Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jason Yee, CEO of GrantMe, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are an online education consultant. We help 9th-12th grade students with applying to the top universities and colleges in North America, and we help them pay for it so they can graduate debt-free.
Tell us about yourself
I started out wanting to be a professional hockey player but failed. Out of my frustration, I learned how to coach hockey, which led to me building an online hockey training company (which still runs today). After seeing my success with my business, my girlfriend at the time (now wife) wanted to start an online business too. We discussed some options, and since she had won $50,000 in scholarships, grants, and bursaries, we thought it would make a difference to students if she helped them do that too! So we started out, and it took off! Soon we had customers asking us to help them with their university applications too. That's when we knew we had a business. What motivates me each day is knowing how much stress we can relieve for students and parents with the planning process. When we get rave reviews and see our students' success, it lights me up because I see people achieving their goals and developing as leaders in this world.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Literally enjoying working with our team every day. Our team is so eager and hungry, and there's never a dull moment. They are the most industrious, authentic, and trustworthy people. It's easy to take that for granted...but I think it has been hard to do because you need to make hard decisions with some team members who don't quite fit that bill.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Navigating situations where there isn't always a right answer or a roadmap or an advisor who can give you a clear answer. It's hard to know that you have to make a decision and that you might be making the wrong one...and the only way to know that is to make the decision and find out. You don't want to fail...but you also don't want to hurt someone's feelings or look bad. And the hardest thing emotionally is to make a hard decision that might hurt one person's feelings or career, but ultimately is the right choice for the business and the rest of the team.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Gut check to see if you really want to go through the pain. Growing a business is a confronting experience. Your emotional baggage is reflected back to you each day in the business. So you must be prepared to deal with that on an ongoing basis. This is really hard, so you must ask yourself if you're ready for that.
- If yes, be prepared to amp it up and fail a lot. You must bring energy every day and care deeply about everything all the time. Every moment you take off, your entire business takes a step off. You can't let your sleep, nutrition, exercise, or focus slide for one moment. And if you do, you've gotta recover quickly. You'll make a million mistakes, and you need to make that mistake, clean up your mess, then go back to amping it up.
- Have a great co-founder. The emotional highs and lows and extreme. No one other than other founders can really identify with you. This is not good for your mental health if you don't have the right support structures. I was lucky that my co-founder was my life partner, and we got along great. Without her, I wouldn't be anywhere near where we are today. She helps to calm me down when I'm stressed, covers my blind spots, and pushes me to go into areas I don't want to go to solve problems.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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