The Successes and Struggles of a Small Business

Between back-to-back meetings and that one co-worker who just won’t stop talking, many of us start dreaming of running our own business. We see a future where we call the shots, control our schedule, and handpick the people we work with. Read on to learn how one Edmonton-based small business got up and running, and about the resources available to hlep make the process a bit easier; it just may inspire you to take the plunge yourself.

The Big Question

Eric Lavoie, the owner of Seven Pillars Custom Building Inc., says that flexibility in his daily schedule is what he likes best, but there’s a lot more to owning a business than just the freedom to plan your own workday.

Getting a business up and running involves a lot of decisions, and it can feel overwhelming at times, Lavoie says. “Do your research, understand what you want and need for your business, then ask yourself, ‘Am I ready for this?’”

Don’t feel like you have to go it alone, though. Organizations, such as Business Link, provide advice and guidance to Alberta entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them make their idea a reality.

Setting Up a Business in Alberta

The first step is to decide how to structure your business. It’s a big decision, but not a binding one, meaning you can switch things up as your business changes.

Lavoie has owned his own business not once, but twice. Before becoming a sole proprietor, he was a partner in a different company, but found it challenging. “The reason you want to become a business owner in the first place is you’re a leader,” he says. “But so is your partner, and that can create conflict.”

But Lavoie holds all the cards in his sole proprietorship. As a team of one, he admits the responsibility for every decision can be difficult and stressful. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. And the paperwork for changing from a partnership to a sole proprietor is quick and easy to complete.

What’s in a Name?

The second step is to choose a name for your new business.

When it came to his brand, Lavoie wanted to stand out in the crowd. Since his business is custom building and he prides himself on the quality of his work and that of the contractors he hires, Seven Pillars offers a complete (and easy to remember) description of his business. Reading through Industry Canada’s website also helped him decide to incorporate his business in order to get lower tax rates and greater access to capital.

AMA offer a complete range of small business services. Find out how our certified registry specialists can help you with the paperwork needed to open your own business.

Some Healthy Competition

Small businesses need other small businesses to push and grow, and while being your own boss may give you control over your schedule, Lavoie says it’s important to keep in mind that, “you’re still working for someone else – the customer. So you still need to answer to someone, you still need to please someone, and if you don’t you won’t survive. Customer satisfaction is key”.

Small Business Services for AMA Members

When it comes to starting a small business, knowledge is power. That’s why we’ve set up a dedicated small business servcies space in our Kingsway centre to support our members who are small buiness owners. Members will have access to two of our experienced registry specialists, who will be available daily to answer your questions and help with the paperwork needed to get your small business started.

As well, we’ve partnered with Business Link. For the next six months, members can book an appointment with one of their Business Advisors. Available onsite once a week, this is a great opportunity to get expert advice and guideance from Alberta’s premier organization supporting small busines owners. Don’t worry if their schedule doesn’t match yours. On the days they aren’t onsite, we’ll have a computer and phone set up so you can Skype your meeting instead. Learn more about AMA’s Small Business Services.


Krista is an Online Content Specialist in Edmonton with AMA, a part-time freelance writer, budding editor, jewellery maker, health nut, baker, and believer that dark chocolate makes the world a better place.