Lori Van Opstal
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.
Lori Van Opstal is president of Your Advantage Staffing Consultants Inc., a Cambridge, Ont.-based provider of recruitment and placement services for the transportation industry. Founded in 1997, the firm offers drivers and transportation support staff, and also provides executive searches for senior transportation positions. The firm has 110 employees, and revenues topped $5 million last year.
BEST ADVICE: “Don’t compare yourself to others”
Van Opstal received this sage advice from her mom when she was “a very awkward pre-adolescent. I’d compare myself to other kids and think, oh, they’ve really got it all,” she says. And although she had great grades and great friends, “I used to feel worse about myself than how the world perceived me.” Now that she’s older, she realizes everyone has the same insecurities.
Today, Van Opstal uses Mom’s advice daily. “In my business, I see our cracks, and we are always, almost manically, trying to improve our systems, solve our problems and make everything we do better.” But at the end of the day, peace of mind comes from knowing “the world sees that we have a slick operation that does a great job.”
When the grass looks greener on the other side of the corporate fence, remember that other people and firms look better from the outside than the inside. “It can really feed into your fears if you think that everyone else is better than you,” says Van Opsel. “When you start having self-doubt it can keep you from acting, and nothing hurts your business or career more than not acting. I see so many women do that.”
“What the world’s going to notice is your attitude, so that’s the thing to guard carefully,” says Van Opstal, who advises entrepreneurs to regularly run an inventory of their personal and corporate strengths. “I am thankful to be energetic and passionate enough about what I do that it excites me every day.”
© 2004 Susanne Baillie