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.
Located on the Skeena River, Jaclyn Gagnon and her husband Jon have transformed their quiet 90 acres of farmland in Terrace, BC, into a nature escape.
The mother of three, musician and now entrepreneur started Hidden Acres Farm & Treehouse Resort to help people to experience the mountains, fresh air and incredible biodiversity of the region. “I have built five charming little guest cabins. We rent them daily or weekly to a wonderful variety of people including newlyweds, fishermen, nature lovers, solo business travelers, locals and tourists alike,” she said. “We absolutely love meeting and getting to know our guests. It’s definitely the best part about being in this line of business.”
Before launching her business, Jaclyn was a stay-at-home mom. Not only did she want to build something of her own, she also wanted to create a business that her kids could take over one day. Her business has now been operational for a year and a half and doing well.
Additionally, having entrepreneurial parents made Jaclyn want to follow in their footsteps. “My parents always owned their own business so I just grew up believing this was what people did. It never made sense to me to go and work for someone else and build their dreams when I had my own,” said Jaclyn.
Jaclyn was a finalist in the 2017 ThriveNorth Small Business Challenge hosted by Futurpreneur Canada and the Province of British Columbia. This initiative is an open competition where young people aged 18-39 from the Northwest region of B.C. can showcase their business ideas and get the support they need to make them a reality. After participating in the challenge, Jaclyn left with more than a finalist title – it gave her the push she needed to take her business to the next level.
“I can honestly say that ThriveNorth transformed me,” she said. “It has been a catalyst for my growth as an entrepreneur and in my everyday life.”
“The effect that preparing for and competing in the ThriveNorth Small Business Challenge has had on me is immeasurable. I gained confidence in my ability to speak, to research and even to mentor. It’s easy to just coast along in your business but going out of your comfort zone is where the magic really happens. And let me tell you, pitching to judges in front of my peers was miles out of my comfort zone!”
Although the initial launch of her business seemed exhausting, she and her family are now enjoying the fruits of her labour. “When we first started to build our cabins it seemed that every little thing we finished felt like a milestone,” she said. “Now we are sitting back and taking a moment to really enjoy all that we accomplished already before we begin whatever comes next!”
We asked Jaclyn what her advice was to other aspiring entrepreneurs and this is what she had to say:
“I would have to say be authentic. You can’t go wrong by doing what you truly love to do in a way that feels good to you. Speak your truth and the ones who align with you will find you. Honesty and authenticity really resonate with people and in the end, you will feel so much better than if you had lowered your values just to appeal to the masses.”
Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media & Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada