CFU 115: How to Use Leadership to Drive Impact Within a Multi-Million Dollar Business, with Chris Thomson

Leadership, motivation, and entrepreneur are three of the biggest buzzwords in today’s business environment. Chris Thomson, business owner and partner for Canada’s Student Works Painting, has built a company that brings in over $17 million in annual revenue, has raised over $1.3 million for various charities, and plugs highly-skilled undergraduate students into a working business model. Khierstyn herself is an alumnus of the program and on this episode of Crowdfunding Uncut she and Chris discuss the most important leadership strategies for young entrepreneurs and why identifying your “why” is so critical. You don’t want to miss this inspiring episode, so be sure to give it your full attention.

How Student Works Painting creates future business leaders

Student Works Painting operates by giving undergraduate college students the opportunity to create a business plan, market, and sell a company. Participants can elect to work as a minimum wage painter for a single academic year or apply to be a part of the prestigious Summer Management Program. The summer program teaches students leadership and business skills that are transferable to any career path. By focusing on the mentorship and student development portions of the business model, not just the final painted product, Chris and his team are able to enable promising students to flourish in their personal development. Chris is “developing the next great generation of Canadian business leaders” and his insights are sure to inspire, be sure to check out this episode.

Identifying the “why” behind your work will motivate you to create more and take more action

Just as Student Works Painting is so much more than a house painting business, your business needs to be about more than just the final product. Identifying the true reasons behind why you’re doing the work you’re doing will pay off in dividends. Chris stays motivated and passionate about his work because it’s really about impacting young people and giving them the tools to succeed later in life. He explains to Khierstyn on this episode that you have to connect your business idea, your future life goals, and the needs/wants of your employees and customers for your entrepreneurial venture to really succeed. Identifying the “why” will motivate you to complete the business tasks that are necessary but aren’t that exciting. To hear how Chris discovered his “why” be sure to listen to this podcast.

The top essentials for good leadership and why you should apply the pay it forward technique in life and business

Servant leadership is a huge part of what Chris does at Student Works Painting, and he encourages listeners of this episode of Crowdfunding Uncut to always take care of people first – tasks and objectives can wait. If your employees aren’t being taken care of and don’t feel valued the important work won’t be done at a high-caliber level. Your conversations shouldn’t revolve around money. Focusing solely on the transactions of business cheapens the relationships you should be trying to develop. When there’s real alignment between vision, value, employees, and customers, that’s when your company and brand are going to be launched into success. Chris also mentions that you can attract high-quality people with a vision, but you have to keep them through mentoring.

The most important part of being an entrepreneur and Chris’ famous last words of motivation

The first step in becoming a successful entrepreneur is passionately seeking out your own strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles. After you determine your authentic self, fill your team with people who will encourage your strengths and support your weaknesses. Chris explains to Khierstyn that people work better in teams because no one is great at every task or leadership style. However, incredible things can happen when passionate, dynamic people tackle a common goal. By always learning and being willing to take the first step into a new project, you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish. “The world bends to those who are in action,” exclaims Chris, and you definitely need to hear the rest of his advice for aspiring business leaders. Don’t let this episode of Crowdfunding Uncut go unlistened.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:53] Khierstyn introduces her guest for this episode, Chris Thomson, business partner for Student works
  • [3:27] How did Khierstyn go from a biochemistry major in college to working with Chris at Student Works Painting?
  • [5:38] What exactly is Student Works Painting?
  • [7:14] Chris’ journey from individual to business partner and owner over 30 years of working in Student Works
  • [10:34] Developing future business leaders through Student Works
  • [14:00] How can you realize what your passion is, even while working on your business?
  • [19:04] The magic behind why Student Works has returning participants year after year
  • [21:46] The essentials for good leadership and applying the pay it forward technique
  • [27:25] We work better in teams because no one is great at every task or leadership technique
  • [34:53] Creating a network is so critical, because you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with
  • [36:21] Chris’ famous last words for entrepreneurs

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Chris Thomson

Connect With Khierstyn

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