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I’m sorry… that will be how much?

If there was a time that I had ever wished to win the lottery, now would be it. I’m sure many people who are starting a business would agree, the start-up costs are astronomical! I just want to open up a dance studio, I mean how much could it be to put up a couple walls….let’s just say more than expected. I can see why so many people never follow through with opening up a business, but come hell or high water, I was going to open up this dance studio and follow my dream.

So how am I affording it? Fort McMurray is not the cheapest place to rent space and after many phone calls and thinking “I’m going to have to charge four grand a class to even make the rent.”, I finally got in contact with the right people.

 

Step 1: Finding a Space

Let’s go back a step. Finding a location may have ended up been the easiest part of the journey so far. Put it this way… Most people would say there is no such thing as love at first sight. I think, when it came to my husband and I, we would both agree. But, when I stepped into my studio space for the first time…love. It was perfect, the building was new, and it was a blank canvas for me to express myself and do whatever I wanted with.

The space was found, but turning that space into YMM Dance Studio, this was a different story. Now the process of negotiating the lease begins.

This is a perfect stage to give you my first piece of advice when starting a business: like your landlords.

I can’t imagine going through this process without having great landlords. I was able to sign a lease knowing that it was something I could afford. A big thanks to the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 955, for taking a chance and believing in me and YMM Dance Company.

Step 1 done!

 

Step 2: Bring on the contractors!

When we started the process, I was so excited. I got a little carried away when telling the contractor what I wanted. I never thought in a million years that my first quote could ever be as high of an amount than it was. Luckily, I had a great team behind me. I had an amazing designer who understood my vision, and a contractor that didn’t mind meeting me a few hundred times to talk about pricing. Finally, we reached a number I was happy with and that I could afford. NIK Interiors & Casman Group of Companies has been nothing but amazing to me and I highly recommend them if you are ever looking for a designer or contractor.

So, here is my second piece of advice: get involved with people who understand what you want AND what you can afford. 

Step 2 done!

 

Step 3: Secure the funds!

There are rumours out there that friends of mine are financially involved in this adventure. That is not the case, so let that rumour be put to rest. When looking to take out a business loan I met with so many banks. I could pretty much tell you what every bank offers for small businesses. Liking your landlord is important but liking your bank and the people you are dealing with is even more important. The reason is, if you’re anything like me, you will have a lot of questions. Thank you to Nelson Barbosa & Chris Myers at ATB Financial who were amazing and answered all my questions! There were even times I just needed to call and talk it through again to make it all come together in my mind. So, take your time, find the right bank for you, and who knows, you might even make some new Facebook friends.

One thing I learned while applying for a loan and my third piece of advice: you need to have some working capital.

Now, I’m not that dumb to think I wouldn’t need money, I did know that. I had some savings to start this adventure, but just not enough. So, I did what I was programmed to do from the time I could speak, “DADDY?!”. Yes, I did ask my parents for some money and they didn’t hesitate to help me. I feel truly blessed to have such amazing parents and have always believed and supported me in my dance career.

Step 3 done!

 

Step 4: Business Side of Things

“Does she even know how to run a business?” Many people don’t know, but my parents owned a very successful store in Janvier for many years. I grew up watching and learning from my parents who taught me what it really means to be an entrepreneur. I have also been very lucky to have been introduced to a lot of local business owners who have been mentoring me through this process. I would have to say that I owe the biggest thank you to Community Futures and Jon Close.

What is Community Futures?

Well, let me start by saying, I knew I could teach dance, choreograph, deal with the odd crazy situation with a parent, and create a show. But there is so much more than that when it comes to owning a business. Community Futures was there for me when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. What they do is offer free classes and one-on-one support to anyone who is starting a business or already has an existing business. I signed up for every class they offered. I loved the classes so much that I went back numerous times to the same class because I was learning something new every time. They helped me create a business plan that I knew would be successful and cash flow management, which is so important. Community Futures also put me in contact with other places in town that offer help to small businesses. I went to an accounting workshop, an employment standards workshop and learned so much I could write a whole other post on my Community Futures experience. With every workshop I went to, I felt better and more confident that I could do this.

Now for my last piece of advice when starting a new business: Knowing your craft is important, but knowing your business is equally so. Educate yourself on what you don’t know about running a business. 

Step 4… It’s a long one, but, I’ve got this!

 

So yes, rent might be a little pricey in Fort McMurray, a few walls are going to cost more than I thought, and loans aren’t that simple to get…but let me tell you, there is so much support for small businesses in town. You just have to look and can’t be afraid to ask for help. So yes, the words “I’m sorry that will be how much?” have been said during this process a few times, but I can’t wait for the day when I can say, “It may have cost me a lot to get it going ….but it was worth every penny!”