Business makes the world go ‘round, but starting one can seem like a mammoth undertaking. How many of us have come up with the next million dollar business idea but thought, “Where would I even begin to make it happen?”
Luckily there are organizations like the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to help make your million dollar idea come to life. CYBF was established in 1996 as a resource for Canadians aged 18-39 with a big business idea and a small budget. The foundation provides access to up to $50,000 in start-up financing to help build your business idea. Not only do they provide access to this funding, but also provide pre-launch coaching on how to build, or refine, your business plan. The best part of their program (in my opinion) is the mentorship of a business professional. For a minimum of two years, CYBF will pair you with a mentor to ensure the success of your business idea. This mentorship program is credited for their, very impressive, 94 per cent financing repayment rate.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Laura Stoughton, a successful CYBF entrepreneur, to talk about her experience starting a business with the help of CYBF. Lara and her partner Paul Balsom opened, The Athlete Factory, a Calgary gym specializing in elite performance training.
Calgary is Awesome: How long has The Athlete Factory been in business?
Laura Stoughton: The Athlete Factory has been open since March 2010, almost 3 years.
C.I.A.: What gave you the idea to start the business?
LS: My partner Paul and I have been playing sports, and sports conditioning, for quite some time. Paul represented Great Britain in both Decathlon and Bobsleigh, and also played Rugby at a professional level.
I played on the National Women’s Ruby Team for 7 years. I was small for the sport so conditioning played a large role in my success.
It’s from both our experiences we decided to begin our partnership and open a business specializing in elite performance training.
C.I.A.: When starting the business, did you run into obstacles before you found CYBF?
LS: Yes. Any new business owner or entrepreneur has a vision of what their business could be, but there can be naivety as to how difficult starting the business really is. There are unanticipated delays, expenses and challenges trying to find the right people, all things you don’t know will happen until you go down that path.
C.I.A.: How did you find out about CYBF?
LS: I found the foundation when looking online for different types of funding opportunities.
C.I.A.: What was best part about the program for you?
LS: CYBF provided us with a mentor which proved invaluable. It was great to have an experienced business professional on our side to bounce ideas off of. Having someone who has been there before to guide us was a huge help. CYBF also required us to provide quarterly updates which held us accountable for how we were running the business. It also forced us to sit down and highlight the challenges and successes we faced each quarter, something busy new business owners don’t usually make time for.
C.I.A.: How would you rate your CYBF experience overall?
LS: Paul and I had a very positive experience. In terms of working relationships, the staff at CYBF are really personable, and have a general eagerness to get to know you and your business. They truly want you to succeed.
So, if you have a great business idea and find yourself asking, “Where would I even begin to make it happen?” contact the good folks at CYBF. Even if you’re just thinking about starting a business but don’t have the big idea nailed down yet, the ‘Resources’ section of their website provides a huge database of rich information to get you started.
CYBF – Suite 206, 609-14th Street NW
The Athlete Factory – 510-77th Ave SE Calgary, AB
403.255.7703, email@example.com, @AthleteFactory