Last week, Community Futures Oxford was invited to join Leap Junction at the Fanshawe College Woodstock/Oxford campus. With a new take on learning from entrepreneurs in the trenches, the event welcomed four local business owners to a moderated panel about starting, owning and growing a business. The panel was moderated by Holly who shares her passion and expertise in storytelling which made for a dynamic and honest conversation among the young entrepreneurs.
Leap Junction is a provincially funded campus-linked accelerator designed to fuel entrepreneurship among Fanshawe College students at all four campus locations.
So, who did we hear from?
Badar, Owner of Lava Dora: Badar returned to his alma mater to chat about how he went from Fanshawe’s Business-Entrepreneurship Management program to open a mobile laundry cleaning service business with an online platform to manage service requests.
Shep, Owner of Gunn’s Hill Cheese: Born and raised in Oxford County, Shep left the area to learn traditional methods of making cheese. With experience in artisan cheese shops in BC, New York and Switzerland he returned to his family farm to start his own artisan cheese making business.
Nicole, Owner of Evelynn by Nicole Snoebelen: Proudly building a social enterprise with the motto of “income with an impact,” Nicole owns a Made in Canada clothing line for women. Through a partnership with Make-a-Wish Southwest, Nicole designs dresses to for young children experiencing health challenges. She is currently in the process of turning the social purpose of the business into a not-for-profit under the title of The Abby Fund in order to grow the impact of her work.
Sky, Owner of She Beauty Bar– After learning some tough lessons about opening a home-based hair salon, Sky took the leap and opened a full-service beauty bar in London. Originally a graduate of the healthcare industry, Sky returned to Fanshawe College and completed her hair styling apprentice in the evenings to follow where her passions truly lead.
What did they have to say?
The great part about the discussing is that the entrepreneurs and their businesses were so different which really lead to the vibrancy of the conversation. Their journeys to entrepreneurship were very unique; some by fate and others by pure intention. Having said that, there were some things they all agreed on.
The entrepreneurs unequivocally agreed on three things:
- Entrepreneurship is about a plunge. Be responsible, but don’t wait for that magic moment when you “feel ready.” That moment will never come and it’s all about just getting started and learning from there
- Learning to budget and manage your cash flow is the single most important factor in getting through the challenges of startup and growth.
- All entrepreneurs need to know their weaknesses and be prepared to know where and when to ask for help. Build connections with people who complement your short-comings and partner with them to save heachahes (and cash!).
We were thrilled into be included in the event and answer the students questions about how we can support young entrepreneurs ready to take an entrepreneurial plunge in Oxford County. For more resources to support young entrepreneurs, check out:
Community Futures Oxford Young Entrepreneur Grant
Leap Junction- Support for Fanshawe College students and alumni