Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Stanleigh, CEO of Business Improvement Architects, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We provide innovative consulting and training solutions that optimize organizational performance. We help organizations increase their operational effectiveness by assisting their management and people to work competently, both individually and as a team. We ensure that organizations have a clearly defined strategic direction, optimal leadership performance, an effective innovation process, and flawless project and quality management. We deliver our consulting and training to private and public organizations across Canada, the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Tell us about yourself

I started my career working for large corporations in the field of training and development. It helped me explore my creative side. After all, I am a piano player, having studied music at University. I started a consulting practice about 25 years ago. I wanted to help business leaders get to the root cause of their business problems and generate effective solutions. I'm always on the go, traveling around the globe to serve my international clients. My approach to life is to help others succeed by placings other people's interests first, being a great listener, and always being receptive to new ideas. I am constantly working on ways to help serve and help organizations and their people. I believe there is a world of consultants, and I knew I had to differentiate myself. This led me to become a Certified Management Consultant through CMC Canada and Global CMC. The certification is by government legislation. Essentially, it gives the right to the title of consultant. Non-CMCs don't have this right, though they use it always. I was recently nominated and awarded to be a Fellow of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants (FCMC).

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The constant accolades that I made a measurable difference to organizations, departments, and individuals.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Saying no. I can't do everything, but some people seem to think I can. The long hours can be challenging. There is no clock. The clients wanted it yesterday. Traveling can sometimes be grueling.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't charge an hourly fee. Think carefully about what the client or customer wants and give a price based on your experience. You might make less than hoped, but satisfied clients and customers tell others. Over time, you'll improve your estimations, and they will get more accurate. Clients and customers don't want to hear that it costs more than you expected. This should be our problem, not theirs.
  2. Listen very carefully, without interruption. Then feedback on your understanding of their issue, concern, or challenge. Agree you'll consider it, research it and then get back to them with your approach to managing this opportunity.
  3. Recognize that you can't win every contact. Some are just fishing, but we still try to give them the same quality of the proposal.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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