Wow! It is hard to believe that my company, Transcend, is entering its twentieth year of business. Some days it feels like yesterday when I first founded it, and some days it seems like a hundred years ago! Given that over 50 % of small businesses in Canada fail within their first five years, there’s reason to celebrate!
In transition from a global firm, Accenture, I was burnt out from two years of traveling, internal politics, working exceptionally hard, lack of work-life balance (more like lack of having a life!), and a failing relationship caused by very little time spent together. All I wanted was to rest, relax, decompress, and regain my health
Initially, I took some time off and was relishing in it. However, a month or so into it, a former client called me and asked me to do some consulting work. I wasn’t ready, but she convinced me that it was a good idea.
It had always been my plan to start my own business after five years of working at a Big 5 firm. Three and a half years later, Accenture closed its doors in Calgary, my husband and I decided we didn’t want to move away from Calgary, and Transcend Management Advisors Inc. (at the time, a numbered company) was born.
Pausing to review and reflect periodically has been a cornerstone in my life. Reflecting on business 19 years ago, some things in the business world have changed significantly; others have remained constant.
What has changed?
The world has become smaller. I attribute this to the ubiquitous use of technology. We can now communicate with someone on the other side of the world in microseconds. And, we don’t even have to talk with that person! We can use email or text to have the conversation.
Technology use was in its infancy. I remember learning Word and PowerPoint at the Accenture Global Consulting schools. We did use email, but relied mostly on phone or in-person exchanges. People still walked to someone’s desk to talk to them. Knowledge repositories were just starting to come into play, as was the internet. At that time, technology was somewhat cumbersome and not entirely reliable. Perhaps, the latter hasn’t changed much!
People worked together on teams in one location. At Accenture, we were a global, leading edge firm with half of my team located in Chicago, Illinois and half in London, England. We made it work with telephone conference calls taking into consideration time zones, supplemented by lots of travel. Now, teams work remotely in all parts of the world. Access is only a fingertip away. In many ways, we are closer than ever before!
Twenty years ago, people had a reasonable expectation of work-life balance. People worked hard, but not 24/7. We now we have the ability to work at all hours of the day from any location on earth (almost). This creates expectations that we have to be available (and “on”) all the time and puts extra strain on individuals who crave a more balanced life.
Today, we have greater access to information than ever before. The internet has grown and expanded, and almost everything you ever wanted to know can be found online. This has been a double-edged sword. In some cases, the available information is incorrect, incomplete or misleading. In other cases, there are excellent tools, techniques and articles that further our understanding on any topic. Discerning which is which, is often tough.
What hasn’t changed?
Business cycles – Economic cycles continue to impact all industries, including mine. Consulting, coaching and leadership development activities continue to be seen as a luxury, and not a necessity, by some organizations. This results in cutbacks in work when things aren’t going well economically. Truly progressive companies realize that investments in their people, during all business cycles, will increase loyalty, as well as prepare their leaders to step into the void when more senior leaders retire and when the cycle turns upward. Sometimes, the argument is challenging to make, but the truly progressive and visionary firms “get it”.
Relationships are still paramount to success. In fact, they may matter now more than they ever did! The nature of relationships may be different, for example, being connected on LinkedIn, but relationships are still the foundation for good business. The five R’s – repeat, referral, reputation, results, and relationships – are interlinked. It’s primarily how Transcend is engaged by our clients.
Value. Clients still expect value for money spent. In down times, there is an even higher expectation of this.
Service. Everyone wants to feel important and cared about. Providing good service, regardless of the industry, is the best way to maintain those relationships. Continuing to go above and beyond, by exceeding expectations in order to delight our valued clients has always been of paramount importance.
Transcend has changed over the years, from our initial focus on leading edge change management consulting; to project, program and change management; to coaching, strategic consulting, and leadership development. Our focus on delivering value, respecting and responding to clients’ needs, and on optimizing performance has not wavered. In fact, it has become stronger.
We work with leaders, their companies, and their people to help them perform better, grow faster, and achieve more.
Why do I love being a business owner?
Being a business owner can be challenging, frustrating, invigorating, exciting, and there’s nothing I would rather be doing! As a business owner, I’m fully accountable for my firm’s success. If neglect to do business development, follow-up on leads, stay in touch with prospective and current clients, and don’t deliver what I promise, it would result in business failure. It is totally up to me. I’m 100% accountable and responsible, just like my clients are for their companies and their success.
It’s not for everyone and, from time to time, I’ve been tempted to go back to the corporate world However, since there is nothing more satisfying than the impact I have on my clients’ lives and their corporations, it makes it easy to resist the offers.
It would be remiss of me not to thank the people and companies that have contributed my firm’s success. I have the privilege of working with clients that are highly intelligent, accomplished, receptive, open, progressive, and see the value in hiring a professional consultant, coach, or strategic advisor. In addition, I have the pleasure of working with associates who are fabulous people, offer excellent value, and supplement my skill sets providing an expanded and well-rounded offering. Transcend could not have survived and thrived without you. For that, I am truly grateful.
It has been an exciting ride, not without its challenges and high mountains to climb. Has it all been worth it? Absolutely!
This past year, I’ve started blogging. Many of you are subscribers to my weekly e-newsletter with topics focusing on management and leadership. Lately, I’ve extended an invitation to guest bloggers to provide a different perspective, viewpoint, and voice. After all, sometimes, it gets tiring listening (reading) to the same person all the time. If you’re interested in signing up for the newsletter visit: www.transcendmgt.com/blog. If you’d like to be a blog contributor, complete the contact form on www.transcendmgt.com.
When you reflect on your career journey, what stands out for you?