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The 2014 W100 Idea Exchange: An Experience to Remember

By Corrin Harper, CEO and President, Insightrix Research Inc.

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the W100 Idea Exchange designed specifically for women entrepreneurs, by the editors of PROFIT and Chatelaine. The Idea Exchange, held at the Ritz Carleton in Toronto on November 26th, provided a unique opportunity to share best practices with other leading women entrepreneurs, to learn from management experts about today’s key business opportunities and challenges, and to create personal connections with other top entrepreneurs. Both being educational and inspirational, what a wonderful experience it was!

One item from the exchange really resonated with me – every entrepreneur has to find their own path and use lessons they learn along the way to their advantage. Entrepreneurs – no matter what their educational background – achieve success by focusing on their passion and backing it up with an unparalleled work ethic.

Here are a few tips that were discussed at the Exchange that can help a person become the most successful entrepreneur possible.

Work Hard, No Matter What
If you aren’t giving it 100 percent, you won’t be successful, and this resonates beyond business. Success is directly related to the amount of effort you’re willing put in. Always. Giving 100 percent does not mean having to put in 100 hours a week, but it does mean taking care of your investment, taking the breaks when needed to clear your mind to see things from a fresh perspective, and above all, it means being dedicated and driven to meeting the projective goals.

People are Your Greatest Assets
All businesses need a range of skills to be sustainable and be able to grow. As the owner of a business, you are called upon to perform several roles out of necessity. However, there are some roles you are better at than others. If you want your business to progress, it will reach a stage when necessary skills, need to be improved and extended. Getting the right mix of people to complement and reinforce your skills is essential.


When hiring for a small [firm/business], you need employees who demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics and work habits. Employees come in all shapes and sizes,with all sorts of diverse skills and quirks. Look for those who can handle risk, are results oriented, a team player, high energy, and growth-oriented. No one is perfect, so create a environment where these dynamics are supported and work with employees to maximize their potential in those areas.

Learn from Your Hits and Misses
Every entrepreneur will have missteps and false starts along the way, but they will end up helping in the long run. You have to be prepared to take those high reward risks and accept the fact that you will make mistakes along the way. The key is not to fall into the trap of believing you always have to get everything right.

Risk Taking
Risk-taking is almost synonymous with entrepreneurship. When just starting your business, you’ll have to put your career, personal finances, and sometimes even your mental health at stake. Almost all entrerpreuneurs at the Idea Exchange shared stories about abandonig their steady paycheck, sacrificing personal capital, and donating personal time and health. Let’s face it — this sounds awful. However entrepreneurs frequently talk about this as being the best time of their life! Because we are dedicated to our business, enjoy what we are doing, and worked hard to overcome those stressors, we often reflect on these times with a positive feeling, knowing how far we’ve really come.

The Exchange was a wonderful experience, sharing stories with other entrepreneurs, and one that I will remember always.