Entrepreneurship at its best – an interview series with Kerry Mann – Part 1 of 2

Jan 23 2013

Left to Right: Surjit Babra, Kerry Mann, Amandeep Dhillon

Recently our President, Kerry Mann, was asked to be a speaker on Entrepreneurship at a mentorship meeting of the Toronto Sikh Professionals (TSP) organization in Toronto. A long time entrepreneur, Kerry was recognized as one of the pioneers within the community to start and build a successful company and still remain accessible and keen to sharing his learnings with others.

The event was moderated by Amandeep Dhillon, Principal Lawyer at Dhillon Litigation, and the podium was shared with Surjit Babra, Founder and Chairman/CEO of the SkyLink Group of Companies (click the picture above for more images from the event).

In this two part series we will share Kerry’s responses to the thoughtful questions posed by Amandeep and shared with the keen audience at this event. We heard from a number of the participants that there were a few key actionable nuggets that they took away from Kerry’s insights and we hope you will find the same value from reading this series.

As Peter Drucker said:

“Entrepreneurs innovate. Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurships. It is an act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.”

TSP Introduction: Kerry Mann is the President of Mantralogix. Kerry is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for business. Prior to founding Mantralogix, he built and managed a successful manufacturing company, learning firsthand what it takes to pilot an enterprise operation from inception through successful sustainability. His extensive business background, broad experience and extensive industry expertise give him a unique ability to advise organizations in ways to enhance their corporate profitability and shareholder value using both process and technology as tools.

Amandeep: Please share your background and tell us what triggered your decision to start your own business.

Kerry: I’ve always been/ considered myself an entrepreneur even when I worked for other people. Whatever my mandate, I tend to approach it with an entrepreneurial mindset. As a business owner, I encourage my team members to do the same and this has helped to generate some great fresh innovative ideas. Innovation is at the heart of being an entrepreneur!

Amandeep: What issues, challenges and obstacles did you encounter as you started up and/or continued to grow your business which you did not plan for/anticipate or underestimated?

Kerry: An important lesson that I learned early on is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. It is a tendency of many entrepreneurs to think that no one else can do it as good as them – but of course, that’s simply not true. It’s impossible to be good at everything so figure out the things that are not part of your core competencies and outsource these! Not only was this a hard lesson but an expensive one – which may not seem intuitive. But some things had to be re-done and there were lost efficiencies. Outsourcing may be a person who specializes in something like H.R. who you can hire on an as-needed or part-time basis – this still lets you maintain control but also frees you up to do the things you are really good at! The other risk of trying to do it all yourself, is that there is very little time left to be innovative – and this can stunt both business and personal growth.

Amandeep: What is the biggest mistake you see people make who try to establish their own business/venture?

Kerry: Not having a solid business plan and also not seeking the advice of others. Often you need other people to review your business plan and offer criticism or identify gaps so that you can take steps to further strengthen your plan. Every person who looks at it will bring their own experiences and filters to the table. The other mistake people make is that they get caught up spending too much time “working in their business” rather than “work on their business”. Yes you do definitely need to get it off the ground but once you have some critical mass, you need to build in the discipline (or hire accordingly) to work on sustaining/ growing it!

We’ll continue with the interview questions and answers in next week’s part 2 of this post where Kerry answers questions relating to partnerships, lessons learned, and the most important ingredient for success. Sign up for our newsletter, or come visit our blog next week for Part 2!

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comments below!

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