This summer I decided to start a company.
That’s not completely accurate, I decided to start a company 7 years ago. At the time I was in grade 7 and I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, make my own money, build something that was good for me, my employees and my customers. I saw huge companies like Wal-Mart destroying the small businesses and I wanted to fight back, keep in mind: I was in grade 7.
Despite the naive notion of fighting the big box stores, that sentiment stuck with me to this day. I’ve gotten a bit more realistic, and peaceful, about it. I decided that my business would support others. I wanted a game studio, I had professional experience as a Graphic Designer, and I needed to be guaranteed profit if my parents (who I owe for college, food, transport, and entire life) would be ok with this. Otherwise, I would just have to get a job.
So, I started applying for stuff, mainly jobs, but also the Summer Company Program. Summer Company is a fantastic Government of Ontario initiative to fund new student businesses. They give you coaching, $1,500 to start your business and another $1,500 at the end of summer that you can keep. This means you have help from people who have done this before, plus $1,500 in business assets, and a $1,500 paycheque at the end of summer, on top of your business profits.
And then I waited, my business plan was great, my budget was solid, I would do Web Design for small business: Bringing quality web marketing to businesses that can’t normally afford it.
I got an interview, got approved and got buying. I had to spend the first $1,500 in 30 days to keep the final $1,500 (this is harder than it sounds). But I didi it, I acquired a 360 panoramic camera, some paid Blender add-ons, and covered my phone and web hosting for the next year. My pride and joy became the business cards I ordered from Vista Print (Cards – $30ish, Shipping g – $60+… be warned!).
Then I started going door to door, I went all around Newcastle, all around Bowmanville. I burn through over 100 cards in two weeks. Not a single bite. A week later my Summer Company Mentor reached out for the first time. He gave me some valuable advice, advice that would have been extremely useful before I got going. But we worked together on sales strategy, I tried cold calling for a bit, and eventually got an invite from a local business.
It’s worth noting, this business didn’t buy a website (yet) but the owner gave me a lot of good advice on sales and presentation. So I took these to heart. I Started over with door to door sales, practicing on my new local mentor. And then I got an eMail.
That eMail was a new client, a local realtor who I had never spoken to, and have still never met in person. It turned out that one card I had left at one office made it to my new client and from that, I landed my first customer. It only took 3 months. I gave them a great price, in hindsight, I should have charged more, but I was just happy to have some money and work, it’s still my favorite site to develop.
Half a week later I got another eMail, from another potential client. They had heard of me through the Business Advisory Center Durham, the folks who run Summer Company. I charged a more profitable price and funneled all my time into my two clients. I only had a month left before school, but this was what I had worked for all summer.
To this day I am working with these two first clients. I now host some sites, I do WordPress and custom codes sites. And I have an occasional revenue supply. I spend my free time planning ways to increase profit, learning business strategies and preparing for my next summer of entrepreneurial success.
I have absolutely no regrets from this experience, I messed some thigs up, but I held on to my business values, I helped local businesses kick-start their web presence and though I may not have become super rich, I made enough.