7 amazing years after moving to Revelstoke I can look back and honestly say it has been such a journey! I moved from Alberta where there were plenty of jobs, to BC where there weren’t as many but a lot of small businesses. I was confused about where to start. I had a good education in my chosen field, but was being offered peanuts to work as an employee. Feeling undervalued, I conceded to getting a “normal” job like everyone else, outside my chosen field. I started a front desk job for an accounting firm servicing clients. After being laid off when tax season was done, I started to feel a bit more desperate, facing my first ever time having to rely on EI. My parents had taught me EI was the last resort. At the time, it was. I even looked at a couple housekeeping jobs, but no one would hire me as I was over-qualified. I loved Revelstoke and wanted to stay.
I was at the Employment Centre on a regular basis to check out job postings. One day I chatted with one of their job assistance people and took a course they had available. When I was asked if I had ever thought about starting my own business, I was reminded of my Dad and his many sleepless nights at home pouring over papers on his desk to support his family. At the time it seemed really intimidating. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps but I didn’t know how. I wanted the freedom of being my own boss, because frankly, I was not a good employee. I wanted to enjoy Revelstoke but also make a living. They referred me to Community Futures and one of their business mentors, Roberta Ciolli. I prepared myself, still feeling intimidated, gathered all my paperwork and headed over to see what my options were.
My first meeting with Roberta changed my life. I had walked in not knowing what path I was on and when I walked out, I had a schedule of tasks and some reassurance. We were going to make a business plan, a committee of people would review my request and the need for my services in the community. I had never written a business plan before, but she had given me a template and some guidance. Not much longer after that I was approved, which was a great confidence booster in itself, and my journey with Roberta began.
I was given a firm schedule for finance reports, access to my business mentor through monthly meetings, phone calls, and email support, plus appointments for guidance whenever I needed them. Roberta had my confidence up and my business sense on a steep learning curve. I learned more in the first 3 months than I had in a year of college. I was given the chance to learn at my own speed about finance, business conduct and ethics, and approaching clients. It was nice to know that I could call Roberta for advice or support. A business mentor was the best option for me. There were other choices available from Community Futures because I was on EI, but I already had education and been in several different trades. The year that I was given to spend with Roberta and the gift of her guidance when I needed it took the pressure off me immensely. I grew as a person and so did the income of my business. I know that even now, I could call her and she would give me advice. In the years following I have contacted her and was welcomed by her warm voice and reassurance even though my year long program had ended. We had become friends.
7 years later, I still run my business. I have no debt and my accountant does not avoid my phone calls in fear of a disorganized shoe box of papers. I own a home and operate in it successfully. I am required to be in an office only 2 afternoons per week and the rest of the time is mine to budget for clients as I see fit. I am my own boss… I play when I want to but I buckle down and work when I should. That is the result of asking for help, and that was just one of the things Roberta taught me. It is ok to ask for help. Call Community Futures if you need help and ask what they can do for you. You will not be disappointed and who knows… maybe it will change your life like it changed mine.
Are you interested in Self Employment?
To determine your eligibility for the Self Employment Program, contact WorkBC at 250-814-0244 and make an appointment with an Employment Facilitator. Please note that Cindy Maloney is now the Self Employment Coordinator, however Roberta Ciolli is still providing business advice through the Basin Business Advisors Program (BBA Program). The BBA Program offers one on one business advisement to existing businesses and Social Enterprises, and Me Inc. workshops for those thinking about self employment. For more information on the BBA Program, visit www.bbaprogram.ca or contact Roberta at 250-837-5345.