Using his decades of experience building multiple million-dollar businesses, Colin Sprake imparts valuable lessons to entrepreneurs through his talks, books, and coaching.
He founded Make Your Mark Training and Consulting in 2004, to assist businesspeople to thrive personally and professionally. To date, he has created a network of about 60,000 entrepreneurs across Canada.
Colin is also the author of four number one bestsellers, including Entrepreneur Success Recipe: The Key Ingredients That Separate the Millionaires from the Strugglers and Power Principles for Success.
He writes about leadership for Richard Branson’s blog, Virgin.com, and has developed a mentorship program for teenagers that teaches self-confidence, finances, and entrepreneurship.
One of his most well-known sayings is: “When you focus on dollars, you’ll have money to count. When you focus on people, you’ll have countless dollars.”
You’ve said a great deal of business is how you think, and the rest is sales, marketing, etc. Can you elaborate?
I would even say 98% of our lives are based on the habits we form on a daily basis. Many people have bad habits they have created over time. I think it takes as much effort to create a bad habit, as it does to make a good one. I’ve noticed this with business owners over 14 years of doing this; it’s not what people know, it’s who they are that is important.
You can know anything – about sales and marketing – but who you are as an individual, and whether you take action and do something with it, is important. I’m a big fan of: the more you work on yourself, the better your business and life will be.
Why do the majority of businesses fail within the first five years?
The number one reason is stubbornness.
I don’t care how much you know as an individual; it’s how open you are to [both] learning and growing. If you aren’t willing to learn and grow, you will vehemently hold onto what you want to [despite it being wrong]. I won’t say never, but you’ll very seldom get what you want. I’d say, the majority of business owners fail in their first five years are not open to learning. They think they have enough information.
What is a key takeaway from your book, Entrepreneurs’ Success Recipe: The Key Ingredients that Separate the Millionaires from the Strugglers?
Really understanding and getting to the heart of the numbers in your business. It’s fascinating how many business owners don’t know their numbers, and don’t want to know them. They leave their numbers in the hands of their accountants, or book keepers, who maybe only give them an answer once a year about if they have enough money or not. That, to me, is ludicrous.
Also, what are your success habits? What do you do every morning and every evening in terms of setting up your day to be successful, or setting up your sleep to be powerful so that you wake up every morning with a bounce in your step?
I have various success habits that I’ve entrenched into my routine over the last few years. Those habits do not include being on my cell phone or computer first thing in the morning.
Why wouldn’t it be your cell phone or computer if your business needed it?
Interesting question. I’m a big fan of practicing meditation and gratitude in the morning. Some of the most successful people in the world – Richard Branson, Oprah, Elon Musk – believe in mediation when you first wake up, as a way of getting yourself set for the day. When you lean over and grab your cell phone, you only have to read one bad email, or one negative thing, to set up your foundation for the entire day, for most people. So, I’m a big fan of putting the right foundation into your day, every day.
You’ve spent time with Richard Branson. What did you learn from him?
The number one thing I learned from him is that when you have a vison for your business, no matter what happens, you’ll have people try to shoot you down – but you must stay true to your vision.
The people who got to where they wanted to be had such a devotion to their vision, they didn’t care about what anybody said. The only people they’ll listen to are those who have already achieved massive success, or people who’ll get them to rethink.
What’s a common personal flaw you see in most managers?
One word: Trust. They don’t trust others to be as good as them when they grow their company. Trust that people can do things better than you. When they do it better than you, and you feel like they are putting you out of a job, that’s the best feeling you can have, not the worst feeling. Because that’s when you know you’ve got the formula that works for you.
Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer