In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.
After dreaming about it for almost ten years, entrepreneur April Link finally made her dreams come true when she decided to open Outer Coast Outfitters in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. April craved the freedom to do what she and her partner, Chris, loved, while still being close enough to home to share a strong family life and raise their kids with a connection to the outdoors. These desires drove April to open her own business.
Outer Coast Outfitters is an outdoor adventure company that offers private guides for hiking, show shoeing and canoeing, plus gear rentals and outdoor education for children’s groups.
“Community Futures was the first place I went for business planning advice when I moved to Prince Rupert. They helped me with some early direction on market research. I appreciated having Amber for a resource person and the affordable workshops to begin developing a solid business plan. The business boot camp was a great opportunity to hear from other business owners about challenges and strategies for success while providing an overview for the business concept.”
April also participated in the ThriveNorth Business Challenge earlier this year, which motivated her to tighten her business concept and feel more confident about the probability of success. Following the Business Challenge, April utilized other services available to her such as the Peer Mentoring Circle, one-on-one coaching for her business plan, and mentorship opportunities that have helped her shape the idea of Outer Coast Outfitters and turn it into reality.
Deciding to take the leap into entrepreneurship usually comes with hurdles to overcome during the process of getting your business off the ground and when you want to grow. April explained that working out a timeline for applying for land-use permits, building relationships with First Nations, securing financing, and applying to the Self Employment Benefits Program were just some of the details that had to be lined up.
Despite the learning curve April had to overcome to start her business, she is excited to highlight the intrinsic value of the wild places of the North Coast through Outer Coast Outfitters. “Our communities are small and spread out in Northern British Columbia, so we don’t have all the amenities of larger centres,” April shared. “Entrepreneurs really shape the character of the community and have the opportunity to make a big impact.” April explained that with each small business that opens in Prince Rupert, it can add a lot to the experience of the people who live in and visit the region, and how important it is for entrepreneurs to sense what their communities need and then meet those needs in really direct ways, which in turn will enhance the quality of life in the area.
April wanted to leave one piece of advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs: “Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with one of the organizations with the resources to support you. There is a lot of help available when you reach out.”
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada