5 Things You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Business

2014-2015 Issue 2

What better way to learn about starting your own business then from someone who’s already done it? Whether you’re lucky enough to have a successful entrepreneur as a teacher, a mentor, or within your network, the advice they can offer is invaluable.

As a Career Advisor at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies, Emilie Nketiah has had the opportunity to meet many successful Montreal professionals across various industries, including entrepreneurs. “These are individuals who’ve walked this road already,” says Emilie, “and they’re excited to share their experiences. They want to help others avoid the mistakes they’ve made.”

Here are five things she’s learned from networking with successful Montreal entrepreneurs:

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1. Research

This includes research on yourself, your market, and your product. For example, does you product or service comply with Canadian regulations? Can it adapt to changing markets? How will you fund it, and where can you find investors?
“Research can be overwhelming,” one founder told Emilie. “But the intent is to help you make better decisions from the start, not hinder you from diving in!”

2. Education

Assess your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. If there are skills you’re missing, education can close the gap. “Determine what you need, and choose a course or program accordingly,” says Emilie. “For example, one entrepreneur studied finance, and found learning about cash flow, budgeting, mortgages and interest rates very practical.” McGill’s School of Continuing Studies offers undergraduate and post-graduate courses on the topic of entrepreneurship, as well as courses in finance, business analysis, and more.

3. Mistakes

“Mistakes are unavoidable; it simply means that you’re learning from experience,” says Emilie. “As a result, one entrepreneur I spoke to highly recommended earning experience working for others.” The result will be practical skills you can transfer to when you start your own enterprise.”

4. Confidence

‘Confidence is a sport, and hesitation can cause an accident.’ That’s what one entrepreneur had to say about making confidence decisions. “Entrepreneurs are required to build relationships, work with others, and make many decisions in order to move forward,” explains Emilie. “He was a big supporter of boosting your emotional intelligence.”

5. Mentorship

Even if you have the confidence to venture out on your own, it’s always nice to have someone on your side. “Everyone needs someone to talk to, whether refining an idea, providing feedback on a product, or simply deciding what to focus on next.” And as your business evolves, your mentor’s role may evolve as well. One founder suggested collaborating with one person during one phase of your business, then moving on to another. “In other words, it may not be a static role; it can change as you build and grow.”

For more advice from successful Montreal professionals, and the chance to meet a potential partner or mentor, attend the McGill School of Continuing Studies’ Speaker Series. Each event includes opportunities to mingle with featured speakers, students and alumni.

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