The Big Idea: Thinking big for small business

Whistler is a town well versed in the merits of coaching to reach great heights. While this may be commonplace in the athletic arena, what about elevating achievements on the corporate playing field? Coaching is a big trend in today’s business landscape, with leaders increasingly harnessing the power of this approach to drive their performance.

James Kirkwood is putting this practice to work in his backyard. His business, Kirkwood Consulting Group, is bringing executive-level coaching to Whistler businesses. This personalized one on one coaching aims to elevate local business owners and senior management transitioning to leadership roles.

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Kirkwood came to Whistler five years ago after trading a top position in one of the world’s largest media companies for a professional life devoted to putting big business ideas to work for small and medium sized businesses.

“My passion is working alongside leaders that want to inspire change, explore growth strategies, while maintaining the ideal work environment,” said Kirkwood. “I’m excited to be able to offer executive level coaching to local Whistler businesses.”

A view to the next level

Kirkwood frequently sees local business owners tied to the operational side of entrepreneurship, struggling to carve out the time to take a strategic look at their business.

This is where Kirkwood’s toolbox of proven strategies can quickly have a big impact. Whether meeting at a boardroom table or on a chairlift, Kirkwood’s service provides an elevated perspective for his clients to work strategically and plan the execution for growth.

“I evaluate the way a business currently functions and identify opportunities that support growth and achievement of their key business objectives,” said Kirkwood.

The areas that are often of top priority for small business owners land right in Kirkwood’s wheelhouse — creating strategies to boost sales, developing key marketing plans and improving employee engagement are Kirkwood’s key areas of expertise.

Proven practices

When it comes to applying best practices, Kirkwood has indeed had ample experience, with 25 years working closely with high performance teams for 1,000-plus clients globally.

“I’ve operated my own business, worked on the frontline and worked my way up to a director role in a $1.3 billion media company,” said Kirkwood.

This experience has equipped him with proven strategies to propel businesses to their next level. For small businesses that can struggle to stay ahead of the curve, Kirkwood can bring a broad perspective with a finger on the pulse of big business trends.  

“My continual professional development has kept me at the forefront of strategies that plan for tomorrow and are relevant today,” he explained. “This is what businesses are thirsty for.”

A winning mix of work and play

Since arriving in Whistler with his wife Shannon, Kirkwood has immersed himself in all aspects of the community, both professional and recreational.

“Biking and skiing are big draw cards for us, but the thing that really hooked us in was the community that we have become actively involved with,” Kirkwood said. “Working side-by-side with entrepreneurs to fast track their success is something I love to do.”

As president for BNI Mountain High in Whistler, Kirkwood has gathered an active group of business owners specializing in word-of-mouth referrals and says being a director on the Whistler Chamber board means he sees firsthand the challenges and opportunities shared by the business community.

Kirkwood mentored emerging social entrepreneurs in the 2016 Social Venture Challenge and can also be found facilitating implementation of the Whistler Chamber’s Whistler Experience service methodology.

Keeping his ear to the ground in the community keeps Kirkwood tuned into local issues and opportunities so he can always offer a Whistler-specific perspective on strategy.

“Being mindful of the recreational playground we live, in I try to get out in it as much as I can. I must admit that some of my most productive meetings have happened on skis or two wheels.”

Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector.

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