Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marco Pasqua, Founder of Marco Pasqua Enterprises, located in Surrey, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am most well-known as an Accessibility Consultant, Inspirational Speaker, and one-on-one mentor who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. As a result, I use a manual wheelchair most of the time to get around.
My business varies depending on a client's needs, but I mostly consult with clients on their physical spaces from an accessibility and universal design perspective and deliver presentations about accessibility and inclusion in the workplace, and share stories about my personal and professional experiences as an entrepreneur with a disability.
For over ten years now, I've showcased how I’ve made authentic connections with people in my community in order to create meaningful relationships (both personally and professionally) and how to sustain that growth to get to where I want to go in life.
In one-on-one mentorship, I help someone break down some of the challenges that they may be facing in their personal life that may be causing a roadblock and then show them specific strategies to elevate themselves to get to where they need to go.
I customize my approach to every event and client. For example, when doing a presentation or workshop for a corporation versus a post-secondary institution, I’m going to tailor the content and key takeaways based on their needs and desired outcomes.
Tell us about yourself
After being laid off from my job in the video game industry during the 2010 recession, an opportunity in disguise arose. When I tried to get back into the video game industry a couple of times, I was given the exact same feedback as to why I didn’t get the positions: I was told that I had “too much energy, and they didn’t know what to do with it.”
As a result, I decided to explore how I could make the most of my life and use that "energy" to my advantage, I have always had a knack for speaking and lighting a fire in people, so my wife encouraged me to venture out on my own and start a business where I could truly help people, so with her support and motivation, I decided to believe in myself and give it a shot. That was ten years ago, and since then, I've never looked back.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say my biggest accomplishment is being named "Entrepreneur of the Year" only one year after I launched my business. I wanted to really create a spectacle and do something unique to get my name out there, so I decided that year to rappel off a 20-story building in my wheelchair to raise money for Easter Seals Camps that support children with disabilities.
This created quite the buzz, and before you knew it, there was a huge crowd and media gathered around at the bottom of the building as I safely made it back to the ground. Not only was this a great way to showcase my business as a person with a disability who likes to face challenges head-on, but I was able to raise thousands of dollars for a charity close to my heart.
I also delivered a TEDx presentation on using technology to improve the lives of persons with disabilities - it was the ripple effect that allowed me to work with a mentor, Canadian icon and Paralympian Rick Hansen, who in the 1980s wheeled around the world in his wheelchair to raise awareness of spinal cord injury research. Rick is also the person who ultimately encouraged me to pursue a career speaking on the topic of accessibility.
Last year, I was extremely honoured to be named Provincial Spokesperson for the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, which has allowed me to positively represent my community and disability -- shining a light on it and encouraging others to not be afraid to go after their goals regardless of the labels that society places on them.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Starting off, it was being taken seriously as a professional. I learned from my experience in working with a lot of not-for-profit organizations. Growing up, I was an ambassador for these organizations doing a lot of very similar work pro bono.
So now, understanding what I could do in the Vancouver market and be taken seriously as a professional, especially going back to some of those groups that were used to seeing me when I was a child, was challenging. It was important to get the right tools in place and set up my website in a way that would really illustrate the professionalism aspect of things.
I learned to tailor my content to fit different niches. It was not about delivering what I wanted to deliver in the message, but it was about delivering what my clients were looking for.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Never be afraid to go out there and talk on a subject or topic that others may see as controversial or that you don’t think they would relate to right away.
- Find those key people that are in your social circle that can really help you to elevate where you want to go.
- Finding a unique, creative, and authentic way to offer your services really sets you apart from your competition.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
In September, my wife and I will be officially launching a sub-brand to our business called "Meaningful Access Consulting," which specifically works with business owners, developers, designers, and city planners to create spaces that include all members of the community.
Our work follows the best practices of the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) Program, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their ability or disability, can participate meaningfully in community life, in every role, be it visitor, staff, participant, coach or business leader.
I hope everyone will check us out and work with us -- we're very excited!
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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