Cynthia Spraggs is CEO at Sales Beacon Consulting Inc. Founded in 2005, Sales Beacon Consulting implements enterprise sales programs via integrated virtual project management, creative and data analytic services. In a nutshell, Sales Beacon increases sales force efficiency.
WBE Canada: Why did you go into this business?
Cynthia: I wrote my Master’s thesis on telecommuting in 1994 and made a promise to myself, never to work in a corporate office again. Like most of the people in our company, I prefer to spend my extra hours each day engaged in the arts, sports or learning. Wasting an hour getting ready for work, another hour commuting each way, to be in a cubicle or small office under really bad florescent lights didn’t seem a nice way to spend my life. I was always more effective working from home.
WBE Canada: When it comes to your business, what are you most proud of?
Cynthia: That we empower people in small towns across Canada to have a career without needing to leave their communities. My personal passion is to empower people to have better lives – whether it is our employees by giving them work/life balance – or our clients by making their teams operate more effectively.
WBE Canada: As a business grows it has a tendency to focus on institution instead of inspiration. How do you prevent this from happening?
Cynthia: We have three guiding principles that we constantly reinforce on team meetings throughout the year. One of these is “Question Everything”. This means we want people to constantly challenge us to operate better, more efficiently, try a different tool. I don’t want anyone to think that just because something has been done one way for a long time, there’s not a better way to do it. Everyone’s door is always open to new ideas. It is amazing how transformative it is.
WBE Canada: How do you encourage creative thinking in your company?
Cynthia: I’m a big follower of Susan Cain’s work and giving individuals space to figure things out – as opposed to constantly pushing people into group work. Personally, most of my best creative thinking time is done when I’m asleep and the other 95% of my brain can work on the problem. I usually wake up with an answer. We encourage people to go offline and have downtime pursuing whatever they are passionate about. From a process perspective, every quarter, we choose an area of the company, everyone thinks about it before hand individually, then we look at possible new ways to approach operating it. We use Scrum and Design Thinking elements, lots of sticky notes to group ideas, break out teams. We mix it up so there’s never a routine. Then we capture everything on a team dashboard and keep it in an “ideas” list, which we revisit quarterly and decide if there are any we should implement. Mostly, we take the time to think.
WBE Canada: How has your WBE certification helped you in your business?
Cynthia: It gives us a credibility and entrance into opportunities I’m not sure we’d have otherwise. And it has introduced us to a lot of great suppliers and consultants I’m not sure we would have found otherwise. The conferences are always really great for networking and finding new ideas.
WBE Canada: What advice would you give to another woman at the beginning stage of building her business?
Cynthia: Trust your gut. I’ve worked with a number of extremely experienced consultants and board members over the years who have given me advice that just didn’t feel right. Against my better judgement, I followed the expert advice and later had to pull back. No one knows your business like you do. Never bow to someone else’s ideas just because you perceive them as more experienced in business than you are.
WBE Canada: What has been the most challenging time in your business and how did you overcome it?
Cynthia: I think the most challenging time in our business has been when we’ve hired someone, especially in a management role, and they just aren’t a fit. Finding this out can take years and meanwhile it impacts you operationally due to low performance. What we’ve learned is that you’re better off making do without a particular role filled than to fill it too quickly with a compromise.
WBE Canada: What has been the biggest triumph?
Cynthia: Becoming a Cisco Systems Preferred Tier 2 Vendor and Partner, which for a small company in a small town in Nova Scotia is a really big deal for us.
WBE Canada: What is your superpower?
Cynthia: I can read minds.
WBE Canada: How do you continue to develop and grow as a leader?
Cynthia: As soon as I figure out “how” to do something, I hand it off or delegate it. Then I encourage the next person to do the same. By handing operational or routine parts of my job, I can refocus us forward. I take a lot of art and music classes. Recently, on the advice of a friend, I’ve started listening to books like Good to Great instead of reading them. I get so much more out of them. It has been transformational!
WBE Canada: Has there been someone who inspired you and how?
Cynthia: I was an extremely shy, introverted child who was bullied by a group of girls at school. My grade 8 math teacher noticed that I was extremely talented in calculus and encouraged me to pursue mathematics. This tiny bit of encouragement gave me the self-confidence to block out all the negativity around me and focus on excellence.
WBE Canada: What is your favourite quote?
Cynthia: It is what it is. This phrase is a favorite in my family. It means, no matter what the situation, how you feel about it isn’t going to change it (so get over yourself).
WBE Canada: Are you actively involved in community work? If so, please provide a brief outline.
Cynthia: I’ve been very active in the local community helping organizations raise money and I’ve often lent out staff to help them move forward. After eight years of intense volunteering in local organizations, I found it impacted my time too much and reduced my quality of life. It was like having two full time jobs. Now we help out by building websites or by helping to promote organizations with social media. It is a win-win because the organizations get a better marketing tool and our creative services can continue to upgrade their skills. We have a “giving back” page on our website that details our work with various organizations. https://salesbeacon.com/sales-beacon-community-support/
WBE Canada: What do you hope your legacy will be?
Cynthia: I hope my legacy will be 1,000 Canadians in small communities who have a better life because they worked for Sales Beacon.
About Sales Beacon Consulting Inc.
With almost a decade and hundreds of sales and marketing assignments since 2007, they know how to help sales organizations run better, report better and close more deals. As a virtual company based in small town Nova Scotia, Sales Beacon operates a comprehensive training and mentoring program that transforms underemployed, intelligent individuals into professional program consultants. The majority of their consultants are women, working out of their homes throughout rural Canada.
About WBE Canada
WBE Canada is a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for women-owned businesses to supply chains across North America. It certifies Canadian firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and introduces them to opportunities with corporations. To learn more about how we support women-owned businesses, click here. If you are a mid-size or large company looking to support women-owned businesses through procurement opportunities, we want to hear from you. Click here to learn more how you can get involved.