Our final session at the JEDI Plenary was a great chat with some New Brunswick Aboriginal entrepreneurs. The four panel members shared some of their thoughts on entrepreneurship, innovation and the challenges of running your own business.
The members of the panel were:
- Brad MacMillan, owner of Crossfit Pound
- Mary Jane Milier, owner of Grandmother Bear Holistic Centre
- Nathan Paul, Assistant Retail Operations Manager at St. Mary’s Retail Sales
- Shane Perley-Dutcher, owner of Aduksis Jewellery Designs
These panelists all run different kinds of businesses but their unique perspectives will provide other entrepreneurs with some thoughts on how to address their own challenges and where to find additional resources. The session was conducted in a question/answer format.
What is Innovation?
Innovation involves being creative, unique and ahead of the game.
Brad MacMillan’s gym was the first gym in his community to offer the kind of training that he offers. “Innovation to me, is thinking outside the box and being unique,” said Brad. “Stay ahead of the game. Provide something that you can’t get and then provide such a great service that others will share their experience with others.”
“Innovation is about creativity, being creative with your solutions and how you work with your customers,” said Shane Perley-Dutcher. “Use new tools to take your business somewhere it hasn’t been before. Access resources.”
Barriers to Success
Believe in yourself, take risks and remember that you are providing value.
“Having a business is a personal journey and if you’re not ready for it,” said Shane Perley-Dutcher, “it may be a bit more of a struggle. When you are selling your own product you are selling who you are and what you make. It’s personal.”
“Not believing that you can be innovative can be a barrier,” added Shane. “I’m always trying to think of innovative ways to do what I am doing. Be willing to take criticism and change things that aren’t working. Accept innovation personally.”
“Entrepreneurs have to take risks,” said Brad MacMillan. “A fear of failure can be a barrier. Just take the next step and learn new things. If you take the action, things can take off.”
One of Brad’s personal obstacles was when he wanted to expand and tried to secure funding through some of the local banks. He ended up going through different agencies to secure his funding as the banks weren’t willing to lend to him.
Mary Jane Milier struggles with promoting herself and charging others for her services. She willingly promotes other healers but she is shy to promote herself. Her preference is for her clients to go out and share their experience, referrals bring in lots of new clients. She also feels bad for charging people to get healthier but she spent quite a bit of her own money to get certified so she does charge for her services.
Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Love what you do, make a commitment to yourself, have an action plan and find out what is available for help.
When Shane Perley-Dutcher started out he made a commitment to himself that he was never going to give up on what he was doing. “Make sure you love what you do,” said Shane. “Have a great support system. Work is not 9-5 when you are an entrepreneur. Be determined to find something that is going to work for you.”
“Believe in yourself and rid yourself of negative stuff, “said Brad MacMillan. “Use negative comments in a positive way. Have a plan to get your business into action. You get paid for done. You don’t get paid if you aren’t taking any steps. Set deadlines and follow them. Use your resources. I had no idea how to do a business plan. There are people within your community and outside of your community who are willing to help and who know how to do things that you don’t. Find a mentor and find a business that you want to emulate. Find people that are already successful and ask them questions. Follow successful people, success leaves clues.”
“Use the experience of others,” said Nathan Paul. “Find out what is available for help. Stay focused on what you want to do. Make sure that it is something that you are passionate about and something that you want to do. “
“Ask for support from your community,” said Mary Jane Milier. “There are ETOs that can help you. Seek out training.”
What are some Resources that You have Accessed
Shane Perley-Dutcher talked about how Arts NB has helped him. Arts NB helps emerging and established artists and they have scholarships available.
Nathan Paul took courses to help him learn what he needed to know.
Mary Jane Milier has accessed help through the community and she has built up her business slowly, on her own.
Brad MacMillan has accessed the local community of entrepreneurs in Miramichi and he has used the Chamber of Commerce.