Rick Eastwood, known for running one of Canada’s 50 Best Privately Managed Firms, is a bona fide powerhouse. He’s been with it for over 28 years, and did we mention it’s valued at over $100m. Yeah, that kind of powerhouse.

Rick Eastwood (Source: LinkedIn)

Starting a business is no easy feat. Growing that business is a whole other beast. So what enabled Rick to accomplish all that and more? 

“When you start running your own business and you learn what’s involved in the success of being an entrepreneur, those habits apply to any business. The hard work and the determination and the unbelievable persistency with respect to always being on it. [I developed those habits] when I was 21 years old [as a Students Works Manager], and I’d say at 55 I’m still going strong” Rick told Chris Thomson on our Leaders of Tomorrow Podcast. 

Our Managers can attest that we’re always touting the importance of mentorship while also encouraging them to be transparent and learn from mistakes. The fact is, there is no rule book for taking your company to the top, but there are, as Rick shared, habits that you can develop to ensure you’re prepared to weather any storm.

Grab a notepad, because throughout his interview, Rick shared many helpful tips for running a business that young entrepreneurs can benefit from understanding:

Cash is King

When operating a business, it’s imperative that you don’t conflate revenue with cash.

“You know the old expression, ‘revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash flow is reality’? It’s cash first. So if you’re starting a business, really prepare for that. All the sales are going to take longer to come in, all the expenses are going to be higher than you expected,” Rick forewarned. 

Don’t place all your Eggs in one Basket

Not to cause alarm, but according to Rick:

“You have to assume that you’re going to lose all of your business tomorrow,” he shared. 

While the idea of that occurring is certainly a doomsday scenario for any entrepreneur, Rick didn’t share it to merely stoke fear in your heart.

In fact, he learned this lesson the hard way. In its earlier days, Rick’s firm was in a vulnerable position. One of his top clients was accounting for the vast majority of his revenue, and when they pulled their business, the state of his firm was threatened. In the aftermath, he vowed to never allow something like that to happen again by ensuring that moving forward, his company could afford to lose any client and remain resilient. 

Commit to your Success

As all of our trainees are aware, success takes years to cultivate. To that point, Rick shared the common saying, “I spent my entire life becoming an overnight success”.

“Things take a lot longer than you expect. There’s no quick fix, there’s no easy money, it doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as luck, there’s timing … it’s a lot of hard work and it’s steady literally everyday,” he told Chris. Truer words! 

Are you a student looking to further your development as a leader and enter the exciting world of entrepreneurship? Check out more stories from Student Works participants and alumni on our Leaders of Tomorrow Podcast!