Thoughts On Business Leadership By Robert Gauvreau

Small Business Canada

Robert Gauvreau is an award-winning CPA and founding partner of Gauvreau & Associates CPA who specializes in helping entrepreneurs grow, scale, and turns a profit. With upwards of 500 clients including businesses recognized on Fortune 500 and Growth 500 in North America, Robert’s firm not only provides advisory, accounting and taxation services, but also helps entrepreneurs find financial success and generate significant wealth.

Gauvreau is a newly 2020 published best-selling author of “The Wealthy Entrepreneur,” a book dedicated to share the “Vision to Results” framework to lead extraordinary results in any business and create financial clarity for entrepreneurs in their endeavours. The book consults entrepreneurs on clarifying a business roadmap with attainable financial goals, maximizing wealth accumulation, and boost the overall performance of any business. 

Robert was recently recruited by Tony Robbins to join his ‘Global Accounting Advisors’ partnership to provide advice and guidance to his business mastery attendees. As a passion project, Robert is a founding partner of Venture North, a massive 38,000 square foot entrepreneurial business hub that provides business incubation programs, mentorship, financial coaching and business mindset training to entrepreneurs at every stage. He’s also a sought-after speaker and had recently given keynotes at the Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference, the Peterborough Entrepreneurs Conference and the Toronto Power Group.

What is your definition of leadership?

For me, being a leader in providing the vision, the passion, the direction, and the example that your team looks to for inspiration and for what the culture of the organization is. 

What are the most important values and ethics you demonstrate as a leader?

Passion – the greatest value I bring to my team is the passion for making an impact in the lives of those that we serve and in our community.  I am confident that if anyone on my team was asked, they would agree that my passion for helping others, and for the delivery of an unmatched level of professional service is very evident.  Through my passion, I rally my team to be excited about what the future holds for our business, and it excites them to want to be part of it.

Integrity – although it may seem old school, my commitments and my reputation are important to me, and I would argue are the backbone for the success I have realized.  I have always, even as a kid, been committed to doing what is right and never stepping on others to get what I want. My word is my bond, and my team and my customers know that I will stand by them and deliver on what I have promised.

People/care – we are in the business of helping people achieve their dreams.  As a leader, I continue to focus on how we best serve our clients, how we improve our experience, and how we let those that we work with know that we are here for them and have their back.  I genuinely care so much for others and will do anything I can to help advance our Canadian entrepreneurial community. I treat my team like family, because to me they are, and they know that I will be there for each and every one of them when they need me.

How do you encourage the development of employees?

My team is so important to me.  I pride myself on being able to attract high performers who are a pleasure to work with.  We have created a culture of collaboration and support amongst all of our members. 

As a CPA firm, we have access to working with our professional body, CPA Ontario, which provides extensive amounts of individual skill and resource development.  All of our CPA students begin an intensive 2 and half year program of formal external education, as well as a formalized mentorship and internal hands-on training program. 

In addition to the standard CPA training that our young candidates receive, our team continues to be heavily involved in professional development courses that are specific to their focus.  We continue to offer and support our team in their personal skill development, through resources available from CPA Ontario in areas of accounting and taxation which have extensive career development platforms.

All of our team members, when discussing their individual goals, and the goals of our business, self identify areas where they would like to improve, and where they would like to receive additional training.  Our team has participated in many masterminds, customer service seminars, mindset training, and other professional development programs, to continuously advance our members and our teams.

I have attended many different leadership and expert trainings, including being part of multiple masterminds around the world with some of the greatest entrepreneurs, including Tony Robbins. I am grateful to have the opportunity to experience and learn from so many talented and world-class leaders. At the same time, I bring back a wealth of knowledge and resources and share them with my team so that we can all continue to grow.

Most recently we have implemented a formalized human resource plan and platform that will allow us to track the individual goals and aspirations of our team members, which includes outlining the map for them to achieve their desired career advancement.  This new system will allow us to continue to develop and nurture our human capital to ensure that we are known as the best of the best.

What is your advice to Canadian Business owners during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

We are certainly living in a time of uncertainty as we have never seen before.  However, I remain confident that when we all return to work, our businesses will see more opportunity than any other time in history.

I have created a model for businesses to incorporate in times of uncertainty; it is called the Survive and Thrive model. Inside this model, there are three components.

  1. Survive – Cash is the most important resource in times of uncertainty.  In fact, 82% of businesses fail due to running out of cash resources; not due to lack of sales; not due to lack of future opportunities, rather they just plainly ran out of cash and will no longer be able to operate.  During COVID-19 there have been multiple government incentives and grants that have been created which may contribute to the eventual success of your business. Some of these resources include the wage subsidies (both the 75 % wage subsidy, the 10% subsidy), the up to $100,000 of funds available through BDC Canada through an online application process, the $2,000 per month minimum income (through the CERB – Canadian Emergency Response Benefit) and the $40,000 government-backed loan (CERA – Canadian Emergency Response Account).  

The immediate need right now is for business owners to focus on attaining working capital and cash resources so that they increase their safety net and secure their business in a position of survival.

  1. Reset – During the reset stage, many business owners will need to adapt to their current changing environment.  To begin with, business owners need to understand what their numbers are. Numbers don’t lie! Once you know what your numbers are such as revenue gross profit and net earnings, you can identify how COVID-19 is impacting you.  During this period, we need to be very cautious and aware that we may have excess resources in our business that have become redundant, and we need to adapt quickly to eliminate any excess resources or unnecessary costs and ensure the long-term sustainability of the business.
  1. Thrive – Although COVID-19 has forced us into an unwanted space of social isolation and business downturn, we need to quickly accept that this is outside of our control, and to use this time to focus strategically on the business.  Due to the time available, now is a great time to focus on business strategy and understanding the vision of the business. At the same time, we should look at the details in our business and map out what the financial future looks like.  We need to understand what success looks like in our businesses so that we can create benchmarks and make sure we understand the key outcomes necessary for our businesses to achieve that success.  

We need to have an executable plan in place because once the doors open back up, there will be a great opportunity that we want to be ready for. With our map in hand, we will be ready to thrive in the new economy.

Other advice that I have been providing business owners during COVID-19 include:

  • Be the leader that your team needs you to be (right now) – with so much uncertainty and fear in the lives of our team and their loved ones, we need to step up and provide a truthful, calming reassurance that we are in this together and that everything will be ok.  Even if the news you are sharing isn’t great, at least they will now know what they are dealing with and will be able to make plans accordingly.
  • Focus on gratitude and positive mindset – It is so easy for us all to focus on the negative and get caught up in the fear of the unknown.  To ensure that we continue to show up and serve our family and our businesses, we need to focus on the many things that are good and that we are grateful for.  Although things may seem bad right now, it could always get worse, and there are always wonderful things in our lives that we need to be grateful for.
  • Check-in on your team and your community – during times of fear and uncertainty, we all have our challenges and hurdles to climb. It is easy to focus on ourselves and lose sight of the fact that everyone else is suffering too.  It only takes a brief moment to ask those that we care about ‘how are you doing’ and be there to listen. At the same time, dropping notes of appreciation for others, acknowledging those who have done amazing things, and those that have stepped up as a leader in their own right goes a long way.  A quick ‘thank you’ or ‘you’re doing great’ may be the support that people need to get through this.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself – as small business owners and entrepreneurs we set high standards for ourselves related to growth, results, and performance.  During COVID-19, we need to re-examine our expectations of ourselves, and let ourselves off the hook and know that we may need to modify the outcomes for the business.  Sometimes circumstances outside of our control diminish our ability to reach our targets, and we need to let ourselves off the hook. Let’s evaluate our benchmarks and reset our expectations on ourselves to achieve something possible and not hold ourselves accountable for unrealistic results.
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