Originally published in Saskatchewan Business Magazine
Saskatchewan’s small business sector is growing quickly and business owners are seeking mentorship and tools on how to manage their company growth. Linda Allen-Hardisty has made a vibrant career out of helping leaders enhance their own abilities through her consulting practice. In 2016, Linda launched TEC Canada’s first business group in Saskatchewan.
“It was an opportunity to work with entrepreneurs in a different way, to have them step up and into their own development through peer advisory,” says Linda. Currently, Linda supports CEOs of large corporations and small business owners with strategic leadership advice.
Lately, she’s noticed a heightened demand for guidance and the TEC proposition from small businesses. When asked about some of the trends she has observed from her members, Linda says that growth is the primary focus – not only to achieve it but how to manage it successfully.
“A common challenge for many small business owners comes with success, ironically,” Linda points out. “Many have started the business themselves or with one or two other people. Now that it’s going well, they cannot continue to wear all the hats. Many entrepreneurs whose businesses have flourished suddenly find themselves wrestling with questions around KPIs and processes, hiring a strategic financial officer instead of a bookkeeper, or whether to outsource or professionalize their marketing efforts.”
Small business owners often express challenges with delegation. Linda says her role is to encourage discussion and facilitate answers on how TEC members should coach and mentor their staff. “We don’t just discuss when delegation should happen, but how do they let go of the reins? We had a good conversation a couple of weeks ago that sprang from a quote by leadership speaker Simon Sinek, who says that ‘Leadership is giving others the chance to succeed even though you bear the responsibility for getting it done.’ It resonated with a lot of members.”
Because TEC Canada’s model ensures that members are from non-competitive industries, Linda’s group is made up of leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds, including a couple members from non-profit organizations. “They are in charge of delivering on the mandate of their business and their budgets are often in the same range of revenue as a small business. But, whether it’s private or public, leadership is leadership. My members find a lot of commonality between how people grow in their leadership – the goal is always to better lead expansion and growth.”
Linda is quick to point out that the concept of growth has a different meaning for different members. “For some, it means 10 locations. For others, it means retaining a staff and client base and building a better quality of life. Everyone has a different picture of what success looks like.” Almost two years into her experience as a TEC Chair, Linda says she has grown into the role by listening to what her members need. “I’ve learned so much from every one-to-one coaching session with them. Their feedback has allowed me to strengthen my original vision of what it means to be a TEC Chair.”
Currently, Linda says many of her members are turning their thoughts to the longer term. “This forum encourages entrepreneurs to think about what the next 10-15 years look like, which isn’t something many small business owners take the time to do. I encourage them to think big picture and then leverage TEC resources and other members to create the path to get there.”
As for the business outlook in Saskatchewan, she is as upbeat as her members. “We embrace the potential talent, workforce and competitive advantage represented by our business people, including millennials and Saskatchewan’s First Nations. We have a lot of very bright, resilient, potential leaders in this province.”
Linda is looking forward to forming her second TEC group over the coming year. “Everyone comes from a different background and industry yet they all find ways to help each other in the room – it’s magic.”