Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrew Button, founder of Mashup Lab, located in Nova Scotia, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We believe there is untapped entrepreneurial talent sitting on the sidelines in EVERY rural community. Everything we do at Mashup Lab is focused on ACTIVATING that untapped talent, getting them off the sidelines and 'into the game' to build viable businesses in rural communities. Our customers (i.e., the people that pay us) are typically economic development agencies working in rural regions throughout Canada and the US. It allows us to offer our programs for free to people in rural places with business ideas, which could be an idea for a completely new business or an idea to grow an existing business.
Tell us about yourself
After 15-years working in rural communities with the various economic development organizations, I noticed that there was a massive pool of people with ideas for new businesses that weren't plugging into all of the programs and services that we had developed to help them. Even though there were lots of things that were 'available' and 'accessible' to them, much of it didn't feel APPROACHABLE to them. So in 2014, I launched Mashup Lab as a for-more-than-profit company to work on solving this problem. I felt like if we could get those people with ideas off the sidelines and into the game, it could have a HUGE impact on allowing rural communities to thrive.
Seven years later, we've launched five co-working spaces in rural Nova Scotia. We started a community-backed micro-fund that has invested in entrepreneurial ventures and has worked with 3000+ entrepreneurs that have started hundreds of businesses in 100+ communities in rural Canada / US. Seeing that untapped potential unleashed onto the world is what inspires me and motivates me to continue to expand our impact to rural regions throughout rural North America and beyond.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As proud as I am of the results and impact of our work, I believe my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is building an amazing team. People that have allowed us to grow well beyond what I could have done on my own, allowing me to work ON the business, not IN the business; surrounding myself with talented, capable people that are better than me at many things (and then getting out of their way to allow them to put their 'super powers' to work!). This has allowed us to scale our activity and have an impact in rural places well beyond Nova Scotia.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Checking your ego and realizing that you don't have to do everything yourself, and in fact, other people are better at running certain parts of your business than you are; there are likely things that you are uniquely well-positioned to do that leverage your superpowers... but that list is likely a LOT shorter than you think it is :)
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start before you've 'figured it all out; the more quickly you can get an 'offer' in front of the person you think will be your core customer. The faster you will learn what assumptions you're right about... and which assumptions you may be wrong about. In the early stages, you may do things that may not maximize your profitability, but they maximize your LEARNING about your customer, the market, and your business model.
- Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you; if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.
- Don't forget to take care of yourself; if you go down, you're not much help to anyone... there is a reason they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first when you get on an airplane :)
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
As I mentioned before, our programs and services are free for the entrepreneurs we work with. BUT if the entrepreneurs reading this interview know of people/organizations/economic development agencies in their area that want to see more entrepreneurial people starting and growing businesses in their community, we'd love to connect with them :) They can book a free, no-obligation Discovery Call with me here: https://tidycal.com/mashuplab/discovery-call
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.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.