Starting My Business

After another prolonged absence from the intertubes I’ve come back yet again, with developments this time!

Most of you regulars out there know that I have been planning to start an online business for some time now (historical posts here and here).

Originally I had applied for the Ontario Self Employment Benefit program via the Toronto Business Development Centre. It was a program for those on EI (unemployment benefits) to help them get a job… by starting a business for themselves. The government would provide a grant that covered your living expenses for 42 weeks as well as in-depth training on starting and running a small business. Sounded like the ideal situation to me!

Two months, about a million pages of paperwork and one presentation later, I heard back from the TBDC as to whether they were going to recommend me for the program.

I didn’t make it in.

Boy, was I ever crushed when I read that rejection letter. I had basically been pinning all my hopes on getting into this program, and had been waiting with bated breath. There was a limit as to how much “work” you could have done on your business already (if you were already doing well then you couldn’t get in the program, the government figuring that you don’t need their help if you’re already making a profit) so I twiddled my thumbs and didn’t get much accomplished.

Ok I’ll fess up and say that this may have been a bit egotistical of me. I didn’t want to do too  much work and actually get the business started because I figured I’d be successful right off the bat, losing out on this program and the income support it provided. Even with my Airbnb earnings I don’t have much in the bank right now so any additional cash would have helped. So yeah. I thought I’d be so great that I wouldn’t be accepted and piddled away time that could have been spent building my business.

But you know I really truly believe I will make this work. I’m pretty sure I was born for this and I’m passionate about it for so many reasons. I am confident, people!

So long story short, I was devastated. I spent about a week being bummed about this (during which I went camping with my bff and became jealous of her for 4 days, but I’m better now). I had to wait until this past week to go in and meet with the TBDC evaluation team to find out why I didn’t make the cut, and to get feedback from them.

Here’s the funny part: the government is unlikely to admit me into the program for two reasons:

One: The TBDC only has 8 months to help me get my business running at max capacity and generating a fulltime income for myself. Generally speaking a business like mine takes 10-20 months to break even, the average being 15. This means that they won’t recommend me because there isn’t enough time for them to do a good job.

Two: If I do get my business up and running to that level in less than 10 months (which I will, dagnabbit!), then I will be too successful for the program.

Wellsir, if that don’t beat all!

I’m really not sure how I feel about this. On one hand it’s awesome because the TBDC professionals think that my idea, presentation, etc. was great, viable and will be a success. On the other hand, I’m bummed that I won’t be getting the help that I really want, nor the money that I need to live on.

I’m trying to be positive about the whole experience and have spurred myself into action. In the past 3 days I have accomplished more than during the 2 months I was dallying around with that program. I can still apply for the next intake session in the fall, but I wonder if it’s even worth it.

I’ve been working like a madwoman and have managed to pick a name, incorporate, hire a designer, get a website (not done yet though!) and sign up for my very first industry-members-only tradeshow next month!

I’ve done a ton more in that span of time (you wouldn’t believe how many pesky little details there are getting a business together!) but it’s too much for one post. I really just wanted to get the beginnings of my story out.

Next up I need to start finding vendors (please tell me of any that you like, or if YOU would like to sell to me!) and get the logo/website crap done. I ordered some temporary business cards today so that I’d appear more legit while I get everything finalized. Yes, I am always the marketer!

As I go along I’ll do my best to post about this experience because it’s good for me to remember, and also makes a cool story for you to read. The birth of a business!

Also, I’m not gonna lie. I hope a lot of you will be my customers when I finally open!! LOL

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