This post is by Nance Williams Jonkman:
For years I have dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I searched for the next great thing I could offer and found myself frequently in conversations with other women who had successfully launched their own businesses, but were struggling in one area or another.
I found the discussions invigorating and exciting. Invariably, I would provide advice, offer to help or, if I needed more information, launch myself into a Google marathon to find a solution. It took a while, but I finally realized this was my talent and I set out to start my own business.
While putting together my business plan, I couldn’t resist researching who else is starting businesses in Canada. It was incredible to find such a diverse pool of talent with so much in common.
The average entrepreneur or small business owner in Canada is a woman in her 40’s, with one or more young children and possesses a post-secondary education or higher. Canada has more than 821,000 women entrepreneurs contributing in excess of $18 billion to the economy every year. Among women entrepreneurs, immigrant women are more likely to pursue this path than Canadian-born women.
Interestingly, immigrant women have more in common with successful entrepreneurs than just demographics. The circumstances that bring an immigrant to Canada may be unique, but the personality traits of women immigrants show a lot more in common with entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs and immigrant women both share the ability to:
- Make strategic choices –possess an ability to act decisively, adapt to change and acquire new skills;
- Be confident and dedicated – are willing to take risks, persevere and learn from their mistakes;
- Be consistent and creative – are able to find ways to bring their skills and experiences to new situations;
- Learn and be flexible – willing to listen, adjust quickly and seek out mentors.
Fortunately, I recognized a lot of these traits in myself. I could safely consider myself worthy of being a part of the entrepreneur club, despite being a Canadian of countless generations (I have native Canadians and early settlers in my family tree). I do have fewer obstacles to overcome than many immigrants starting a business….but my research also showed that those obstacles are becoming less relevant.
The timing has never been better to be an entrepreneurial immigrant in Canada:
- The internet has provided a global market for the right products and services to thrive;
- Technology has become more affordable and mobile for businesses on the go;
- There are plenty of good free or inexpensive tools to help you run your business;
- The sheer volume of start-up companies in this country are challenging the way funding is both found and allocated.
Government and industry leaders are also leading several initiatives to direct small and medium enterprises (SME’s) to recognize immigrant talent. It’s becoming more worthwhile to promote your own entrepreneurial efforts through individuals and organizations like industry or professional associations. Online networks like BrilliantWoman are also incredibly important sounding boards and communities for immigrant women entrepreneurs.
So, whether you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or you already are one, you are in good company. You already have the right traits to succeed and now you just need the right tools.
Number 1 on your list should be a business plan. Even businesses that have been around for years without a business plan can find enormous benefit from one (often times more than a new business). No matter how great your idea or your business-sense, there are always parts of your business that you’ll be great at and parts you won’t give much thought to. Completing all of the pieces that make a successful business plan, forces you to think about all of the pieces involved and where you might need help.
As mentioned in the excellent Brilliant Woman Guide to Starting a Small Business, you can find business planning templates for free on-line.
Some additional tools to help you with the research and ongoing support of your business include:
- To help streamline the amount of information you’re either searching through or reading to keep up on what’s happening in the market your business services, content aggregator sites are easy to use and GREAT:
- Google Alerts monitors the web for new content – www.google.com/alerts
- AllTop to find all the top stories on the web – www.alltop.com
- Topsite to find the best sites on the web – www.topsite.com
- popurls® is the premium aggregator to the best of the web – www.popurls.net
- To push content to the web and have it appear in multiple locations/social media sites like these are very helpful:
- netvibes is a personalized dashboard publishing platform for the Web– www.netvibes.com
- Hootsuite is a social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks – www.hootsuite.com
If your efforts are not instilling the confidence you’d like to have in your business, there is help available. I am the owner of strategy4balance, a business and marketing planning consultancy that also offers marketing services. I would be happy to offer readers of BrilliantWoman a free 1-hour consultation to help you put together your personal guide to a successful small business.
Nance Williams Jonkman - a 15 year marketing and planning veteran with a passion for innovation, a deep curiosity about just about everything and a love of helping people. Six years ago she stepped away from a full-time corporate career to raise her young family. During those years, Nance has spoken with many women and small business owners, sharing the business and marketing planning lessons or tips she has learned over the years. Now that Nance’s young family is a little less young, she is making her passion for helping women and small businesses official with strategy 4 balance. Nance lives in Toronto with her husband and 3 kids.