Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Joe Baker, founder of Joe Baker & Co., located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a human capital consultancy focusing on Canada's tourism and hospitality industry. From training to talent sourcing to strategic planning, we are a full-service firm helping individuals and organizations at the core of an inclusive, future-forward industry.
Tell us about yourself
I am a passionate leader within Canada's tourism, hospitality, and education sectors and a vocal advocate for a resilient, inclusive, future-forward industry.
I was previously Dean at Centennial College's School of Hospitality, Tourism, and Culinary Arts in Toronto, where I led the most significant transformation in the school's over 50-year history. I have held senior management roles at George Brown College's Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, including Director of Operations, Services, and Partnerships. Before joining higher education, I worked in hotels and managed restaurants.
I have a Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership, a Bachelor of Commerce in Hospitality and Tourism Management, and extensive executive education and certifications. I serve proudly on the board of directors at Tourism HR Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being able to be intentional about who I work with. I am highly selective about my clients and have a strict no a$$hole rule! Life is too short to work with people who only want to take. I am a natural giver and am drawn to help others overcome adversity.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Life is unpredictable. Business ownership is also unpredictable. Transitioning from a job to owning a business has reminded me how little I can truly control and how much I need to be constantly on the lookout for disruptions and in a constant state of transformation.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Whatever you think your business is going to be focused on, be prepared to adapt as the conditions around you change. Add value as much as you can. The more value you give to your customers and clients, the more you will build longstanding relationships. Be present. Breathe. Enjoy every moment. Even the ones that seem overwhelming. Those too shall pass. I have a mantra I tell myself whenever I need to remind myself to be present. "At this moment, there is nothing but calm within me." Calm is a superpower. Relax. Have fun. Laugh. All while you work as hard as you can.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The greatest myth we are programmed to believe is that life and business bring a certain amount of certainty. I have never found that to be true. The faster you find a way to be fine amidst the chaos around you, the faster your business and yourself begin to thrive. Anything can happen. Anything will happen. It's ok. You are ok. Ride the storm. Be calm. Smile.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur 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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