Dec. 06, 2011
Amit Sandhu is not one to treat his takeover of the family business as a free ride. He has big plans for Ampri Group, which was founded by his parents and comprises several real-estate development companies. These plans include the development of an eco-conscious yet affordable hotel chain called Bloom Hotels & Resorts Ltd. (The first Bloom property is planned to open in 2014.) Sandhu envisages the chain as a “leadership factory”
wherein employees are mentored to do great things, either within the company or elsewhere. The pay-it-forward concept holds great resonance for Sandhu: when he’s not overseeing day-to-day business related to the firm’s many developments, he is volunteering with or donating to a laundry list of organizations, including the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Company of Young Professionals, the Richmond Hospital Foundation and Tourism Richmond. “I aim not merely to differentiate the Ampri brand,” he says. “Rather, I strive to use the Ampri brand to make a difference.”
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
I have learned that controlling costs and debt levels is critical. Being cognizant of the company’s financial position at any given time enables me to keep a sharp focus on attaining goals to get closer to our desired bottom line. It’s tempting to fast-track growth by taking on additional debt during a strong economic period. However, it’s always best to plan for the worst, especially when consumer confidence in the economy wavers. Being well prepared helps to ride out any recessionary phase.
What has been the biggest surprise about being an entrepreneur?
There is never a dull day, since there are so many different aspects of my business to manage, develop or expand. This uncertainty about where tomorrow will lead me keeps me very engaged with my work. It has pushed me to become a better problem solver. And when problems aren’t apparent, I use those same skills to become an opportunity builder.
What can governments, institutions and other businesses do to better support young entrepreneurs?
In my opinion, a gap exists in Canada’s education system, particularly the high-school curriculum. Our education system is skewed in favour of formal careers rather than entrepreneurial careers and is not conducive to shaping the future of the Canadian economy. Exposing youth to the benefits and challenges of entrepreneurship will better prepare them to make post-secondary education and career choices. This, in turn, will increase their chances of success as young entrepreneurs.
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