Thursday, November 25, 2010

Finding My Remote Control

I think there comes a time in your career as an entrepreneur, when your business has taken off and is beginning to run like a well-oiled machine and yet somehow you get lost.

Instead of focusing your energies on what turns your crank, you find yourself tied up in the day-to-day running of the business. If you are creative, and many entrepreneurs are, this can seem like a slow death by torture.

Well, the tap has been dripping on my head for a while now and I have started to feel trapped and suffocated by the very business I created with love and passion. Will someone please let me out of here, before my creative juices run totally dry!

Part of it I know is that I am exhausted. I haven’t taken much of a break over the last few years. I work 60 hour weeks and I have let myself become a martyr to my cause – and that’s not good. I almost need rescuing from this world I have created for myself.

About ready to throw in the towel, I met with my coach with the intention of working on an exit strategy. But she helped me see that I do have options. I can control what I want to do. It just means making some changes in the way we operate and in the way I see myself.

“You need to let go of being a manager, and become a leader, Anne.” she observed. How freeing is that! Leadership doesn’t scare me – I’ve been doing it all my life. Being a manager, on the other hand, now that is a totally different story.

We all start businesses with different strengths, interests and passions. It’s a combination of that commitment and determination that helps us become successful. And while I still have the passion, I haven’t been playing from my strengths for some time now. Instead I’ve got bogged down in a management role, and there are times when that seems stifling.

Before I totally burned out, I started this month taking my Fridays off – and that has made a difference. Not having to drive two hours on the 401, is an amazing gift to myself. And I plan to use the holidays to revisit what I want to do. Where do I fit in this company? What will bring me joy, bring back the excitement and that bounce to my step?

It will likely mean that we have to reconfigure the jobs in the office, so other people can take over the parts of the work that I want to shed. But that’s OK – it means growth for everyone, and provides an opportunity for us all to revisit what we want to do, so we are all motivated and working from our strengths.

Amazing how one short conversation can turn things around. Instead of closing our doors, I am actually excited at the idea of how I can shape my role to not only meet my needs, but draw on my talents and those of the rest of my team. I’ve found my remote control.

Will the real Anne Day please come back? I think she just might.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


When I look back on my career, I never really had a formal mentor. I was fortunate enough at one point to have a manager who saw skills and potential in me, long before I recognized my strengths, and she would assign me projects that were a stretch and through which I gained some confidence and expertise.

However, when you run your own business, you don’t have that insightful manager to point you in the right direction. That’s why the mentoring program offered through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation is such a good idea.

The organization not only hands out grants to young would-be entrepreneurs, but they match them up with a more seasoned business owner, so they are not alone and have someone to bounce around ideas and learn effective strategies to run their businesses.

I know I would have loved to have had someone like that when I launched my business, because at the beginning, you don’t know what you don’t know.

When I first started mentoring women entrepreneurs I was a bit nervous – after all what did I know about the IT industry, for example, but what I have found is that you don’t have to have all the answers, but can connect your protégé to someone who does. Plus, no matter what the business is, the issues are often the same. Much of it is common sense, and as someone who is older (not necessarily wiser), I have a lot of experiences from which to draw on.

Right now I am mentoring three young women and I find it’s a positive experience and I learn as much as hopefully they do.

On Wednesday, we are hosting a Mentoring for Growth panel and we will hear from one such mentoring pair on what has worked in their relationship and the impact on the young entrepreneur’s business.

One concern I hear from people is that they just don’t have the time, but you know what it doesn’t have to take hours – I allocate a certain amount of time each month to each young woman, book the time in advance and for that time period, they have my undivided attention, whether it be over the phone, by email or face-to-face. Yes, there is follow up and sometimes I link them with someone, but that’s it.

Bottom line, you can ask your questions, give advice but the end decision rests with the protégé as it should. Taking over is not helpful and does not instill confidence in the young business owner.

If you are interested in getting involved, check out the Foundation’s website at There is a quote I’ve always liked – “all that you give to the lives of others, comes back into your own.”

Friday, November 12, 2010


Did you know that the two big events that honour Canadian women are being held on the same night, at the same time and in the same city – Toronto?

It would appear that both WXN’s 100 Most Powerful Women (which was held over lunch in the past) and the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year awards are scheduled for November 29.

But it was when I read the title of the WXN keynote presentation - the Power of Collaboration and Connectivity – that the irony of the situation struck me. Clearly these groups have not connected and if they have, there was no sense of collaboration, or they would have changed their plans.

As women there are so few celebrations when we can recognize and pay tribute to our peers, our role models. So it is too bad that these two leading organizations could not have got their acts together and chosen different dates.

Maybe it’s time to walk the talk.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


At the final ATHENA award presentation, my good friend, Diana Saulez, was honoured for all her hard work, commitment and leadership with ATHENA Oakville, and was presented with an ATHENA sculpture in recognition of her contribution. It was personally the highlight of the evening for me.

Now this was a complete surprise to Diana. She hadn’t even noticed that all her staff from Soleil Salon and Spa were in the audience as well as her son. They had been dodging in and out so she wouldn’t see them and give away the surprise. But you know what, I think even if Diana had seen them, she would never have imagined that they were there to celebrate her getting an award. She is so unassuming and modest, which is what makes her so special.

And this was evident in her acceptance speech. It truly was a surprise for her, so she gave an off-the-cuff, thank you speech. She was herself – real and humble. After a few tears, she started off emotionally saying she was truly grateful for waterproof mascara!

She then talked about how she got involved, her personal growth in leading ATHENA Oakville and how blessed she was to have surrounded herself with people who believed in her, gave her the courage to take risks, step out of her comfort zone and had the skills to help her achieve amazing success for ATHENA Oakville.

Now that is true leadership – humble, recognizing the contributions of others and sharing the spotlight.

Congratulations Diana.! You deserve all the kudos coming your way.