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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Doing it your way - Part 1

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent ..."

-- Calvin Coolidge,

30th President of the United States

I first discovered the above quote many months ago while working at this very newspaper, when my then co-worker Annette McLeod posted it above her desk.
Sharon Aschaiek left her job at The Sun six months ago to become a freelance writer and editor

It made sense then, and since becoming a freelance writer and editor six months ago, it has proven to be truer than ever. Possessing talent is only half the battle; it's steely determination, especially in the face of stinging rejection, that will land you new contracts, help you maintain existing clients, and otherwise enable you to achieve what you want.

So as a freshly-minted entrepreneur, what do you do with all this determination? Doing it your way, a two-part series, will look at all the essentials you'll need to consider when taking the self-employment plunge. Part 1 will focus on planning and financing; part 2 will explore networking; administration, advertising and professional development.

Have a plan

It's been said that businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail. The most brilliant business idea doesn't mean a thing if you don't do the research and planning to turn it into reality. In my case, my fiance, Cary Stein, and I wanted to build on our respective skill sets and start our own web design and editorial service.

One of the best introductory texts I came across during the planning stage was Starting a Small Business in Ontario: A Sound Business Approach to Setting up Your Own Company. Published by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the 112-page guide (download it at raises all the points you'll need to consider before registering, including: your target customers; competition; market research; anticipated costs; location; financing; and much more. It also outlines the various types of businesses: sole proprietorship, corporation or partnership.

In choosing to start a home-based partnership offering services, not products, we were able to circumvent any discussion of finding a good location, the logistics of shipping products and so on.

But as most partners, and particularly couples, should do, we did ask ourselves whether we could live and work together and hang on to our sanity -- this point is still a work in progress.

After performing market research, evaluating our finances, determining the scope of services we would offer, discussing our vision for our company website and setting up our home offices, we registered our company, Summit Media Group (

In Ontario, you register your business through the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services at a cost of $60 through its website,, or by calling 416-314-8880. The Starting a Small Business guide also outlines any taxes you may need to pay (businesses that earn more than $30,000 annually must collect GST).


Ask yourself if you have the resources to make this business idea work. Depending on the type of business, you may need to work with a combination of your personal assets, money borrowed from family/friends, and money borrowed from a financial institution. You'll want to set up a separate business account at your bank to document your business transactions.

Other resources you can turn to for funding include the Business Development Bank of Canada (, which offers small businesses loans of up to $100,000; the Canada Small Business Financing (CSBF) Program, which helps businesses get term loans of up to $250,000; or My Company, which offers loans of up to $15,000 to help 18 to 29-year-old aspiring entrepreneurs.

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