Can small business entrepreneurs survive in this new information age? With the world at consumers’ fingertips, it is an ongoing challenge for small businesses to differentiate themselves in order to survive.

The Canadian economy relies on the success of small businesses. In fact, 70 percent of our private sector jobs are employed by small businesses. However, thousands of new companies enter and exit the market every year. Many companies fail because they lack knowledge of the market, do not know their consumers, and fail to be innovative. Indeed, The Conference Board of Canada’s 2015 Innovation Ranking Report gave Canada a C-Grade for innovation and ranked the country 12 out of 19 as compared to its peers.

One key way for businesses to begin to think innovatively is to use a multi-business strategy that draws on collaboration and networking. After interviewing a number of successful small business entrepreneurs, a trend for operating multiple related businesses was uncovered. This multi-business strategy works, as it offers customers greater networking value. In other words, many of today’s entrepreneurs must wear different hats to be successful.

After spending the day with one successful entrepreneur, Clinton Howell, I experienced the power of the multi-business trend first hand. Howell has over 20 years of success, building custom home theatre and automation companies, including the acquisition of his Howell & Associates Inc. flagship company by Best Buy Canada. Howell is also the founder and owner of H2 Systems Inc., a very successful company in Halton and across the GTA.

Howell is now the Director of Custom Residential Sales and Marketing with Design Electronics. Just recently H2 Systems Inc. and Design Electronics merged to form a strong powerhouse, offering homeowners across the GTA and beyond with the best when it comes to home automation and integration services.

“In today’s market customers are looking for constant innovation as a value-add since the digital economy has created a savvier and knowledgeable consumer,” explains Howell. “This is terrific since it pushes me to offer more value to my loyal customer base.”

Howell has met the consumers’ call for innovation by combining his custom home automation and interior consulting businesses with a real estate business to offer customers a full service experience that meets their home needs. Since becoming a Sales Representative with RE/Max Escarpment Realty Inc., Brokerage, Howell’s career continues to flourish in many ways.

“By taking this approach I am able to provide my years of experience creating a better lifestyle in your home to now helping my customers market their homes as well,” says Howell.

Howell has not let the rapid changes in technology hamper his innovation. Rather, he has taken advantage of new forms of networking platforms through social media to promote his businesses, merging his customer base.

Not only does he integrate the websites for his individual companies, but also he uses Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to connect with his customers on a more personnel and visual level, appealing to a younger generation of consumers.

Howell’s ability to wear many hats and innovate across complimentary businesses has created a niche for his success.

He has long been known as an innovator in his own right. To date Howell and his past companies have won 17 CEDIA Electronic Lifestyle Awards for home theatre and home integration installations, which is impressive to say the least. And he has also been heavily relied on as an expert by many notable media outlets: Hoss Magazine, The Toronto Sun, The Toronto Tribune, CHCH News, Halton Insider News – YourTV(Cogeco TV News), The Burlington Post, Chill Magazine, The Examiner, and CNN International Report News, to name a handful.

Even better, he is now a well-known face and expert on TV, and has made a number of appearances on HGTV: The House of Bryan and Leave It To Bryan, hosted by Bryan Baeumler; Custom Built, hosted by, Paul LaFrance; and Moving the McGillivrays, hosted by Scott McGillivray and his wife Sabrina. He has also appeared on the W-Network with the widely acclaimed twin TV stars Jonathan and Drew Scott.

He is also a painter and is widely known in the community as a devoted philanthropist. Local charities and organizations he has helped support include The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, The Art Gallery of Burlington, The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation, SmileZone, Easter Seals Ontario, and Alexandria-Marie (Burlington’s Little Fighter suffering from rare form of brain cancer).

Howell sums up his secret to success quite nicely. “I enjoy wearing many hats around businesses ideas I am passionate about … this is exciting. If you’re not passionate about your business I think the load would feel more like spinning plates,” he laughs.

Article Courtesy:  – By Erika Simmons