How to turn your business dream into business reality

YOUTH START-UP “INTENTION TO ACTION” BLOG SERIES

The challenges of the startup world are not exclusive to millennials.

Many 30- and 40-somethings who started out following a specific career path have discovered that working for someone is not their cup of tea or have realized that they have too many ideas swirling around in their head. They feel the siren call of the entrepreneurial life.

Nick Curtis, 38, is a perfect example. While he was always interested in entrepreneurship, Nick followed the herd out of university and worked for a variety of companies. From retail at an early age to upper level management positions, Nick realized he was always building someone else’s dreams, someone else’s startup.

It was all a fantastic learning experience but he decided it was time to build his dream.

Nick Curtis decided to leave his 9-5 job to start his own venture in the tech sector. Stay tuned for updates as he launches his project.

Just do it

His first step? He just decided one day to “get up and set forth.”

“I left my job and straight away started strategizing around which of the many business ideas I would focus on and my plan of attack,” says Nick adding that he realizes that not everyone will be comfortable with such a drastic decision.  He however was fortunate to have a solid background and experience in startups, business expansions, and retail management to boost his confidence.

Research, research, research

His next step was to sort out what support programs were available in his region, including CEDEC Small Business Support and Youth StartUp programs. Having made a previous business attempt about 15 years ago, he knew that it would be crucial to have this critical business support, advice and networking.

Nick was introduced to CEDEC YouthStartup through a monthly #SBSchat, and CEDEC’s Rhonda Morrison has been impressed by his level of preparedness.

Build on what you know

Approaching entrepreneurial challenges through previous learning and jobs at different stages of his life has helped Nick discover how he should deal with a particular experience now.

“I applied some of the lessons I learned at graphic design school: the use of storyboards,” says Nick. “I like to create concept storyboards – which are almost like flow charts – as I work through what ideas and methods fit or don’t. I also like to seek advice from family and friends early on in the process to glean do’s and don’ts from their experiences. I even went as far as making a purchase from each of my closest competitors to study the experience and product.”

Nick says that “the benefit from all those situations is that I now have that experience to draw on as I start off on this new business venture.”

“If you are well prepared, you will only be that much more confident and instill more confidence in your team and potential investors. Long story short: I cope with impatience by consistently reminding myself of the benefits of preparedness!”

– Nick Curtis

Dealing with impatience or stagnation

He notes that impatience can be a huge challenge; you just want to “go get ‘em”, but it’s important to stick with the plan and take time to go over the different possible scenarios for your business. He suggests making sure you have looked at scalability and pivot ideas, at the very least. “If you are well prepared, you will only be that much more confident and instill more confidence in your team and potential investors,” says Nick. “Long story short: I cope with impatience by consistently reminding myself of the benefits of preparedness!”

Writers block or stagnation can also be a challenge. He finds that renting a co-working space, networking or just getting out of the house to work at a café can be very inspiring. “For me, renting a co-work space has been great in providing me a spot to ‘go to work’ every day in an office environment with like-minded professionals.”

Avoid the hype

As a final cautionary tip to would-be entrepreneurs Nick says, “Don’t get caught up in all the hype and jargon of the startup world. Take the time to familiarize yourself with current trends in business but don’t worry too much if being ‘in the know’ is not your thing. Be confident about your strengths and address your weaknesses up front. I like to use my old high school motto as my personal, daily mantra: ‘Nosce te ipsum’ (Know Thyself). You need to recognize you have strengths and weaknesses and learn how to build upon and deal with both. And be able to accept criticism regardless of how awesome you think your idea may be.”

CEDEC Youth Start-Up workshops offer would-be business owners a glimpse into the entrepreneurial life, helps participants assess their entrepreneurial skills, and helps early start-ups find the appropriate tools and resources to get their business going. CEDEC Youth Start-Up has GrowthWheel® certified business advisors on hand to help new entrepreneurs figure out what headache they’re trying to solve, who they’ll be selling to, where their opportunities are, and more. For more information or to sign up for a Youth Start-Up workshop visit www.cedec.ca/sbs/youth-entrepreneurship.