Inside The Mind Of . . . Colin Sprake

Colin Sprake
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Colin Sprake is an author, speaker, and business coach.

A highly sought after keynote speaker and trainer, Colin teaches that success is attainable in both family and business without sacrificing one for the other.

A serial entrepreneur with decades of experience building multiple million dollar businesses globally, in various industries and economies, Colin founded Make Your Mark Training and Consulting in 2004, with a passion to assist entrepreneurs to realize their full profit potential, and do it with heart, making a positive impression on those their business impacts: staff, colleagues, vendors, families and community.

The combination of Colin’s live events, programs and online trainings have created a network of nearly 50,000 entrepreneurs across Canada.

Colin is also an author of four #1 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.

How do you describe what you do?

I started out in this industry looking at helping people do sales, marketing, what have you – that was about ten years ago. Then, I realized very quickly that people need a system that they can plug into. So, we created a system for entrepreneurs that they plug into over a two year period, a combination of courses and accountability groups to ensure that when they come in on day one, they leave in a very different position financially – and in their business – two years later.

You run what’s called the Sherpa System. Could you sum that up, and also explain why you named it after mountain climbers?

It’s really a two-year program on becoming a more successful entrepreneur.

I think 90 per cent of business is how you think, and what happens inside you head – and the rest of it is the sales, marketing, customer service, hiring and firing people, those kind of details.

They are really important to getting people where they need to be.

The reason why we named it the Sherpa System, is because there’s lots of coaches out there. Coaches, to me, are great, but the saddest part is, most coaches have never climbed the mountain of success.

They’ve done it many, many times. They’ve gone up there themselves, they’ve fallen off the mountain, they’ve have many challenges as they climb up the mountain. That, to me, is what you want helping you grow your business.

You want someone who has been there, done it, had the challenges, lost money, gained money, fallen off the mountain, whatever it is. I’m a Sherpa who helps people get there, because I’ve been there myself many, many times.

That’s how you position yourself differently from other speakers and coaches?

Completely. Also, what makes us different is that we have an accountability program that makes sure you implement what you learn. We get the students together every two weeks and make sure they are implementing what they are meant to do, through a really structured accountability program. That’s very unusual in this industry. We really care, because that’s 90 per cent of entrepreneur’s problems –take stuff they learn, but never implement it.

What most often keeps people from succeeding in business?

You might be shocked by the answer. I think the number one thing that stops businesses from getting ahead is stubbornness –to think they know everything.

They are so stubborn that they won’t even accept your opinion. It comes down to: do they have an open mindset? Because stubborn will kill you. Stubborn means you won’t learn from others, take advice from others, and be mentored.

You say most businesses – or most business owners – don’t have a vision.

To me, if you don’t have a vision, it is like going on vacation without a destination.

I’ve always written down one or two paragraphs of a vision, of where I hope to be in three years. It becomes extremely sharp. I did it for myself, and now I do it for our clients. It has to be a defined vision in all aspects – media, sales, marketing, for every part of their life, as well as their family. It has to be the who, how, when, and what, that fulfills your vision.

What is a common business blunder?

No matter how big or how small you are, you should be monitoring your cash flow all the time. For some companies, it should be daily, some maybe weekly. But definitely, minimum once a month.

People don’t monitor their numbers enough to get ahead. Then, they wonder why, all of a sudden, they are in a cash crunch, or all their money’s gone.

You want employees to feel empowered, engaged, inspired, and influenced. How best to do that in a corporate environment?

I think the number one thing is – Richard Branson says it the best, and I got to spend time with him in March of this year – “Everyone says your clients are number one. I believe your employees are number one.” At the end of the day, if you look after your employees, they’ll look after your clients. If you treat your employees badly, they will treat your clients even worse.

Treat your employees with immense respect, and your employees will go above and beyond to make things happen for you, to get you to the goals you want to be at.

Every single morning, we do a celebration meeting with our team from 9 am to 9:10. We celebrate all the successes we’ve had from the previous day. My goal is to alleviate stress on our team, so they can see what they’ve achieved every single day, and they can see what still needs to be done. We also prioritize what needs to be done for that day as well. We help each other. It alleviates a lot of stress.

What differentiates a good leader from a great leader?

You are always being watched as a leader in a company. Exceptional leaders create exceptional leaders. They don’t create exceptional followers.

How would you suggest is the best life/work balance?

I don’t believe in life/work balance. When I was on Necker Island, there were twenty-six business owners sitting down with Richard Branson, chatting about this. For me, you can either be working, or you’re at home with the family. There’s no real balance between that. It’s like being happy and sad. You can’t be happy and sad at the same time.

I put together a Freedom Plan, which is what most people don’t do. It is a business plan, plus your life plan. People don’t have balance because they are focusing so much on their business plan, they forget about their life plan.

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Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon

Dave Gordon is a Toronto-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in more than a hundred publications globally, over the course of twenty years. More about him can be found at DaveGordonWrites.com