Becoming an entrepreneur is not always the easy choice. Especially now, when post-pandemic recovery is being marred with the recent economic headwinds that have brought on a new set of challenges for Canadian entrepreneurs. From rising costs, supply-chain issues, logistical delays, and financing troubles, the list continues to grow.
The recently concluded BDC Small Business Week 2022 included a panel discussion on “Starting a Business in Trying Times” featuring Futurpreneur’s CEO, Karen Greve Young, and Sandra Odendahl, Senior Vice President and Head of Sustainability and Diversity at BDC, as the guest speaker and moderator. They were joined by Louis Pallascio, Robyn Cruz, and Nicola Hamilton, three young entrepreneurs who shared their entrepreneurial journey with the audience.
Over the past couple of years, the market instability has affected small businesses in unprecedented ways, and resource management as well as supply chain issues have acted as barriers for entrepreneurs to run their businesses smoothly. For Robyn, founder of Enn Taant, a camping and camping gear business, those challenges started with the purchasing process: “I was originally going to purchase all my tents from the UK, but the import fees and delivery charges were outrageous”. She explained that turning to local suppliers not only helped her reduce costs, but also allowed her to find a community that continues to provide advice and support her business.
For Louis, founder of Studios Machiavel, building a team of like-minded individuals was the most challenging aspect of his entrepreneurial journey: “Although the Futurpreneur and BDC loan helped a lot, recruitment might not be the first thing you want to spend that influx of capital on”. It was important for Louis to focus on building a culture of collaboration or as he puts it, “a family”, which allowed his business to present a united front while facing stakeholders.
Nicola, founder of Issues Magazine Shop, experienced similar hurdles: “As a retail business, bringing in products is one of the most challenging aspects, and where you’re going to spend the most”. She revealed that taking the time to experiment and explore which partners aligned best with her values and her financial situation was crucial during the first few months post-launch. She also admitted that while it was not in her plans to hire immediately following the opening of her company, it was the best decision she made: “Having a team there with you from the very beginning does build that culture and community.”
The panellists affirmed that perseverance, patience, self-belief and confidence in your community, are key to starting and running a successful business in uncertain times
Hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs attended the event and received precious advice from our panelists who encouraged them to ask for help, including checking out local resources such as universities and incubators that can help them in incorporating their business, or attending networking events in order to meet like-minded individuals they can collaborate with on their journey.
Watch the full recording of the panel discussion on YouTube.