Two programs to target Entrepreneurs

Two programs targeting new entrepreneurs are looking for to help them get to the next level. Since Economic Development Greater Saint John (EDGSJ) launched the Venture 

Validation Program in 2017, it’s had some success helping get new entrepreneurs from business idea to launch. Out of the 22 people who completed the 13-week strategic business course, 8 people have already opened businesses.

“The VVP is available for anyone who has yet to bring their product or service to market. If you’re building something or sitting on an idea, we want to help you engage with customers to ensure your building something that will “Wow” them and build it in a way that can be profitable for you,” says EDGSJ’s Entrepreneur Development Officer and VVP program lead, Dakota Lutes.

Participants who have completed the program have been very impressed with their experiences and advice from top notch mentors like Dan Doiron and Greg Fleet from UNB and Rivers Corbett from Opportunities New Brunswick.

That’s was very important to past participant, Brent Harris, who is opening the Saint John Tool Library & DIY Centre.

“The VVP team and program focused in on the details of my business. When you are an entrepreneur and you think you have a good idea, it is tempting to believe that your energy and willpower alone will carry things through. That is until you are exposed to the sheer number of startups that fail. VVP challenged me to assess and engage my market multiple times and ways to truly validate the idea. They did this through exercises that challenged me to get out there and pound the pavement. Over the course of the program, they continued this process in all of the various aspects of starting a successful startup,” says Harris.

The other program, Kickstart Your Business, is targeting people who have been in business for less than a year. This  is often the most difficult time for new entrepreneurs according to EDGSJ’s Senior Entrepreneur Development Officer, Mark Breen.

“The first year for most businesses is chaotic and they usually have to make changes to their business model and/or plan. They may have estimated too high or too low, things take much longer than they originally thought, and they often don’t know what to do. Kickstart gives them a platform to learn with other people who are at the same stage as they are. Our experts, all of whom are entrepreneurs themselves, can help our Kickers avoid costly mistakes. They also act as role models, letting them know that they have been where they are now and letting them know there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’,” says Breen.

Participants pay $250 (taxes included) and over eight weeks will get advice and training from financial, marketing and sales experts. This year, Donna Mazerolle from Mazerolle & Associates, Kelly Lawson from Kelly Lawson Photography, Mark Pridham from the Pridham group and Shauna Cole from Shauna Cole Consulting will help. They’ll give advice on everything from taxes to human resources to building a business’ brand and sales via social media channels.

Amanda Ryall of KickBasics Health Studio took Kickstart Your Business Program last year.

“KickStart was an absolutely amazing program. I do not have a business background and it was an information packed few months that has helped me to not only sustain but grow my studio. Kickstart gave me behind the scene skills needed to properly run a company. Plus, the instructors were informative and kind. 110% recommend!” says Ryall.

Originally published in the Saint John Telegraph Journal, April 9, 2018.

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