The decision to open your own business can be a hard one to make. But there is a lot of help available, both in Fort McMurray and on the Internet.
Have you ever dreamed of running your own business? Do you have a hobby or idea that you think would be of interest to other people? Do you have ideas related to the work you do that can’t or won’t be initiated? Are you retired and have always wanted to [open a flower shop], [become a consultant], [open a dayhome]? You fill in the blanks!
Business ideas can come from many places.
Meet a need
Annelies Geisler, owner of the Import Connection, was frustrated by the fact that she had to go to Edmonton to buy her native Dutch food. She realized that there would be other immigrants that were missing food from home too, and started a business to meet that need. To see Geisler’s story, go to page 4.
Follow your passion
Joanne Pitts is the owner of Paws Up, an online merchant site that sells high-end, high quality pet products. She not only saw a need in Fort McMurray for this kind of business, but also loves and uses the products she sells—she has pets of her own. To see Pitt’s story, go to page 3.
Greg Halinda, owner of Greg Halinda Photography, was a photographer in a portrait studio and saw the number of large companies who were flying photographers into Fort McMurray to photograph their projects and businesses. As more oilsands projects were being planned, Halinda knew that the need for promotional photos would keep growing. See Halinda’s story on page 3.
Daryl Dika, owner of Combined Concrete Pumping knew at a young age that he wanted to run his own business, and he decided to stay in the family business. See Dika’s story on page 5.
The pros and cons of
For many, the lure of running their own business comes before the knowledge of what that business will be. You may not know what kind of business you want to run, but you know you want to be your own boss, set your own hours or work at home. In making this decision though, you must consider that the work hours may be long and not limited to nine to five, Monday to Friday. Often a person starting their own business works many hours alone and needs to adjust to the lack of professional support. Also, you will need to decide what to charge for your services or products and this can often be very difficult to determine. You need to make enough to cover your overhead and pay yourself, but you can’t charge too much that you’re pricing yourself out of the market.
Is now a good time?
No matter what the present labour market is like, it is possible to open your own business and do well at it. You just need a great business idea and the drive to succeed.
“There are no bad times to start a business, as long as you’re dedicated and passionate about it,” says Ross Jacobs, general manager of Community Futures in Wood Buffalo. “The best time to start a business is when you’re ready to start a business. It’s a risk regardless of the market.”
In 2008, there were over 2.6 million self-employed people in Canada—about 15.5 per cent of the total working population, according to Statistics Canada (www.statcan.gc.ca).
A report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (www.cfib.ca) in October 2008 calls Fort McMurray one of the top entrepreneurial cities in Canada—eighth out of 100. Those cities higher on the list have a high concentration of entrepreneurs and a high business start-up rate. The business owners within the cities have high levels of optimism and success in their operations. The CFIB also looked at whether the cities have good public policy, such as supportive local government tax and regulatory policies.
Even if you know what kind of business you’d like to start, you need to do your research.
Pitts, owner of Paws Up, suggests going to the professionals to get guidance to make sure everything is in place and legal. And Geisler, owner of the Import Connection, researched by going to Edmonton to find out what products were sold in import stores.
Study similar businesses, become a member of industry associations and talk to other business owners—the more research you do before starting your business, the more chance you will have for success.
If you need help with starting or running your own business, staff at Community Futures Wood Buffalo can help.
The information in this issue of Labour Market News was current as of the date shown. Employment outlook, salaries and educational programs may change. Please verify the information with additional sources before making career or business investment decisions. Contact us for more information.