Blo Blow Dry Bar co-founder Judy Brooks admires the entrepreneurial spirit that's imbued into Whistler's business community.
And the Vancouver-based "serial entrepreneur" should know: Brooks has successfully founded, built and sold three companies and is one of the region's leading business mentors (she co-founded Blo Blow Dry Bar with the Chamber's CEO Val Litwin).
Brooks will be in Whistler Monday, Feb. 3 for the first edition of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce's new Mega Mind series, which brings top entrepreneurs to the resort for one-on-one mentor sessions with local business leaders. But before then, Brooks outlined a few questions new entrepreneurs to the resort need to ask themselves before setting up shop.
"The different challenges if you're doing business in Whistler are seasonality and a transient population," she said. "So how is it that I can create a sense of community and a business I know can be viable around the business times, and speak enough to the community during shoulder season that I'm not draining my bank account? That requires a different business model or at least a different set of goals, metrics and way of looking at my business than if I was in a major city like Vancouver."
Brooks did note some similarities between the business communities in Whistler and Vancouver, however. Because there isn't the same number of corporate head offices in Vancouver as in other major North American cities, many entrepreneurs have had to forge their own path in order to make a living and continue enjoying a particular lifestyle. Brooks pointed to the growing number of entrepreneurs working remotely from the resort as an example of this.
She also stressed the importance of business leader, taking the time to actually enjoy the lifestyle they so covet.
"I think the biggest problem is how do you even want to work when it's a beautiful snowy or sunny day?" she asked. "If you choose to live in Whistler for the lifestyle then make sure you weave a way to enjoy that into your business."
As a member of the board on Vancouver's Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Brooks is dialed into the pulse of the Sea to Sky's entrepreneurial community, and recognizes how business strategies commonly associated with each gender can differ greatly.
"Generally, what we do know is that the characteristics of women in leadership have proven to be quite different (than those of men) and they're now the attributes that are coming to the forefront of what we expect of our leaders," she said. "That's not to say men don't have them, but they're not the (characteristics) that have been socialized naturally into males."
Collaboration, community building and a willingness to show vulnerability were the characteristics that have been traditionally associated with women that Brooks said have proven valuable for any business leader to possess. She said the stigma around these traits is beginning to erode for men in business, but that "it's a time of evolution for men and a time to understand they're allowed to be a little bit more vulnerable."
The founder of ProActive Resolutions and BodyLogic Health Management said she's been asked several times to speak in Whistler, and appreciates the opportunity to share with the resort's thriving business community.
"What I love about your small community, even though it's an internationally coveted community, is the joy for listening and learning and wanting to share," said Brooks. "You've got some great businesspeople, you've got some great business minds."
Chamber members can register for a one-on-one session with Brooks at www.whistlerchamber.com by 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30 for $45. Non members pay $85.
The next Mega Mind speaker will be Mike Desjardins, owner of consulting firm VIRTUS, on Feb. 27.