I spent a few post-secondary years working in the promotions department for some Toronto based Radio stations and ended up landing a job (thanks to my older brother) as a quality assurance analyst in a marketing firm. I didn't know what exactly I was doing BUT as the years went on, I moved into account and project management roles at various agencies for some major brands/clients. Fast forward years later, and my firm does a 25% downsize, with me in the mix. So I am sitting on the curb at Queen and John in downtown Toronto and wondering how I am going to pay rent in my new apartment when I get a call from someone who knows someone who heard I do makeup on the side, and that they'd like to me to do some video content for them. That was the (then) Style section of The Globe and Mail newspaper, and all it took was a yes from me to begin the journey that's brought me to where I am today. That was eight years ago.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
So many things, honestly. Something changed inside of me while I was working for myself. I was trying to look for more permanent full-time work and yet, no matter what opportunity came my way, there was just something missing either in the office, the environment, the work or the motivation behind the work. I ended up not liking the idea of working for someone else's goal after trying my hand at my own business. Perhaps I came across less than motivational bosses/owners after I started my own path. I just didn't believe in their vision, which meant I didn't want to waste my fuel on their spark (really, lack thereof) when I could instead, use my own to fuel my fire.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Knowing where to start? To be honest, I still ask myself this question about each individual project I start or new initiatives for my current business. It can be isolating and intimidating to begin any type of business where you work alone but the reality is that each of us never really work alone. Asking questions, asking for help, seeking out like minded individuals and also people who think completely differently than you - all of these are invaluable resources and, often enough, become your support system when it comes to working for yourself. I overcome the same hurdle week in and week out and, from that, comes a source of fantastic, supportive people who only needed to be asked to help.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I'm lucky with this one. Outside of the questions such as "but, what is your job title?" and "what is it that you do during the day?," I had a group of supportive family & friends who were both encouraging and also, at times, weren't well versed in what it was I was doing, so the input or comments like "you're doing it wrong" or "you should do this or that" rarely came about! What I would do differently is absolutely nothing. My failures and any successes that have come out of them are all great learnings for me and for the future of my business.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Taking chances, risks and saying yes to a LOT of things before I knew what it was I was doing. It was terrifying (and often nauseating) to do it this way but it was genuinely satisfying when the results were in. It took me doing this kind of work (working for myself) to actually have that want/drive/passion within my career. Being terrified of these steps gave reason to overcome them vs. doing the same safe old skill set over and over again.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
That this is now your life. I work all the time. My mind is always on the business. I can't not think about what it is I am doing, have done and am supposed to be doing next week, month, year. This happens on the weekends (also, weekends don't exist like they used to), vacations, weeknight dinners, grocery shopping. If I had known this (and perhaps that this is how I would react to all of this), maybe I could have prepared myself mentally a bit better. Now I am in the thick of it and trying to plan vacations or plan seeing my friends becomes something I have to put on my to-do list. It's a *major* balancing act that is never really in balance.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Take those risks, no matter your age, but, if you are on the younger end of the spectrum, *listen* to what your more mature peers have to say. Their advice is life advice and you will NEED to hear those lessons to recognize when they are happening to you! If you are on the older end of the spectrum, my best advice is just do it. Don't hesitate. You are never too old to start something new. Change your life for you (it magically changes the lives of everyone around you, too, because *you* are happier). You can't lose when you take a chance on yourself.