For the past 7 years, I’ve enjoyed meeting with entrepreneurs throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, listening to their stories, and sharing experiences. I gain inspiration, insights, and energy from these entrepreneurial encounters which is part of the reason I continue to seek out like minded individuals and learn from them.
Recently, I went on an entrepreneurial road trip with StartupNL.ca – a not-for-profit I co-founded – travelling from St. John’s to St. Anthony meeting with entrepreneurs, mentors, and community support organizations. It was a 2500 km roundtrip journey with as many insights as there were kilometres. We invited entrepreneurs to join us for coffee in different towns and cities along the way. The turnout, the discussion, the energy, and most of all, the sharing is impressive in all parts of the province.
(Iceberg Radio event, St. Anthony)
I’m continuously amazed at how connected the grassroots entrepreneurial community is throughout the entire province. In every corner, entrepreneurs want to help each other and see each other succeed. I’m truly confident that entrepreneurship is solid here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Every month, StartupNL.ca hosts a Coffee Club event, inviting entrepreneurs to meet and share. We talk about start-up inspired events and activities happening in the province and we discuss, share, and help each other grow. We first hosted this event in St. John’s a couple of years ago and it’s now a regular event happening monthly in both St. John’s and Corner Brook. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet entrepreneurs and mentors if you are near either of these cities.
(StartupNL.ca Coffee Club, St. John’s)
We also know that getting to one of these cities can be a challenge so we decided to take the StartupNL.ca Coffee Club on the road hosting events in Clarenville, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook, Rocky Harbour, and St. Anthony. The turnout at these events ranged from a couple to a dozen entrepreneurs. The discussion topics at these events were unique but the themes were all very similar.
From the large cities to the smaller towns, entrepreneurs have similar experiences and stories to share. We are passionate about our business adventures, we know many of the mentors in our communities, we are surrounded by some fantastic support organizations, and we are aware of funding opportunities that exist in the province. These conversations didn’t surprise me as entrepreneurs tend to be very well informed and connected.
What did come as a surprise was a common theme of waiting. Not all but many of the individuals I spoke with are either waiting for something or someone. In some cases, it’s waiting for someone to make a connection to a mentor and on several occasions, I heard the phrase “we need government to do that”. There didn’t seem to be a sense of urgency; rather, there appeared to be a willingness to accept it as is.
Entrepreneurs are active throughout the province and they are interested in helping each other. There is a solid grassroots community of entrepreneurs and mentors ready and willing to assist.
Entrepreneurs – There is no need to wait. If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen. If there is a mentor you’d like to connect with, you can find a way to connect. If it’s funding you seek, turn over every possible stone and when you think you’ve turned them all over, you’ve actually just started so keep finding more stones to explore. Most importantly, be willing to ask for help and you will be pleasantly surprised by the answer.
Mentors – For those that have something to share, it’s up to you to give back to your community. Take a new entrepreneur under your wing and show them the way. Don’t be concerned they will be more successful than you, ensure that they are and we will all be better for it.
Imagine if when you approached Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne for the very first time, there was a snow squall. Then, imagine if you decided to pass on by and wait for another time to visit. You would be missing out on an amazing opportunity that no one should ever pass by. Explore every opportunity!
(Western Brook Pond)
Be willing to climb mountains in all weather. Sure, some will advise that you wait for better weather. Don’t wait! Prepare as best you can for all conditions and go for it. Just because the path may be cloudy, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach the summit.
(Gros Morne mountain)