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Business Ideas - 3 Business Lessons From Gerry Schwartz
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My name is Evan Carmichael and I believe that the fastest and most effective way to build a business is to model the strategies of people who have already done what you're trying to do. I call it Modeling the Masters.
Today we're going to look at how a young man who thought a $10,000 a year salary was a "big deal" learned about business from his father and became a billionaire in the process. This is the story of Canadian entrepreneur Gerry Schwartz and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
"There is no such thing as high returns without risk."- Gerry Schwartz
To learn more check out my list of Gerry Schwartz
articles at http://www.evancarmichael.com/Famous-Entrepreneurs/1379/summary.php or http://community.telustalksbusiness.com/blogs/talk_business/2011/06/06/how-to-keep-your-staff-take-risks-and-find-opportunities-like-gerry-schwartz-one-of-canadas-richest-entrepreneurs
Gerry Schwartz (born in 1940) is a Canadian businessman. In 1977 he co-founded CanWest Global Communications Inc, followed by Onex Corporation in 1983. The Report on Business ranks Schwartz as one of the 30 wealthiest Canadians with a net worth that exceeds $1.5 Billion (Canadian) Dollars.
Today his private equity investment firm, Onex, has over 235,000 employees and Schwartz continues to look for opportunities to buy struggling companies, turn them around, and sell them for a handsome profit. He was named Ernst & Young's 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year and was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006.
Action Item #1: Keep Your Team Together
People love working for Gerry Schwartz because he gives them opportunities and respects their opinions. Every Monday morning, Schwartz gathers his top executives and decision makers in the Onex boardroom to discuss the merits of transactions and strategies, both new and old. If one of his key team players is unable to be at the meeting in person, Schwartz makes sure they are brought in by telephone. One by one, Schwartz goes around the table and lets each and every one of his staff have their say about the future direction of their company. And, they do not have to go along with whatever Schwartz proposes. If one person raises a doubt about a proposal on the table, the team may still proceed, but with greater caution. If two executives raise their dissenting voices, then the deal is dropped right then and there.
According to Schwartz: "Collectively, we make Onex a dynamic and collegial place to work... One of the hallmarks of Onex is that since I started the company in 1983, every professional who has joined the company at our Toronto head office is still here. We've had no turnover."
Action Item #2: Take Risks
There is no such thing as high returns without risk and among investment bankers, Schwartz has gained a reputation for being willing to stick his neck out and take that risk. He continues going for the long shots, for companies that others haven't thought about acquiring. And, if a deal does not work out, Schwartz says he takes it personally, but he dusts himself off and comes back again for another try.
According to Schwartz: "I'm still a long distance from smart. But I'm also a long distance from dumb... The hardest lesson I've learned has been to not repeat the dumb mistakes I've made over the years, which are too numerous to list."
Action Item #3: Look For New Opportunities
Over his long career, Schwartz has come to recognize that there will always be another deal. Success, however, only comes from investing in the ones that he's really researched and dug down deep to make sure that it's a good deal. Because of his reputation, Onex is now informed whenever any major company comes up for sale anywhere in North America. Schwartz and his team then inspect the books of each company and their respective markets to see if it's worth buying. Schwartz is also keen on finding his own potential acquisitions, ones that have yet to be advertised and that are hiding within a larger parent company.
According to Schwartz: "Every decision Onex makes is made on the basis of creating long-term value. Our philosophy is to operate like a forever owner of an asset... We take an excruciating length of time to buy an asset. We did nothing in the late 1980s because of all the pressure to do deals. That's not our game... Investments are like trains, and if you miss one, don't worry because another one will come down the line."
What Do You Think?
Have you had problem with employee turnover? Have you recently discovered a new opportunity that you're chasing? What part Gerry Schwartz's message impacted you the most? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!
*** Music by Calikokat: http://www.youtube.com/user/calikokat1