Laurence Cooke – Founder and CEO, nanopay Corporation
Laurence is the founder and CEO of nano play Corporation, a technology company that offers business-to-business payments and liquidity management solutions to businesses and financial institutions. Active in the payments community, Laurence is Chairman of the Paytechs of Canada Association and has been a member of the Payments Canada Stakeholder Advisory Committee, Finlay, and the US Federal Reserve Faster Payments Task Force.
Prior to starting nano play, Laurence worked with WIND Canada and was Vice President of Wireless at Shaw Communications Inc. He was also Chief Operating Officer of Bell Mobility and Bell Distribution Inc (BDI), where he was responsible for all of Bell Mobility’s operations and led a team of 9,000 employees. At BDI, Laurence was responsible for all retail for Bell Canada. Prior to joining Bell, Laurence was a senior executive in Accenture’s London Strategy Practice. Laurence co-founded two wireless data businesses in Europe, Melodeo, Inc., and Xtempus.
What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021?
2020 has been a trying time for small businesses, and while we can now hope that 2021 will be a more positive year, it will likely provide many of the same challenges. I believe these three things will be key for small business owners in 2021:
- Staying flexible and agile
- Leveraging digital solutions wherever possible, and
- Raising ample funding or finding a strategic partner
Flexible and agile: Although large companies have more resources, they are less flexible and less quick to adapt. This entire year has been an exercise in survival, and survival requires adaptation. Through e-commerce and digital marketing, small businesses can reach a far greater audience, and do not need to sacrifice their brand, reputation, or customer service. The real key here is that SMEs must continue to provide premium, personal customer service through this new medium.
Go digital: A recent study in Canada saw that 83% of respondents are willing to pay more for local products. Improving (or building) your company website, increasing your use of social media, and leveraging targeted digital advertising are all ways to broaden your reach and ensure your business continues to connect with your target audience.
Raise capital: We are seeing a time of unprecedented liquidity challenges, so I recommend raising money (if possible!). If your business is not in a position to raise funds, another alternative is to partner to expand into new markets. There is a great opportunity for small businesses to digitize larger legacy businesses–bringing technology and know-how to a company with established customers.
Ultimately, what makes small business owners special is their determination and perseverance.
“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to the success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature” –John D. Rockefeller