Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Meet: Camden Douthwright

Camden Douthwright

Another young entrepreneur I met at the IDEA Centre Moncton pop-up market in Riverview last night was Camden Douthwright. He’s a bit of a TikTok sensation (@camdenonhisroof – nearly 200,000 followers, 2.7 million likes and a number of of videos with 1 million + views each!) and Instagram (@camdendouthwright).

Camden sells unique custom-painted jeans! Really cool stuff! I’m seriously impressed with his TikTok channel. Camden also edited a book entitled Project Unimaginable about teens’ experiences during the pandemic.

Clothing designer, book editor, TikTok star… I think he’s well on his way!

Meet: Nick Poirier Photography

Nick Poirier Photography

I dropped by the IDEA Centre Moncton pop-up market last night in Riverview and was super impressed by the young entrepreneurs I met there. Wow! So nice to see. I especially wanted to go after my niece Vanessa Cormier was the guest speaker at my Greater Moncton Sunrise Rotary Club meeting this week.

I bought four really nice fox greeting cards from wildlife photographer Nick Poirier photography. All young entrepreneurs seemed to be doing very well and selling their stuff!

You can also check out Nick’s work on Faceook (Nick Poirier Photography), Instagram (@nicholasjpoirier) and TikTok (Nick Poirier Photography).

Hump Day: “Buy local” only works when the lights are on and someone’s home

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Every once in awhile on Facebook, I see a status update urging everyone to shop locally and support small homegrown businesses.

Sadly, these notes are also interwoven with posts about people spending all their Christmas shopping money in Bangor. Trips are organized. Vacation days are taken from work. Credit cards are spit-shined and buffed to make sure they’re pretty for their trip to the U.S. and getting swiped through all those foreign cash registers.

I’ve never been a fan of cross-border shopping. I can’t imagine the deals are that good to make the time invested driving there even remotely worth it, but apparently from those who are fans of the practice, it’s indeed a worthwhile trek. I much prefer to stick around here and help the local economy. Of course, if I find myself in another city, fine, but I would never travel just to shop.

I like investing in local businesses and artisans as much as I can. I think we have many brilliant entrepreneurs around here who work hard to put out good products for their customers. You may pay a bit more, but the quality and service are usually a mile ahead of anything you’d see in a large chain store.

However, I have a bone to pick to with some local businesses because of something that’s happened to me a grand total of five times in the past year – each time at a different business offering goods and services completely unrelated to the other. The only thing they had in common was that they were a small locally owned retail or service business with one location. As well, their hours of operation were posted to their door.

Come in, we're open!Now, keep in mind that I was trying to give them my money. I run my own consulting business, so I completely understand the pressures of being there for your clients at all hours. Also, I don’t work in a retail environment so my hours are a lot more flexible. I still have to put in the time, mind you, but which 12 hours of the day I work are up to me. They can be in a long stretch or broken up into segments. I get it. The retail environment is tough.

Unfortunately, when you’re a small locally owned retailer, you’re a slave to the hours posted to your front door – at the very least. On top of that, there’s all the paperwork, stocking, cleanup, etc. You have to love it.

My beef is that some locally owned businesses aren’t honouring the hours they have posted. I can’t tell you how insane I get when I speed across town to try and give my money to a locally owned business only find the doors locked up tight and the lights off – and this despite the posted hours on their door. Am I late? No. They aren’t supposed to close for another 30 minutes. Is there a note in the window saying there was a death in the family or an emergency?

Nope, none of that. They just decided to close early, likely because it wasn’t busy. Well, I hate to tell you, my dear local entrepreneurs, but I showed up at your door during your posted business hours with my money in hand and very willing to give it to you. What I was met with was a locked door even though you said you would be open.

Now, I understand things happen, but that’s why you should at least put a note in the window. “Had to close early today for family reasons. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Or whatever reason, really. My point is to at least acknowledge the people like me who are showing up at your door with money to give you when you haven’t held up your part of the bargain, i.e. being open when you’re supposed to.

And if it’s near closing time, you can bet I probably had to speed across town through traffic to make it to your store before you closed. That’s what happened to me last Friday when I zig-zagged through rush hour traffic to get to an establishment before it closed. I got there 15 minutes early with money in hand, but the owner had already left.

So you know what I did, dear local entrepreneurs? I went to a national chain and spent my money there instead. In this particular case, the chain was more expensive, but I knew that there was no way they’d close early. They respect their hours – period!

This has happened to me at a few other places, too. I made a 14-kilometre round trip once to a specialty food store only to find the doors locked up tight – two hours before (what I thought was) closing time. I’d even checked online. Unfortunately, though, the new business hours hadn’t been updated. When I advised the owner, he apologized profusely and offered me a discount coupon – which was obviously the right thing to do. But, to be honest, I’ve never been back, so the discount likely won’t be used.

Another time, I showed up at a small food retailer 20 minutes before closing only to find the doors locked. Yet again, it wasn’t busy so they decided to close early. I know this because the owner saw me trying to open the door, so she re-opened the store and told me why she closed early. I think that was another 15-kilometre round trip. I handed her my money after getting what I needed and she closed up shortly after that, I imagine. I’ve been there since many times. They’ve always been open, thankfully.

If you’re a local retailer, let me be clear: I want to give you my business but please respect your business hours. If you don’t, the big chains will, without fail. And if I’m in a particularly ornery mood, I just might not give you another chance.

Hump Day: Running your own business is not for everyone

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I helped a friend come out of the closet the other day. It was a proud moment when I saw the light bulb go off over her head when she realized that it was OK to be who she really was deep down inside.

No, we weren’t talking about her sexuality. We were talking about her not being an entrepreneur. After months of struggling at building a business, she finally had the courage to admit that she just wasn’t cut out for it. And by “not cut out” — I don’t mean she wasn’t capable of doing it — I mean she didn’t want to do it.

Unfortunately, many people had suggested to her previously after a job ended that being in business for herself was the only way to go. The roads would be paved with gold. Rainbows would follow her everywhere. She could just bark out orders and have a staff of 50 people jump. She’d be starting fires using $100 bills as kindling. You know — like it is for every entrepreneur. (I think I’m doing something wrong!) The fact is, it wasn’t in her. She hated it. She wanted to manage projects. She didn’t want to invoice clients. She didn’t want to negotiate prices. (She practically got hives just thinking about it). And she certainly didn’t want to work 60 to 80 hours per week with no guarantee of money-paying con­tracts at the end of it.

She wanted to be an employee. She wanted to go home at the end of the day and have an office somewhere other than her home. She wanted to have paid vacation. She didn’t want to chase contracts and constantly worry about where her next $100, $1,000 or even $10,000 was coming from. She wanted to go to an office supplies cabinet and have it filled with stuff she needed without having to make a special trip into town just to buy more staples.

Years ago, someone had told her they saw an “entrepreneur” in her. Since then, she felt obligated to pursue that path. Isn’t it everyone’s dream to have their own business? Well, to be honest, it isn’t – but for a long time she felt like she was a lesser person for wanting to be “just” an employee.

I’d seen her struggle with being an entrepreneur. A small contract here. A small contract there. The lack of a really ingrained local network didn’t help, but she was out there meeting people. She was trying. Yes, she certainly was – but it was kind of like someone trying to convince themselves that they were a tightrope walker when they were actually quite terrified of heights. And you know what? Their life could still be quite happy and fulfilled — emotionally, career-wise and financially — without having to do something they hated.

I’ve seen many people throughout my years thinking that they should be an entrepreneur because someone else told them they should. How can you ever be free without owning your own business? How could you ever be financially successful without owning your own business? Well, the fact is that many are doing just fine, thank you, by working for others. There’s something to be said for a pension plan, health benefits and paid vacation.

I sat across from my friend in the coffee shop. I finally figured out that she needed to come out. “You’re not an entrepreneur,” I told her. She thought about it for a minute and replied, “I’m not.” Then I did the sign of the cross to her like the pope does to the crowds at the Vatican when he’s blessing them. “I hereby declare you to be an employee and also decree that it’s perfectly OK.”

The weight of the world lifted from her shoulders. I think I was the first person to ever tell her it’s OK not to want to run your own business. There’s so much glamour and myth around running your own business that many think there must be something wrong with them for “just” wanting a job. In fact, those who “just” want a job are looked down upon by many entrepreneurs.

It’s not because you’re any less of a person. It’s probably because we just want you to share the problems and challenges of running your own business. There are great rewards, of course, but there are also challenges. And one of those challenges — especially when you’re heart isn’t in it — is likely going to mean not having much money. It’s hard to turn a lack of passion into cash. The world just doesn’t work that way. If you just don’t care and don’t enjoy something, the chances are slim that you’ll succeed.

There are lots and lots (and lots!) of people who are “just” employees who have big houses, nice cars and go on trips. The myth (mostly spread by entrepreneurs) that you can’t be happy working for some­one else is a bunch of hogwash. You can be happy, fulfilled and successful and have a nice bank account, too.

But if you’re miserable being an employee, you won’t likely have any of it. The key here is to love what you do. If you’re an entrepreneur and passionate about it – great! No one can guarantee that you’ll be a millionaire, but at least you’ll have fun trying.

And for all the entrepreneurs out there trying to spread the gospel that owning your own business is the only way to live, it’s time to stop. No, it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t mean you’re good or you’re bad if you want to be an employee. It means you’re you. Employees wouldn’t exist without entrepreneurs and vice versa. It’s time to give each other a break and embrace each other’s strengths. Entrepreneurs need to stop being so judgmental about those who don’t share their desires. We all play a valuable role.

Hump Day: There are perks and pitfalls in marching to your own drum

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Every week, I put together a free newsletter for friends, clients and readers. My Sunday evenings are mostly spent putting it together to send out on Monday. Come rain or shine since December, I’ve made a point of ensuring the newsletter gets sent!

One of the sections in the newsletter contains articles of lists, for example: “10 best perks for employees,” “4 ways to tell you’re about to be fired,” “25 best websites for business,” etc. Lists like these are very popular online and generate a ton of hits for the authors. They’re usually always quick reads, too, which is good if you’re in a hurry — which most people seem to be.

In my never-ending search for entrepreneurship work-life balance (which many of these articles promise me is achievable), I’ve come across so much conflicting advice that it just boggles the mind. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re in business for yourself, you just pretty much have to do what works for you and your sanity. And when you feel something start to snap, it’s time to make a change.

One article will tell you to book a month’s worth of vacation every year. Another one will tell you that six weeks is what you deserve, not a month. And yet another one will tell you that if you even take five minutes to go to the bathroom, well then you deserve nothing short of immediate bankruptcy and a public flogging for daring to look away from your computer screen for five minutes like the uncommitted jerk you are!

I have to admit, I’m a bit confused. I’m terrible at taking vacations, so when I read an article about how healthy and necessary it is to take time off (I agree, by the way), I read another one shortly afterwards that berates any entrepreneur who’s so pathetic that they feel the need to actually rest.

Isn’t that what three hours of sleep per night are for? You can rest then. Oh, and there’s Christmas Day. Maybe. And that’s only if you didn’t sleep for six months in order to ensure the universe doesn’t fall apart while you’re chowing down on your turkey dinner while trying not to collapse from fatigue face down onto your plate.

Perhaps I need to find a happy medium — like taking a week off and crying the entire time. Eventually, I’d probably faint from dehydration from shedding so many tears and would end up in the hospital, hopefully heavily sedated. That would be a good way to rest, no? OK, maybe not. Maybe then I could write one of those list articles and post it to my blog. “10 ways to stop listening to others’ dumb advice.”

In fairness, there’s always something in these articles that provides some level of wisdom. Not everything, but something. I just wish it wasn’t all so contradictory at times. One article tells you to work 24/7 or you’re not worthy of calling yourself an entrepreneur, while another tells you that if you’re not home by 5 p.m. every day, your business owns you and you don’t own your business and shame on you, loser!

So many clichés, so little time. Everything has a nugget of truth in it, I just wish there was a rule book out there that would give a clear set of failure-proof guidelines. I do sincerely think that taking six weeks off per year and going home at 5 p.m. every night is a ridiculously unrealistic dream if you own your own business. There are exceptions, of course, but I haven’t met anyone yet.

It’s hard work, but I love it. It’s challenging and rewarding. Sure, I get tired. Who doesn’t? But you have to give yourself a break sometimes. I know I have to give myself a swift kick when I get tired and berate myself. An entrepreneur I was talking to the other day was complaining that he got tired and had to rest. He blamed it on age. When I asked him what time it was, he said it was 9 p.m. when he got tired. Yeah, it was 9 p.m., but he was probably awake at 5 a.m. and working diligently since then. Tired at 9 p.m.? You should get a medal, not feel bad about it. We’re only human.

I’ve done that too many times. I’m hard on myself for feeling worn out by 5 p.m., not taking into account that I’ve been awake since 6 a.m. and worked the entire day, including a working lunch with clients and no other breaks. So, 11 hours later, I need to rest for a bit and watch television and perhaps even, horrors, take a short nap. Others in the regular working world, meanwhile, are home by 5 p.m. and had a few breaks and an entire hour for lunch. And paid vacation. And benefits.

I don’t begrudge them anything, of course, but there are benefits to being an entrepreneur, too. The harder I work, the more money I make. I set my own schedule and don’t have to answer to anyone — except for my clients, of course. If I want to make more money, I just get more clients or more projects. If I worked for someone else, especially if you work for a set salary, earning more money is extremely difficult. Raises are often so minuscule and far apart that you barely even notice them.

But at least the income of a regular salaried job is usually predictable, barring a layoff. When you’re in business for yourself, there are good months and bad months — good years and bad years. Last year for me was not great. The year before was good. This year is spectacular and I’m on track for my best year yet. For that, I’m grateful.

So I’m not sure which lists to believe. Should I risk a good year and take time off that I really can’t afford to take? Or should I continue working like a dog? I’ll take working like a dog for now, thank you very much. I’ve been poor; I’ll take being tired any day of the week over wondering how I’m going to pay the bills.