What motivated you to take the first steps and start your own business?
I got up one morning and started telling family and friends that I was going to start a property services business. I knew that after I had mentioned it to few people, I had to follow through even though I was extremely scared of stepping out of my comfort zone.
What was the first step? Where did you start?
Knowing I wanted to do something that needed a good pickup truck to haul my equipment and trailer, I purchased a one-ton truck at a good price 6 months ago. For the next few months, I kept looking at my purchase in the driveway. It was a reminder to find the motivation to start my business. After a friend told me about Business Link, and I went through the website reading material, I finally called and spoke to Perry. That afternoon, I started gathering equipment and making concrete plans. It was the push I needed to get set up.
I am the sole proprietor of OPS. The main challenge I face is that that work is not steady. For example, I worked 63 hours one week and only 8 hours the week after. Having never been self-reliant, I struggle with paperwork and marketing on media outlets such as Facebook, Varagesale, Kijiji. My strengths are that I am a hard worker and I do an exceptional job for my clients. I never leave something imperfect. I would like to work on Aboriginal land because I want to give back to my people but I find it almost impossible to get the right contacts as I am from a different band in Quebec.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the decision I made 6 weeks into this business venture to purchase a tri-axle trailer that I have put to work 2-3 times a week hauling various materials. It felt like an intimidating investment, but taking the risk seems to be paying off.
When did you come to Business Link and why?
I had some Aboriginal friends from Siksika that used Business Link in the past and told me they were very useful and could help me start my business. I had the misconception that Business link was going to build a Business Plan for me, give me some funds to start up, and help design my website. In the end, I am glad they didn’t, as I had to jump in with both feet and understand every aspect of what I was getting into so that I could sustain it on my own in the future. They coached me along the way, however, and I am grateful.
Perry Kocis was my main contact, but everyone I spoke to from Business Link was helpful. Perry and the team at Business Link have lots of contacts and are knowledgeable. I was struggling with decisions such as building a Sole Proprietorship or Corporation, whether or not to use a bookkeeper, learning to build a website, and finding ways to promote myself. Business Link provided me with options, helped build my confidence and be realistic about what I was getting into.
Have any other organizations been helpful along the way?
Yes! I am grateful to CIR Realty Kendra Watt Group for introducing me to some opportunities and new clients. Brian McCaskill with the SPEC HDD team for giving me the opportunity to haul, site clean and backfill for a large Fibre Optic project ongoing in Calgary at the moment.
If you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?
I would have started in February instead of April. That would have given me the chance to better promote my business in order to get more regular lawn maintenance contracts.