will always start with the appropriate attitude, approach and processes.
“When I find that things haven’t turned out as I’d hoped, I realize I’d never really sat down and set the course on what I wanted to achieve in the first place,” says Bowen-Smed. She points to a poorly constructed flex-time program her firm rolled out to employees before considering its impact on the business. Staff were taking so much time off that “it was starting to compromise business,” she says. “We didn’t think through the pros and cons of the decision we made, so the result wasn’t what we’d hoped for.” That meant starting from scratch, spending time and resources restructuring the program to satisfy both business goals and employee needs.
Before embarking on any project, ask yourself, ‘What do I hope for from this business relationship or transaction?’ suggests Bowen-Smed. Then thoroughly examine the issues and create a strong workable framework to achieve it.
Don’t expect perfection every time. Even best laid plans need tweaking, admits Bowen-Smed. However, knowing where you want to end up can make the journey easier and help you avoid costly missteps
© 2005 Susanne Ruder