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Small business advice for newcomer entrepreneurs in Canada

Starting a business anywhere in the world is no mean feat. And if it’s your first in Canada as an immigrant, your prior experience may come in handy but there’s a lot more to learn and unlearn to be successful in the North American market. “Do your research to make sure that the business you want to start or build is relevant in Canada,” says Karla Briones, an immigrant entrepreneur and business consultant, who dives deep into the topic and shares useful small business advice for newcomer entrepreneurs in this interview.

Also watch: An ‘IDEA’ by Karla Briones for aspiring entrepreneurs in Canada

Watch our conversation with Karla featuring insightful small business advice now to learn how to start planning that small business in the way of a business model canvas or some sort of business plan so you know the steps you’re going to take next. She also shares her top resources that you wouldn’t want to miss!

Video transcript:

Shruti Dargan:
On New Canadians today, we are joined by Karla Briones, an immigrant entrepreneur and business consultant, and she’ll be sharing lots of tips about starting a business in Canada. Welcome, Karla.

Karla Briones:
Thanks for having me.

Shruti Dargan:
So let’s talk about entrepreneurship, starting a business in Canada. Well, it all starts with a dream, but what comes next?

Karla Briones:
Well, yeah, as an immigrant, what comes next is just get really excited, first of all about what you want to open. Get very clear about exactly what you want to open, do your research, and then start planning that business in the way of a business model canvas or some sort of business plan so that you know exactly what are the steps that you’re gonna take next.

Shruti Dargan:
And you mentioned steps, so please take us through some of those.

Karla Briones:
Yeah, so first of all, as I mentioned, is to do a lot of research because perhaps if you own the business back home, that business might not work in Canada. So really, really take into consideration what would work in Canada. If you don’t know what business to open in Canada, then start, you know, asking yourself what are you good at. What would you do even if people didn’t pay you? If you have a passion, if you are really good at something and start questioning, Hey, is there potentially a business opportunity here? After that, you work on the business, on the business model canvas or on a business plan where you start assessing the feasibility of that particular business being successful in Canada. And one thing that I always recommend is to start networking. Even if your business hasn’t opened, start networking in business communities. It’s really, really important so that you start adding to your network of people that you know. And then after that, just make sure that you know what type of business structure you’re gonna go for, registering the business, so on and so forth. But planning is definitely one of the most important parts of the process.

Shruti Dargan:
And any support on this path to entrepreneurship is valuable. Right. So what are some of the resources that entrepreneurs can expect?

Karla Briones:
Yeah, so Canada is definitely a country that has almost too much support that when you come to Canada, you don’t expect that level of support or that many resources available as immigrants. There is, for example, something that you can research online, that is called the Small Business Enterprise Center – SBEC for short. So, I would recommend anybody interested in opening a business to Google SBEC or Small Business Enterprise Center and then add the city that you live in. And what these centers are, they’re kind of like public libraries for entrepreneurs and they’re filled with information, workshops and resources to help you start that business. So that’s one of them. Also, look into immigrant-specific funding available to start businesses because they do exist. A lot of us don’t know at the beginning. And those particular funding opportunities are only available for a limited time from the moment that you arrived in Canada as a PR. So again, if you arrive in Canada, always check, you know, immigrant lending programs or immigrant funding programs for entrepreneurship, and that could give you a couple of really good choices for you. And then the last one there is an academy that I have launched that is the Immigrants Developing Entrepreneurs Academy, which is a 10-week course filled with resources and tools for any budding entrepreneur out there.

Shruti Dargan:
So, you shared a lot of things that one must do, now, what are some of the top mistakes to avoid?

Karla Briones:
Hmm. So yes, so I think as immigrants, we are very adventurous by nature because I mean, we moved to a new country, so we already have that adventurous spirit within us. And sometimes that could be a good thing. I mean, it got us here, right? It got us through this new amazing country where we have lots of opportunities, but in business being that adventurous to that degree or to like the extreme, might not be very good. So, a lot of us tend to open before even planning or starting before even realizing, okay, what’s gonna happen next? So some of the mistakes are definitely the starting and then realizing, oof, I’m not getting any customers, so what am I gonna do? So that’s why planning is really, really important. The other mistake that I see very often, is that they start mixing business with pleasure when it comes to accounting. So they end up running their business out of their own personal bank account, which might not work, even if it’s a sole proprietorship, it is always recommended to have a separate business bank account for your business. Another one would be to implement an accounting system just to make sure that you know exactly what is coming in and what is coming out. And those are definitely some mistakes that a lot of rookie entrepreneurs tend to make. And last but not least, not expanding their network because as an entrepreneur, you want to survive, right? That you want your business to do well. So you tend to focus only on your business and you forget to reach out to the community of other entrepreneurs and network with other entrepreneurs so that you can learn about their best practices. And the entrepreneurship community is very supportive. So starting your business and continuing working on your business and not really looking up and reaching out to another community of entrepreneurs is definitely a pitfall because you’re losing on a lot of opportunities of connecting and learning from other like-minded people.

Shruti Dargan:
Thank you, Karla, for all of those wonderful tips and the information that you shared. Thank you.

Karla Briones:
Thank you for having me.

Also read: Starting a business in Canada? Here’s what you need to know

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