Wes is co-founder and CEO of BitBakery, a software company which develops apps, websites and digital solutions. He leads a team of talented software engineers, product managers & designers. When he’s not working at BitBakery, he’s teaching Innovation and Entrepreneurship, volunteering in the community and working to improve his arial photography skills.
What sparked your love of entrepreneurship?
My interest in entrepreneurship started at a young age. My parents each ran their own business and they involved me in all aspects of their businesses.
When I turned six, my father let me use two acres of land to grow and sell crops. I decided to grow cucumbers and sell them for pickling and relishes. I decided on cucumbers because they grow quickly and I knew two customers who would take everything I could produce – Bicks and Willie’s.
The first year I did everything myself and quickly learned that was limited – I couldn’t scale. So, in my second year, I hired friends to help me grow the business, which increased my revenue and profit. My efforts paid off, I purchased my first motorcycle at the end of that summer.
These early experiences taught me the importance of hardwork, how to get along with others, the value of money, and how to scale.
How did you get involved in software businesses?
I discovered my interest in software development during my first year at University of Waterloo. I really enjoyed creating code, submitting it to be compiled and getting immediate results.
My first commercial application of software was an e-learning management system (LMS) and later in mobile and web applications.
What key lessons have you learned in your career about developing a business?
The key lesson I’ve learned is the power of persistence. Persistence allows entrepreneurs to defy the odds even when they seem insurmountable and to persist through extraordinarily difficult obstacles.
As a leader, what principles do you embrace when guiding teams?
The most important thing about leading a team is to recognize that each team member is an individual with their own strengths, weaknesses and interests. Your role as a leader is to help each team member achieve their potential.
I believe in small, high-performance teams. Productivity and results only marginally increase when teams are larger than three or four people. Small teams are lean and rely less on formalized processes to accomplish results.
What principles does a company need to operate by to last decades?
This is a big question. The simple answer is monitor and adapt to trends, the marketplace and customer interests.
A wise person once told me to “capture a corner on the obvious, and the world will beat a path to your door.” I think this is good advice on how a company can remain current and relevant.
What advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Aspiring entrepreneurs should start by understanding themselves well – their strengths and weaknesses. They should look for co-founders and teammates to complement their skills and traits.
Next, it’s important to understand the marketplace and their customers – build something that people really want.
Lastly, once you have something to test with customers, don’t hesitate to get to market and be prepared to iterate quickly based on their feedback.
How do you harmonize your work and personal life?
Everyone has the same amount of time – 168 hours per week. Being productive in harmonizing work and personal life starts with understanding priorities.
Scheduling time for personal activities such as learning, personal development, exercise, nutrition, sleep and work priorities, is the key to striking the right balance. A great resource to understand this concept is Mike Kirkup’s TedX Talk: There’s only 24 hours, so what are you waiting for?
What is it you strive to achieve through your work?
On a personal level, a motto I live by is ‘find a job you love and you never have to go to work’.
I’ve been fortunate enough to always love my work and it’s never felt like a job. For me, work is pleasure.
I strive to create opportunities for others and to find opportunities to improve our community.
What resources would you recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Read books and blogs or listen to podcasts – a minimum of 30 minutes daily. Lifelong learning is an important attribute for entrepreneurs. Learning from others is a great way to accelerate learning.
Professional and personal friends – surround yourself with professional and personal friends who are supportive, can call you on your shit, and tell you frankly how to improve.
Mentors and Coaches – they can help you navigate through difficult times. These mentors may include family, friends, or ideally, someone who has more experience and offers advice from their experiences.