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Entrepreneur Insights: 7 tips for starting your own business in Alberta

Entrepreneur Insights: 7 tips for starting your own business in Alberta

Posted on: July 16, 2013
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Edmonton-based entrepreneur Clay Bevans shares what he's learned in the oil and gas industry with future small business owners.

Many Albertans dream of being their own boss—building a successful business that can support a family and provide years of fulfilment.

And most know that starting your own business isn't easy, especially in the competitive and evolving oil and gas industry. Clay Bevans knows this first-hand.

Clay owns Clay’s Industrial Supply, an Edmonton-based oil and gas service company. Clay’s claim to fame is the Hulkster drawworks, a massive winch developed specifically for the Alberta marketplace. The Hulkster is the lightest drawworks of its horsepower in the industry—and that’s a real asset if you’re a mobile oil service company trucking out to remote drilling sites.

Identifying a need, developing a product that fills the need, and convincing your market to buy that product are the three basic steps to starting a successful business. Obviously, there's more to it.

Here are Clay's tips for those who want to start their own business in Alberta:

  1. Get some training, in your industry and beyond.

    "There are lots of courses that provide trade training—welding, mechanics, wood construction. Our whole market is based on those things. They're the bread and butter of business."

    "And then take courses that will assist you in the business environment, like typing, accounting, or law."
  2. Get experience (relevant experience).

    "I worked for four companies before I started this company. When I look back, if I didn't have experience in all those areas, I wouldn't have been well-rounded enough to start my own business."

    "I didn't do it on purpose, but if you were to do it methodically, I would recommend that you do a few different jobs that cover the spectrum of skills required—inside sales, outside sales, management, that kind of thing. Then when you've got a bit of experience, take the challenge of starting your own business."
  3. Watch for opportunities.

    "There are always lots of little holes or opportunities to make a new product or make a living. You have to be conscience of that."

    "If you think you could do a better job, or offer a better service, that's your way in."
  4. Identify how your business will run.

    "Make sure you have all your structure in place before you start. Structure is king. You create the rules, so you have to live by them."
  5. Don't rush it.

    "Sometimes, if you take the challenge too early and you're not prepared, it can destroy your confidence and then you might think that you're not good enough. But, in fact, you may have the skill sets—you're just not ready yet."
  6. But don't wait too long.

    "The only thing I'd change in my past is I would have started my business sooner. The sooner you apply yourself, the sooner you'll be in a more comfortable position."
  7. Once you're started, make yourself available.

    "[To be successful in business], you have to have some smarts, but a lot of it is just making yourself available. Letting your customer know that you're always there. 'You call me if you need anything.' And after a while, you become just like the grocery store. Your customers learn to depend on you. You create that dependency."

    "Once you get to that stage, you have the wind beneath your wings."

To hear more from Clay and other successful Alberta entrepreneurs, visit our We Grow Alberta page

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