Start a business and become your own boss
Starting a business is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming! To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, meet three female George Brown grads who each launched her own business shortly after graduating. They agreed to share their insights and top tips on how to become a successful entrepreneur.
Meet the entrepreneurs
Suzanne Crudden runs her own jewellery business and is a founder and co-owner of flux + form, voted one of the best jewellery stores in the GTA. She graduated from the Jewellery Methods program in 2006.
Jen Frank graduated from Baking & Pastry Arts Management in 2010, and is the owner and head chef of the Pretty Sweet Pastry Boutique in midtown Toronto.
Jazzmine Lawton Raine is Executive Director of Raine Network, a non-profit community hub and Studio.89 | YTGA fair trade café. She graduated from the Special Events Planning program in 2013.
First Steps – Get your business off the ground
Jazzmine: I wish I’d pushed my fears aside and started my business a lot sooner – I wasted a lot of time worrying and wondering!
Jen: The most important factor for me in the early days was preparation - I didn't dive in without a plan of action. I was patient, established a client base and identified the possibilities and risks.
Suzanne: I put my head down and worked very hard, at one point I had four jobs! A great support network helped - my business partners and I were always there for each other.
Learn the ropes – Vital skills for the self-employed
Jazzmine: The most important attributes for a young entrepreneur are organization and focus. In the early years I spent too much time fiddling around with minor things instead of seeing the big picture.
Suzanne: One thing that I think has contributed to my success is how I approach my client relationships. It's really important to get to know your clients well and create a truly collaborative environment.
Jen: As an entrepreneur who works alone, time management is critical. I plot out my work days to be sure I’ll complete projects on time. I've also developed a very powerful caffeine habit which helps with the late nights and early mornings!
Stumbling blocks – Push through challenging times
Jazzmine: When I'm feeling low and unmotivated, taking personal time to bring back my balance has always helped me get through any challenging situation.
Jen: There are a lot of obstacles in the way of being an entrepreneur, especially as a young woman, but the key is to stay focused. Having your own business can be exhausting, so it’s critical to keep your mind, body and spirit healthy.
Suzanne: Sometimes the struggle seemed insurmountable, but giving up was never an option. This wasn't just a business, it was my dream and worth fighting for!
Raise the bar – Take your business to the next level
Jazzmine: My network of friends, colleagues, and mentors has been my biggest tool for success. Treat everyone you meet with respect, approach new situations with an open mind, and don't allow gender biases to get in your way.
Jen: Stay passionate and never lose sight of your goal. It’s important to keep emotions out of your business decisions - make choices based on logic and sound reasoning.
Suzanne: If you believe in yourself others will believe in you too. You won't know everything on day one but if you remain open to learning, you’ll get better every day, earn the respect of your peers and be on the road to success.