EO Member Since 2001.
EO or EOA Member?
VEA Office Professionals Inc.
We provide virtual Executive Assistants and Bookkeepers to small/medium sized firms.
Founded or Bought In?
Q: Why did you make the decision to start your company?
A: Retired from former business and saw an opportunity in the marketplace for a new business model.
Q: Please describe the growth journey of your business including where you are at today.
A: Originally owned a marketing company that grew from 5 people/$ 1.2mil revenue to over 350 people/$ 100mil revenue in 20 years. I joined EO in 2001 and gained education, insight and many great ideas that were implemented into the company in order to achieve this growth. I can honestly say that every once of this growth was because of the resources and network through EO.
As we grew, we gained new partners and developed a new Board of Directors. When I realized that I was disagreeing with the direction that the new Board wanted to take the company, I decided to leave it.
Around the same time, my wife was starting up VEA and I decided to work with her in growing this new company (to which I believe has a far more sustainable business model).
I am using all of the lessons learned over the past 20+ years (some of them being very HARD won lessons) to apply to this new business. Today, VEA is Canada wide and has recently expanded into the USA.
Q: What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur? (this could be about something you’ve personally accomplished, something in the business, or something entirely different)
A: I am most proud of having learned that my true passion and purpose is to help other people and companies grow to reach their full potential.
I am able to realize this purpose through the services we provide at VEA, as well as by providing training for the EO Accelerator program, mentoring business owners and coaching executive teams and owners for Results clients (also a member of EO).
Q: What is the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a successful entrepreneur?
A: It has been a fantastic journey overall… but has not come without many challenges. From dealing with employee embezzlement to shareholder sabotage to going almost bankrupt, there are many pitfalls that I have had to learn the hard way over time.
Q: Please list any awards or recognition you’ve received as an entrepreneur.
A: Canada’s Best Places to Work
Regional & National Distributor of the Year
Deloitte’s “Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies”
Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” finalist
Business in Calgary’s “Leaders of Tomorrow”
Premiers “Award for Healthy Work Places”
PPPC’s “Humanitarian of the Year”
Q: What about the community? How are you contributing to making the community a better place for everyone?
A: We’ve always believed in being active in the community and giving back by volunteer work, donations and sponsorships. In fact, the multi-faceted philanthropic approach that we took through my past marketing company was one of the main reasons for the Humanitarian of the Year award. We had a number of fundraising campaigns over the course of 2 years in order to gain funds to build a school in an impoverished village in Africa. We worked with Free the Children (now called WE Charity) and even had a group of us able to visit the area in Kenya, meet the children and families impacted, and actually help with the construction!
Q: What is your mindset when it comes to being an entrepreneur?
A: I have a number of philosophies. Here are a few of them:
1. Take good care of your people and they will take good care of your clients.
2. Honesty & Integrity = Trust & Growth
3. Seize the moment / Live in the now / Carpe Diem / etc.
Q: You’re a member of the Calgary chapter of EO (EOA). Please describe the impact of EO on you personally and for your business.
A: How much time do you have to hear all of the ways?!
Saving the detailed stories behind these, here are a number of ways that EO has helped/impacted my life:
1. Learning business concepts that could be applied to my business for growth (ie Hedgehog, Rocks, Rhythms, BHAG, etc.)
2. Hearing how other industries do things and then seeing how I could apply that to my business. What is standard in other industries became revolutionary in mine.
3. My forum helped me design an incredibly amicable divorce. We are still friends and continue to co-parent our children.
4. Support from my forum and other EO members in times of crisis (ie employee embezzlement, rough economic climates, shareholder issues, and so on).
5. Learning from other people’s successes and failures (It’s much less expensive to learn from other people’s mistakes!).
6. Money management ideas (ie investment concepts, financial best practices, banking and accounting relationship management, etc.).
7. The very idea that spawned our new company, VEA, came from EO members!
8. Making lifelong friends who truly want to support and cheer you on.
Q: What would you say to a prospective EO’er about joining our organization?
A: It’s like having children – it changes your whole perspective on life and gives you completely new and exciting priorities. You soon won’t remember what life was like without it.
Q: Final question: what advice would you provide to a colleague or aspiring entrepreneur in regards to starting, running and growing a business?
A: That’s a huge final question! Here are a few:
1. Listen to your gut – it knows more than you think.
2. Check your ego at the door and absorb everything like a sponge.
3. Learn the great business concepts, but also the biggest pitfalls to look out for.
4. Don’t let success get to your head and blind you. Keep your eyes sharp.
5. Work towards the best, and plan for the worst.
6. Know your values well and never sacrifice them.
7. No one will take care of your money better than you.
8. EO has a saying, “The quality of your life is the sum of all your experiences”… so HAVE FUN and enjoy the journey!