The road to success isn’t always smooth. The leaders of the 2014 PROFIT 500 have learned this all too well. We asked them to share the best lesson they’ve learned about running a successful business. Here are a few of our favourite answers.

Budget smartly

“Everything takes twice as long as costs twice as much as you think it will.”
—Rene Goehrum, president and CEO, BioSyent Inc. (No. 104)

Show gratitude

“The single best lesson I had as an entrepreneur was to always be thankful—to our clients, first and foremost. We had a client for whom we did great work; I sort of thought that the work spoke for itself. At the end, the client said ‘You know, I’m surprised you haven’t thanked me.’ I said ‘Oh—aren’t you pleased with the hires?’ And he said ‘Yes, absolutely.’ I said ‘Have we done good work?’ He said “Yes, absolutely.’ But then he added ‘But you never thanked me. I could have worked with a couple of different companies. I chose you guys.’ And I realized in that moment that doing great work is not enough. We have to always be thankful and appreciative of our clients and of the people who work within IQ Partners. So now, gratitude is a major thing for us.”
—Bruce Powell, managing partner,
IQ Partners Inc. (No. 242)

Don’t shirk off salespeople

“Always take a meeting. A salesperson may call me, and I’ll be annoyed by how often they call, but if I can fit it into my schedule, I’ll take the meeting. I may end up learning something.”
Matt Horne, founder, Deco Windshield Repair Inc. (No. 180)

Go with your instinct

“Listen to your gut. It’s a clichéd saying, yes, but every time I don’t I live to regret it. You always want to rationalize your way through things to do what you want to do, and you want to be optimistic, but when your gut says you’re wrong it tends to be right.”
Emad Rizkalla, founder and CEO, Bluedrop Performance Learning Inc. (No. 260)

Let cooler heads prevail

“Whatever your reaction is to something, wait 24 hours until you say anything. Because sometimes you send up that blow-up e-mail and the next day you regret it. I grew up as a hothead, and I learned, over the last five years, that that approach just doesn’t work. The problem is not as bad as it seems to be in the first hour.”Peter Giannoulis, CEO, Source 44 Consulting Inc. (No. 31)

Get out there

“Make yourself available to staff and your customers. Don’t sit behind a closed door counting your numbers. Go run your business, the numbers will work themselves out.”
—Mark Dalton, president and CEO, Ottawa Rental and Supply Ltd. (No. 61)

Remember your place

“It’s a team sport. You are a member of that team, but you are not the whole team.”
—Steve Zinck, president, All Canadian Courier Corp. (No. 257)

Actually let other people do the work

“Delegate, as early as you can, to smart people.”
—Alex Billingsley, CEO, Mama Earth Organics Inc. (No. 68)

“The art of management is delegation. You’ve got to be able to relinquish some of the hold or grip that you have on particular departments. And that was the biggest learning curve for me. By nature, I’m fanatic about being in control of the business. Once you realize that when you delegate to people in particular departments, life becomes much easier and everything runs more smoothly. I firmly believe it is the number one thing that makes businesses effective and successful.”
—Andrew Faridani, president and CEO,
BreezeMaxWeb Ltd. (No. 84)

Never get complacent

“Be respectful of the things you don’t know about. Don’t subscribe to congenital thinking—look at things from different ways and have good instincts.”
—Bruce Rowlands, chairman and CEO, Eurocontrol Technics Group Inc. (No. 337)

Open your ears

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
—Chris Campbell, co-founder and COO, CT Innovation Inc. (No. 491)

Take a holistic view

“Treat employees, management and your lending institution as one organism. They must work together.”
—Andrew Tacilauskas, general manager, Alpine Electric Ltd. (No. 467)

Don’t sit on your invoices

“You cannot invoice, bill your clients or collect the money fast enough.”
—Peter Kiss, president and CEO,
Morgan Construction and Environmental Ltd. (No. 96)

Get to know the people paying the bills

“My golden, number one rule: Know your customer, know what they want and deliver on it. Then figure out everything else. It doesn’t matter about the product or the price, it’s about the customer.”
Matthew Harding, president & CEO, The KTL Group Inc. (No. 135)

Remember why you’re doing this

“Have fun. If you’re not having fun it’s not worth it.”
—Chris Ambridge, president and CEO, Provisus Wealth Management Ltd. (No. 259)

Click here for the complete 2014 PROFIT 500

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