Success in business is all about mindset. And that is especially true in a post-COVID world. There’s something incredibly exciting about the companies in and around the Innisfil DMZ. These new businesses work across a range of industries, from technology and automation to agriculture and personal care. And while some are bigger than others, all of them signal an important change in the local economy.
But supporting this relatively new ecosystem requires real thought and planning. To ensure that there is the investment, guidance and mentorship that are so critical for new businesses. So, a constellation of local organizations have come together to offer a really unique support system. There’s the Ryerson DMZ, Georgian College’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre and the Georgian Angel Network, (among many others).
One of the people that has been a keystone to all of those groups is Chris Adams. Chris has been successfully creating and managing companies for over two decades now. And recently he has started to reach back to help the next generation of entrepreneurs. And at a time when small businesses are struggling as never before that help is in high demand.
The Hard Hitting Pandemic
Adams has been working with small business owners since the start of the pandemic and has seen the narrative change. He remembers how a year ago, people were concerned about reducing expenses and today they’re concerned about winning back their lost consumer base. It took businesses a while to realize that the pandemic is going to last longer and they need to find ways to continue doing business in this situation. Some turned to loans and grants and some asked the real question – how do I digitally transform the organization?
“There’s a complete revolution of people’s thinking now. So even post pandemic, you’re gonna see that buyer behavior is going to change,” he warns, highlighting the importance of going digital.
Adams agrees that brands that were quick to make a jump to the digital era found it easier to reach consumers during the pandemic. However, he adds that we have seen a lot of companies evolve in the last few months and this digitization can benefit everyone involved.
The Digital Society
“What might have otherwise taken a decade or 15 years, has happened in just 12 years,” he says highlighting how Amazon and other ecommerce platforms broke records during the pandemic.
We have also seen more people working from home and using technology like Zoom to stay in touch with each other. Adams believes that this transition is beneficial and things may remain this way even after the pandemic as people are now more comfortable working from home and they have realized the benefits of Skype or Zoom calls that help save time and money.
Different Businesses in Different Situations
As we have seen, some industries were more affected than others. Travel and hospitality industries, for example, suffered heavy losses. Surprisingly, the housing market also saw a sudden decrease. Adams thinks the housing market has also put Innisfil is in a great position.
“I think this is a huge opportunity for Innisfil and you know, with them positioning Ryerson DMC to support the creative economy,” he said.
He mentions how “buying is probably almost impossible in downtown Toronto, but it could be a reality in Innisfil.”
But, it is going to take a while for things to be normal for some industries. People now understand that they don’t need to have a house close to where they work as meetings can be held online. He seems to be a fan of how the retail industry has changed with the changing times and believes that different industries will grow or recover in different ways.
About The Many Organizations
Adams discussed the role of organizations like Georgia Angel Network and how they can help businesses. He fondly remembers how the network helped him when he started his business.
“All you have to do is raise your hand, all you have to do is ask for help and support and mentorship,” he says while explaining the importance of these organizations.
Some other organizations that he named include Downtown Barry and the Sandbox. He believes that now with more organizations offering resources including free education to their clients, it will be easier for business owners to make the right decision.
The Business Mindset Formula
Adams believes that everyone can learn a successful business mindset and it doesn’t have “to be completely innate.”
“I think it can be groomed and learned over a period of time,” he says while highlighting the importance of mentorship.
Here are some of the tips he provided during the podcast:
- Find a really good, business leader in town to support or mentor your business mindset.
- Listen and be coachable.
- Talk about all the difficult things; open up and be open.
“Most business owners would want to impart knowledge and logic and understanding to the younger generation that is starting these companies because we all want our community to be successful,” he says hopefully “We want Simcoe county to be a rocket ship and we want our children and our neighbors to have great jobs and salaries.”
Simcoe County: The Next Big Thing
Adams has high hopes from Simcoe County that has seen a large number of startups and big companies appear in the last few years. He talked about a few companies that have carved a niche in recent times, including Robo Tape by Innovative Automation.
“They’ve launched this thing called Robo tape. Their team has put it together. They’re going on the world stage. They’ve created IP, trademarking a new product, and they’re pushing it out like a startup,” he said.
All About Business Mindset
Adams talks about the need to look at things from a positive perspective and how difficult it can be to criticize new ideas. He talks about how he tackles people who approach him for mentorship and what kinds of questions he asks to understand a person.
Opportunities for Everyone
Adams believes there is “money in the marketplace” and you only need the right idea and plan to get access to it. While he prefers to turn to savings first, he understands that it may not always be enough.
“There are grants, there’s bank loans. The next steps are potentially the angel network, in terms of other investors, and then ultimately, sales, sales is your number one friend, if you’re selling, you’re making a margin, and that margin can be reinvested back into the organization,” he adds.
To learn more about how they are working to create the neighbourhood of the future go to InnisfilAccelerates.ca