Earlier week I listened to Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson speak to a sold-out business audience at an event hosted by the Mississauga Board of Trade. The advertisement for his event said Ms Dickinson was to speak about Drug Runners, Arctic Sovereignty, Entrepreneurs, Jobs in the GTA and the Royal Canadian Navy.
Initially I couldn’t make the connection; why was one of Canada’s most renowned independent marketing communications entrepreneurs, CEO of Venture Communications, speaking about piracy and drugs on the high seas.
Clearly, Arlene is a draw no matter what she is speaking about; the event was sold out two weeks early.
She spoke passionately about the Royal Canadian Navy and encouraged Mississauga business people to support the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy because it could provide 1,600 new jobs for Ontario.
She is an Honorary Captain in the Navy and a huge supporter of the role the it plays in keeping shipping lines open around the world, stopping drugs from entering our schools and protecting Arctic Sovereignty.
But she is also one the country’s best marketers and in a room of business people it was inevitable that her advice would be sought. In the Q&A she was asked how to grow a business and provided three tips
- Invest in yourself
- Invest in other entrepreneurs as you are able
- Make sure you have a strategy – be clear in what you stand for and amplify it.
The last point resonated with me because I see it most often. It’s surprising how many businesses don’t have a plan. It’s equally surprising how many businesses have not thought about how they are different from their competitors, and why someone should buy their product or service.
Stand for something yes, but stand for something that your customers can relate to and let them tell your story. It takes some thought and some planning.
Pictured Karen Ras, Chair of Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT), Arlene, Sheldon Leiba President and CEO MBOT and Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. More Photos Here