The 4th annual Entrepreneurship Forum was recently held at Mill River Experience.
The event was coordinated by Sean Doyle and sponsored by CBDC West Prince Ventures.
“The mandate of the organization is to help small businesses start or expand by offering financial support and training,” says Maxine Rennie, Executive Director, CBDC West Prince Ventures.
Speakers share their experiences with self-employment:
Kara Angus, Owner/Operator of Go-Go Group Inc., New Brunswick
This company offers a mobile gymnastics facility and after-school programs and activities in state-of-the-art pre-school centres.
“Entrepreneurs are doers, not dreamers,” says Kara Angus. Her story began when she was studying for her MBA at UNB, and had to create a business plan.
Go-Go has grown to 500 kids in 13 day care centres, and Kara is always looking to continue to grow. “Learn from your failures and successes, and go to CBDC for support. Also, do what your customers are asking for.”
Alex MacLean, CEO of East Coast Lifestyle, Nova Scotia
Alex MacLean created a clothing line in 2013. In his first year at Acadia University, he realized that sciences were not his forte. He quickly transferred into business studies.
A class project required him to start a temporary business. He borrowed $800 from his father to make 30 hoodies. “I sold my first 30 hoodies to people I knew on campus. With that money, I was able to make 60 more, and I started to sell them on Facebook.”
Social media exploded with sales. “Once I asked a few celebrities such as Sydney Crosby to post photos wearing the clothing, business soared.” The company is now worth $15 million with sales worldwide.
“Be proud of where you come from,” says Alex. “Use your skills and be sure to pay extra to brand and protect your products from competitors.”
Pete Luckett, Luckett Vineyards, Nova Scotia
Pete Luckett was very successful operating Pete’s Frootique in NS. He sold that business and is now concentrating on Luckett Vineyards, located in Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia.
“You have to run your business by connecting emotionally with customers. People will spend money for passionate experiences. The core values of business are service, quality, presentation, and price. Bring some humour in the equation, because if you make your customers smile, you’ve got it made.”
Melody Dover, President & Creative Director, Fresh Media, Charlottetown
Fresh Media was launched in 2003, and now has six employees.
The company created Burger Love in 2011 to promote Island beef and Island restaurants. Since then, using social media helped grow this annual event to $2.6 million in sales for the 2017 event. They also work with other local Island products with promotions for potatoes, pork, oysters, and more.
“As a business owner using social media, it is important to be committed to making the time to keep social platforms maintained and up-to-date,” says Melody Dover. “Social media is an excellent tool for promoting, answering inquiries, and creating connections with your clients. If you are not using social media, select a platform that your target market uses and get started with building your online presence.”
Carol Rybinski, Owner, Tyne Valley Tea & Company
When Carol Rybinski started her business, CBDC helped with her business plan. She had the perfect location and renovated it with lots of help from family and friends. Then she began to market the company through local newspapers, North Cape Coastal Drive, and blogs focused on the world of tea.
“Our cute little Tea House serves healthy light meals and desserts using local organic produce,” says Carol. “We can also give you a marvelous afternoon tea experience, with 24 hour notice.”
“Be sure to love what you are doing. Being an entrepreneur can mean working 70 plus hours a week.”
Terry Hockley, Owner, Red Seal Advantage, Mill River East
Terry Hockley attended the Entrepreneurship Forum last year and was motivated to become self-employed and start up his dream business.
He is a Red Seal tradesman with 50-plus years of experience and knowledge. He took what he knew best and turned it into a business to assist others obtain their Red Seal through assistance with studying and preparing for exams. He meets with clients in person or on Skype, and has clients from across Canada.
His main form of marketing is word of mouth, which is working very well for him, as the service is in demand. “Be there when you say you will be and honor your commitments,” says Terry.
Kevin Porter, Executive Director of Community Inclusions & Wayne Oulton, Program Participant & Bakery-Cafe Employee, O’Leary
Last year, Maple House Bakery moved and expanded to include a café. “This venture addressed two issues: there was no café in the town, and we needed to grow,” says Kevin Porter.
“And grow we did, offering a wide variety of home cooked meals and fresh baked goods daily.”
Wayne Oulton says he loves the new facility and enjoys his work. “It is much better now as we don’t have to climb a number of stairs during the course of the day,” says Wayne. “The new facility is on ground level.”
Kevin advises new entrepreneurs not to be afraid of making mistakes. “They are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.
We access the free marketing tool Facebook, and it works.”