Mary Austin is an active Board Member for both Community Futures and the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS). She is the Chair of the Lower Columbia Tech Club and the Lower Columbia Women’s Business Club. She is also co-owner of Austin Engineer Ltd. and feels fortunate everyday to be able to live and work with her family in this community.

Mary Austin is an active Board Member for both Community Futures and the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS). She is the Chair of the Lower Columbia Tech Club and the Lower Columbia Women’s Business Club. She is also co-owner of Austin Engineer Ltd. and feels fortunate everyday to be able to live and work with her family in this community.

Let’s get started

In her Business Beat column, Mary Austin helps innovators get started with, 'So you have an idea?'

So you have an idea? One that you feel would be beneficial to the community, that you would be good at, and that people would pay for? Great, let’s get started!

First establish your “Why.” Do you want to quit your job? Replace your salary? Become the next Google tycoon? Begin with the end in mind. An entrepreneurial lifestyle is not 9-5 and can be very challenging. It’s important to work towards a concrete goal.

Two Don’t quit your day job! Make sure you can support yourself and your family during start-up and beyond. Danica Burwash, registered dietician and owner of Mindful Mountain Yoga in Rossland did this by maintaining her nutritionist contracts while growing the studio where she teaches and provides space to other health professionals. With this security, she met her client needs and continues to expand with confidence.

Other entrepreneurs have a supportive partner or savings to get them through. You may also love what you do and always keep your day job. There’s nothing wrong with having a “gig on the side.”

Next Test and develop your market. Tim Wiley, owner of Rustic Crust Pizza, started his business with his father Richard, right out of his home in East Trail. This kept costs low during start-up and prioritized customer feedback on new products. They then brought their delicious artisanal pizza into business catering and with their loyal following they are ready to take the next step into a storefront. Stay tuned!

Tom and Emily Barrie, of Seven Summits Coffee Company in Warfield, began by brewing excellent coffee at local farmers markets. This was not only cost effective, but built strong relationships with local coffee drinkers. They then approached other local businesses that shared their values and began to sell through Ferraro Foods and at the Cornerstone Café. The Barries recently purchased a building on Columbia Avenue in Rossland. We look forward to the tasting bar!

Lastly Seek out great advice. Many successful entrepreneurs purchase businesses with proven track records. Leticia Nugent, owner of Record Ridge Denture Clinic, is a third generation denturist. After completing her professional training, she brought skills, ideas, and enthusiasm to build off her father Robert Haack’s existing operation. After taking over, she purchased and extensively renovated a new clinic in East Trail and now has branch offices in Castlegar and one coming in Nelson next year.

If you see a business that excites you that you feel you could inject new life and energy into talk to the owner and see if they are looking to sell. Their expertise, training and existing customer base might be just what you need to take the plunge into becoming a full-time entrepreneur.

Having an idea and strong motivation are the keys to starting out in business. Once in place, take these tips from growing local businesses to set concrete goals, focus on start-up cash flow, build strong relationships with customers and seek out advice from business experts.

We hope you too will successfully build, grow and chart your own entrepreneurial course bringing new products, services, and jobs to make our community even stronger.

Mary Austin is an active Board Member for both Community Futures and the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS). She is the Chair of the Lower Columbia Tech Club and the Lower Columbia Women’s Business Club. She is also co-owner of Austin Engineer Ltd. and feels fortunate everyday to be able to live and work with her family in this community.