Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in nonprofits, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Eric, the founder of The Seeking Help Project, a frontline worker's mental health service in Canada.
Tell us all about your business...
We are a national nonprofit dedicated to assisting front line service providers with mental health and addiction issues in Canada. Our clients are social workers, first responders, nurses, outreach workers, teachers and other community heroes.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a business owner?
I became a front line worker in 2010 in the HIV/AIDS sector using my skills / lived experience learned by living on the streets and being HIV positive. When entering the workforce I struggled with mental health and addiction issues and came out publicly as a drug user in 2014. At that time I realized that proper supports for people with addiction and mental health services has to be handled and advocated for outside of the organization where people work. It is for that reason that I founded the Seeking Help Program in 2015 and legally incorporated it as a national nonprofit through Corporations Canada in 2020 at the start of the pandemic to help as many people struggling as possible.
As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you?
Our partnerships with other nonprofits, community organizations and corporations are our biggest successes. We've also been able to effectively assist over 500 people across Canada. Our organization has no paid staff and is completely reliant on a small group of volunteers who work diligently with us because they believe in what we do and what we're trying to accomplish.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being an entrepreneur?
We have no funding currently to do our work and rely completely on donations. The COVID crisis has created a huge increase in demand for our work, but we have received no increase in funding. We understand that people's finances are tight, so we do what we can where we can to assist as many people as we can.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
1) Have a clear goal
2) Develop a plan
3) Create partnerships, the more people you can work with, the better served your clients will be.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I started from literally the streets, using drugs and doing sex work in Toronto. I was lost and almost gave up all hope. If I can start a nonprofit to help others and achieve my goals, other people who struggle with a dream can do it too. You only fail when you quit.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as an entrepreneur or business coach that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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