In my last post, I shared my story of professional growth – how I feel that Prince George has afforded me opportunities to grow in a career that I may not have had (or would have taken longer) elsewhere.
Being the ambitious person I am, my professional and corporate career isn’t the only path I’ve taken though; preferring to walk astride multiple paths at a time (that’s possible, right?), I’ve created an entrepreneurial mark for myself too, and Prince George has ample opportunity for those with that mindset. Some may call me crazy, I prefer “good at multitasking” – there’s nothing wrong with a family, a day job and three side businesses… is there?
My entrepreneurial path
Several years ago, as I completed my Master’s degree, I started to delve deeper into developing a social media strategy in my (then) position as a marketing communications officer in my organization (Northern Health). We led this work provincially in our industry; people started to recognize me as a leader in corporate social media marketing and began asking for my help with their own work – so it occurred to me, perhaps I should start charging for this, and “Jessica Quinn Social Media Marketing” (now “JQ Online“) was born. I mentioned in my last post how supportive Prince George networks can be, so I naturally met with several people in the Prince George consulting world to hone my business plan and start taking on small pieces of work here and there.
Fast forward a couple years, I started my second small business while on maternity leave – a completely different venture. Having a love for the outdoors, I had an idea to design prints for baby and kid’s clothing, and so, in all of my new mom spare time (hah!), I wrote another business plan (literally on my cell phone while baby napped in my arms), taught myself how to screen print in my kitchen, and created Live Love North Apparel. This business is still going strong, and I recently celebrated
the 10,000 followers mark on my Instagram account – the social media account that drives the majority of my web traffic and sales. (Having a strong marketing and social media background certainly hasn’t hurt my ability to grow a retail business!) As my love for this business grows, as does my love for helping small businesses (often one-person run shops, like mine) with their social media management and I’ve been happy to be helping several peers with that lately, combining both of my business ventures.
As if that wasn’t enough, my sister (another amazing Prince George entrepreneur who works full-time at the University of Northern British Columbia and also runs a successful photography business with her husband, Yellow Ribbon Photography) and I are currently organizing The Little Bean Market – Prince George’s first modern market for handmade baby and kids items. We’re proud to say we’ve attracted over 40 vendors from all across BC who will be setting up to showcase and sell their goods on June 4 at the Prince George Roll-A-Dome. We recognized a gap and filled it.
The Prince George entrepreneurial spirit
So, this sounds like a lot, but I can think of so many entrepreneurial peers in Prince George who wear multiple hats, taking advantage of opportunities in our city (like the willing and enthusiastic support and guidance of so many like-minded people here), and seem to never sleep: my sister, who I mentioned above; Bonnie from Madison Ave Fashions, who owns and runs her shop as well as puts on multiple small business fairs each year; the kickass ladies at Hunter & Thistle Creative, both of whom also hold down impressive full-time jobs and are growing their side business selling items they make; the owners of Nancy O’s, who created an amazing restaurant/pub that was unlike anything we had at the time, and recently opened a second incredible restaurant, Betulla Burning; and there are so many more. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in Prince George.
My advice to you, the entrepreneur
Prince George’s medium city size is a big advantage to people wishing to strike out on their own and make their entrepreneurial mark. The market isn’t as saturated with people doing similar things as it may be in a bigger centre, so there’s more room for you to grow into your own, on your own (think: less competition!). And while you might think in any place, there are no original ideas – I beg to differ! Do your thing and you’ll find your niche, where your idea fits best, and chances are likely there’s lots of room for you! For example, cities like Vancouver have quite a few baby and kids’ handmade markets each season – but in Prince George, our Little Bean Market is the first!
My advice for anyone wanting to start something of their own is simple: talk to as many people as you can about it and just keep pushing forward. I’ll admit I felt pretty awkward talking to my professional peers about Live Love North when I first started, because it was just so different, but I’m still amazed and grateful at the positive reaction people had. I even approached a few screen printing businesses in town for guidance when I was learning and they were very helpful – especially local business Cap-abilities (who I must say I couldn’t have done any of this without). This is a testament to the character of people in Prince George. Things change as will your business plan and path, but around every corner, there’s always something willing to talk it out and provide a little help when you need it.
Want to continue the conversation? Find me on Twitter at @jessicaleequinn.