To succeed in the modern market, you must be extraordinary

By/par Donald Cooper

Managing any business today is tough…and getting tougher. We’re all faced with more demanding customers, more—and stronger—competition, increased complexity and shrinking margins. On top of that, great staff are hard to find and keep. And that problem won’t go away any time soon.

Every industry is over-served and under-differentiated. To thrive, in good times or bad, we must create extraordinary customer value and experiences that will clearly differentiate us from our competitors; make us ‘famous’ and grow our bottom lines. Then, we must proactively market, sell and promote like we’ve never done before, in this crowded, confused and cynical marketplace.

We must create world-class operating efficiency and a clear vision of what our business will become in three to five years. Then, we must have the right business model and a top-performing team. Without these four things, we cannot grow our business.

Finally, we need to understand the math of profitability and control expenses accordingly—and carefully. Performance must be measured, acknowledged and rewarded. Conversely, non-performance must be dealt with promptly. Lack of clarity and failure to deal with non-performance are two of the biggest challenges facing many businesses today. So, we must all manage smarter. We must work on our businesses; not just in it.

To achieve all of this, we must be innovative, focused, proactive and passionate. In short, we must be extraordinary. Mediocrity is no longer an option.

Donald Cooper, MBA, HoF, is a highly experienced businessman and Certified Speaking Professional inducted in the Canadian Speaking Hall of Fame. He started his journey in business at the mere age of six, he says, sweeping the floor at his family’s business for five cents per day. He earned an MBA from the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and, during his time with his family’s hockey equipment business, Cooper Canada bought competitors, went public, became unionized, imported and exported to more than 20 countries, opened an offshore factory and grew to more than 2,800 employees. As he puts it, Donald has been “in the trenches.”

For the last 20 years, Donald has worked alongside business owners and managers worldwide to improve clarity of purpose, compelling customer value, management effectiveness and long-term profitability. For more information on Donald and his work, visit

Donald Cooper will be speaking at the 2024 OARA Convention and Trade Show. Be sure to attend!


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