I kicked my week off as a guest on the Changing the Narrative podcast. I had the privilege of sitting with Terrence, Duane, and Pete for an hour and a half and spent most of our time chatting about social entrepreneurship. All four of us sitting at the table were entrepreneurs, so driving home I thought about how many others I know. Off the top of my head I could count eight under 35 years old in my close, personal network. And that number does not include my lovely business bros. When I include my day job(s) in that mix, the number skyrockets. What’s happening here in the Maritimes?
While it’s true that we tend to surround ourselves with people like us, when I consider the backgrounds of each of these entre- and intrapreneurs (existing or aspiring) they’re completely different. It’s a wide-ranging, colourful bunch.
This gets me excited for lots of reasons, but here are my top three:
There is no clear-cut prototype entrepreneur anymore.
Let’s all be thankful for that! Entrepreneurs are not just business people. Our world is facing a number of complex problems and we’re going to need people of all stripes to solve them. Each of us brings a different, valuable lens that can help create change. That might mean starting a business of your own, but it might also mean using creative solutions to impact everyday struggles at work or in your community.
All of these entrepreneurs are starting HERE.
Most would like to stay, and not just in urban areas! Atlantic Canada needs to support its rural communities if we truly want to thrive. If we look to places like Tatamagouche, Bona Vista, and Sydney, it is more than possible. There is a real desire to live, work, and play here...not just retire.
We actually have the resources.
Admittedly, most of these resources are concentrated in urban areas, but access is increasing. Whatever business you’re trying to start, we have supports. Whether it be tech, ocean, art, social enterprise, or something in-between, there’s something for everyone.
Incubators, labs, and pitch competitions? Got em.
Co-working spaces and programming? Got them, too.
Lenders, funders, and investors? Bingo.
Mentorship and partnership opportunities? You betcha.
Smart, young people looking for meaningful employment? SO MANY!
So, to my entrepreneurial-minded sisters and brothers looking to create change here in Atlantic Canada...choose here! Stay here! We are not obligated to remain as the ‘have-not’ provinces with lack of opportunities, but no one else is going to step in and save us.
We have to pull up our bootstraps and put in the work. The ecosystem supporting new businesses is growing, it’s ripe, and it’s ready to see your brilliance. All you have to do is reach out, build real relationships, and make it happen. What are you waiting for?