Entrepreneurship has its many ups and downs and learning to embrace the ebs and flows is all part of the entrepreneurial journey.
Hours spent on creating products, marketing, taking photos, admin tasks, social media, selling online and at markets and you guys all know the list could go on and on. It can all be a little overwhelming and isolating.
That's why we asked entrepreneurs from across Canada for their biggest lessons learned in business over the last year. Maybe you'll realize you're not alone in your struggles or maybe you'll gain a few tips and tricks, or simply read a few important reminders...we all need those from time to time.
We were blown away with the wide variety of responses. Regardless of what stage you're at in your business, we know you'll gain value from their insight.
Here at Shop Local CANADA, we totally believe that when business owners support each other, share their lessons learned and collaborate, everyone wins.
Thank you to the following Canadian business owners for their participation and willingness to share their experiences for the benefit of other Canadian entrepreneurs.
Please share this article if you feel that others would find it valuable. Enjoy!
ōTH Pure Body Care from Pickering, ON
"While things seem relatively easy to accomplish in your head, reality proves to throw curve balls along the way. Stay the course and make a to-do-list, ticking off one thing at a time."
EATABLE Popcorn from Toronto, ON
"To always appreciate everyone around you who has supported your journey in different ways: whether they are cheerleaders, investors, customers, advocates, and especially your family! They all play a crucial role in your success and their support should always be cherished and celebrated! 🍿+🍾"
Apostle Boutique from Calgary, AB
"We all know that "balance" is hard, if not impossible, to achieve. By freeing myself of the expectation that I can give the same amount of time, energy and care to all things in my life, I have found a lot of freedom. We can never give 100% to everything, so allowing ourselves the ability to adapt to each time, day or season gives us time and energy to be present."
Antonia Natural from Brampton, ON
"The importance of planning, while having the flexibility to adapt to unexpected currents. No less important: to put myself in my customers' shoes in order to understand their needs and work together in the design of the best solution."
Prairie Knot Co. from Saskatoon, SK
"Talk to other vendors at Markets. Great way to make friends and I learn so much, about supplies, other markets and so much encouragement."
Art of Marina from Toronto, ON
"Always trust my intuition. I was always so used to getting approval from my boss... but then I realized that it’s my business now, so I’m the boss. And I know the answer. So for 2020 I’m staying true to my vision and trusting my gut."
The Wooly Canvas from Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC
"I think the biggest lesson I learned this year, which is my first year in business, is to value my work and time. I have such a hard time with pricing and valuing not only the quality materials I use but also the time, process, and creative energy that goes in to making something. Small businesses often mean quality, care, and attention to detail."
The Scented Market from Guelph, ON
"Learning to pivot would be my greatest lesson."
The Jewelry Palette from Oakville, ON
"Be as independent and self-reliant as you can! At every step of our journey, we have been thankful that we are able to handle every aspect of our business on our own! And always appreciate the invaluable input of loyal family members, friends and clients! It’s what helps us progress from day to day!"
Nancy Blokland Pottery from Kelowna, BC
"To be intentional about where and when I share/sell my work"
Amali Crystals from Mississauga, ON
"To let go of the fear and go for it. Not having experience or education or knowledge doesn't mean you can't. In fact, you will. And each time after you'll do it better."
Velour Clothing Exchange from Calgary, AB
"Taking risks and failing is okay as long as you learn and grow from it. This year we experimented with a few new ideas in our business. Some really resonated with our customers and others... not so much. But if we never tried them we wouldn’t have learned what works for our business and what doesn’t."
Prairie Wilds from Sherwood Park, AB
"Stay in your lane! Focus on your goals, your dreams and celebrate your successes! The person putting their all into the business every day is you, don't forget to celebrate every win. Some days you can feel discouraged by others, for whatever reason it may be but just remember where you've been, and what you have in store for the future!"
La Brise Stained Glass from Chéticamp, NS
"Work smarter, not harder. Being successful doesn’t mean working 12 hours a day. I’ve learned that setting limits on hours worked actually leads to more productivity and more balance in life."
Arrow It Forward from Gananoque, ON
"The importance of staying true to your brand. I think we can get lost in what we feel we SHOULD do...but WE are the bosses! Follow your own arrow always."
Rooted Romantic from Camrose, AB
"My biggest lesson learned is if I value my work, so will the customer. A big mindset change from being terrified of charging any money!"
Lip Service Beauty from Grimsby, ON
"Honouring my boundaries and listening to my intuition. If it’s not a heck yes, it’s a hard no."
Chasing Sleep from Calgary, AB
"It is ok to fall, scrape your knees and chip your tooth... as long as you get back up and try again. Find your supporters that will encourage, mentor and cheer you on no matter what your journey looks like. After a wild year with a few scrapes and falls I can honestly say that I would be still be on the pavement without the support of those who I surround myself with!"
SKC Decorative Arts from Cumberland, BC
"Be authentic. Be honest. Stay true to you and your goals. It can be overwhelming trying to please everyone and wanting to say Yes to every opportunity. But, know that you can say No and the possibility that the opportunity will arise at a later date is there! If it’s meant to be, it will all work out!"
Nesy Nou from Ottawa, ON
"It might be hard for you but it’s important to share your story. What inspires you to create and what story do you want to tell with your brand. These are all important for the valuable customer."
Divine Remedy Healing from Toronto, ON
"Be very clear on your goals but flexible on the details. Business like life is unpredictable. Unexpected things happen every day. You have to learn to roll with the punches. It's impossible to control every detail so embrace change. But stay firm on the end goal. Don't compromise the vision but don't be stuck on the exact road of getting there."
Totalitea from Calgary, AB
"How do you grow your business? One amazing customer at a time 😉😁"
Quin Lin Bracelets from Pickering, ON
"You will never be ready! Just get started and revise, revise and re-revise along the way. Sign up for things that push you and your business forward. It is much easier to refine things when you have a commitment to fulfill. Talk to your local small business owners there is so much support out there, just start the conversation. Only you can be you and there is no other you, be authentic, trust your intuition in your life and business."
GPrez Designs from Calgary, AB
"Trust your gut. Take some risks whether they turn out good or bad, you always learn something great from the experience!"
Salt & Seaweed Apothecary from Lantzville, BC
"To have patience building my business, just how rewarding excellent customer service is and to remember to practice self-care weekly and or as needed."
Deliciously Wickt from Smithville, ON
"Definitely to take my time & follow my heart! I gave up on myself at the end of 2018 and shut down my business. And it took many months of my heart telling me to get back up until I finally did! Reopened this past October & I realized taking my time to come back & create products was so important. Now things have been better than they ever have been and I am so happy I got back up from rock bottom 💜"
Petit Désir Fou from Ottawa, ON
"Staying true to what I dream, feel and share through my creations to in return engage my customers. Also the strength my fellow makers friends have giving me by really supporting and backing each other. Seeing strength instead of competition."
One Tough Mother from Vancouver, BC
"Perfection is the enemy of GREAT! I had to learn to just jump in and *do* even when I would have preferred way more strategy time."
Kootz Collective from Calgary, AB
"Setting boundaries, saying no and managing/setting expectations when working with others."
Books & Nooks from Ottawa, ON
"The biggest lesson we learned this year is that, running a business is a marathon and not a race, it’s ok to go at your own pace and reach your goals at the right time, success does not happen overnight 😊"
Sugar Sandwich from Sooke, BC
"Easy answer for me! Don’t take on too much!!!"
1 day beauty from Toronto, ON
Zombear Writes from St. Marys, ON
"The biggest lesson I have learned in business this year is to treat every obstacle as an opportunity. You can choose to become angry over things that go awry or you can change your perspective and think of ways to grow from mistakes.
The best lessons are learned from experiences so we must not be afraid to consistently try new things. In everything, we must be brave.
Running a business is a task filled with opportunities, so long as we look at every obstacle as a chance to do better. We should take them - every opportunity we're given. That is how we'll grow. That is how we'll create change."
We hope you found value in these amazing reminders and a little inspiration to bring to your business. Or, maybe you found a new favourite local shop to check out!
Please share this article so we can help more Canadian business owners and pin it so you can refer to it when you're in need of a little business pick-me-up.