This past summer, assisted by the Chatham-Kent Small Business Centre and the Province of Ontario, some young entrepreneurs got the chance to put their business dreams into action.
The results are more expert entrepreneurs and more focused plans for the future. The province’s Summer Company program provided them with up to $3,000 in start-up money, while the Small Business Centre provided business training and counselling.
“It is a very rewarding role to play,” says Business Consultant Rosemarie Montgomery. “We guide these students in setting up a real-life business – including production, marketing, sales, invoicing and ongoing customer relations. Then we meet with them every two weeks to help them stay on track. I think the program really pays off, both for the development of the students and the economic health of the community. These are our future business people.”
Chatham-Kent’s 2017 Summer Company students say they have learned from the experience. The Summer Company proudly named
Daudlin IT Services
was the brainchild of Noah Daudlin, a student of computer science at the University of Waterloo.
Noah spent the summer offering computer repair and support to CK companies and individuals. “I think it worked out very well,” he says. “My goal was to cover tuition and learn what it takes to run a business and I made more than I needed to.” As a result of his experience, Noah says he is considering switching his studies from IT to finance, and becoming a full-time entrepreneur: “Everything I did in the company was an opportunity to learn something new about the business world.”
Lauren Dixon’s company was
Refresh, a business creating and selling handmade bath balms and body lotions. The recent Ursuline College Chatham graduate entered the program with plans to attend McMaster University and a become chiropractor, but she was curious about entrepreneurship as well.
The Small Business Centre was a big help, she says: “They definitely helped me identify different marketing tools and strategies that helped me improve my business drastically!” Ultimately, Lauren decided that small business is not something she wants to pursue, and she credits the program for the learning opportunity. “It definitely gives young entrepreneurs the experience they need to decide if it is something they would like to pursue in the future,” she says.
Unusually Dunn Designs
was formed by Sara Dunn, a Wallaceburg native and third-year graphic design student at Fanshawe College in London. Sara creates illustrations of most kinds, including logos, posters, advertisements and T-shirt screen printing. She has words of praise for the Small Business Centre: “If you needed any help they were there.” Sara plans to continue her business during the school year and expand it when she graduates. “It was just a really good learning experience. It helped me to expand my skills and learn new skills that I didn’t know before that will help me far into the future.”
Remi Myers says, “If you have an idea for a small business, definitely take part in this Summer Company program because you’ll learn a lot and you can make money for school.” Based near Dover Centre, Remi operated
Myers Custom Sandblasting, cleaning rusted metal pieces and custom-painting them. On one occasion, he also sandblasted a house. Remi is attending Cambrian College in Sudbury for power engineering, but he plans to keep his sandblasting business as well. “I loved my summer with my own company and I wouldn’t change anything,” he says.
Barrett Reid-Maroney studies English at Huron University College at Western University. He was thinking about law school, but Barrett also has a real interest in helping businesses become recognized through a strong visual brand. That interest led to the formation of
Barrett Reid-Maroney Graphic Design, based near the community of Wabash. “I just think it’s good for youth to get interested in business as a career path. It’s good to have people enjoying what they are doing and pursuing that rather than getting your average job.” In fact, graphic design might just be the future for Barrett: “I am going to continue it as I go through my schooling and then I’ll see how that works out but I’m really enjoying it right now.”
RS Web Design
is the Summer Company of Rebecca Scott, a student at St. Clair College studying Internet applications and web development. Rebecca provided her young customers with easy-to-use websites and social media management, but she is not satisfied with the number of customers her business attracted. “I plan to continue it throughout the school year, as well. Hopefully, I can dig up some more traction that way.” Rebecca thanks the Small Business Centre for its marketing and sales advice. “Some students don’t learn this side of the business,” she says, adding, “It allows you to learn as a business person and that will help you grow throughout your lifetime.”
Kayla Smith aims to be a both recreational therapist and a business person. The idea for her Summer Company,
Fiction and Facts Clothing, started as a classroom project in the Developmental Service Worker
Program at St. Clair College. “One of the main focuses of that class is people who are living with disabilities who are also diagnosed with mental illness. Part of that program was creating a platform where you could advocate for people “I chose to make my topic the dispelling of common myths on mental illness.”
This business model, known as a social venture, uses entrepreneurial techniques to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues. Kayla made and sold t-shirts. “Every shirt comes with a little fiction and a fact card on mental illness. It’s dispelling common myths about mental illness. Ten percent of my net sales go toward mental health initiatives.” Kayla plans to complete her studies and continue the business. She thanks the Summer Company program: “It’s an amazing experience for young entrepreneurs. It’s a great opportunity.”
“I never really worked, because I enjoyed what I was doing,” says Alex Wingrove, a market gardening student at Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph. Alex took over a corner of the family farm to produce vegetables while minimizing the use of pesticides. He sold his product in a roadside stand and at farmer’s markets such as the Chatham downtown market. Any surplus went to local food banks. Alex says the Summer Company program was a big help with his business plan. “The whole market gardening thing is something I want to do as a career, so it gave me the tools to start that career.” Successful farming is a challenge, he adds, saying, "There’s a lot of knowledge that you can’t really read about. You have to learn from your mistakes” Alex says. He plans to strengthen his business model next summer through a weekly box delivery program for customers. With Alex Wingrove, market gardener, innovation is well underway.
The Summer Company program provides young people ages 15 -29 with the resources and knowledge they need to start and run a new summer business. Applications for the 2018 Summer Company Program
will begin in late January.
For information from the Chatham-Kent Small Business Centre,
Learn more about Chatham-Kent Economic Development and the Small Business Centre at investck.ca.