{tag_pagetitle} - Prince's Operation Entrepreneur

#ourstories Shelley


Why did I join the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)? I was drawn to the vast opportunities available for travel, to the excitement of different jobs, and possibilities to grow in my chosen profession - Nursing. 

Looking back, my time in the CAF was incredible. It offered me so much more than I could possibly have done as a civilian Nurse, through the different job changes and leadership positions that I had throughout my career, not to mention the different cultures I experienced while in training and on deployment. I have always been a very independent person and my experiences in the CAF helped build my confidence that I could do anything that I set my mind on (within reason)!

I had the idea of building my own business during my early years in the CAF. I have always been a “Tea Totaler” and Dog Lover with a passion for travel. The ability to visit different parts of Canada and the world through the CAF, and my own travels gave me the desire to try to make these things work together in a business. I discussed my desires with some military co-workers, as well as my husband and friends. On a deployment or in my travels I always found myself exploring these curiosities. For example, on multiple occasions I would forego provided meals at the Mess for late Afternoon Tea at a Tea Room in the city where I was travelling, and several co-workers humoured me and went along. We would chalk it up to a “once in a lifetime experience” that I never regretted!

It was on a vacation to Ireland with my husband, where we stayed in B&B’s for the whole trip that I decided I wanted to be a business owner and I wanted to own a B&B. I decided that I would make it a dog friendly B&B and appeal to a niche of which my husband and I have been a part of for many years. We love to travel but we hate to leave our little Boston Terriers behind, yet we have found it difficult (and still do) to find accommodations that will accept dogs. I also wanted to be able to do Afternoon Teas so my mind was set on finding a home that could accommodate all of these things. I was still very much involved in my military career but started planning for the time when it was “time” for a change. My goal was to be prepared to start my own business at the end of my Terms of Service or “Contract” as so many people call it.

I had actually started my business while I was still in the military. Once my husband and I had agreed on opening a B&B, our next step was to find the perfect house for it as the house we were living in was not at all conducive to being a B&B, at least not what my ideal B&B was. We looked/browsed for over three years. Then I saw the house that we now own in a real estate magazine and knew that was the one. So we put in an offer and voilà! That was two years before my end of contract so I felt that I had plenty of time to work on my business plan and that is what I did.

Evenings, weekends, and vacation time was spent on preparing the business. It was VERY busy. I was working 10-12 hour days at work, or I was away from home on Temporary Duty (TD) for a week at a time, plus working on the financial and admin issues to get the business going. My husband was taking care of the renovations required and making things work. We were stressed for sure. At this point, I had not even heard of POE Boot Camp. I was doing all of the business research on my own. Lots of reading! Then I found out about POE boot camp.

I attended boot camp at its place of origins, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) School of Business. As it happens, MUN was also my home university where I earned my Bachelor of Nursing degree. The timing fit and it was just “meant to be”. I thought, “Why didn’t I know about this program sooner?” I have always been learning my whole life. Finishing my Nursing degree did not mean the end of learning. In healthcare, like so many professional areas, you have to keep educating yourself, whether you want to or not. It is a requirement. As it happens, I love to learn, so it just felt natural to me to be in class as a student. However, it was also exciting because this was truly for me, to help me realize my dream! I had just spent over a year doing the business research on my own and here it was all tied up in such a fantastic and neat bundle presented to us ready to go. All we had to do was put it into action and apply it to our own business, and we had help! Mentors, business owners, educators. I was truly blown away the whole week of the boot camp! Once completed, it made a huge difference for our business. I came back home and delved right in – working on marketing my business and putting so much of the information I had just learned into action.

Being an entrepreneur has opened me up to a whole new realm. I now think about everything I do, even when I realize I have been on autopilot. Because my business is in hospitality, I find that I have become much more sensitive to those in the hospitality industry. And I really stop and think before I make a comment about how good something is or if it doesn’t meet my expectations. I really think about the amount of work, time and effort by others that goes into what I am experiencing- whether it is a meal at a restaurant, an art or craft that somebody has made, the décor and cleanliness of a room in a hotel or other accommodations where we might be staying or the service that we are experiencing. These things are often overlooked and go unappreciated. I find that being an entrepreneur and putting so much of myself into my business has made me much more sensitive and appreciative towards others and their businesses. To me, that is growth.

I am continuing to work my business, to make it the best that it can be within our framework and how far we want to take it. We do not want to let our business success overtake our lives so that we no longer have time to actually live. I try to share what I learned at Boot Camp with other entrepreneurs that I come into contact with. I am involved in a Business Network Marketing Group comprised of entrepreneurs and small business owners where each member has to present quarterly. So far, in every presentation I have made I have used information from boot camp.

I see my business continuing to grow and to be where my business plan has forecasted for 2016 and beyond. I would like to help provide other entrepreneurs with the tools they need to make their business a success. I appreciate the help that I received at Boot Camp and I believe in “paying forward”.