The importance of finding your inner expert
As a small-business owner himself, Greg Weatherdon has been where most entrepreneurs are now. He’s sweated the 16-hour days, worn all the hats – and worn himself down as a result. But when he discovered how to make his business support him instead of him supporting his business, he got his life back.
“People go into business with a list of dreams and aspirations,” he says. “The list is the same for everybody but the order is different: money, free time, be your own boss. But 24 months into it, you’ve lost the list, you’re overworked, you’re miserable.”
Weatherdon turned the hard-won lessons of his reclaimed life into a book, Get More Life Out of Your Business, and shared the secrets at his Rogers Talks™ presentation using his “LIFE” acronym: Leadership, Image, Focus, Expertise.
“It’s about the foundational elements that I believe every entrepreneur needs to put in place to grow their business, to be successful and enjoy the process. Having the right image, being a leader and delegating, focusing on your expertise and specific categories or products.”
“(There are) foundational elements that I believe every entrepreneur needs to put in place to grow their business. Have the right image, be a leader and delegate, and focus on your expertise”
And none of that necessarily relies on social media. Weatherdon says attendees were surprised – and delighted – that he was not as entrenched in the digital environment as many entrepreneurs.
“In this age of social media, there are opinions and sound bites everywhere, but there’s no meat on that bone,” he says. “Everybody’s a social-media expert, but what does that mean? We have to be generalists in our business, but we have to be good enough in sales, marketing and operations until we can hire someone who’s better. There’s usually one of those areas we’re really good at and have a huge interest in, where we can be the expert.”
He also believes events like the Rogers Talks series can help entrepreneurs find their inner expert, among many other benefits. “They provide access to Rogers personnel in a casual manner to discuss new offerings, without having to make a purpose-driven trip to a Rogers location. As interested as we all are in new technologies and applications, scheduling time to inquire about them rarely happens. And having Google, Microsoft and Shopify present under one roof allows the small-business owner to interact one-on-one with these organizations, which is something they normally wouldn’t get to do.”
Rogers Talks 2016: Greg Weatherdon
The author of Get More Life Out of Your Business reveals the importance of delegating responsibility – and enjoying some downtime whenever you can
Greg Weatherdon knew he’d achieved business nirvana when he went missing in action while on a supply run to Staples for his firm, Marketing Resource Group, one day. Weatherdon ran into an acquaintance, went for coffee and, at 3 o’clock, then blew off the rest of the afternoon. The next day dawned bright and warm, so he went for a short bike ride that somehow stretched into five hours of cycling. Again, at 3 o’clock, he gave the office a miss. On the way into work on the third day, he ran into another friend, stopped to chat and nearly clocked out that day too. But he wasn’t worried.
“The thing is, I could do it,” he says. “My staff wasn’t waiting for all the decisions to be made; I’d delegated everything down to the lowest common denominator, put all the systems in place, and it just [hummed] along.”
Weatherdon’s Ferris Bueller days off came courtesy of valuable lessons learned from his previous enterprises. “We all go into business for all sorts of reasons, financial freedom, et cetera,” he says, “but 18 or 24 months into it, that list is gone and we’re the hardest-working person in the company. We’re working to support the company instead of the other way around. In my first company, for the first eight years, I was working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, but I never seemed to make any money. As owners, my wife and I always seemed to be missing our paycheques while everybody else was getting paid, so I literally walked away.”
And he used these insights when he launched another venture. “I just never wanted to work that hard again,” he says. And when people kept telling him he seemed so calm, so relaxed and had more time on his hands than an entrepreneur had a right to have, he realized he had a message to pass along. In 2013, he wrote Get More Life Out of Your Business and hit the speaker circuit. So what’s the single most important message, the one that will get you that time off and have the company working for you instead of the other way around? “Delegate.”
“I’m not a detailed-oriented guy, but I understood the value of having the processes in place and people who were responsible. It’s amazing how they rose to the occasion. I used to drive tractor-trailers, and I think everything I practice in business I learned as a truck driver: be on time, be responsible, show up, shift gears when things go wrong. Sometimes the load in life is heavier and you need to shift gears. You need to delegate.” And take the day off once in a while, too.
Meet Greg Weatherdon at this year’s Rogers Talks event in Ottawa!
When international student, Samson Agboegbulem listened in on popular western business guru, Greg Weatherdon, he recognized a goal that he hoped would benefit him back home.
“I would like to build on my business skills,” said Agboegbulem. “I’m here to learn so that I can bring those lessons back home and sort of implement it there.”
Agboegbulem, part of the international business management program, came to Algonquin this past year from Port Harcourt, Nigeria where he and his family have worked as one of the largest marketers of petroleum in Africa since 1989.
Former student and renowned Ottawa business advisor and entrepreneur, Greg Weatherdon, made his special appearance at the ACHub on Feb. 9 to share past successes and failures of his in managing his own businesses. The seminar was put on as part of the School of Business’s first Ted Talks-inspired presentation of the semester.
In attendance to the event were students enrolled in the entrepreneur and innovation and the business presentation courses at the college.
The purpose of the presentation was to outline the pitfalls to expect when starting up a small business of your own. Personal experiences of Weatherdon’s were weaved throughout the seminar to demonstrate the ascent to successful and prosperous business management, how to “accomplish all of this and not be the hardest working person in your company”.
“We create our own opportunities in our own lives,” said Weatherdon. “Make sure that you create the lifestyle that you want and hopefully your business will support that lifestyle.”
Weatherdon is currently chairman at the West Ottawa Board of Trade as well as an advisor at Invest Ottawa. He is also president of MRG Media Inc. which focuses on advertising for television.
Algonquin is planning on holding two more business presentations this semester featuring discussions from various businessmen across Ottawa.