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.

With 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur, there was no doubt that Kristi Farrell would make an excellent business mentor to young entrepreneurs. Kristi likes to say that business found her. Like many entrepreneurs, Kristi started small and worked her way up. Her first business venture was with her husband 15 years ago when they had the opportunity to purchase their first restaurant, Opa Sushi in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The pair was trying to sell it for a friend and ended up selling themselves on the idea.

Opa Sushi was Kristi’s introduction into the service industry. Although she wasn’t a trained chef and lacked the experience in the sector, she knew that it was a great business and one she wanted to be involved in. Kristi’s hard work has helped Opa Sushi become a staple in the community.

Three years ago, Kristi was ready to expand and acquired Cowbay Café. It’s not surprising that since the entrepreneur bug bit Kristi, she always gets asked, “What restaurant next?”.

We had a chance to chat with Kristi, a mentor with Futurpreneur Canada and ThriveNorth about mentoring, and why she decided to give back to the entrepreneurial community.

Why did you decide to become a mentor? 

Becoming a mentor was a way in which I thought I could re-engage with business and other operators just starting out. Entrepreneurs like me have a way of engaging full-on with their own day-to-day lives and can be too busy to be involved in community work. I feel that I am now at a time in my life that I have learned some lessons and feel confident with sharing my experience with others. I expect this to be a two-way commitment and hope to learn new and innovative ideas from young people  starting out in business.

How has your mentoring relationship been so far? Any highlights you’d like to share?

I am often amazed at the talent and drive exhibited by my mentee, April Link (owner of Outer Coast Outfitters). She is definitely on the ball. Most importantly, she shows a very balanced life approach to starting up her business and is putting time and focus into her family as much as the business. Frankly, she is teaching me to stop and smell the roses.

What are some tips you have for others entering a mentoring relationship with a mentee? 

Compatibility is very important. There should be a level of comfort between both of you so that each person feels open to reveal their challenges and experiences. I believe there should also be a level playing field of expectations and responsibilities between the pair, so that each person feels they have something to give and receive.

Why would you recommend to others that they become a mentor? 

On a personal level, I think being a mentor is a great opportunity to get re-invigorated with your own business. Young entrepreneurs see business in a new and exciting way, particularly through the sharing of ideas with social media. This is a chance to update notions of how business can be done and get on board with the future.

To become a mentor to young entrepreneurs in your area, click here.

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