So you’ve got a great concept for a business – now what?
While that initial spark can get you started, understanding how others have grown their businesses can give you the motivation and guidance you need to persevere and succeed.
That’s why Desjardins recently organized a roundtable at The DMZ. Together, North America’s largest cooperative financial group and Toronto startup incubator have come together with entrepreneurs from their Launchpad for Entrepreneurs program.
Launchpad is a free, on-demand, self-paced learning platform designed to help entrepreneurs thrive in the early stages of their journey. The program is packed with expert-curated content on in-demand business topics in both English and French.
It’s basically a crash course in becoming your own boss.
Courtesy of Desjardins
Narcity attended this event at the DMZ, hosted by entrepreneur Vivian Kaye and Desjardins CEO Guy Cormier. The six young entrepreneurs, many of whom are at university, shared the good and bad moments of their journey. Here’s what they had to say.
Quotes have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Time management is key
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The roundtable included multitasking students who agreed that the ability to manage their time was essential to the success of their business â and their own well-being.
Kiana Karimi-Shahri, founder of NoTreble (a platform she hopes will make learning music more accessible) shared that being as organized as possible is key. She believes that clearly defining your priorities allows you to focus on them.
Of course, pouring so much energy into your business can be difficult when it’s not yet supporting you financially. However, when you engage with your business priorities, you will make the most of your time.
Find a mentor
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Oresta Masnyi, the creator of ConcreteConnect, which focuses on the issue of material scarcity, believes mentoring is crucial for emerging entrepreneurs.
Finding a mentor might be easy for college students, but new grads might not have the same opportunities or like-minded peers around them.
Not only does Launchpad help you learn from industry experts, it connects you to other entrepreneurs – who are just as passionate (and eager to learn from others) as you are.
The Desjardins website also contains tips for starting your search for a perfectly matched mentor.
Be a little risky
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Many of the participants were international students and for this reason they agreed that the risk was familiar to them. While leaning into the unknown is difficult, it’s also necessary (and exhilarating!) for personal and professional growth.
Luke Lamaj, the founder of Dochere (an all-in-one video calling platform for doctors and patients) explained that as a young entrepreneur, you have to prove that you have what it takes to run a successful business – and that could mean taking risks.
Lamaj said, “Initially, investors are betting on you â they’re not necessarily betting on the idea.”
So be authentic, but also show that you’re willing to take risks for what you believe in.
Be aware without being afraid
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We all know that fear can keep you from doing anything. At a time when your financial future may seem uncertain â hello inflation â it makes sense to be a little wary.
Karimi-Shahri suggests “don’t make decisions from a place of fear or be afraid of the future. There are definitely things in the future that you can’t foresee.”
A sound business strategy combines economic awareness and a positive attitude.
Accept all comments
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Business partners Jai Mansukhani and Pashan Sidhwa spent months hard-coding their “ed tech” app, Ace It, which offers a range of tools to help students study. As soon as the application was ready, they published it and took notes.
Not only did their peers love the launch, Sidhwa shared that the feedback helped the creators continue to improve the app.
However, when it’s not all good news, accepting negative feedback can help you learn from your mistakes and be just as important to your trip as a compliment.
Partner with people who are happy to work with you
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Don’t underestimate yourself by working with people who don’t see your true potential. While some companies carry a stigma against young people, many are positive about embracing and supporting the next generation of business leaders.
Roundtable participants agreed that if CEOs want to work with young people, they will do so because young minds bring a new business perspective â young people know the trends and the importance of social impact. What else; CEOs will be delighted.
“I’m amazed by the young people today,” Cormier said during the roundtable, noting how the industry is changing. “When you decide to start your business, there is more [of a] social aspect.â Now more than ever, creating and staying committed to company values ââis hugely important â and young people are at the forefront of more ethical businesses.
Remember that the cause is more important than the profit
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Cormier provided honest advice for success: focus on what your business will accomplish for society â more than profit â because a healthy community is necessary for long-term business success.
Budding entrepreneurs probably know that identifying a gap in the market is a great way to grow a business, but focusing on social impact will energize you during tough times.
For example, Masnyi’s business stemmed from his love of community and nature. The company focuses on sustainability while addressing the social injustice of material scarcity.
A company with a strong cause makes the work you do that much more enjoyable.
During the engaging conversation, Cormier revealed that paying attention to what other business leaders have done can be inspirational for newbies.
In the words of business and empowerment expert Vivian Kaye: “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just make it brighter, sexier, blacker, whatever the case. Make it yours .”
Courtesy of Desjardins
Participants were particularly passionate about financial institutions like Desjardins, which encourage entrepreneurship from an early age.
Ali Zee, interior designer and interior designer and co-founder of aÃªtava, said it’s a crazy rush to start his own business. But the best way to balance it all out?
Zee says, “The power of the hashtag through him.”
Launchpad might be just the fuel you need to get started.
To learn more about Desjardins, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To learn more about the Launchpad for Entrepreneurs program, visit the website.