Take the Quantum Leap While Managing the Risk That Comes with it

Breakfast Series

There comes a day when many, if not most, of business owners want to take the ‘Quantum Leap’ and scale their business. This requires doing something with the business that is dramatic, case specific, and opportunistic. How do you take such a big step? How do you contain risk? Are you even ready?

A Quantum Leap doesn’t look anything like what your business is today and it takes courage to execute. At our last monthly non-tech breakfast, we invited four experts to lead a fireside chat on scaling businesses and managing risk in the process. We heard from Dan Desmarais (Co-owner of Cantactix), John O’Connell (Chairman and CEO of Davis Rea), Libby Wildman (Founder of Wildman & Associates) and Colin Walker (Managing Partner of Crosbie). The conversation was moderated by Sara Knapp (Bay Street Coaching).

Beyond Growth

Often, people think of a Quantum Leap as only growth. However, the core idea is to enhance the character of the business and make it more valuable. John’s story is a great example of this.

John had started his career as a stock broker and later moved into RBC’s wealth management business on Bay Street. He focused on growing his business at the bank and ultimately formed one of the biggest wealth management arms in Canada. Despite his success, he became disenchanted with certain aspects of the corporate life. In search for a new opportunity, John was introduced to Colin.

John had a clear track record in acquiring businesses and successfully integrating them — something that is very hard to do.

Colin, Managing Partner at Crosbie & Co., helps his clients articulate strategic opportunities. He had come across a company that was trying to solve a succession problem. Not only did the owner of the business want to liquidate his ownership, but he wanted to remain involved within the organization. The solution was to bring in John as a partner of Davis Rea. John had a clear track record in acquiring businesses and successfully integrating them — something that is very hard to do.

As the new CEO, John’s focus was not only to direct the company’s profitable growth but to build the wealth management firm of the future.

Risk Mitigation

Dan’s Quantum Leap initiated during a flight to Las Vegas. As he finished preparing for his presentation, a passenger commented on his disciplined focus. He said: “They either pay you a lot of money, or you own a company.” Given that none of those were true, Dan decided that it was time for him to make the next big move in his career.

He co-founded Cantactix, a company focused on Category Management consulting. Two years into the business, his partner was diagnosed with brain cancer and was told to have 6 months left to live. From this experience, Dan learned never to overlook life insurance. This is something he now advises everyone to consider as a business owner.

To his point, Libby encourages entrepreneurs and owners to think of life insurance as an asset. Without a second thought, people insure their cars and homes, but seldom take the time to consider insurance for something of greater importance: themselves.

Fun Fact: Walt Disney financed a large part of what would become Disneyland by collaterally borrowing money from his cash value life insurance.

How to identify your Quantum Leap

While there may be no formal checklist to identify what your Quantum Leap should be, here are a few things to consider. Sara and Karim Ismail (Growth Accelerator) provide us with a few tips and tools that will empower you as an owner to become aware of your strategic needs.

What are we doing well? How do we know?

Questions you should be asking yourself and your leadership team are:
• How are we doing?
• What are we doing well?
• How do we know (if we’re doing well or not)?
• What don’t I know that I should know?

Taking a closer look at the factors that are critical to your business will facilitate your task in making the right decisions.

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