Rewriting the Rules with Scott MacFarlane

Blog August 16, 2021

Posted by Sara Scott

Rewriting the Rules with Scott MacFarlane Featured Image

At Accelerate Okanagan, our entrepreneurial programs are designed to build strong companies. We help business owners validate their market, accelerate their growth, and scale sustainably with the support of our Executives-in-Residence team. We do this through one-on-one business coaching, peer-to-peer engagements, access to resources, and entrepreneurial training with industry experts. 

What makes our Executives-in-Residence (EiRs) so qualified? They’ve been there. They’ve lived through challenges, thrived in success and most of all, learned from their experiences.

We recently caught up with one of our EiRs, Scott MacFarlane, to find out more about what makes him uniquely qualified.


Classical and Jazz Perspectives

I have always played a lot of music. I see this analogy between styles of playing music and growing a career. Classical musicians follow the script and every note is carefully planned; while jazz musicians learn how to heavily improvise. Similarly, some people focus on setting goals, planning and hitting milestones; while others improvise and explore opportunities openly. Before Med Access, my career growth was more classical. But when the opportunity came to co-found a business, I was drawn to the change of pace. It was a new and exciting opportunity for me—a chance to add some improvisation to my career. Whether your style is more classical or jazz, it’s good to try both every once in a while.


Hard Work With a Side of Luck

Being a successful entrepreneur is a combination of a lot of hard work and a bit of luck. I’ve seen promising startups get hurt by things beyond their control, preventing them from growth. Five years after we started Med Access, we had limited growth. Then, several provincial funding opportunities began to appear that incentivized practitioners to go digital and adopt the use of medical software. Companies like ours had to receive certification in order to participate—which could have been either good or bad for us. Each RFP was a 2-year qualification process and every province had a limited number of available spots. If we didn’t get qualified, then we would be shut out from an entire marketplace. After a ton of hard work, we were approved in BC, which helped us get into other provinces. It was luck that introduced those incentives, and hard work that allowed us to take advantage of them.


Hindsight on Mentorship

In hindsight, it would have been great to have the training and mentorship like Accelerate Okanagan is currently offering when we started Med Access. It would have really helped improve my confidence as a founder. The various aspects of building a business are fundamentally different from operating within an existing company. I’m glad I had partners because I never would have started a business on my own. Their skills complimented my own but none of us had experience as entrepreneurs. I love studying and learning from others, so it would have been great to be able to participate in a program where we could gain advice and apply it directly to our business.


Making a Difference

As an Executive-in-Residence at Accelerate Okanagan, I get to share my experiences to benefit other entrepreneurs. Seeing your advice make a difference in a growing business is a very rewarding experience. Back when I was in leadership roles, I would take the time to coach my team whenever I could. I’ve always found that I enjoy working with people who are dedicated and open to learning.


Rewriting the Rules

Innovation doesn’t come from following rules. In starting a business, being able to rewrite the rules is extremely important. Early in my career, I would seek to learn the given landscape and optimize my work within it. But, when I got into leadership positions for smaller organizations, I started to realize that there are no rules for a lot of situations. Now, when I see people who are looking for rules to follow, I try to nudge them to step back and think about what the rules should be. It may take more energy, innovation, and creativity, but it’s a much better way to think about the world.


Communication is Key

Success can often be attributed to good communication. I find it fascinating to learn about workflows unique to an industry—figuring out how to optimize lines of communication and user experience to ensure that it’s easy for people to understand. In fact, most of the mentorship I provide boils down to teaching people how to better communicate. As a leader, you need to be able to confidently and clearly communicate your ideas and your goals to customers, employees and stakeholders.


Connect with Scott or meet our other Executives-in-Residence. Learn more about Accelerate Okanagan’s entrepreneurial programs.


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