Strategize for five minutes

Written by Susanne Baillie
Brenda MacDonald

President & CEO
Coyle & Greer Awards Canada Ltd.
Ingersoll, Ont.

Xchange asks Canada’s top women entrepreneurs to share their most meaningful business lessons. Each issue we bring you the advice that has helped shape the lives and companies of these winning businesswomen.

Brenda MacDonald is president and CEO of Coyle & Greer Awards Canada Ltd., an Ingersoll, Ont.-based creator of custom-designed awards and recognition programs for the school and corporate market. Now with almost 100 employees, this family-owned business celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2002.

BEST ADVICE: “Spend the first five minutes of every day strategizing about the business.”

“Don’t go into your day and just start doing things. Sit down and spend five minutes thinking,” says MacDonald, who credits her grandfather for giving her this advice about 35 years ago. “People get so involved in the day-to-day issues that they don’t really take a step back to think about how things are operating — what the most important thing they should do for the day, how the company is going to make more money — that kind of thing.”

MacDonald follows this daily ritual without fail. “I pour myself a cup of coffee, shut my door, put up a Do Not Disturb sign and spend five minutes thinking about the business and how it can be better,” she says. “It can be anything from a staff problem, to how to get more customers, how to do better marketing, better sourcing — it can be anything.” Plus, she says, “it’s a great way to de-stress before you start your day.”

MacDonald also remembers her father’s advice. “His saying was, ‘the bottom line is always more important than the top line’,” she says. “Don’t ever worry about your sales, worry about if you’re making money. Without that, you’re spinning your wheels.” The key is to watch your expenses and margins. Whether it’s a raise for your staff or just keeping the bankers off your back, she says, ” everything comes from the bottom line.”

© 2004 Susanne Baillie

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