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Hamilton Economic Development

Who’s the boss?

Sarah BrownAge: 22School: Landscape architecture grad from University of Guelph. Starting her Masters of landscape architecture program at Guelph in September.Business: Ladybug Landscape Designs is a residential and commercial landscape design business. The designs are made to scale, in colour with a focus on the installation of plants and shrubbery. She also provides elevation and perspective drawings when necessary. The average cost for a design of a residential front or back yard is $350, but varies depending on the size and complexity of the project.Origin of Business Idea:  My mom has been a landscape designer for 20 years and I’ve worked with her in the past and it inspired me to go into the program. And I’ve been opened up to opportunities I never thought existed, like historic restoration.Goals: For the summer I’m earning money to go back to school. In the long-term my goal is to continue on and make this a career. It’s really awakened me to what it’s like to really work hard and be an entrepreneur.Why the Summer Company: I think it’s such a great experience for young ambitious students to get real-world experience that’s going to help shape their careers in the future, whether its being an entrepreneur or not. I also thought it was a good way to get my name out there as a designer and launch myself into that business environment.Hardest part of being an entrepreneur: It’s difficult to learn how to manage your time and your money because when you work for someone else you know how much you’re going to be earning and you have set hours. It’s all been challenging but in a good way. Contact: ladybug.design.ontario@gmail.comPhotography, swimming, cleaning and landscaping are just four of the avenues young entrepreneurs have chosen for their summer business through the provincially-funded program, Summer Company.

“They’ve taken a hobby they have an interest in and turned it into a business,” said Dragica Lebo, the co-ordinator for Summer Company. “Most want to work for themselves rather than someone else.”

The Hamilton program is run through the city’s small business enterprise centre. The city provides the new entrepreneurs with mentors and hosts seminars to help them with the details of running a business.

The Ontario-funded program started a decade ago and provides students aged 15 to 29 with a one-time $3,000 grant to help run their business.

To qualify, a student must live in Ontario, be in school and plan to return in the fall, must not be operating an existing or previously existing business, and be prepared to commit a minimum of 35 hours a week for at least eight consecutive weeks if in high school or 12 consecutive weeks if enrolled in a post-secondary program.

Applicants are also required to submit a business plan and go through an interview. If the business gets a passing grade and the interview goes well, the student receives the first $1,500 to cover startup costs from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

“Most of the students who participate in the program have never taken a business course before,” Lebo said. “So it’s not just for commerce students, it’s up for anybody who wants to gain the experience and learn.”

Once students are in the program, they’re matched with mentors to help them go over details of running a business and attend presentations and seminars by a variety of business professionals.

The money earned during the summer is theirs to keep and at the end of the summer, if students complete their journals and the required 12 hours of business training and mentoring, they receive the second $1,500 to help with their business after the program is completed.

The program runs until the end of the summer, but students can choose to continue with their business throughout the year or go full time next summer and have the opportunity to run for the next five years because their business is registered with the province upon acceptance in the program.

“The best part about the program is that it gets them going,” said Lebo “Some students do it part-time and come back full force next summer and others have actually turned the business into a full time job.”

This summer, 76 students applied for the grant and 15 were accepted.

Article courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator.

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