Why? We had been consulting in performance improvement within the manufacturing sector in Northern BC and had developed an innovative approach to helping organizations be more effective. We wanted to try these techniques in other areas, starting with the public and other service-oriented sectors, because we knew they would love it.
Conveniently, at about the same time, people we knew started phoning and asking us to come and work with them in Victoria. We shared this idea around with a few folks whose opinion we valued, and then made the leap.
If you were to describe the situation as an equation it might look something like this:
So in 1996 we moved to Victoria and set up a management consulting business, operating out of our home.
In those days we shared a laptop and a cellphone, which would clearly be unthinkable today! We used the den in our rented suite as our office until we could graduate to a ‘proper’ garage-based business in the first home we bought. We had a couple of really good clients and did some very satisfying work, but it was just us. And the cats.
In 1997 we were fortunate enough to become part of a province-wide continuous improvement initiative being led by the Ministry of Forests, and this was one of our first big breaks. Then we competed in and topped a nation-wide tender for the delivery of a large-scale organizational effectiveness program, and have never looked back.
We hired staff, bought more computers (thank goodness), and eventually graduated from our garage to a 4000 sq. ft. office and learning centre. There we did some of our finest strategy development, continuous improvement and leadership coaching work with independent schools, various BC government ministries, crown corporations, and businesses both big and small. Fuelled largely by word of mouth referrals from satisfied clients - our business grew and thrived. Along the way we managed to find a couple of kids to keep the cats company, and they have obviously been a big part of our ongoing story.
Like many businesses, ours boomed until the Great Recession of 2009. When the recession hit we thought that might be the end of our amazing success story; the story that saw us increase our business year to year over 10 years. However visionary leaders don’t disappear in tough times, and our clients continued to ask us to help them lead change successfully in a variety of ways. We continued to work with leaders and teams to reframe their strategies and business plans, rethink their business processes, and strengthen their organizations through developing teams and leaders.
We also tried to practise what we preached and used the breathing room created by the downturn to rebrand and rethink our business, positioning us well for the time when - as it always does - the economy bounced back.
And it has. Today we work from an office we purchased last year and are as busy as ever. Our team has grown into the double digits, and we have a host of projects on the books in various stages of delivery with fantastic clients, visionaries all, at whom we marvel on a regular basis.
How did we do it?