I remember when I first started my marketing business, Activ8 Corporate Relations, www.activ8inc.com. It was 1999, and I had recently switched careers from working as a financial advisor in downtown Vancouver to representing public companies and selling stock as an investor relations representative. Exciting times for a small town girl from Vancouver Island as the financial markets were booming, I was learning from very smart people, and there seemed to be a lot of opportunity for a rookie like me.
My big inspiration to work in business came after watching movies such as Risky Business with Tom Cruise, Working Girl with Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford, and Wall Street with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas. Yes, I was an 80s kid. One of my favourite quotes from a line in the movie Working Girl, was when the lead character Tess, said:
“I’m not going to spend the rest of my life working my a@# off and getting nowhere just because I followed rules that I had nothing to do with setting up.” - Tess McGill (Working Girl, The Movie, 1988)
I have always been a free spirit and taking orders in an old boys club was a challenge. Becoming self-employed was certainly a fit for my feisty and self-directed personality.
Intuit Canada predicts 45% of Canada’s workforce will be self-employed by 2020. A few other interesting stats are:
47% of existing self-employed Canadians are doing it for a better work-life flexibility
44% are financially better off since becoming self-employed
41% are doing it part-time to supplement their income
What does this have to do with you? Well, if self-employment is something you have always dreamed of but thought was near impossible, think again.
Finding A Market Opportunity
We all have talents and skills that someone is willing to pay for. The question is are you able to figure out how to commercialize your know-how and natural gifts in a way that consistently puts food on the table for you and your family? It does also require some hustle on your part.
The economy is rapidly changing thanks to advances in technology and this means many jobs will be lost to robotics and artificial intelligence. However, there are skills that robots and computers will never be able to replace. Soft skills like empathy, creativity and problem solving gives humans a big competitive edge. Can you come up with a way to make an existing product or service better? Do you have an idea for a product that is needed but hasn't been invented yet?
The light bulb moment I had to start my business came from managing various marketing, graphic designers, web development and advertising vendors simultaneously on behalf of a public company that I was consulting for. I realized there was a market opportunity to bring these types of services together under one umbrella. Activ8 Corporate Relations was created when I decided to start a full-service marketing company in August 2000. Almost nineteen years ago. The business training services we do for Indigenous communities began in 2012, and now I'm operating two companies that I'm really passionate about.
Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Has it been rewarding and fun, most definitely!
When brainstorming your product or service, think about what you enjoy doing as part of your daily activities and what comes easy to you. Do you enjoy reading stories about people, places or things? Is writing something that you like to do in your spare time? Does it come easily? Then perhaps becoming an industry specific writer and content creator for marketing agencies is where you can start your self employment journey.
Assess what you are good at and research the market to see where it could fit a need. Even the most obscure skill sets are required somewhere, by someone. All it takes is a solid business plan, an injection of cash (grant funding perhaps?) and one step at a time towards the launch and then running your own business. Stop thinking about it and just do it. The biggest risk in life is the one you didn't take towards living your dreams. Let us know when you start!
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