We’ve been offering business solutions to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) since 2008 and have always had the same goal: to help build a world where SMEs can thrive.
Our way to do this is by providing SMEs with the departments and resources that big businesses have in-house, resources which SMEs can’t typically justify or access. We work to simplify operations for SMEs by being an extension of their existing team or becoming the team if one doesn’t exist, and we fill the daily operational gaps as well as the longer-term strategic priorities.
The result is that SMEs feel as if they have a complete HR, finance, accounting and/or recruitment department in-house while not actually having to take on these functions themselves.
Tell us about yourself?
Much of my earlier career was spent providing talent management and senior HR expertise to large organizations. I had the privilege of leading a global talent system implementation for Alcatel, where I spent two years in Paris. Later, during my time with IBM, I supported their Human Capital Management solutions with a focus on workforce transformation for clients in Canada, the US, and France. Afterward, I returned to the telecom industry, taking on the role of VP of Global Human Resources for Nokia’s Applications and Analytics Business, where I remained until 2017.
While I was working in these larger organizations, I had developed a strong interest in working with small to mid-sized businesses. In 2017, I had the opportunity to join Business Sherpa Group to lead and grow our Managed Recruitment solution.
With our success and the continued growth, I now lead Business Sherpa Group as we continue to scale and strive to provide expertise and flexible business solutions to SMEs.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
While it’s tempting to focus on expanding your client base and increasing revenue, it’s crucial not to underestimate the importance of your existing clients. Cultivating quality, communication, and strong partnerships with your current clients is essential, and the rewards are substantial. By consistently delivering high-quality service and maintaining open lines of communication, you lay the foundation for enduring business relationships, potential personal connections, and referrals both for your business and brand and the opportunity to offer additional services to your clients.
What problem does your business solve?
Business Sherpa Group’s ethos is that no organization – regardless of size – should be prevented from accessing the resources it needs to thrive.
Our solutions are designed specifically for SMEs and the unique business challenges they face, which are almost always related to not having practical access to the expertise, technology, and human power larger organizations have.
How this looks in real life is that SMEs end up with their owners and staff juggling multiple roles, unable to focus fully, feeling overwhelmed, and not having enough time to do everything they want to.
To help SMEs deal with these realities, we provide outsourced operations support in a one-stop shop mindset where clients can have their human resources, accounting, recruitment, and executive-level work all supported by us. This really helps simplify things for the client. Our team of experts provides hands-on support alongside technology and senior expertise. We work embedded, so each client feels like the BSG team member working with them is an extension of their own team but with the bonus of uninterrupted support and access to the depth of BSG’s full team’s expertise. We scale up or down as the client’s needs evolve, with no long-term commitments. Everything we do is designed specifically for SMEs and to help them get the support they need in a way that works for them.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
A series of events played a pivotal role in catalyzing Business Sherpa Group. One of the initial moments that propelled our Founder and Chair, Margo Crawford, was her sense of being under-resourced in the tech startup she co-founded prior to BSG.
This startup was small and constantly competing with larger organizations. Her role encompassed overseeing various aspects of the business and, like many of our clients, led to her wearing multiple hats. This experience marked a crucial juncture in her path toward BSG. She recognized that for a business to function efficiently, internal functions needed dedicated ownership. Even as the startup expanded and hired additional resources to alleviate some of her responsibilities, it never grew large enough to fill all the roles she had undertaken, mirroring a common challenge faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This firsthand experience illuminated a market need, motivating Margo to seek ways to address it. Her passion for SMEs, driven by their vital contributions and innovative services and products, was solidified during this period. The tech startup also ignited a belief that underdogs can excel in their endeavours.
Another noteworthy realization was that Margo didn’t fit, nor did she want to fit, into the corporate landscape of large businesses. She yearned for a sense of meaningful contribution, which strongly aligned with the world of small businesses. Here, she could serve as a catalyst for positive change rather than a cog in the machine. This is a common passion that persists in our BSG staff and motivates us to do the work we do.
What is your magic sauce?
We have a large team of experts who work alongside leading tech – this provides a strong balance of critical thinking and efficient ways of getting work done. Our team can all lean on each other to share what they know and help each client benefit from a collective rather than just one person.
What is the really special part about BSG is that we provide support in all the key back-office operational functions a business requires. So clients can get their HR, finance, and recruitment in one place, rather than the more traditional method of having one person or company for each of these areas. It simplifies a client’s operations so they can focus on what they love doing, and at the same time, provides solid continuity that mitigates risk for the client.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We want to continue to help SMEs from across Canada and plan to focus even more on optimizing our use of experts alongside technology and translate this into greater efficiency for our clients. It’s a time of change with AI now on the scene, and SMEs have a unique ability to be nimble. Ensuring we are helping them adapt and that they are able to find the ideal mix of human touch and critical thinking alongside systems that can save time and ultimately help them thrive is our main goal.
Internally, we aim to use ourselves as an example by striving to be at the forefront of industry changes so that we can not only support and uplift other businesses but also provide innovative solutions to our clients that we have tested first. By harnessing the power of technology and combining it with the human touch, we are committed to empowering SMEs to thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Scaling is a phase where big decision points come up, and we’ve been growing steadily these last few years. During this, we have made a conscious investment in behind-the-scenes technology to support our delivery of services and solutions through an effective and efficient internal infrastructure. While a significant investment and commitment by the organization at a time where the focus is continued revenue growth, it is critical to ensure we can provide the quality of support we want at scale. We’ve had to choose what processes to focus on, optimizing first and then working our way through implementing these changes.
It’s always nerve-wracking when you’re making major decisions and changes to support growth, but the rewards have been worth it. An issue we experienced while undertaking a couple of internal projects was underestimating the effort and scope required by our team and business. While it was essential to ensure and prepare for proper scope at the onset, to ensure the quality and efficiencies we demanded of the projects, we had to make decisions part way through to tighten scope and better align our resources to support the delivery. This included having to revise deadlines. It’s difficult to admit you can’t do everything you want at the same time, but the positive impacts of making these calls have paid off because it means we were able to do what we did do really well.
How can people get involved?
Our website is the best place to get in touch! www.businesssherpagroup.com
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