Lorna Vanderhaeghe has achieved the impressive metaphysical feat of appearing in several places at once.
Last January, the hands-on president and public face of Lorna Vanderhaeghe Health Solutions Inc. was having trouble managing all the components of her multimillion-dollar company while spending approximately nine months of the year on the road to build her business. Her Small Business Challenge: How could she best manage her rapidly growing company from afar?
(Check out the original Challenge column here.)
The entrepreneur has since come to rely on a technology other than the airplane. Over the past 12 months, she has invested in a sophisticated online webinar program that allows her to beam live into the homes and offices of her sales reps and clients across the continent.
Now from her Vancouver office, Ms. Vanderhaeghe can deliver her sales pitches and educational seminars to hundreds of people simultaneously, whether they’re in Kelowna, B.C., Toronto or Tampa.
“It’s just like me being in the room. I’m on the screen for the consumer, but then when the talk is done we turn the cameras on the room and people ask me questions live. So it’s just like me being there,” she says.
“We’ve been able to talk to more women, spread the message to more people and make more of our retailers happy because there’s more of me to spread around.”
Though she’s still racking up NASA-level air miles, Ms. Vanderhaeghe can spend more time overseeing operations from her home base, a convenience that has allowed her to hone in on areas to which she couldn’t previously give her full attention.
She also took the advice of The Globe’s expert panelist Charles Chang, president of Port Coquitlam, B.C.-based Vega Ltd., who recommended she expand her management team.
“Charles gave the most appropriate response because he’s done the job,” she explains. “He hasn’t been the spokesperson out in the field, but it’s important when you first start a business and you have that rapid growth phase that you have management in place, people who can make decisions when you’re not there.”
Ms. Vanderhaeghe has since brought a new marketing manager on board – a hire she says has proved successful.
“In my last interview it was all about proofing ads on an iPhone while travelling in a car down the 401 at breakneck speed. I’m not doing so much of that because now I have management in place to handle those key things,” she adds.
With that extra wiggle room, she has been able to finish her next book, a guide to healthy skin from within, and push forward her agenda to expand into the U.S. market, where her monthly newsletter already has a strong readership base.
In light of these changes, business is up by 39 per cent for 2013, she says, and her company made Profit magazine’s Top 500 List of Canadian female entrepreneurs for the third consecutive year.
As an added bonus, she is planning on taking her first proper vacation in ages.
“We’re going to Maui for a week, and as my husband says with a laugh, ‘Well, let’s see if we actually get on that plane,’ because we keep booking them and something happens and we can’t go.”
If they do manage to get on that beach, however, it will still look very much like an entrepreneur’s version of a holiday.
“It definitely won’t be BlackBerry-free,” she laughs. “Both my husband and I run businesses, and his is a much bigger one than mine.”