by Amy Joe
Become an entrepreneur and follow your passions. Being an entrepreneur can offer many benefits: you are your own boss, you make all the decisions, and you have the creative freedom to follow your own vision. As a business owner you have flexibility to create your own work schedule and choose who you work with.
Perhaps the most exhilarating aspect of being an entrepreneur is following your dreams and turning them into realities. Waking up every morning and loving what you do is something everyone yearns for.
Lila Tomlinson owns her own business and emphasizes, “Don’t do something unless you are in love with it because it will become your world. You dream about it, talk about it, live it…”. Lila’s concern for the environment has motivated her to find a healthier alternative to gas. Her company, Agri-Green Biodiesel, produces and distributes biodiesel fuel.
Entrepreneurship can hold a bright future for Aboriginal youth as it provides benefits to both yourself and your community. Not only are you gaining self-fulfillment by building your own company but you are also giving back to society. Being an entrepreneur allows you to become an integral part of the community as you build relationships with other business owners, suppliers, employees, and customers.
Entrepreneurs help create a more self-sufficient society by creating jobs and hiring staff, and providing products and services that may not have been available before. Employing local individuals not only benefits the morale of the community but the economy as well. An Aboriginal entrepreneur contributes further to the overall employment of Aboriginal people as well as other Canadians.
As an Aboriginal business owner, you become a role model and mentor to younger youth; opening doors for others as you become a positive example. Others can look to you and see that as long as you put your mind to something and put in the work necessary you can accomplish anything.
Entrepreneur Angelique Levac strongly believes that, “No matter what anyone tells you, if they try to discourage you, never take them seriously. The sky is the limit; you can do anything you set your mind to.” Despite the discouragement from various family members and friends, Angelique followed her dream and became one of three women in Canada who practice the art of birch bark biting. She is an inspiration and leader in her community.
Similar to any job that one aspires to have, entrepreneurship is challenging; in order to be successful you must stay determined, positive and motivated. Entrepreneurs must remain confident, devoted and driven. Long hours are required which may take away from personal and family time; you will be forced to handle several things at once and face numerous challenges. The process of starting your own business is demanding but extremely rewarding after you build something of your own.
There is no better time than the present to go after your dream. If entrepreneurship is your solution to a happy and fulfilling life, do not be afraid to take the plunge and go for it. When we look at the past, we often regret the things we were afraid to do. Many of us let fear get in the way of what we attempt, but in the business world it is vital to overcome your fears and take intelligent risks.
It is important to be aware of the many opportunities that are available. There are many scholarships, funding and grants available to Aboriginal entrepreneurs. Two common examples are: Aboriginal Business Canada, providing funding support for business start-ups, acquisitions and expansions. The First Citizen Fund Business Loan Program provides contribution grants and business start-up and planning, and covers market research analysis, marketing, financing and operations.
Whether you are of Aboriginal decent or not, many resources and services are available for young entrepreneurs. Society shows immense support towards youth and their dreams. Women’s Enterprise Centre is the leading resource for female entrepreneurs, offering skills development, business loans, business resources, professional guidance and mentoring. Junior Achievement, another organization, delivers business education programs for young people and helps them develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills. The Canadian Youth Business Foundation strongly believes that “Our future depends on creating new businesses.” They offer everything that is needed to start and run your own business, including a loans program.
Entrepreneurship is a growing option for Aboriginal youth. Creating new businesses is needed more than ever as 71% of small business owners will retire within the next 10 years, according to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. Begin your journey to entrepreneurship today.
For more information about the first steps in starting your own business, go to www.womensenterprise.ca/youth
Amy Joe was born and raised in Merritt, BC 22 years ago. She is a member of the Lower Nicola Indian Band and has been involved in many facets of her community. For two summers, Amy was employed at the Conayt Friendship Centre as a Program Assistant and helped deliver traditional programs and events for the community.
Currently, Amy is working in Kelowna, BC at Women’s Enterprise Centre as a Co-op Intern and is now completing her final year at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Her objective is to obtain a degree in The Bachelor of Management Program. Amy plans to remain in the Okanagan to pursue a career in Human Resources.