The Entrepreneurship Training Program in the School of Graduate Studies at Memorial University
By Grace Tatigian, Entrepreneurship Training Program Coordinator, MUN
Heather Elliott was looking to turn her blog, Original Shipster, into a sustainable business when she registered for the Entrepreneurship Training Program (ETP).
Heather was pursuing an MA in Anthropology and doesn’t have a background in business, so she was looking for accessible information about entrepreneurship. She knew that she wasn’t going to be in school forever and that she would probably need to make her own opportunities once her degree ended.
“All of the jargon can be intimidating,” she said. She wanted business literacy without a BBA; that way she could focus on what she’s good at and what she enjoys.
“If you hate what you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong!” She laughs. Research, reading, and writing are skills and passions for Heather, which is good because they are all essential for her studies and her work. But how does she make money from Original Shipster?
“People find my blog and hire me as a researcher,” Heather said. She has had contracts with various museums across Newfoundland, curating, researching, and cataloguing for historical archives and exhibits. Her blog is a testament to her work ethic, expertise, and enthusiasm, all of which demonstrate why she’s the right woman to hire. I was curious, as a freelancer, about her secret to getting contracts and extending them.
“Make yourself indispensable.” Easier said than done, but Heather doesn’t back away from a challenge. She has worked hard to carve out her own little niche in the market, making her the perfect candidate for the jobs that she wants.
But a big part of getting the job is being visible. Not being associated with a company or brand, she’s often on her own when it comes to reaching out and making connections. Networking is a particularly big challenge for her as a solopreneur. Heather is talkative, well-spoken, and engaging, but it can be hard even for someone like her to be at an event alone.
As a young female entrepreneur in the arts, she often feels that she needs to justify herself and prove why she should be taken seriously. “When I feel like I’m the minority, I remind myself that I’m here not just for myself; I’m representing other voices that deserve to be here.”
What does she have to say to those whom she represents? To the other people who are nervous to start their business or go to that networking event because they’re afraid they won’t be taken seriously?
“Taking the leap is terrifying, but you’ve got to do it. When I’m scared, I ask myself, ‘when I look back on this, am I going to regret not jumping now?’ You may hit the water, you may hit the rocks, but either way you’ve got to do it.”
But you don’t have to jump alone, even as a solopreneur. Heather encourages others to ask for help; there’s a wealth of knowledge out there and many people who are happy to point you in the right direction; that’s one of the main takeaways she’s had from the ETP. With the contacts, confidence, and certificate that the program has given her, she’s well on her way to making Original Shipster a sustainable business.
To learn more about Heather’s blog, visit: www.originalshipster.com.
For more information on the program, or to find out how you can get involved, please contact me, Grace Tatigian, the Entrepreneurship Training Program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to discuss different ways we can work together. And if you want to learn more about the program, you can always visit www.mun.ca/etp. There you’ll find alumni profiles, resources, and application information. And finally, if you’re a grad student at MUN, please apply for the program!