They are francophones, and they have a small company in Vancouver. Let’s meet two of them and share the knowledge! As you will notice, each business is different: whether you work from home, need an office or even a shop or warehouse, each experience is unique.
Suzanne: From paid work to self-employment
Suzanne Jacob had a successful career managing an insurance office. After 20 years on the job, she wanted something different: less routine, opportunities to meet new people but to still work in the insurance sector. Suzanne decided to become a self-employed Financial Advisor. Before quitting her job and starting this new life, she made sure she had saved enough money to cover 3 to 6 months expenses, so that money would not be an issue when she was starting out. As Suzanne puts it: "Financial stress can paralyze".
To keep that stress low, she recommends learning how to budget so that the money you make on good months can help you cope with the not-so-good months. As a matter of fact, it is not always easy to stay cool, and Suzanne mentions that "Mentoring or networking with peers is a good way to keep energy up and stay motivated”. On top of that, she points out that "if you want to make yourself familiar with local culture, it is important to get involved in the community through volunteering".
As she stresses: “It is important to know your weaknesses, so that you can look for help in these areas: attend conferences, improve your knowledge or even hire someone.” For instance, if you need help with finances, you can hire a bookkeeper or an accountant, depending on your needs. Keep in mind that as a member of BC Talents, you can benefit from unique perks related to accounting.
If you don't know where to start, Suzanne advises that you “head to SDE, who can advise you and support you in understanding the local market”.
Eric: Entrepreneur at heart
Entrepreneurial blood runs in Eric Baranes’s veins: his father was an entrepreneur, and he, himself, owned several different companies in France before coming to Vancouver in 2013 to start an IT company. At some point, Eric found that he needed to get back to his preferred job: buy and run a company. As he didn’t have his mind set on a particular type of company, he contacted a business broker who could give him a list of companies for sale. When he saw that there were bakeries on the market, he felt that it was the right business for him as “bread is an important part of the culture in France”.
This didn’t mean running into the first business and buying it just because it was in a field that mattered to him. Before making his decision, he investigated the vital signs of the company:
· The structure of the company: how are the teams organized? Are there enough/too many managers?
· The condition of equipment: how old is it? Is it well-maintained?
· The organization of the work: are there standardized systems in place?
· The reputation of the company: what does the public say about the products? Is it a trusted company?
For some of the checks, he used the help of experts in his network to make sure he made the right decision. He also found out that the company, created in 1982, was a renowned and trusted brand in Vancouver. All the lights were green, and Eric decided to buy “La baguette et l’échalote”, a company of 24 employees that bakes over 12,000 items a week, including baguettes, brioches and batches of hamburger buns. As an immigrant in Canada, he had a hard time with banks and had to use his own funds in order to buy the company. Eighteen months later, Eric is pleased with his choice: "it's delightful to work here in Vancouver: I have good quality of life, the team is great". As an entrepreneur, Eric believes that "small companies can't afford to have bad employees and they should make sure they do their best to keep the good ones".
What do they have in common?
These two stories are entirely different, but they do show some common ground. Entrepreneurship means something to both of these professionals. Both said that it brings them the complete freedom to make their own decisions, sometimes implying good and occasionally bad, but they are the master of their choices.
Another crucial point is capital: before starting your business, make sure you have enough money to help you cope with the first months or to buy the company you want to take over.
If you want to start your business, keep their advice in mind: “Give yourself some time: moving here is already an entrepreneurial project. Capture the knowledge first, create your network, get to know the area and see if your project could work here”.
As both Suzanne and Eric share the importance of networking: go out and meet some people! Not sure where to start? Come network in the warmth of BC Talents ConnectWorking!