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Entrepreneurship as a Career: Learning from Industry Leaders

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startup canada signature
Kayla Square

Kayla Isabelle

CEO, Startup Canada

There are many common myths surrounding entrepreneurship — that it’s rooted in extreme risk-taking, that founders are solely obsessed with money, and that it’s impossible unless you start young, to name a few. In reality, these misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth and risk deterring many from taking the leap into a fulfilling, prosperous career.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than two million Canadians have launched their own business — enough to fill the Scotiabank Arena 100 times over.

More and more are seeking entrepreneurial careers, and though money and alignment with a high-growth industry may be large motivators, a recent QuickBooks survey found that Canadian founders are largely motivated by creative freedom (46 percent) and the general flexibility that comes with owning their own venture (47 percent).

I spoke with leading Canadian founders from various sectors to learn more about their innovative businesses and how the decision to launch in that particular industry has added purpose to their lives and careers.

Why did you decide to launch a business in the sector you did? How has that choice advanced your life and career?

Raymond Luk

Founder & CEO, Hockeystick Industry: Technology

Hockeystick uses artificial intelligence to accurately match small businesses with funders.

“Being an entrepreneur in the tech sector gives me the freedom to solve problems without obstacles or gatekeepers. I can knock down a wall and have the ability to try new things and find solutions.”

Kendall Ansell

Owner, Belle Construction Industry: Trades

Belle Construction actively recruits women in the trades and provides resources to women interested in a career in construction.

“Launching Belle Construction was a no-brainer in order to open up more opportunities for women to join trades and execute high-level construction projects. This choice has been fulfilling; watching other women feel safe and excel in what they do and help grow my career by reaching new milestones through franchising.”

Bruce Poon Tip

Founder, G Adventures Industry: Travel & Tourism

G Adventures is the world’s largest small-group adventure company, pioneering community tourism since 1990.

“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. It was important to be passionate about what I do. There was sacrifice at first, but now G Adventures is world-renowned, and it’s a rewarding life that allows me to be innovative. I appreciate that every day.”

Angela Percival

Founder, Angela Percival Photography Industry: Arts

Angela is one of few women to have made a career documenting the outdoor and action sports world. National Geographic called her one of the planet’s top nine female adventure photographers who are pushing the limits.

“I discovered photography as a way to capture my deep love of adventures in the mountains. Starting a photography business has allowed me a unique journey to create daily, amplify women in the mountains, and live my purpose of inspiring people around the beauty of wild places.”

Mallory Greene

Co-Founder & CEO, Eirene Industry: Health & Wellness

Eirene is an innovative funeral services startup that allows families to make high-quality, affordable cremation arrangements from the comfort of their own homes.

“I want to be a part of co-creating a future where Canadians age with health, vitality, and dignity. Every day I fulfill my mission of helping families navigate the complexities of death care, and empowering them to have conversations surrounding end-of-life wishes. For me, doing this work creates purpose.”

Dakota Brant

Co-Founder & CEO, Sapling & Flint
Industry: Retail

Sapling & Flint is an Indigenous-owned jewellery manufacturer specializing in gold and silver, based out of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

“My twin sister Jesse and I realized there was a demand for authentic Indigenous-made and made-in-Canada jewellery design. Business is business, but entrepreneurship is about passion and contribution. You see a gap and have the solution — bringing it to market requires passion on your part. Launching into retail has allowed me to pursue something that I’m passionate about: Indigenous jewellery design and raising the platform for Indigenous visibility and inclusion.”

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