Paul Arnold

What is your one main piece of advice for anyone looking at entrepreneurship for the first time?

Really think about the “why” of your product or service and reason for wanting to become an entrepreneur. Just because you find something you love to do or teach others, doesn’t necessarily mean it is something that can be marketed or generate a sustainable revenue. Also make sure you have a clear long term goal that is going motivate and sustain you through the first 1-5 years of business. This is important when you go through the difficult periods when you have no sales for a month and your mortgage/rent payment is due. Those that do not have a solid “why” for their business will not survive. Look at the facts: 50% do not survive 1 year and 80% do not survive 5 years.

What are the networking tips you would share with new entrepreneurs who are starting out in Ottawa?

Join a weekly networking referral organization such as Business Club so that you can be meeting with like minded individuals that will help you grow your business. 85% of business is generated from word-of-mouth referrals so this is a way to super-charge your business and get you up and running for success.

What do you think about the concept of work/life balance as an entrepreneur?

Work/life balance is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur. Most successful business owners are putting in 10-12 hours per day, 7 days per week to get their business off to a successful start. If you have a family, your significant other will either support your dream or be leaving you after they don’t see you for 6 months.

How did you get your first client?

My first big client came from door knocking, which I did for the first year of my business. I was fortunate to knock on the door of an engineer who’s employer was just bought out by a larger publicly traded corporation. I was grateful to create a customized retirement plan to help his family achieve their long term goals.

Do you have any unique interview or vetting questions or processes you use when you’re looking to hire an employee or contractor?

Ask a question that will test the compliance or ethics of your employee. For example, create a scenario that would generate a large profit for your company but would violate a compliance or ethical rule and go against your companies code of conduct.


Paul Arnold

Doug McCaffrey

What’s the elevator pitch for your company and why did you get into this business?

Google offers many world-class tools people can access for free, such as Google Analytics and Google Ads. However, accessing the full power of these tools, so they deliver real business value, requires a combination of deep technical know-how plus contemporary marketing acumen. A further challenge is Google continuously changes the interfaces, features, and functionalities of their tools which requires one to keep on top of changes so the full potential of the tools can continue to be harnessed. I understand not every organization can handle this internally. That’s where I come in. My mission is to make Google work to my client’s advantage. I entered this arena 20 years ago and have since become a certified Google Partner. I enjoy helping organizations go from “we know we should be doing that” to “wow – this is exactly what we needed!”

What are the networking tips you would share with new entrepreneurs who are starting out in Ottawa?

Although it’s absolutely beneficial to have business cards to share and an elevator pitch at the ready, I personally believe networking is about listening to others, seeing from their perspective, and having real conversations about the challenges they face. You may be able to point them towards a resource that would solve their problem, or perhaps you can introduce them to someone who’ll help them really get things off the ground. Maybe someone you’ll meet will do this for you. To me, this is the true power of networking.

Do you listen to music while you work? What are the top songs on your playlist?

Not all the time, but yes, I often like listening to music while I work. I subscribe to a Google music service and I find listening to music without lyrics helps me maintain focus. I also subscribe to a service called “[email protected]”. Their concept is strange, but it actually works. They’ve surgically removed distracting elements of music, and what remains, somehow, is music that’s perfect to work to without sounding strange or altered.

How do you get the majority of your leads or clients now? Any tips you can share?

I’ve continually made small improvements to my website over the course of its lifetime based on how people use it. I’ve also revised my messaging over time to match my evolving understanding of how my ideal clients seek help. Though this process, my website has become my most important source of new clients. My advice for others is to avoid considering their website complete at launch. Rather, it needs to evolve over time to properly reflect your evolving business, and it needs to speak to your ideal customer’s needs so they have an opportunity to discover you.

What was the first thing you outsourced or hired for and are there any lessons you can share from that?

My best advice for new entrepreneurs is to engage the services of an accountant at the earliest point possible. They’ll help you understand your responsibilities, and will assist you through the process of meeting those responsibilities. Putting this off till later may result in avoidable hardships, and could potentially lead to your entrepreneurial career getting derailed. The same can be said about engaging a lawyer. I know what you’re thinking – I’ll do this once I have some money coming in. Don’t wait. You’ll be too busy at that point and you’ll put it off again. Look into Invest Ottawa to see if you’re eligible for free consultations with accountants and lawyers.

Doug McCaffrey

Doug McCaffrey – Google Partner

Email: [email protected]

Heather Desjardins

What’s the elevator pitch for your company and why did you get into this business?

We provide services in the area of learning disabilities such as dyslexia. We offer in-home and online one-on-one specialized tutoring in reading and spelling. We also offer assessments, info talks, and small-group student writing classes. As a special education teaching working in a small school, I saw how many students were slipping through the cracks in the system, and wanted to do something bigger than I could working as an individual teacher at a small school.

Did you do a lot of networking when you got started? How did you grow your network and make it work for you?

When I left my job to start my business, I was not plugged in to any networks at all. Upon starting my business, I wanted to also take time to give back, so I started volunteering with The Learning Disabilities Association of Ottawa-Carleton. I was invited to join the board of directors, moved to the role of vice-chair, and served multiple terms as chair. I didn’t think of what I was doing as networking, but it certainly did allow me and my expertise in the field of learning disabilities to become more known. I have not generally been one for networking in the business world, but with my recent wins of the 2019 Bootstrap Awards (Entrepreneur of the Year) and a 2019 40 Under Forty award, I have found myself in more situations that create networking opportunities.

Tell us about your team. Do you have any rock stars you’d like to acknowledge?

Yes! Marla Ruta joined on as part of my admin team very early on. She believed in what I was doing, and took the plunge to throw her hat in with The Open Door when we were still so small. She is amazing and does the things she does better than I ever could have. Leigha Brigham was the other piece of the puzzle. While Marla was able to take so much of the admin work off my over-crowded plate, Leigha came along and was able to help with the aspects related to content, programming, and education. She is now the director of education and training and is fantastic at what she does!

How do you get the majority of your leads or clients now? Any tips you can share?

We get our clients through word of mouth. Most of this is through our other clients, though we also get a fair bit of referrals from specialists who work in the field of learning disabilities such as psychologists, speech-language pathologists, educational counselors, educators, and occupational therapists. They see the improvements of their own clients who also work with us, and then send their other clients who are diagnosed with learning disabilities and/or struggling with reading, spelling, writing, comprehension, etc. to us. For tips to share, I can say that focusing on quality is key. Having an amazing product or service that is so great that people just want to share it with others is a good way to go! Of course keeping on top of quality control to keep the product of service of the highest caliber is important too, particularly as your business grows.

What was the first thing you outsourced or hired for and are there any lessons you can share from that?

The first thing I outsourced was invoicing. We invoice at the start of each month, and I was reaching the point of not being able to hand the workload of my usual day-to-day work on top of the extra work of monthly invoicing. I started paying one of my tutors (Marla) who wanted to take on more to do invoicing, with the intention of paying her more to take on other jobs as the business grew and there were funds to do so. This was such an important move, because even though at the time I could barely afford to pay someone to take this on, it allowed the company to be able to continue to grow. As it grew, I was indeed able to hand off more and more things to Marla. At first it was hard to let go of anything, but it was so the right move! I still hate invoicing, and for some crazy reason, Marla totally loves it. The lesson learned from this was 1) you can’t do it all yourself, and 2) there are people who can do (and will enjoy) certain tasks better than you!

Heather Desjardins

The Open Door Educational Services

Email: [email protected]

Upcoming projects: Moving our small-group writing workshops to take place at Collab Space starting in the fall!

Jennifer Tomlinson

What’s the elevator pitch for your company and why did you get into this business?

This Is First Aid is a community-focused First Aid & CPR training company offering certification courses from the Canadian Red Cross, as well as other first aid-related training. Our courses are learner-centered, which means we work really hard to deliver courses in ways that are relevant and engaging for our students! We really believe that EVERYONE should know first aid and CPR, so we try to make our courses accessible to everyone, regardless of age, income, language, or other potential barriers. All of our instructors are current or former paramedics, so students get the benefit of real-life experience and real-life stories.Did you do a lot of networking when you got started? How did you grow your network and make it work for you?

Did you do a lot of networking when you got started? How did you grow your network and make it work for you?

No, and it was a mistake! We’re relatively new to the networking community, and we’ve already made many wonderful connections. We describe our company as community-focused, which means we love working with people and groups who are making positive contributions to our community, and networking has turned out to be an amazing way of making connections like this.

How many hours do you currently put in as an entrepreneur and how do you feel about that?

ALL the hours! Our website says we’re open 24 hours, which is kind of weird for a training company, but if you have a first aid question at 3am, we’re usually around to answer it. As for how we feel about it, well… we LOVE first aid, and we LOVE supporting our students, but a vacation probably wouldn’t go amiss!

How do you measure your client’s satisfaction and what have you learned from this process?

We ask all our students to complete evaluations after each course, and we make sure they know we’re open to feedback via phone or email at any time. We love hearing from our students and reading their evaluations; they provide a real opportunity to improve our training. We’ve found these evaluations are especially useful in deciding how our course locations are working out. We tried online evaluations for a short time, but we found the completion rate for those evaluations wasn’t great, so we try to get feedback from our students before they walk out the door.

What was the first thing you outsourced or hired for and are there any lessons you can share from that?

To be honest, I love the training end of this business, and have never much liked the “business” end of the business. When I first started, I hired someone to deal with the administrative side of things, but I quickly discovered that hiring someone just to get rid of a job I didn’t want to do myself isn’t a great policy. Because I had never really been invested in the administrative side of things, my employee wasn’t either, and I quickly learned that if I wanted to offer clients amazing service, I needed to embrace the marketing, the bookkeeping, and the paperwork. So, now I take care of that myself and hire instructors to help with the training end of things.

Jennifer Tomlinson

This Is First Aid

Email: [email protected]

Upcoming Events: We have a few courses coming up very soon, including some Psychological First Aid Classes!

  • May 18/19 – Psychological First Aid
  • May 30 – Emergency First Aid & CPR C
  • May 30/31 – Standard First Aid & CPR C
  • June 6 – Emergency First Aid & CPR C
  • June 6/7 – Standard First Aid & CPR C
  • June 15/16 – Psychological First Aid

Rebecca Quiring

What is your “ask” right now? What would most help your business grow at this moment?

My biggest ask is for a female RMT to join our growing business.

What are the networking tips you would share with new entrepreneurs who are starting out in Ottawa?

Listen to people around you. You never know where your next client or networking partner will come from. It could be a Uber driver or someone in a waiting room at the doctor’s office.

If you get distracted, what helps you focus and get stuff done?

My bookkeeper, accountant, and my friends!

How do you get the majority of your leads or clients now? Any tips you can share?

Word of mouth is the best way I get my client. Always giving 100% to clients and they will naturally refer to you!

What Ottawa organizations, groups, or companies have provided support to you as a new business that you would recommend?

BNI, and GR are the two networking groups I joined and spent time learning from others!

Rebecca Quiring

Forget The Knots

Email: [email protected]

Franco Ippolito

Who is the best client for you? How do they benefit from your business?

The best client for me is someone who desires ownership of a home, condo and or investment property. Someone who seeks to build equity to help with retirement, building wealth for personal financial growth and stability.

Who was the biggest influence or help in kicking off your business? What did they do to help?

My greatest sphere of influence were and still are my friends, who better than your friends to spread the word. In my business a referral is paramount, essentially growing a business starts with the closest people in your sphere and grow from that.

If you get distracted, what helps you focus and get stuff done?

Stick to your schedule and plan…distractions are everywhere, be focused on your daily plan and goals. I use a schedule, book times for what needs to be done to succeed.

How do you measure your client’s satisfaction and what have you learned from this process?

I ask my client to publicly rate my performance and provide a testimonial of our dealings. I book time to follow up with my past clients at least 4 times a year.

What is your favorite business-related quote and what does it mean to you?

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Albert Einstein Think and do things outside the box.

Franco Ippolito

http://www.buyottawa.com/

Email: [email protected]

Look out for an upcoming Q&A about Real Estate in Ottawa.

Shawn Gallant

What’s the elevator pitch for your company and why did you get into this business?

GallantMEDIA provides a full range of creative design and business development services, including website development, graphic design & branding, printing & signage, custom apparel & promotional products, photography, marketing and advertising.

 

Did you do a lot of networking when you got started? How did you grow your network and make it work for you?

When I got started in business, I joined lots of community organizations, business networking groups, not for profit groups etc. It really helped to spread my name throughout the community, even if not directly for generating business. Be careful not to over-extend yourself.

 

What do you like about being a member of Collab Space?

Not only is Collab Space great for maintaining a professional business and meeting location, it’s a great place to network and build relationships with other members.

 

How do you get the majority of your leads or clients now? Any tips you can share?

The majority of our clients now come from word-of-mouth referrals or a new client will have seen the work we’ve completed for other clients. With 15 years of operation our portfolio speaks for itself.

 

How did you fund your startup? Are there any resources, tips or programs you can recommend?

Website development was really our first service, and has very little overhead, so we were able to start on a shoestring budget and expand from there.

 

How did you fund your startup? Are there any resources, tips or programs you can recommend?

Website development was really our first service, and has very little overhead, so we were able to start on a shoestring budget and expand from there.

 

 

Shawn Gallant

GallantMEDIA

Email: [email protected]

Upcoming Event:

The Petawawa Showcase is the Ottawa Valley’s largest home, leisure and consumer show, generating upwards of 10,000 visitors and 190 vendors from all industries. Our next show is April 26-28, 2019 at the Petawawa Civic Centre. If showcasing your products and services to thousands of potential customers is important to your business, then you do not want to miss this show! More info at www.showcaseinpetawawa.ca

 

 

Andrew Munro

What’s the elevator pitch for your company and why did you get into this business?

Gamble Technologies Ltd. (GTL) is a full service distributor of scientific instruments in Canada. Our products include radiation detection and identification (spectroscopy) for alpha, beta, gamma and x-radiation, as well as optical spectroscopies (UV-VIS, NIR, Raman, Hyperspectral). We also carry leading solutions in scientific imaging and surveillance (UV, VIS and SWIR cameras), and in electrochemistry (electronic testing – impedance, conductivity, etc.).

 

What events do you make a point of attending on a regular basis? What value do you get out of these events?

We attend specific trade shows in our markets, such as security conferences and physics/chemistry symposiums.

 

What do you like about being a member of Collab Space?

Our business is one of reputation and referrals. We strive to keep the customers we have, and make new ones. From a marketing perspective, Collab Space is yet another great chance to make new contacts.

 

How do you get the majority of your leads or clients now? Any tips you can share?

Our customers often seek us out on our website (or the sites of our supplier partners), due to the market being very niche. That said, there are many people who do not yet know of us that could greatly benefit from our service, and thus word of mouth and referrals are invaluable to us.

 

What is your favorite business-related quote and what does it mean to you?

“Failure is a natural step to success… be sure to keep going until you get there”. It is important not to get too disillusioned after a failure. Skills are learned, not inherent.

Andrew Munro

Gamble Technologies Ltd.

Email: [email protected]

Robert Wein

What are your growth plans? Where would you like to see the company in 3,5, or 10 years?

I was run over by a minivan in 2009, while biking with 4 friends, and was badly injured. When I heard that I’d suffered an “Acquired Brain Injury” because I’d never heard of it, I thought it rare. I was told that it’s by no means rare, because it’s known by other names. The term most often recognized is “concussion”. I decided to make a difference, by starting an organization that makes it more known.

 

Did you do a lot of networking when you got started? How did you grow your network and make it work for you?

I didn’t do enough networking, it was narrow word-of-mouth. What I’d appreciate is help making my brand more widely known.

 

How many hours do you currently put in as an entrepreneur and how do you feel about that?

I lost everything in the crash. I’m working to build a brand. Quite simply, when I’m not sleeping, I’m thinking of my Not-For-Profit.

 

How do you get the majority of your leads or clients now? Any tips you can share?

While being visibly-disabled is a challenge, it gives to me an instant-connection to people.

 

Who is your business idol or inspiration and why?

My idol is the managing partner of StopConcussions.com, Kerry Goulet. He is, quite simply, brilliant at running his Not-For-Profit.

 

Robert Wein

Never Stop – Foundation

Email: [email protected]

 

Walid Timani

What’s the elevator pitch for your company and why did you get into this business?

Here at Outline Unicorn, we help you build well-kept and organized financials for your business. By creating this solid foundation, we help you save time and money through the ​use of an automation system, which includes multi-function roles and financial advice.  With my 18 years of experience in Accounting and Finance, it was a natural transition to start this business. I am passionate about creating value for startups, small businesses, and other professionals.

 

Who was the biggest influence or help in kicking off your business? What did they do to help?

This community of supportive and like-minded people at Collab Space has proven to be the perfect place to start my business. One of the big benefits is the monthly Entrepreneurs In Action event that Collab Space hosts. It’s a great place to meet potential clients, and chat with existing ones.

 

What do you think about the concept of work/life balance as an entrepreneur?

As a one man show, ​ it can be difficult to balance your work and personal life. When you are an entrepreneur there is no traditional 9-5 schedule, instead, you end up working around the clock on both weekdays and weekends. Working for yourself makes it all worth it though!

 

How did you get your first client?

My first client came through the Entrepreneurs in Action monthly networking event, at Collab Space. I highly recommend starting with people within your network to test out your product and services with them, before reaching out to the wider public. Collab Space has proven to be the perfect place to start!

 

What is your favorite business-related quote and what does it mean to you?

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”-Socrates. To me it means focusing on the power of now, and then build strategies to reach your goals.

 

Walid Timani

Email: [email protected]

Upcoming events or promotions? Yes! Starting now I have a special promotion for the tax season. Any new client will get a 40% discount for personal income tax returns, and a discounted rate for bookkeeping and corporate tax. Contact us to learn more! Follow Outline Unicorn! Website: https://outlineunicorn.com/