Vacations whenever you want and determining your own salary could be some of the perks if you were your own boss, but the lure of owning your own business does not come without its challenges.

Knowing where to start after you have decided to start your own small business can be a daunting task, but the satisfaction of only answering to yourself can make it all worth it.

For Tara Dennis, after spending 16 years as a dental assistant, she knew she was ready to branch out on her own into something completely different.

“I went from one end of the spectrum to the other,” said Dennis, owner of Chicken Scratch on 10466 82 Ave. in Edmonton.

This greeting card and novelty gift shop has been greeting Whyte Avenue shoppers for more than 16 years, with Dennis taking over the shop about two years ago.

“I have always wanted to do my own thing,” said Dennis.

With the economy the way it has been, the past two years have been challenging, but she attributes a lot of hard work from her staff and loyal customers to the continued success of her business.

“The first year was a lot of learning,” said Dennis. “You just learn as you go.”

Dennis points out that being on Whyte Avenue helps with a lot of the sales.

“The location is a big key of where you pick what is going to fit your store,” said Dennis.

Before taking over this independent business, Dennis did a lot of research to find out how to start a small business.

“You just have to dig and search and research and talk to people; the more you talk to people, the more you find out,” she said.

Some websites out there have made it easy for entrepreneurs to locate the information needed to start a new business.

For example, the government’s Canada Business website has easy-to-use links and answers many important questions.

“Canada Business is committed to providing you with a wide range of information on government services, programs and regulations relevant to existing and potential business entrepreneurs,” according to the website.

Entrepreneurs can even search for government funding and grants.

The site makes it even simpler to follow links to possible cashflow by breaking it down into a simple search by the type of business and even demographic.

Some special financing or funding incentives are offered to groups, such as women, aboriginal people, people with disabilities, immigrants and rural or northern residents.

Other government organizations offer financing to small- and medium-sized businesses.

For more information on funding your small business, check out www.canadabusiness.ca or www.bdc.ca.