Want to start a business, not sure where to start?
Fear of failure. Doubt. No idea where to start. These were all thoughts and feelings that Abi Reinhart had as she studied business in university. She always saw herself as more of the creative and artistic type but didn’t really see that as something that would pay the bills. Abi had a dream of becoming an entrepreneur and opening her own community art studio, but she was overloaded by doubt. As a single mom, making the right choice for her and her daughter weighed heavily on Abi. Where do you even start? How do you find a space for the studio? Where do you access information on financing a small business? The questions were endless.
After speaking to her friends about wanting a creative outlet and to start her own business, one started tagging her in posts on social media about the Paid Start-up Program. This sounded perfect for Abi. “Almost too good to be true,” she said.
The Paid Start-up Program is offered through Economic Development Greater Saint John (EDGSJ) and assists youth between the ages of 18-29 years old to develop their business ideas. It is a six-month program that provides participants with a strong support network and learning path to help take their business idea from validation to launch while receiving a financial incentive.
It can be scary to try to launch a business with no previous knowledge and no way to financially provide for yourself. The Paid Start-up Program allowed Abi to take those risks and build a network of fellow entrepreneurs and mentors that she needed.
Small business skills training on topics from finance to marketing are provided by subject matter experts. Small class sizes provide an opportunity to work closely with facilitators and peers in a safe environment where aspiring entrepreneurs can bounce ideas off each other and gain valuable insight to help them develop their business plan. Participants become quick friends and a shoulder to lean on as they go through the process of validating their business ideas together. It has been a great way for Abi to build relationships that will go beyond the program and that she feels comfortable calling for whatever she needs – advice, a reference, or even just to vent about a business problem.
“The program has really great speakers that are extremely knowledgeable and engaging,” Abi said. “They are so real, authentic, and genuinely care about the participants and their business ideas. Absolutely great resources.”
Through the Paid Start-up Program, Abi found the confidence to pivot from her original business idea and launch her own freelance illustration business. She quickly found herself in demand and landed an amazing opportunity of illustrating a book for a company in Ontario, that will be launching in the fall. Abi has dreams now of continuing to develop her skills and writing and illustrating her own books. Eventually, she plans on going back and revisiting the idea of a community art studio but is currently focusing on growing her freelance business.
Some of Abi’s commissioned pieces can be seen throughout the Uptown Saint John area. Alongside Bethany Reinhart, Abi completed three murals as part of a community project to rejuvenate empty spaces and one of them can be seen on Union Street. The Social Enterprise Hub is home to more of her whimsical, colorful creations on the chalkboard walls. She loves to step away from a computer screen and create something beautiful that will spark conversation and induce happiness in the people that see it.
The Paid Start-up Program has proved very valuable to Abi and has changed her life in many ways. She credits the program with setting her up with a path to succeed and the confidence to tackle entrepreneurship head-on. With a new support system behind her and the knowledge that she has gained from the program, she is becoming the entrepreneur that she dreamed of being and is able to do that while providing for her daughter.
One piece of advice Abi has for people thinking of applying to the Paid Start-up Program, “Do it! Apply to the program and talk to everyone and anyone about your business idea and be open to the feedback that you’re given. You won’t regret it!”
If you would like more information about Abi Reinhart, please contact her by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: Touchakis Photography