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Be your own boss: A popular dream

Have you ever considered working for yourself? It’s a dream that countless Canadians share.

Have you ever considered working for yourself? It’s a dream that countless Canadians share.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be your own boss, to build a business that could employ your family or friends and neighbours, and to keep all the profits for yourself?

It’s a powerful dream —which is why thousands of people make that leap every year. In fact this year, as the economic downturn deepened, statistics showed entrepreneurship on the rise.

It’s actually a typical phenomenon during recessions — workers who lose their jobs sometimes decide to create their own.

So what does it take to start a successful business? You can pick up some clues by watching Dragons’ Den tonight. As always, a wide variety of entrepreneurs enter the Den, seeking investment from the Dragons —the self-made millionaires who regularly invest in those brave enough to pitch them on this CBC reality show.

Some of the pitchers are well established — a young woman named Jacqueline Sava has sold $1 million worth of her lingerie soap called Soak over the past three years. She sells her product online, and in stores across Canada. But she wants investment to expand into the U.S.

Others are rookies. Mike Bailey from Hagersville, Ont. has developed software for people considering a tattoo. It allows you to preview a picture of how the design will look on you, before it’s inked on.

But as you learn in their presentations to the Dragons, neither of these two entrepreneurs are actually making money yet. Jaqueline’s company is breaking even. She paying herself a basic wage, but not raking in big profits at this point. It’s not clear from Mike’s pitch whether he’s making money yet either.

It’s one of the realities all would-be business owners have to consider: That it takes time to actually build the business. One of the principal reasons young companies fail is that they are under-capitalized. The entrepreneur may have raised enough money to get started, but not enough to sustain them through those early days.

On the bright side, consider the stories of the Dragons themselves. Jim Treliving was a Mountie: Now he owns Boston Pizza and Mr. Lube. Robert Herjavec was a waiter; now he owns the biggest house in Toronto. Arlene Dickinson was a single mother of four; now her marketing firm services huge clients, and she wears diamonds and Chanel.

Entrepreneurship is a dream worth pursuing.

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