worklife

SMARTstart

Summer 2019

Small business plays a very important role in our local economy. In Airdrie, like other Canadian cities, 99 per cent of businesses are small. But, the reality is, running a business can be tough. Studies show only 35 per cent of new businesses survive their first five years.

 

That’s where SMARTstart comes in.

 

It’s proven. Business owners with education in entrepreneurship, or previous entrepreneur experience, have an 80 to 90 per cent chance of success with a new business. SMARTstart was designed by a group of local partners and is delivered right here in Airdrie. Its purpose is to provide real-world business skills and access to tailor-made advice to increase the chance of new businesses surviving those first crucial years.

 

SMARTstart is delivered over eight months in Airdrie. Entrepreneurs who are accepted into the program take part in the following:

  • Online learning via GoForth Institute of 100 Essential Business Skills™ program;
  • In-person small group workshops;
  • Each entrepreneur is paired with an experienced local business owner (volunteer mentor).

At the end of SMARTstart, each entrepreneur walks away with a business plan, feasibility study or strategic plan they have created to set their business up for success.

 

Learn more at smartstartairdrie.ca

 

 

In this issue of airdrielife we meet five of the program’s 2019  entrepreneurs and their mentors.

 

Entrepreneur: Chris Lindsey

Business: Leaps N Bounds Inflatables Inc.

Tell us more about your business:

My wife and I run a family-owned/operated inflatable rental business. We wanted to start a business that not only we as a family could enjoy, but that would also appeal to other families. Our dream is to expand and open a unique family entertainment centre.

What’s your biggest hurdle?

We have no formal training or experience in running a business.

What’s your five-year goal?

Operating a successful family entertainment centre, and providing families with a fun and affordable entertainment option.

 

Mentor: Nadine Woitt

Business: Mezzanine Hair Studio

Tell us more about your business:

We are a full-service hair studio which I own, manage and work within.

What do you wish you would have known when you started?

First and foremost, I wish I had known the time and commitment involved to run a successful business.

Why are you mentoring?

To give back to the community, and my hope is to help someone with the tools, support and guidance they need to be successful!

 

 

Entrepreneur: Chrissie Rozak

Business: GetintheLoop Airdrie

Tell us more about your business:

GetintheLoop is a mobile marketing platform that connects local businesses to local consumers in an affordable, convenient and authentic way. Our online offers platform allows businesses to deliver real-time experience and exclusive offers directly to the mobile phones.

What’s your biggest hurdle?

Our business is in its infancy stage in Airdrie and we are a double-sided market where we need businesses on the app, but we also need consumers to download the app.

What’s your five-year goal?

In five years I see my husband and I owning several other markets and working solely with GetintheLoop. I envision myself being a mentor for the SMARTstart program and sharing my story of success to other women who have been in the same boat as me.

 

Mentor: Kari Lines

Business: Budget Blinds of Airdrie

Years in business: 11

Can you tell us more about your business?

Budget Blinds is a large franchise organization, and we own one territory. We provide sales and installations of window coverings such as blinds, shades and draperies. Our mission is to be the most sought after and respected window covering company in our contracted territory for both residential and commercial applications.

What do you wish you would have known when you started?

I wish I would have known to obtain a mentor earlier on in my career as the ones I have now are extremely valuable. I also wish I would have known to not take things personally when it comes to business.

Why are you mentoring?

I love being able to share my knowledge / learnings from my experience in business with new entrepreneurs and to watch them succeed.

 

Entrepreneur: Cigdem Fareed

Business: Distinct Graphics & Software Solutions

Tell us more about your business:

We are a group of people working in the industry with different skill sets and experiences. We would like to provide big platforms collaborating with businesses and demands of the community to make information more accessible and customized. We are working on creating various platforms, combining data and making information more accessible.

What’s your biggest hurdle?

My technical team works from remote which creates a concern in terms of timely troubleshooting and generating leads.

What’s your five-year goal?

Having a physical office in Airdrie and creating solutions for Alberta; my apps running through all of Canada; and I am invited to TED Talks as a speaker.

 

Mentor: Jo-Anne Yau

Business: Masuch Law LLP

Years in business: 14

Tell us more about your business:

I am a business, intellectual property and litigation lawyer in a multi-disciplinary firm.

What do you wish you would have known when you started?

I wish I would have taken business- and commerce-related courses in undergraduate studies.

Why are you mentoring?

I like seeing entrepreneurs succeed. I hope that I can serve as a resource for local businesses.

 

Entrepreneur: Colin Bailey

Business: Evolution Performance Ltd.

Tell us more about your business:

I currently operate a small studio in my garage and would eventually like to expand my idea into a full-scale commercial location.

What’s your biggest hurdle?

Learning how to run a business, being a trainer turned businessman. I’m learning as I go but it would be great to avoid as many obstacles in advance as possible.

What’s your five-year goal? I see myself expanding into a large commercial space; possibly beginning the expansion for multiple locations.

 

Mentor: Joan Traub

Business: Retired

Years in business: 35

Tell us more about your business:

I was the managing director of the western Canadian arm of a national market research company for 25 years. Owner/operator of a local yoga studio for 10 years. Responsible for everything from accounting to marketing, hiring and client servicing.

What do you wish you would have known when you started?

I wish I had understood the time commitment involved in starting and running a successful business. At times, being an entrepreneur can be overwhelming, but the rewards make it totally worthwhile.

Why are you mentoring?

I believe in giving back to the community that supported me. I had a mentor when I started in business and his help was invaluable.

 

 

Entrepreneur: Danielle Doetzel

Business: Boulevard Home Inc.

Tell us more about your business:

I graduated with honours from the interior design program at Lethbridge Community College; it was there that I fell in love with residential design. I recently decided to turn my passion into a business and thus the beginning of Boulevard Home.

What’s your biggest hurdle?

My biggest obstacle would be my lack of confidence in my business skills and at times feeling overwhelmed.

What’s your five-year goal?

My long-term goal is to open a brick-and-mortar design boutique in Airdrie. It would serve as a one-stop shop for locals that are building and/or renovating their home, and feature local and Canadian product

 

Mentor: Jacqui Jepson

Business: The Pink Wand Cleaning Services

Years in business: 11

Tell us more about your business:

Pink Wand Cleaning has been providing residential and commercial cleaning to Airdrie since 2008. We have grown the business from myself as the sole employee to a staff of over 40 and a client base of over 700. We are now franchising!

What do you wish you would have known when you started?

That every mistake I made was a step forward towards my business growth and success. Also to know that the key to success comes in daily small habits. “Change does not happen without change.”

Why are you mentoring?

I was born to be an entrepreneur and I am happy to share this passion with others.