Reporter: Jesmarnin Lafuente
Passion. Drive. Commitment. Time. Integrity. Luck. To become an entrepreneur, UOIT Business grad Philippe Alberigo, an entrepreneur himself, said they need all those traits.
He said people are creatures of habit and they don’t like risk. Quite frankly, he said most people shouldn’t be entrepreneurs. They don’t have what it takes to lead, motivate and drive an idea from paper to reality. It takes a certain skill set, a vision, and a way of thinking that is outside the box.
But, Alberigo said, those who break this threshold gain an absolute treasure: freedom. They have the freedom to do what they want, when they want and how they want. They’ll slave away their life working on a business, but it’s their business. They’re building their dream and not someone else’s. They essentially create their own destiny.
“I went from making bandana bags in grade 9, selling them for $10 each in high school, to starting a cleaning business,” said Alberigo. “Then I went from cleaning commercial parking lots and apartment buildings to selling books at school in between students, to starting my own property management and real estate investing business. Regardless of what business you do, as long as you do what you can and you’re happy, that’s all that matters.”
With the student unemployment rate on the rise, it is becoming harder for students to find a job during and after university. According to a report by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the 2013 unemployment rate in Ontario between the ages of 15 and 24 ranged between 16 and 17.1 per cent. This is higher than the average range of 13.5 to 14.5 per cent
Lorenzo Escobal, UOIT Business student and author of the upcoming book The Student Entrepreneur: 5 Easy Steps for Students on How to Start a Business, had a lot of free time during his first year in university. Other than being in the army, he applied to many places, ranging from Wal-Mart to West Jet to get a job, but had no luck. Since no one was hiring, Escobal decided he wanted to create his own job – an auto-detailing service.
Before university, Escobal was already auto-detailing cars in his neighborhood. Working six hours a day, he would make well over $100 for his services. Even though his mom suggested he turn it that into a legitimate business, he didn’t believe it would work at the time. After he acquired his business licenses though, he started up the service with his own money. He says he was lucky because after he started a Google AdWords campaign with no prior knowledge, he got a call from Miller Transit Ltd., a maintenance service in the GTA. He worked on cars belonging to supervisors and the general manager and within two weeks he had already paid off his business’s start-up costs. Every dollar he earned from that point on was personal profit, and after seeing this potential he started marketing himself online.
“Entrepreneurship is rewarding and you can learn a lot,” says Escobal. “You can also use your skills to stand out from other applicants when applying to jobs.”
According to a statistics report by Industry Canada, younger people increasingly prefer an independent lifestyle. They want to do work they like and have control over their hours and working conditions. It also said entrepreneurs have become influential. Canadian entrepreneurs are celebrated in their communities and in the media, and, in an age where people are cynical about many public figures, they are becoming new role models.
When starting up a business, students also get to do something most people don’t get to do. UOIT Business student Jordon Lorusso said having a business of your own and having it successfully grow would be one of the greatest feelings in the world. He said starting up your own business is also a huge stepping-stone to get yourself a better job – if yours fails. Employers think very highly of people who have the smarts to of had their own company and operate it.
“One thing someone should do is to surround themselves with positive, hard-working, and motivated people who understand how to operate a business or just moral support,” said Lorusso.
He said you need to have someone to look up to, or a mentor. These are the people who help steer students in the right direction and give personal experiences. A growing entrepreneur needs to look at failing companies and learn the exact reasons why they failed to enter the market. It’s more beneficial to learn from failing companies than successful companies.
A student needs to be a very ambitious person to run a successful business. Alberigo said he has yet to meet an entrepreneur who is not ambitious. He said people need to look in your eyes and see fire. People who are successful are people who are willing to risk it all to make it. You need to be independent; no one will tell you what to do. You’re the one who has to do it.
“Get off your bums. Pardon my French, but our generation, generation WHY bother, need to stop texting and tweeting and get out there. When people tell me ‘There are no jobs’ I call it a myth. You need to go find them because they won’t come to you. Utilize what our generation has. Get linked in, network, and go to social events at school. Shamelessly promote yourself.”