Many small business owners understand the power of online media when it comes to marketing and branding, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start.
Fortunately, thanks to GoDaddy, we had the chance to connect with three exceptional entrepreneurs who have worked hard to build a strong online presence. As advocates for GoDaddy’s Life Fulfilling Ventures Contest, they graciously shared some inspiring words when it comes to establishing an online presence and a life-fulfilling business.
For the second part of our two-part interview series, we connected with Jason King and Stephane Fortin, the owners of Veloz Courier in Ottawa, ON.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your business.
SF: My name is Stephane Fortin, and I am a 22-year-old entrepreneur from Ottawa. When I was halfway through school, I found myself needing to take time off to work and save up for a while, and a job as a bike courier was all I could find. I grew up in downtown Ottawa without a car, so they always seemed frivolous to me since we’d always found a way to make do without one. Working as a courier only reinforced this mindset to me and showed me just how small our city is on two wheels.
JK: Our business is a food delivery service operated by bicycle, with a focus on downtown and its neighbouring residential areas. As we build our service, we sustain ourselves with contracts delivering documents and newspapers, however, our true focus, and long-term direction, is all about food. Before becoming a bike courier, my business partner spent 15 years working in and managing restaurants in various Canadian cities so he is very familiar with the needs and struggles restauranteurs face when looking for delivery solutions that won’t eat up their entire profit margin.
What inspired you to start your business?
SF: I never saw myself running a business. It was something I fell into after meeting my business partner Jason King. We were both rookie couriers entering our first winter season on the road and quickly learned just how exploitative the large companies we found ourselves working for really were. As an independent contractor, you could end up working in the cold for a full day and only earn $30. We realized that the only way to see the change we wanted in our industry was to actively participate in it.
JK: We knew a focus on delivering paper wouldn’t be sustainable but had a realization that there was untapped potential in the delivery of food, and other goods for small businesses. Larger services exist for restaurants, but the problem with them is that they charge so many fees to the restaurants that it’s almost a moot point sending out the food as they don’t make any money off of it. Being so small, we don’t need to have those charges and can offer them a much more friendly and profitable solution.
In your opinion, why is it important for small businesses to have an online presence?
SF: Having a strong online presence has allowed us to connect with other businesses in a more natural way and start to educate the public about our existence. People prefer to interact with their services in a mediated way. People don’t want to call in an order and explain what they need, and they should be able to find out everything they need about us through our website or social media channels. You need to make it as easy as possible for your services to become used and discovered.
How has having an online presence helped your business?
SF: Our online presence is still very small, but it’s an amazing way to discover potential clients. At the moment of first contact, they can quickly see what we’re about with a quick peek at our Instagram page and website. As we move forward, we want to build our site into an online destination for ordering food just like Skip the Dishes and Just Eat with the integration of ordering pages for partner restaurants linked directly off our website. My business partner and I have no coding or design experience, but using GoDaddy’s website builder and app integrations, we were able to create a fully featured and visually appealing website from scratch on our own. We were happily surprised to discover just how easy they made the process from our initial contact to when we published the site. Their tools allowed us to create a site that is not only appealing but able to host all of the features that make us competitive with much larger companies.
From social media to creating a website, building an online presence from scratch can be daunting. What is your best piece of advice for getting started?
SF: This is something we definitely struggled with at the beginning, and we find that the most important part is to remember that even when growth is slow it’s still growth and that you just need to keep on trying and staying committed to your goals no matter how big or small those may be.
Do you have any final words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
SF: As we’re still aspiring entrepreneurs ourselves, there are new things we find ourselves learning every day. You need to plan for the worst, hope for the best and roll with all of the punches along the way. Success doesn’t happen overnight, stay confident and constantly reassess how you can do better.
Written by: Jasmine Williams, Social Media and Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada