Starting a small business is a challenge. Nobody ever said it was easy. It requires a lot of work, dedication, patience, a great idea and of course money.
That being said, today we at CanadaStartups are happy to announce another success story of a small business couple who were successful at starting and launching their small business in the city of Hamilton, Ontario - with the help of a government grant for $32,750.
We couldn't get Jackie and Robert back into the CanadaStartups headquarters to do a full on interview, their business is keeping them busy but we did get a chance to ask them some questions which could help others learn from their experience and hopefully be our next success story.
Here are the Q&A's and a little bit about Jackie and Robert from Hamilton, Ontario and their high tech green cleaning business:
Jackie/Robert, share your experience in regards to your funding search:
Well it started off with us spending most of our money that we had to develop the technology which we use today to provide the best service we can to our clients. We are a residential only cleaning business that uses special cleaning supplies and materialist in order to stay home and earth friendly. We also provide all of our clients an iOS and Android app to help them keep track of our work, to schedule us in as well as to monitor us live while in the clients home. This was pretty expensive. That's where we started our funding search while eventually led us to the bank.
What happened at the bank?
We applied for a small business loan but since we were in business under 6 months we weren't able to get anything. The bank agent told us to come back after we had some money coming in and less expenses. So we were out of luck.
What was your feeling after the bank said no?
It was devastating, because we believe in our idea a lot and wanted to make it work. We heard of really dumb business ideas getting money from the banks but we couldn't? I felt that we weren't even listened to. As soon as we said we had a "cleaning business", you can sort of tell that it was a no. They didn't even look at our business plan.
How did you come to CanadaStartups?
The night of being denied a small bank loan we were working on our finances, trying to figure out how much we can pull from our savings, credit cards and how much we can get from selling a few items we didn't need at our home. We weren't going to let the business die off because of the bank. While Robert was pulling the numbers he opened an e-mail from CanadaStartups and that e-mail was titled "Why you will never get funding for your business", it seemed as if it was meant for us.
What did the e-mail say?
The e-mail was sent most likely on a mass scale to all of the subscribers that CanadaStarups had, but it spoke to us. It was exactly what we needed to hear so we read and read, and read some more. I think by the end of the night the answer was staring us right in the face. Apply for government funding!!!
How did you go about applying for government funding?
We paid the membership fee right away of $297 and got access to the funding database. We added our business plan in, and one of the CanadaStartups consultants reached out to us a few days later with some pointers on our business plan. While that was happening we found a government program that actually helped small businesses providing what we like to call "earth friendly services". Based on the criteria and the qualifications needed, we had it. We accessed the applications and thanks to the great support you guys offer at CanadaStartups, you helped us with a lot of our questions we had about the funding applications.
How difficult was the application process?
It was a fairly simple process, it seemed a lot easier then going to the bank. We provided our business plan, wrote up some answers to questions that were being asked and filled out what seemed to be a very easy application. I don't know why but applying for this grant, right from the start it seemed as if it was for us.
How much funding did you ask for?
We asked for $50,000 in funding to be able to cover our first year of expenses towards marketing our business, purchasing our supplied needed and further improving our app and website. But soon after our application went though we received a phone call from one of the program adviser who was a really nice gentleman and said if we want to get funded, we should probably chance the funding amount we were asking as it was very unlikely. We did that right away and changed it to $35,000 (removing certain expenses we were hoping to have).
How long after applying did you know that you were successful?
Well Robert said to me the next week that most likely we will be successful because he's never heard that a program advisor would contact the business applying to tell them "hey you are asking too much, change it if you want to get it"...so that sort of got us more excited. By the end of the month we received a letter notifying us that we were approved for $32,750 in government funding.
When did you get the funds?
Two weeks after the letter arrived with the approval message, we were called to provide banking information for the transfer of funds. Once that was completed it took another week to obtain the funding and to be able to see the funds in the bank.
What did you do next?
Once the money was there we started to work on our business. We had the bank roll needed to get going and the criteria for the funding program which we were approved for allowed us to use the funding for marketing expenses, further development of our website/app, purchase of certain equipment as well as to hire additional staff. We launched pretty quick and within the first quarter we were already profitable with both Robert and I working full time, along side 3 other full time employees.
Now that you are successful what do you plan on doing?
We are moving forward. By the end of the year we have a plan to hire 7 more full time employees and to launch our cleaning business in Kitchener, Burlington and Oakville. Next month we have a meeting at the bank to be able to obtain that bank loan that we were denied, which will eventually help us with cash flow and growth. We are also looking for additional funding programs using the funding database so that we can continue being successful for the long run.
What advice do you have for those starting up?
I read a quote once, "The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure", so this sort of applied to our situation. We were denied funding, and we could have easily given up, but thanks to one e-mail we were back! I think it's important to not give up and if you worked so hard on your business idea this far, giving up is just bad. Get the funding you need at any cost. CanadaStartups greatly helped us and you can definitely get the help for your small business too.