A new year has started, time to re-assess where we are, take new decisions and start fresh!
While looking for a job is usually the number one preoccupation for almost every immigrant, the new trends in the economy show that we may have to adjust our concepts of how “making a living” looks like.
Whether you are stuck in a job you don’t enjoy (or where you feel undervalued) or you have been looking for so long that are started to get impatient, I invite you to consider a third choice: become your own boss!
Going solo has its benefits and risks, but many don’t even consider this option: most people think becoming self-employed or an “entrepreneur” is something people are “born with” and cannot be learned. Others think it is too risky or complicated, and yet thousands of new businesses are created every year!
Here are some myths and their counterparts:
Entrepreneurs are born, not made: false!
Entrepreneurship skills (and even attitudes!) can be learned. There are many programs, both in person and online that teach entrepreneurial skills, and some of them are free! Specialized business or career coaches may also support you through the process.
Starting a business requires a lot of money: it depends!
You can start a business with as little as $100, and if you offer your services as a consultant or freelancer, you may not need any funds to start. Many financial institutions have business loans for start-ups and there are grants for certain types of business (such as social ventures, non-profits and cooperatives). You can fund your business with funds from family, friends or even the community, through crowdfunding!
Remember: you need access, not ownership. Cooperatives are a great way for many small business entrepreneurs to share space, equipment and tools, as well as support each other with skills and shared marketing.
Being your own boss is enslaving and messy: it depends!
If you are organized, surround yourself by people with skills and good intentions and set your boundaries from the start, being an entrepreneur may be the best way to regain control over your time, energy and finances. You’ll get to decide when, how much and how you work and in what projects you involve yourself!
The paperwork is overwhelming: true…and false!
Yes, there is paperwork you need to consider. You need to write a business plan, check for permits, zoning and insurance. But you don’t have to do all on your own: there are many mentors and other small businesses and entrepreneurs out there eager to share their skills, expertise and time, even exchanging their services or products for services or products you offer. By being creative, you can build a small business “ecosystem” where all support each other to succeed!
I don’t know where to start!: observe, and ask others!
My first suggestion is doing market “research”: observe the community and see what is lacking or what is being incomplete, what frustrates or pains people: that is your business opportunity. Yes, you’ll need to write a sound business plan, but there are coaches out there you can hire or exchange skills with.
Business in Canada don’t have big margins: it depends!
It is true: Canada is highly regulated and businesses are taxed, which means less profit. But businesses exist for other reasons too, and more and more social entrepreneurships are the norm over “just profit” models: you can measure success by how much you contribute to your community, the problems or pains your business helps to alleviate, the connections you make with your customers, co-workers and suppliers, the relief of living your values and not those of an unknown employer, the opportunity to leave something to your children and probably friends, etc.
In the upcoming months, I will be discussing the types of businesses you can choose from, the steps from idea conception to launching, business planning and much more. Stay tuned!