Atlantic Canada’s Leading Resource for Women Entrepreneurs Since 1992, located at the RBC Centre for Women in Business, MSVU.

Message from Tanya Priske, Executive Director

        May 2017

Changing the Way the Game is Played

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I read a quote the other day from pro-wrester Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.  

“I don’t want to just play the game," he said of his attempts at breaking into Hollywood and pursuing his goal of becoming an actor. "I want to change the way the game is played.” 

The story spoke of an entrepreneurial journey that required Johnson to create his own opportunities in Hollywood, where he was seen as an inexperienced outsider - someone who admittedly did not know how things worked. His tenacity took him from the wrestling ring to the big screen, and he is now one of the world's biggest movie stars; in fact, last year saw him at the top of Forbes’ highest-paid actors list, earning $64.5 million.  That figure stuck in my head!  

For the past 25 years, the Centre, our members, clients and partners have being working together to change the game; to create opportunities, and level the playing field for women entrepreneurs across our region.

Some of those partners got together this week, for a roundtable with Executive Directors of other organizations that provide entrepreneurial services in Nova Scotia.

We discussed what we offer in terms of lending, training and support to youth, women, newcomers, international students, those with disabilities, and all others.  It made me reflect on how fortunate Nova Scotia is to have the support of the federal government and their policies. 

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, in this region, has been a huge supporter in terms of strengthening our economy, and in allowing us to be trailblazers in this country. There is no question that we are changing the game.

Last weekend, I spent a few hours with colleagues from the Atlantic provinces at a meeting discussing trade and investment opportunities to stimulate our regional economy.  The Atlantic Growth Strategy is intended to drive economic growth in the region by implementing targeted, evidence-based actions under five priority areas.  Trade and Investment is one of these priority areas, and the intention of the pillar is to expand business activities between Atlantic Canada and international markets, and strategically market our region as a whole by displaying the best Atlantic Canada has to offer the world. The idea is to  attract new investments and grow tourism.

The common theme that resonated throughout the session was building a strong domestic market by opening our borders in Atlantic Canada, using regionally made products and services, and providing supplier readiness training and access to local supply chains.  We talked about diversifying markets, and why it’s important not to put all of your eggs in one basket.   We touched on Direct Foreign Investment.  We recognize we have to provide the climate for our businesses to scale for growth.  We have to encourage them to be innovative and look for new opportunities.

Our profile this month, Lisa Poole of Short Notice Movers, shows how she changed the game by identifying a niche in the market, but the niche must be large enough to sustain your business – either through revenue or demographics.   You should be continually searching for new opportunities by identifying ‘pain points’ – what is missing from the marketplace, but more importantly, is it ‘needed?'

By the time this month wraps up, we will have the results of the provincial election, which also falls on the same day as our Spring Finale.  Listening to the Liberal and Conservative parties talk about the number of females running, I paused to think back to the Ivany Report, which didn’t mention women until after page 45.  

We know that women business owners are the fastest growing segment of self-employed Canadians: A CIBC report from 2015 entitled, Women Entrepreneurs: Leading the Charge  showed that over a 15 year period, the number of women business owners grew by 50% . It showed that at an average annual growth rate of 3.3% since 1989, the number of women-run businesses is rising 60% faster than those run by men.

Despite this, self-employed women constitute only a third of the total number of self-employed Canadians, and men are still more likely to be running their own businesses across all age groups. With over 23,000 self-employed women in Nova Scotia, it would be nice if we became an election issue! 

I urge you to think about this when you go to the polls, and consider how our prospective leaders are working to change the game for women entrepreneurs and business leaders in our province.

Wishing you success in business,

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