Some entrepreneurs realize they want to own their own business at a very young age. Others discover their passion after working for someone else, but want more independence, and their hard work and loyalty to be properly rewarded.
For Krista Walsh, being a business owner never entered her mind. She felt she did not have the education, background or skill set to become a business owner or leader. But now, she is a successful entrepreneur and an award-winning business leader.
What was the turning point? She got fired because she was not doing the job her employer expected. With few options, she started working with her father in his home heating business. It was then she noticed that a number of customers were not paying their bills.
She took it upon herself to collect those delinquent debts. She did such a good job she was asked to do the same for other local small businesses. Her competency and confidence developed so well, she ended up creating KC Collect, the largest collection agency in PEI.
As her reputation grew, other companies and associations asked her to speak about her experience and train their people. This sent her on yet another career trajectory of professional speaking and training – a profession she had never dreamed of.
I asked Krista for one piece of advice to give other aspiring business owners. She responded:
“Get a mentor. Find someone you trust and are willing to completely open up to and share your strengths, weaknesses, and deepest fears. You want someone who is focused on helping you, rather than them building their own ego”.
Krista was smart. She joined the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce which has a formalized mentorship program. This program connected her with Jeff Cooke, a highly successful business leader in Charlottetown. He helped her set up a personal development plan where she could get resources, training, and appropriate coaches to help her along the journey.
Since then, she has connected with other mentors who continue to help her in the new aspects of her work. She says,
“Get a mentor who will believe in you, even when you don’t necessarily believe in yourself. They will give you confidence and help to overcome self-doubt.”
There are two types of entrepreneurs:
- People who started a business because of a personal challenge, a significant life experience, or a lack of job fulfillment
- People who have gained a depth of experience in a specific field while working for another organization and wanted more control of their future.
So how do you get started?
Take Krista’s advice and these tips from other successful entrepreneurs:
- Have a product or service that people actually want and you can make money from.
- Develop a viable business model. If you watch shows like the Dragons Den, or Shark Tank, you will see the first thing they look for is someone with a credible business plan.
- Network, network, network. Take every opportunity, formal or informal, to meet other successful people. You never know when a connection could be a life changing experience.
- Be a life-long learner. Join the association that represents your industry. Enroll in every education program they provide. Attend professional development programs, be an avid reader, and listen to motivational tapes.
A common story that I hear over and over is that many highly successful entrepreneurs got started because of a major setback they experienced in their personal or professional life. So if you lose your job, stay positive. That may be the perfect opportunity to follow your real passion to success and happiness!
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