“Entrepreneurism is not for the faint of heart,” said Roy Dimoff, Chairman and CEO of Viawest. Entrepreneurism requires seeing opportunity and having fortitude.
Point: Be Passionate, Positive and Practical
By their nature, entrepreneurs are passionate and positive. “Being negative about the future isn’t an entrepreneurial trait,” Dimoff said. “You have to think positive and see opportunities. A sense of humor helps, too.”
At the same time, however, Dimoff said that it’s important to contain the enthusiasm with practicalness. Many companies get in trouble because they “overextend their supply line.” For example, an optimistic entrepreneur may go on a buying spree, acquiring competitors or adjacent companies in a rush to expand, but not taking time to integrate the new companies into the fold.
Point: Do 1-2 Things Well
What opportunities does Dimoff see for small companies today? He sees many companies with good markets that aren’t being managed properly — and that spells big opportunity for small companies. “As a small company, you can do 1-2 things incredibly better than bigger companies,” Dimoff said. For example, Dimoff’s first company, Teleconferencing Systems Canada, competed with big guns like Bell Canada. “Bell Canada did a thousand things poorly. We did one thing — conferencing — well. We could deliver nuances that customers needed. People will pay a premium for that.”
Action: Pick a niche and develop solutions for that niche market.
Point: Clever Funding Ideas
If your company will be distributing a product, invite the manufacturer to fund your business — you’ll be helping them grow by distributing their product. That’s how Dimoff launched his first business.
Today, Dimoff’s Viawest follows that strategy in reverse: Viawest offers a deal to promising startups, giving them five months of free time to ramp up to application. In essence, Viawest bets that the companies will succeed and that they’ll become bigger customers. Viawest’s deal helps the young companies’ cashflow and earns their loyalty.