With the nomination period for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards closed, it’s time to begin putting together a winning application. Official Due Diligence Sponsor, Deloitte Private, offers the top items to consider for this crucial next step.
By Marie Moore
In Canada, just 15.7% of entrepreneurial businesses are majority-owned by women. Fortunately, the number is increasing. Self-employment among women has been steadily rising, even though self-employment overall has been relatively flat since 2009.
Why is this segment so important? Women entrepreneurs are contributing fresh ideas, capitalizing on new opportunities, and creating jobs in their own community ― and beyond. The continued success of female-led businesses is crucial to economic growth in this country. They need to be supported in their ambitions, and celebrated and appreciated for their accomplishments.
The aim of the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is to provide this much-deserved recognition. As official Due Diligence Sponsor, Deloitte Private has had the privilege of being an integral part of the RBC CWEA program for several years. Each year, we are introduced to a new set of unique businesses and their high-quality offerings. With the required minimum of three years in operation, they all have a proven sustainable model ― one that comes from a history of designing and implementing effective solutions. They exemplify what female entrepreneurs are capable of.
With such an impressive group, what can make your organization stand out? Here are the top four items to consider when filling out your application.
- Surround yourself with a winning team.
This is not a process you need to complete alone. Tap into your talented employees who understand your business, and don’t be afraid to seek outside help. By involving others in the application process, you’ll be able to get a broader perspective. What seems normal to you might pop out as really outstanding to someone else ― and worth emphasizing. “This is one of the key insights we have drawn from our experience,” says Lorrie King, the Deloitte national co-lead for Best Managed companies program. Deloitte, Canada’s largest professional services firm, established this platform for recognizing excellence in private, Canadian-owned companies in 1993. The Best Managed program includes valuable coaching from experienced professionals of Deloitte and CIBC that help applicants take a step back and look at their business through a new lens.
- Focus on your accomplishments.
While it’s both exciting and important to think about your future growth opportunities, these awards are designed to recognize your accomplishments, not your aspirations. The application should therefore be largely focused on what you have done, not what you are planning to do. The adage “show, don’t tell” applies here as well. For each achievement you want to highlight, from a growth in sales to reaching profitability, ensure you have quantifiable evidence that backs it up.
- Get your books in order.
A solid application begins with up-to-date, organized financials. Be sure you understand your numbers well enough ― or have someone on your winning team who does ― to be able to demonstrate how well your business is doing. Providing tangible evidence of your success through your financials is key to moving to the Finalist stage.
- Be ready for the next step.
When we engage in the due diligence process with each finalist, our main purpose is to validate the information that has been provided in the application ― but it’s not as simple as checking your numbers. An in-person meeting with your assigned Deloitte Private practitioner is critical, because it gives you the opportunity to speak to the success of your business beyond the balance sheet. Be ready to discuss your business successes, such as how you have applied creativity or innovation in solving problems and overcoming challenges. The goal is not to oversell your business or offering, but rather speak to your strengths, focus on what you do best, and ― most importantly ― always be able to provide tangible evidence.
For more than 150 years, Deloitte Private has been assisting entrepreneurs in transforming Canada’s economy. We know that the journey to success requires strategic decision making and being opportunistic at the right moment. As Canada’s largest professional services advisor to private clients, we are passionate and committed to your future success — always looking ahead to anticipate your needs and prepare you for any unforeseen challenges ahead.