By Brynna Leslie
It's often said entrepreneurship is the loneliest job in the world.
“The worst part of the entrepreneur's journey is hanging out with friends and family who don't understand your idea and they down it,” said Rivers Corbett, founder of the Fredericton-based Relish Gourmet Burgers chain.
Corbett, a multi-time entrepreneur, has written several books on the subject including "13 Fears of Entrepreneurs" and "10 Insider Secrets all Business Owners Must Know." He's also a founding board member of Startup Canada, a network of Canadian businesses that helps coordinate marketing, offers business education and encourages innovation within the startup community.
Over the last six months, Corbett has hosted a 20-part Startup Canada podcast series featuring Canadian entrepreneurs.
The series' biggest takeaway is that the Internet has made entrepreneurship less lonely, according to Corbett. Through the Internet, entrepreneurs can easily connect with one another for inspiration and support.
“As vast and wide and tall and deep as this country is, so is our level of entrepreneurship,” says Corbett. “Business is thriving everywhere. Opportunities are taking hold from rural Saskatchewan to downtown Toronto, and Northern B.C. to St. John's, N.L.
“The Internet and the capabilities that come with it have enabled these businesses to be located wherever they want but to expand their reach around the world.”
In the past, Canadian entrepreneurs were restricted by geography, says Corbett. But Internet infrastructure has removed those restrictions and introduced a “magical moment” for entrepreneurs across the country. The development of Internet infrastructure, increased accessibility to high speed service and online banking means entrepreneurs can start a business from anywhere, even Canada's most remote areas.
“If you think about fishermen who want and need to stay in their communities to do their core businesses, the Internet helps them do that and yet still reach new markets,” says Corbett. “And then there are the conquerors of the world, like Ryan Holmes, founder of Hootsuite, who lives in Vancouver, has the proverbial ‘started in my garage' story and now has millions of users from all over the world.”
The idea of sharing through technology is at the heart of the podcast series and Startup Canada's structure. The organization has more than 100,000 members nationally and supports more than 47 communities.
“Startup Canada is like a clubhouse; it channels the voices that represent and understand the lingo unique to the Canadian entrepreneur,” says Corbett. “It can be hard to get around that kind of community when you're on a solo venture. But Startup Canada, and these podcasts, bring together the group in a way that we all speak the same language, commiserate in the same way and demonstrate that, regardless of what we're doing, we're all from the same family.”
“Ultimately, the podcast has been about telling stories of Canadian business,” says Corbett. “And through these stories, helping people move along a journey of discovery or continuation in their own business ventures.”
Six months into the project and with 18 of 20 podcasts now available on the Startup Canada website, Corbett says Canadian entrepreneurs now have an invaluable resource at their fingertips.
“For so long, in my own journey, if someone asked me to name my business mentor, I would name Richard Branson, founder of Virgin,” says Corbett. “But if you're Canadian, you're entrepreneurial experience is unique and it's important to have Canadian role models.
“This series highlights seniors and Aboriginal people, young people and every Canadian in between. If someone asks me today who my business mentor is, I can name (Hootsuite CEO) Ryan Holmes, or former Dragon's Den contestant Marissa McTasney, or Wendy Mayhew, who coined the phrase “seniorpreneur” and is doing amazing things for the over-50 crowd in Canada.
“Kudos to .CA for helping us to tell these stories, for really having the vision to know what needs to be done before the results come in, and for finding a great way to support Canadian business and Canadian entrepreneurs,” Corbett said.
Listen to the podcast on the Startup Canada website.