Business Lessons from the Experts of 10 to Watch

Lessons from this year's judging panel for the Douglas 10 to Watch Awards.

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Photos by Jeffrey Bosdet.

“Entrepreneurs do more than anyone thinks possible, with less than anyone thinks possible,” says John Doerr, a Forbes-ranked entrepreneur and champion of cleantech.

And we’ve been seeing that ever since Douglas magazine launched our 10 to Watch Awards a decade ago as a way to celebrate Vancouver Island’s top new businesses.

Do the math: 10 years x 10 businesses a year = 100 businesses who challenged notions of what was possible in order to achieve the remarkable. Looking back over the decade, it’s telling — and a testament to both the winners and our judges — that three out of
four 10 to Watch winners remain in business as of January 2019.

The winners’ list is a veritable who’s who of Island success stories: DeeBee’s, Topsoil, Roll.Focus Productions, LlamaZoo, SendtoNews, Stocksy and Flytographer to name just a few inspiring winners. This year’s winners are equally inspiring — and just as full of passion and promise.

So here’s to the 10 to Watch winners of 2019! We’re proud to play a part in your stories.

Deirdre Campbell – Managing Director, Canada, Beattie Tartan

It is easy to get trapped behind your computer. Get out from behind your screen and meet people in person. Attend conferences and events that will put you in the same room as other smart people. Personal relationships are invaluable in growing your business.

Jim Hayhurst – Advisor, Roy Group

“Explain it to a toddler” tests how well you understand your business. Too often entrepreneurs hide behind jargon and technical language. Investors, customers (and your team) will see through it.

Cathy Whitehead McIntyre – Principal, Strategic Initiatives Inc.

Disrupt yourself! Every industry is bound to be disrupted sooner or later (and likely sooner). Constantly look for ways to shake things up. Innovate to serve your customers better, earn their ongoing loyalty and insulate yourself from current and emerging competitors.

Heidi Sherwood – CEO, SATTVA Spa and Sapphire Day Spa

The adage that “you can make money but you can’t make time” has become increasingly important. It reminds me to use my time wisely and to focus my energy on tasks that are fulfilling and valuable.

Dr. Pedro Márquez – VP, Global Advancement, Marketing and Business Development, Royal Roads University 

In times of complexity, rapid change and uncertainty, a truly diverse, inclusive and interdisciplinary team is the best option to increase a firm’s competitiveness. Let’s welcome, encourage and recognize the enormous value of collaboration and teamwork.

Dr. Rebecca Grant – Associate Professor (Retired), University of Victoria

Many entrepreneurs don’t realize the wealth of resources available to them through local colleges and universities — continuing studies classes to hone skills, grants to support innovation, talented students looking for co-op jobs, and more. Educational institutions can be great partners.

This article is from the April/May 2019 issue of Douglas.