Written by: Daniel Graham, Business Development Manager, Futurpreneur Canada

Owners Wanted, an initiative created by Futurpreneur Canada and supported by Meridian Credit Union, is an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to explore and refine their business ideas while connecting with other young entrepreneurs and small business advisors. In 2016, we hosted more than 30 meet ups and brought together more than 130 young entrepreneurs from across Ontario, and I’d like to share with you five things I’ve learned.

More and more young people are becoming entrepreneurs

Being part of Futurpreneur, I get to see a lot of statistics and numbers to confirm that youth entrepreneurship is on the rise. Travelling across the province to host our Owners Wanted meet-ups allowed me to witness this first hand. In visiting cities and towns across Ontario, we got to meet with some incredible young people at varying stages of developing their business ideas. Owners Wanted provides an informal setting to meet with other entrepreneurs from within your community and make some great connections!

Meridian Small Business Advisors are incredibly resourceful professionals who offer a wealth of knowledge and support for small business and entrepreneurs

Owners Wanted would not have been possible without the amazing support we received from Meridian Credit Union. As official partners of Owners Wanted, Meridian included Small Business Advisors from across the province, and they definitely brought a lot of value to our meet-ups. Working with entrepreneurs and small business owners from all walks of life and from a wide variety of industries and sectors gives them a really unique perspective on business and an extensive business acumen. This brought real-life examples and situations to the table, and offered genuine and sincere advice to Owners Wanted participants.

The group dynamics of Owners Wanted can help with problem solving

The idea of sharing your vision with a group of strangers might seem intimidating, or perhaps foolish, but my experience with Owners Wanted has taught me that it’s a tremendous opportunity for problem solving. Owners Wanted meet-ups are filled with entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and with a wide-range of skill-sets, plus advisors from Futurpreneur and Meridian. You don’t need to divulge the recipe to your ‘secret-sauce’, but it’s very possible that someone from the group might have a unique idea or approach to help tackle a challenge you’ve been facing.

Ditch the Starbucks or Tim Horton’s, and next time check out a local small business or coffee shop

For the most part, we tried to use local small businesses to host our Owners Wanted meet-ups – small and friendly places like Covernotes in Richmond Hill, or Propeller Coffee and The Green Beanery in Toronto. The coffee is usually better, as are the snack options… so perhaps next time you have a meeting with a client or a supplier, why not choose and support a local small business instead of those large chains.

Follow-up with connections made

Last but not least, it’s really important that you make an effort to follow-up with interesting people you meet at Owners Wanted. If you met someone interesting, why not send them a quick email afterwards, or connect with them on LinkedIn. Owners Wanted can be a great starting-point to establish new professional relationships, and your follow-up is key to developing them.

Stay tuned for an Owners Wanted event happening in your area by visiting www.ownerswanted.ca.  

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