How are you being innovative in your business?

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CAPITAL IDEAS UPCOMING APR. 30: SHOW ME THE MONEY: FINANCING GROWTH A monthly panel discussion hosted by Capital Ideas ■ Where: Glenbow Museum (9th Ave. S.E.) ■ When: noon to 1 p.m. ■ Admission: Free. Tickets at capitalideasyyc4.




HOW ARE YOU BEING INNOVATIVE IN YOUR BUSINESS? Entrepreneurs discuss how they shake things up in their companies “I love coming up with new projects and ideas that differentiate my business model from that of others … One of the most innovative components of our business is our involvement with social justice. We work to break language barriers, overcome study struggles and ultimately stop human trafficking in the world. We do this by donating 10 per cent of our profits to International Justice Mission, as well as hosting events and advocating for them throughout the year.”

M AY 1 2 : R E V: S U STA I N . ACCELERATE . THRIVE . A half day of resources, learning opportunities and networking targeted at Calgary’s small and medium sized business owners ■ Where: University of Calgary, Dining Centre (169 University Gate N.W.) ■ When: 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. ■ Admission: $29 to $39. Tickets at calgarychamber. com

Sara Dasko, CEO of Free Mind,

“Constant innovation is crucial to any business’s sustainability, but as a marketing company, it’s even more important to be dynamic and look for new ideas and approaches. We are always looking for new trends in marketing and social media to help take our clients’ exposure to the next level. Technology is another important part; we’re always looking for the latest software and apps to help streamline our processes, but also to use as tools for our clients.” Kamea Zelisko, owner of MKT Communications,

“This year, Vital Partners became a separate entity from its affiliated brand, Vital Benefits. Vital Partners arose from a desire to cater to the specific needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Not only do we strive to be innovative in our business, but we help others introduce innovative solutions in their companies as well by helping them compete with the benefit programs offered by large companies, and by finding solutions to help manage costs and use benefits strategically. Being lean and nimble during these times has helped us quickly shift our focus and communication to help our clients with cost containment, and to make smart, strategic choices.”

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If you had $100,000, how would you invest it in your business?

Andrea Shandro, principal at Vital Partners Inc.,

Ave Peetri, owner of Confident Marketing Coach (confidentmarketing. com), says that innovation should be part of everything you do. “Innovation comes from the mindset of constant improvement and staying close to your client’s wishes. I believe that entrepreneurs should strive for ongoing innovation — it’s too late to start brainstorming when the revenues start dwindling.” PHOTO BY: LAURA SOBY NICHOLLS/SOUL PHOTOGRAPHY

It’s fun to imagine what you might do with a surplus of cash, which is why Wellington Holbrook, executive vice-president of ATB Business, is curious to hear from you: If you had $100,000, how would you invest it in your business? You can answer the question in two ways: Open today’s Capital Ideas email if you’re a member or visit We’ll publish the best answers, along with your business name and website address, on April 23. For more great information on what business owners in Alberta think, visit

“As a former advertising creative director, and now as a professional speaker who talks about creativity and innovation, I use the skills needed for talking to audiences in my business: Observation, particularly of trends and where the market is going; associative thinking; disruptive thinking; questioning to discover new ideas; and storyboarding to create a narrative about what we do. Once all of the ideas are generated, analytical thinking helps determine the best ideas.” David Saxby, president of Spark Communications Inc.,

“We have few rules, and follow a few key principles; the rules are set for our own safety and protection, while the principles give us the guardrails to constrain our resources and drive creativity and value … Following key principles allows us to help our clients develop truly productive designs. Remember that innovation is about solutions that are creative or novel and generate value. If a solution is only creative, then it’s invention, not innovation.” Len Nanjad, partner at COREinternational Inc.,

“The word ‘innovation’ is a mindset, a vision for entrepreneurs. It’s not a single action, but a framework or process for doing business. Within our business, we started with the idea then looked more closely at the missing links. What was falling through the cracks? Was there a novel solution to the problem? We then aligned that need to our skill set. We tested with the marketplace, got some early results, made some modifications, and went back to the marketplace. Every step is about evaluation, modification and advancement. With vision and an ongoing cycle of improvement, we continually innovate.”

“It is critical for our business to be innovative. We have been involved with online marketing and analytics for over 10 years now, and must stay up-to-date with this fast-changing digital world. We ensure our team keeps their certifications current, are members and regular contributors to online industry communities, participate in local expert brain share meetups, and work with dedicated reps that help us qualify for beta products for our clients. This helps our clients stay ahead of their competition. We assess new products as they become available and match them with the clients that would benefit from them.” Kita Eserve, Internet marketing and web analytics expert at Metrik Marketing,

“I am being flexible with the requests I am getting in supporting candidates in the job marketplace today. Many job seekers have different needs and requests, while on limited budgets, and I’m tailoring my coaching deliverables to meet their needs. It’s innovative and it just feels like the right thing to do!” Carmen Goss, HR consultant and career coach at Carmen Goss,

“Sometimes innovation isn’t as complicated as it sounds. We are innovative in that we offer our clients a customer service experience of ‘wow.’ In our industry, this is innovative; we fix computers, and generally the typical IT guy isn’t looking to ‘wow’ anyone.”

Shawn Freeman, partner at TWT Group Inc.,

“My colleague and I are constantly striving to be innovative in how we define our services. Businesses often don’t understand how our services may fit their needs. We quickly adapt our language in proposals and marketing materials to align with their culture and semantics … Innovation for us is being able to package our skills with the right wrapping that will resonate with each of our clients.” Michelle Phaneuf, Alberta co-director at Workplace Fairness,

“Instead of working with my clients in person, I offer virtual coaching and online programs via video chat. We get the face-to-face connection without the troubles of traffic or transit time.”

Amanda MacIntyre, founder and holistic health coach at Rebel Health Coach,

Lynette Lefsrud, president and founder of GridStone Marketing,

These answers are in response to a question posed by Nicole Bourque-Bouchier, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs Celebration of Business owners helping business owners

Achievement award winner, as part of our Community Question series. Here’s her take:


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