This week is Canadian National Small Business Week, and it got me thinking about my own journey from small business leadership to one Forbes’ most innovative growth companies - and now SAP. Like many career paths it has been a long and winding road, but there are some elements at the core of running a small business that hold true no matter how big your company becomes.
In 1998, after getting restless in my career in technology consulting, I decided to join the startup world. Two of my friends had just incorporated an e-procurement business and I was eager to jump in. We grew that business to about 15 people with everything required to make it happen. From worrying about office space, to prioritizing the work of our precious development resources, to landing those first few clients, to getting funding and watching every penny, we had to do it all. And ultimately, we sold that company to Concur. It was a powerful lesson in what it takes to get something very small, but meaningful off the ground. Today Concur is a leading global provider of spend management solutions and I’m proud to say that I participated in the risk and innovation needed to build that story.
If innovation starts there, then how do we make sure that small business entrepreneurs have the tools to execute against their passions? Efficiency for small business means focusing on what they’re there to accomplish. Their mission. The best use of entrepreneurial time is probably not travel booking and expense reports, or invoice processing for that matter. At Concur we believe that we should take that work off of your plate so you can focus on what matters most. On the travel side we should make it easy for you to go see a client, see a sponsor, or see a partner. On the expense side we want to make sure it’s as painless as possible. Where, ultimately, expense reports create themselves.
We believe that our clients aren’t in the business of T&E. They’re in the business of a million other things that make the world a better place. They’re pharmaceutical companies, they’re nonprofits, they’re technology startups, they’re healthcare and life sciences companies – they’re doing important things. We think that this is one thing – travel and expense reporting – that they shouldn’t have to worry about. And so our job is to make sure that we’re continuing to push the envelope in driving efficiency into their businesses, so they can focus on what they do best.
Small businesses represent an ideal that Concur has not let go of since we ourselves were a very small business – that with hard work, innovation and creativity we can build a better world. Small businesses are the innovation drivers that move the world forward. Entrepreneurs begin small with the ultimate the goal of being the best at something they love, and strive to build something enduring and sustainable over time. When the business community takes the time to honor and foster that kind of thinking, the best ideas rise to the top, opportunity flourishes, and we all prosper.
We look forward to connecting with you about the unique needs of small businesses throughout this week. Because when we connect - we move forward. We innovate. We grow.
Elena Donio EVP & GM, SMB