Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jay Rawding, Owner of Wreck Cove Wilderness Cabins, located in Wreck Cove, NS, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have 28 acres on the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island that offers year-round cabin rentals and a seasonal archery range from June - November. I host events that promote outdoor living and recreation. My customers are tourists and locals alike.
Tell us about yourself
I have been a freelance graphic designer for about 15 years, which first introduced me to an entrepreneurial lifestyle. It was always on top of jobs that I held down full-time until I moved to Cape Breton in 2014, where it became something I relied on full-time. During this time, I opened a business called Highland Bow & Arrow in 2017, which began as a roadside attraction meant for tourists. It quickly became a business catered to at least 50% locals, most of whom were women! I operated just a few km down the road from where I am now, as I acquired Wreck Cove Wilderness Cabins in 2019 and moved the range here in 2020.
I am motivated by my natural environment to do what I do. I left a city lifestyle when I moved to Cape Breton. What I wanted was to make a living by moving around, being outdoors, and creating something uniquely mine. I wanted to grow old on my terms, using my body.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is pulling off the creation of these businesses and maintaining enough graphic design jobs on the side to keep me going while they grow. You truly need to be prepared to give your all to something that won't necessarily start supporting you right away when you start a business. During this journey, I have lived off-grid and without running water, in places with no cell or internet service. The lifestyle of living out here is not conducive to running a business, but I and many others who love it here make it work.
I still do graphic design, which pays the bills as I navigate the expenses of fixing up an old property that, when purchased, was 23 years old and making it my own.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner is learning appropriate boundaries and responding to issues and mistakes productively and not emotionally. So much of what we do is very personal to us. It can be very hard to not over-work yourself, be hard on yourself, schedule yourself, and respond to negativity. Opening a business with a dangerous weapon involved was my immediate initiation into the world of having/upholding boundaries, and I am so grateful. I still work on constantly creating and upholding boundaries/policies to navigate the issues that arise. A huge part of this is time management. When are you "off work" when you live in your job? Boundaries.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Engage people who understand what kinds of things you are doing to talk about your ideas for business. Do not share your plans with everyone. Some of the people closest to us find the risk and lifestyle involved with entrepreneurship to be very scary and may express a lot of doubt or negativity when your ideas are being shared. Unless this person knows about your field of work, they probably will not be the best person to discuss your plans with.
- Acknowledge the work of boundaries and recognize that every business needs policies. Whether you think of it all ahead of time or not, it is okay; you can always update and change your work rules. Make these rules clear, especially when dealing with people you know as clients, to set the tone that the time you are spending with them in this context is to do business. Friends can have a tendency to behave similarly as they do during social visits when they are clients, and sometimes that does not work.
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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