There’s a healthy mix of fear and excitement when starting and running your own business. The fear comes in because you’re anxious about whether people will like what you’re offering, along with the fact that you’re really putting yourself out there. But the excitement makes every challenge feel like an adventure, and the possibilities of building something on your own can fill you with so much energy. 

When Prepped decided to interview two freelancers turned business owners, we wanted to touch on all aspects of starting and running a small business. Both Emily Major-Girard and Annie Fitzgerald are two emerging entrepreneurs who have already experienced the rollercoaster ride of what it means to be a business owner. Emily has become a popular blogger and creator of Em’s Burger Tour. Annie Fitzgerald has added to our collective doughnut craze by creating a unique kind of doughnut for her Doughbaby Doughnuts business. 

When we got together for a webinar hosted by Prepped’s very own Marleigh Cheaney, who happens to own a consulting business herself, we managed to gain so many detailed insights into what it truly feels like to call a business your own. 

 

Inspiration can strike from anywhere 

“I’ve always gravitated to new things,” Major-Girard says when asked about how she got her business started. “In Australia and South Africa, along with my other travels, I would always try new burgers and got dubbed the burger girl. It took off from there.” 

While Major-Girard credits the beginnings of her business to passion and admittedly some good luck, Fitzgerald was a bit more strategic in her approach. 

“Being from Ottawa, I noticed there was an absence in the market of a doughnut with different bases,” she says. “I make baked doughnuts, but all the bases are different, like watermelon, banana, pineapple, peach, where usually the base is chocolate or vanilla. I wanted to explore more depth of flavours, more creativity.”

That’s the exciting part, and both Fitzgerald and Major-Girard experienced success fairly early on in their entrepreneurial journey. Both acknowledge that there are always going to be ups and downs and that you have to find ways to manage the tough times without being discouraged. 

“When I started this, I was working out of my little apartment downtown with limited space,” Fitzgerald says. “But – I still managed to crank out major orders.” 

Major-Girard points to networking as one of the personal obstacles she has to overcome. 

“For me, personally, it’s getting out of my shell and networking. It’s one thing to be online, but if you really want to scale your business and take on more projects, it’s getting out there. For me, I find that most difficult.” 

Read more about how to ask someone for a networking coffee meeting

 

Embrace the challenges of branding and advertising your small business 

Attracting clients is another challenge many new and even experienced business owners often face. Trying to connect with clients can feel like screaming into the ocean, but there are ways to communicate with and convert clients that don’t have to feel so daunting. 

“For me, it was word of mouth,” Fitzgerald says. “And clients reaching out to me directly over social media. If you’re producing something solid, then people are going to want more of it.” 

Major-Girard put on her marketing hat to attract her first clients. 

“I used to do some paid advertising, but it was me as a marketer trying to use my own skills. I think building your network and socializing is huge, and a lot of business comes from the people I meet.”  

Applying what you know was another big topic that the group discussed. Specifically, on the topic of branding, while Fitzgerald didn’t do the designs herself, she was able to clearly articulate her vision to the designer. 

“I’m hopeless when it comes to graphic design, so I had a friend do it for me. In terms of the colour scheme, I wanted stuff that evoked bakery. I wanted pink boxes because you know everything that comes in a pink box from a bakery is going to be tasty. I don’t shy away from being a female-led business. Doughbaby is a fun name, and I want to be a fun brand.”  

There were so many useful experiences that both Major-Girard and Fitzgerald shared. Their insights on what makes a good business is some advice you don’t want to miss. You can watch the full navigating entrepreneurship interview, plus many others, on our webinar page

 

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Win an entrepreneurship package to start your own business or charity 

As we’ve learned, passion is essential when thinking of starting a business or community initiative. Even if you’re just doing it part-time, it’s a great way to build skills while doing something you love.

Of course, there are challenges to becoming an entrepreneur, but we want to make it easier for you. We’ve built plans which break down the process of building a business or community initiative into smaller, bite-sized steps. We have two plans up right now:  Self-Assessment and Ideation, and Create and Refine Your Pitch. The first plan walks through how to brainstorm business ideas based on your passion and self-evaluate your strengths when picking a business idea to build. The second plan breaks down how to research and create an elevator pitch.

We’ve also launched a Summer Contest to help you in building your business! Sign up for Prepped to submit multiple contest entries. You’ll have the chance to win a variety of prizes, including a Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15.6,” one-year subscription to Learn@Forbes, and six business incorporation licenses from our friends at Ownr, to help you get started.

 

Discover how prepped can help you build a successful entrepreneur plan 

Log in to your Prepped account to gain access to your exclusive entrepreneur plan to be entered for a chance to win the perfect entrepreneurship package to start your own business or community initiative. 


This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.
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