In 2009, I was a first year student at the University of Ottawa, studying in Commerce and specializing in Finance. I had been enjoying my first semester of University, but there was still a little something missing for me. You see, my whole life, I had been told by high school teachers and mentors that once I got to University, I would enjoy it a lot more because it was going to start becoming applicable.
And yet here I was, sitting in my intro to business class, realizing it was just more of the same.
Don't get me wrong, I was happy to be there, and I genuinely enjoyed what I was studying, but there was still something missing. I wanted to get started.
All I had wanted to do my whole life was start my own business or be in charge of an important project, and it still seemed like that time was so far away.
Everything changed one night when I was sitting in my Econ lecture, and a girl came to the front of the class and talked about how she had run a business the previous summer. It seemed really interesting so I stayed to talk to her after class and discovered the Student Works Summer Management Program.
For the first time, I felt like I was meeting a group of people who actually got me. They too wanted to do big things and had massive ambitions, but beyond that, they were doing something about it. They were a group of 18 to 23 year olds who ran their own businesses, and you could feel when you talked to them that they were in a league of their own.
It felt like the most obvious decision, to jump in head first and apply for a position as an Owner/Operator. But surprisingly, almost everyone I talked to about it seemed to be opposed. My parents were very supportive, no surprise there, but it was my peers, my TAs, my profs and colleagues from other jobs that seemed to think I was insane.
They told me it was too risky, I should focus on school, it wasn't worth my time and I should wait until I was older to start a business. Some people focused in on the fact that it was a painting services business and asked if I wanted to be a painter.
I don't think they were getting the concept. Running a business is running a business. You market and sell to get clients and manage employees and resources to deliver on those sales. Doesn't matter what business I run, I just want to be in charge and get those skills now!
I think it's safe to say it was a good decision. That first summer I ran a $140,000 business and had 8 other students working for me at one time.
It was to this day the toughest summer of my life. I learned more in those short months, working 60, 70 and 80 hours per week than I did over my entire Bachelor's degree. I became a competent sales person, a great manager and I learned how to execute on my vision.
I quickly abandoned my original plan of doing a coop and getting experience working for other people in favour of growing my business and pursuing my goals as an entrepreneur. I flipped my first house and ran a $200,000 in 2011 which really allowed me to master all the skills I'd been learning in my first year.
That's when I made one of the most important decisions of my life. Becoming a business coach.
It was one thing to do it myself, but could I teach others to surpass me? And could I do it repeatedly?