Mentor of the Year Award
Many (many) years ago I started my own business, a public accounting practice in Niagara. My wife and I had spent some months traveling – winter in the South Pacific, spring and summer in Europe and upon returning home I decided that instead of getting a job, I would try to run my own business. I went to the TD Bank and they determined that I was unemployed and refused the line of credit I requested ($3,000), I went to Bank of Montreal and they said I qualified for their new professional’s program and my financing was in place. Next I hired a bookkeeper, Lindy, I knew I couldn’t stay in the office and do bookkeeping, I had to go out and find people who needed the service.
Two weeks into the venture Lindy came to my office door, she held a red file folder. She looked at me shyly and said “Its pay day”.
“Come on in” I responded cheerfully.
She gave me the file, there was only one cheque in it.
It wasn’t mine.
That was the moment I knew what it meant to be self-employed. You get paid last and you get whatever is left.
When I received notice last month that I was one of six finalists in the BDC Mentor of the Year Award I was flattered and surprised, it wasn’t something I had ever really thought about. The fact is I have been very lucky over my career and giving something back by helping young people start their entrepreneurial journeys seemed simple enough. As I got into the routine, working primarily through the City of Niagara Falls, but also through referral the rewards became enormous as I watched new business owners learn, often with a few hard knocks, the ways and the vagaries of business, from the fundamentals like the difference between incorporated or not incorporated to more ethereal aspects like the importance of a vision and a written mission statement. There is great satisfaction in seeing someone with the heart of an entrepreneur succeed.
My hat’s off to all those business owners who put so much on the line to build their business, put up with the whims of bureaucrats and bankers and contribute innovation and jobs to our community.
What more reward could a mentor ask for?
Also heart felt congratulations to Mary Jane Copps of Halifax Nova Scotia – 2016 Winner of the BDC Mentor of the Year Award.