By Murray McNeill, Winnipeg Free Press, June 13, 2012
“ONE of video producer Steve Langston’s new missions in life is to help other entrepreneurs avoid making the mistake he made.
After graduating from high school, the 28-year-old Winnipegger spent six years establishing a career as a chartered accountant because it never occurred to him he could start his own business and do what he really wanted to do — make corporate videos.
It was only after working for a year as a CA that he realized he couldn’t do that for the rest of his working life. So, he quit and launched a home-based business — Dirty T Shirt Productions, which produces videos to help business clients tell their stories on the Internet, either through their own website or social media.
Two years later, Langston has two employees and 20 clients that include the Manitoba government, Tourism Winnipeg, Tourism Manitoba and Robertson College. His only regret is he waited six years to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.
That’s one of the reasons why Langston volunteered to serve on the Manitoba steering committee of Startup Canada, a new entrepreneur-led movement launched last month to build stronger entrepreneurial communities and to foster a more entrepreneurial culture in Canada.
The founders of the Ottawa-based group are in Manitoba this week to raise awareness about the organization, to formerly launch the local steering committee, and to identify challenges and barriers facing Manitoba entrepreneurs.
It’s doing the latter by holding one-on-one meetings with local entrepreneurs and two town hall sessions — one Tuesday in Winnipeg and the other today in Brandon.
The 65 participants at the Winnipeg session included entrepreneurs and representatives of organizations such as Innovate Manitoba and the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre. Their task was to divide into groups, identify challenges or barriers local entrepreneurs face, and develop an action plan to address them.
Startup Canada co-founder Victoria Lennox said SC officials will take that information, plus recommendations from 29 other town halls across the country, and develop a national action plan. SC will also develop an entrepreneurship strategy that will be presented to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in November.
Lennox said once the group has a national strategy, it will hold follow-up discussions with its provincial steering committees and they’ll decide what actions the steering committees will take in their province.
Langston, who was one of the participants at Tuesday’s town hall, said he’d like to see a greater awareness of entrepreneurship as a viable career option.
“No one graduates from high school saying, ‘I want to be an entrepreneur.’ But it’s an awesome lifestyle and you have a chance to change the world. And you can do it on your own terms.”
On Monday, Economic Development Winnipeg Inc. launched a new suite of capital planning tools. Developed with the help of the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, the tools include a “financing road map” that describes financing options available to local firms, including traditional debt, self-financing and angel investors. It also includes a business and capital planning primer and guide to investment, and a business and capital planning workbook.
The tools will be available this fall on the website of Innovate Manitoba Inc., a non-profit group that helps link researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed.