15 Business Ideas for Aboriginal Entrepreneurs

Grey Rock Power Centre Grand Opening

Grey Rock Power Centre Grand Opening

Starting your own business can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Many successful entrepreneurs have started businesses based on their own hobbies or by fulfilling needs in their local community. In fact, countless businesses are started at home without large cash investments.

According to the 2006 census, more than 37,000 aboriginal people were self-employed, up from just over 27,000 in 2001. That rate of growth is 5 times that of self-employed Canadians overall. Aboriginal businesses provide economic benefits, create jobs and leaders within the community.

If the idea of starting your own business appeals to you, there are lots of options for those with the entrepreneurial spirit. Here are 15 great ideas that can turn your hobby into an at-home business or can springboard your skills into something bigger:

1.       Aboriginal Crafts/ Jewellery/ Art/ Clothing

If your hobby involves weaving unique clothing, fashioning intricate jewellery or painting Aboriginal masterpieces, consider setting up shop and selling your wares.

2.       Handmade Beauty Products

Did your grandmother make healing salves or mineral baths that contained sage or sweetgrass? Take the knowledge that has been passed through generations and create your own line of natural products to sell.

3.       Furniture Design

If your hobby involves wood working and carving, what better way to use your talents than to design unique, hand-made furniture and sell it.

4.       Food Service/ Catering

Have you got great cooking skills? Consider catering small events or starting a meal service business. It’s easy to start off small with this one and grow over time.

5.       Restaurant/ Canteen

If you love to cook for lots of people maybe setting up a restaurant or canteen is the best idea for you.

6.       Sewing/ Alterations

If you are constantly sewing on buttons or shortening pants, consider doing alterations for friends to see if you’d like to do it as a business. For those of you who are really talented, think about designing your own clothes or other handmade items.

7.       Childcare

If you love kids then consider offering after-school care or setting up a small daycare in your house. If you don’t want to set something up in your own home, advertise your childcare services, people are always looking for dependable babysitters.

8.       Bookkeeping

Have you got a knack for numbers? Many small businesses are looking for someone to help with their finances. During tax season, you could do business and personal taxes.

9.       Graphic Design

Take your art online. If you have a flair for design and a unique style, you could contract yourself out to do graphic design work.

10.      Website Design

Does HTML and CSS get you excited? Connect with other small businesses and help them set up their online presence.

11.      E-Commerce

If you’re crafty and have your own product, you can sell it online. If you are more computer savvy than crafty, reach out to small vendors and set up several in a community online store.

12.     Photography

Photographers have a couple of options available. If you’re a portrait photographer then you can set up your own studio or meet your subjects at the venue of your choice. If you prefer to shoot nature and landscapes, setting up a gallery or an online presence can help you sell your photos.

13.     Tourism

People who know the area well can set up tours to some of the local fishing holes, hunting spots or general areas of interest. History buffs can create their own tours as they share the stories of their ancestors. Or start a cultural tour which focuses on local Aboriginal talents and shops in your community.

14.     Landscaping

If you have a green thumb, a landscaping business could be the right thing for you. You don’t have to start big but you will need a truck to help transport soil and greenery.

15.     Construction

Have you been building things all of your life? You could start small as a handyman/woman or if you’ve got loads of experience maybe it’s time to take the plunge and take on bigger projects.

If you aren’t inspired by any of those suggestions, here are 5 ways to think of your own great idea:

1.       Explore your community and ask yourself what services or products are needed to make things better. Is there a problem that needs to be solved?

2.       What things frustrate you? Are there ways to fix these problems and turn that into a business?

3.       Look at other First Nation communities. Do they have services that are needed in your community? What are they doing that you could do too?

4.       Talk to your friends. They have ideas. They have problems that need to be fixed. Maybe you can go into business together.

5.       What do you love to do? Can you turn that into a business? Get creative.

Once you have come up with your newest business idea, be sure to contact JEDI about the JEDI Aboriginal Development Fund (JADF) which provides financial support to First Nation communities in New Brunswick, 506-444-5650. The JADF program can help you turn your idea into a real business.