Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Note to a Young Entrepreneur

A young Canadian entrepreneur starting a video-production company asked me for some advice on finance and "getting the word out."

Here is my response:

"Institutional capital is rare for new service businesses. Friends and family is the usual solution to startup capital in situations like yours.

Your best bet would be to look into the Canada Youth Business Foundation, which offers low-rate loans to entrepreneurs under 35. Better still, each loan comes with a mentor and mentoring process to help guide you along the way.

Marketing yours services is all about measuring the benefit you have created for other people, and communicating that information to more people like them. So it's in two parts:

1. Gather testimonials from all of your satisfied clients - get them to specify how you helped them, how great your service was, how much money you saved them or how you directed them to the best solution, etc. (The more detailed, the better.)

2. Communicate the message of how you help people. Start by identifying your target market and finding the best way to reach them (posters, brochures, ads, e-mail, Google ads, press releases, website?). Then start hammering home the message in a helpful, over-the-top, eyecatching way.

Rinse and Repeat.

Does this help?


What other advice might you offer?


Hamish said...


Well said. I'm CYBF-funded entrepreneur and highly recommend the program.

To add to your point on communication, develop a really, really awesome 30 second commercial (aka "elevator pitch") that sounds different from the usual "we provide blah, blah services to companies like yours."

Be different in a way that doesn't make people uncomfortable and you're more likely to have a conversation with them that could lead to business or at least a referral.

Colin Pape said...

Great post, Rick!

I was unaware of the CYBF program, and it looks like a fantastic resource.

In addition to friends & family financing, which we used to get our startup off the ground, I would suggest the local Community Futures groups.

There are almost 300 locations throughout Canada, and they offer financing and other resources for new entrepreneurs.

Their website is:

I can't say enough great things about our local organization ( and how much they have done to support the growth of local business and entrepreneurship in this community.

All the best,


Rick Spence said...

Thanks for your comments.
Totally agree with Hamish re importance of your value proposition - you can read about my template for a mission statement here:
And thanks Colin for your comments on Community Futures. I agree with you that these are very special, committeed organizations with a lot to offer.
I spent a few days last year with CF Sagehill in Saskatchewan. It has literally transformed the communitiies around them - one business at a time.