Creating your own job: the life of an entrepreneur
Recent years have seen major growth in the number of young people opting to start a business and create their own job, rather than search for employment under someone else. Although this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, many would prefer to take on the workload of being an entrepreneur than work elsewhere.
Leap Junction is a campus-linked accelerator program, located on Fanshawe campus in room F1012. It’s a free service that aims to assist young entrepreneurs, or those who may simply have an interest in this field, grow their business, expand their knowledge and seek out guidance. Interrobang spoke with Anette Markvoort, Leap’s entrepreneurial animator who gave her thoughts on what it takes to be an entrepreneur in today’s environment.
Markvoort shared that an entrepreneur can exist in any area of the work force. “I think it’s more about the individual than the field of study,” said Markvoort. “It’s someone who is passionate about either solving a problem or wanting to create a unique work environment…whether that be a service or whether that be a product”.
Annette said how there are many benefits to being an entrepreneur. “You get to make your own decisions [and] you can have a more flexible work life. So, maybe that helps in terms of work life balance,” Markvoort said.
She warned, however, that a common mistake made by early entrepreneurs is the belief that being your own boss means an easier road, when it’s quite the opposite. “It’s not that you’re going to work less hours. You’re probably gonna work twice as many hours as you are somewhere else and have a much higher stress level…being a boss is not always fun and you need to have a lot of fines to do that.”
Markvoort went on to tell how it’s necessary to wear many hats in order to make a business succeed, which can be a fantastic learning experience. “You don’t have to sit and do just one job but you have to learn how to market, promote, you have to know who your customer is, you have to figure out sales [and] you have to know how to network with people…
You just have to learn so many things and that enriches you as a person.” The recent popularity of entrepreneurialism began about a decade ago due to a drop in employment opportunities. Up until that point “our parents and grandparents had very traditional jobs, where they worked for 25 or 30 years in a job”, Markvoort said. “Then we saw a big shift in the recession in 2008-2009, where lots of those large companies left.”
The Ontario government soon realized the importance of the self-employed job market and began finding ways to support and encourage growth in smaller business. “They infused money from the youth jobs strategy into the colleges and universities across Ontario to kick start entrepreneurship,” Markvoort said. “So, to kind of make you guys aware of it, build a culture around it and then show support for those who had ideas.”
For those interested in becoming an entrepreneur and starting their own business, Markvoort’s biggest piece of advice is to figure out who their customer would be. “That’s a conversation I have with everyone who walks through the door. You can think you have a great product but unless you found that market that wants your product and is willing to buy it at a price that you can supply it to, it doesn’t really matter,” she said.
Beyond this, she also shared that you must be passionate, hard-working, a strong leader, great at communication, as well as have a strong sense of initiative. “That’s a huge one because you’re the one that has to get up every day and you’re the one who has to decide what you’re gonna do today, what has priority for the day,” said Markvoort.
Although it’s a major undertaking, with programs like Leap Junction available in campuses and cities across Ontario, it’s never been a better time to become an entrepreneur.
Markvoort said she enjoys her position at Leap because she loves to help beginning entrepreneurs succeed and watch them develop under her guidance. “I get to work with all kinds of young people who have bright minds and wonderful ideas and are passionate to start something,” Markvoort said. Watching a business succeed is great but, Markvoort shared that the real reward is “seeing the personal growth of people as they go through that journey and knowing that I’ve had some influence”.
Those who would like to get more involved in the events, lectures and consultations that happen at Leap Junction can go to LeapJunction.ca, follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/LeapFanshawe or on Twitter @LeapJunction