I’ve always wanted to get into business for myself, but really didn’t know how to get started.
Then one day I decided to take what I thought was the first step. I went to see the band council lawyer to find out how to open a business. He told me I would have to apply and gave me information on my choices. So I went off with my choices of businesses: sole proprietorship, partnership or association business.
I had been working in the field of plastering and painting for many years for other contractors who are in the business, so I figured I had enough experience in the field to start.
I approached many people who were working for the band and they thought it would be a good idea and would supply employment to local residents here on the reserve.
I soon met another local resident of the reserve who wanted to get into business for himself also in the same field. We sat down and decided we would try our ideas out together.
We went straight to the lawyer and applied for a partnership business. Soon after we were on our way, putting our bids here and there. We were at work and starting to make money and supply employment for the other local residents of the reserve.
Not long after starting our business, our partnership relationship started to deteriorate and it caused many problems for us because we couldn’t seem to agree on many things any more. Our ideas were changing and it seemed that the whole idea was falling apart. I mean our first vision was lost. After many upsets between each other we decided to close the partnership. Both of us are still in business and didn’t let go of our dreams.
We are now competitors. About a year has gone by and we are still functioning in business, but times are still hard because there just isn’t enough work for both of us to compete on.
I chose at the time to open another partnership business because I could see two minds are better than one, when they agree. Later I realized where I went wrong the first time. I never made a partnership agreement with either of my partners and it was starting all over again. My new partner and I were starting to have new ideas and couldn’t seem to agree so we managed to come to the conclusion that I would buy out my partner.
I am now in business for myself and I am still trying to work out all of my decisions.
When I started to open the business with my previous partner I was the one who made all the investment. When we stared to fall apart, my partner wanted to go but just didn’t want to walk away. He could see we had some money left in the business account so he demanded that I pay him $5,000 and release our new tools that we had brought with company money, lb my dismay I found out that if I would have made a partnership in the first place all of these problems would have been avoidable.
My lawyer said for my partner to leave the business he should have paid me approximately$18,000 because that was half of the company debt. Now I am faced with a large debt that just won’t be able to be paid if I continue to work in only the field that I work in now because it only lasts for a certain period of time through the fall and winter.
My lawyer told me it might be better if I filed for bankruptcy and let the business go.I didn’t like this idea because all the people who put their trust in this company wouldlose their share of the money that they had coming to them. The bankruptcy agent would’vetaken what was left of the business and sell it to pay off the creditors. But I knewthere weren’t enough assets to cover all the bills and some would feel the loss too.
I went to a cost-estimating course to get some training and found out there are many things I was always overlooking. As soon as I finished this course I heard of another course that was starting for small business development that trained through video conferencing. I found I was learning a lot in the field of business. I just wish I had received this training before I started. I’m sure none of the problems I face today would be there. I would have been prepared for them and would have made a plan in order to operate a winning business rather than a losing business.
I had never made a plan and when problems arose, I didn’t have the knowledge I needed to figure them out and find the right solutions.
Now I’m in this Adult-Ed course and I am starting to figure out the solutions to the problems. I now know I’m not working a large enough field or part of the market. There are still expenses that have to be covered even when there is no work. I have put together a plan to create more employment on the reserve for a longer period of time and I feel I have taken some of the proper training I need to carry it out. I contacted my creditors and they are willing to wait for me to raise the money to pay them off. My
dream is starting to come alive again and there is still hope for me yet.
The local economic development is helping me and, more importantly, helping me to put my plan into action. A member of the Cree Regional Authority has come to see me also to make sure my plan is stable enough to make it in today’s economy.
I hope this story of experience will help some of you who are considering starting a business to do it right from day one.
Don’t forget to get training in the field of business and try to put a solid plan together. Something as simple as making a business agreement between you and your partner could save you a lot of trouble later on in the long run. And remember if you’re out there having a hard time due to your lack of experience, you are not alone. There are a lot of questions to be answered. Who’s going to do your accounting? Do you have an advertising plan? If work in one or more fields you chose comes to an end, how are you going to put food on the table or pay the bills?
Above all, don’t give up when times are tough, seek professional help and keep our economy strong.