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No one knows how to build a business better than the entrepreneurs behind some of Canada's most successful companies. These are their most powerful lessons.
Founder and chairman
Lululemon Athletica Inc.
Focus on your customer, not the competition
Ever since Chip Wilson introduced his fashionable, high performing yoga wear in 1999, competitors have been tripping over themselves to emulate it. Through it all, the founder of Lululemon Athletica has maintained yogi-like serenity.
"You are far better off worrying about how to improve your product than thinking about the competition," Wilson advises. "We're always asking ourselves, 'What problem can we solve for athletes?'"
To find the answers, the company holds frequent focus groups and solicits feedback from selected yoga instructors and athletes who receive free yoga wear in return for reporting on its performance. As well, senior managers stay in touch with what's working and what's not by spending one day a week in a retail store. "A million things come out of that," says Wilson.
Such first-hand knowledge helps Lululemon stay on the leading edge of innovation. As a result, it has scored a number of industry firsts: flat seams that eliminate chafing, and using microfabrics that wick away moisture. Recently, the firm began using fabrics that incorporate woven silver (i.e., metal) thread for its antimicrobial properties. Up next: completely seamless garments that are knit like a sock. —CC
Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com