Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Allison McMillan, Owner of Jametec Inc., located in Sidney, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I help Canadian small businesses bid on government contracts. My clients are typically small businesses in a growth phase of their business and range in industries from janitorial to traffic control to gift baskets. Anything over $40K goes out to public tender, so it’s a huge variety of contracts available.
Tell us about yourself
I started the business because I realized there’s a huge gap between what purchasing officers want and what a small business reasonably has time to do. Our government purchasing is decentralized, which means there are over 200 organizations in charge of getting their own contracts; everyone has their own nuances, their own rules, and their own forms. I love helping small businesses grow their revenue, and the government is actually a really great client to have: they like multi-year contracts, they always pay their bills, and there’s a very clearly defined scope of work.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I helped a janitorial company take its annual revenue from $100,000 to $400,000.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think one of the hardest things is always making sure that I’m “doing enough,” the nature of my business is that there is typically a three-week window where an RFP is posed, and you have an opportunity to respond, but I can’t control when those come. I switched my business model from a flat fee to an hourly rate because it didn’t feel right to charge higher when I’m not working on a bid. Another hard thing is encouraging patience. Governments want to make sure they’re being fair and transparent with public money, so that means that some contracts can take months to get awarded. It’s the nature of the purchase; they tend to be slow.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Research your market (e.g., where you will be selling your goods) but also research competitive products in other markets to see what’s working. My business model is not unique, there are companies in the UK that does this and in the US.
- Network! When you first launch on your own, it can be lonely, especially if you go from working as part of a team to working by yourself. Networking to make connections with other business owners is a great way to bounce new ideas off of people, maybe find some new clients, and make connections with people in the same boat as you.
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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