Students struggling to find their dream summer job might consider creating it themselves, but not know how to start their own business. That’s where Summer Company steps in.
The Ontario Ministry of Small Business program provides up to $3,000 in funding, plus training, to help budding entrepreneurs hit the ground running.
“There are lots of plans that come in that are great ideas, but they’re not going to be successful in an eight-to-twelve week period over the summer,” says John Martin, manager of entrepreneurship and youth partnerships at the ministry. “The nature of the (successful) business is something primarily relating to services or small retail products. They’ll take a skill they have and turn it into a business for the summer. It could be website design, (summer camps for) wakeboarding, water-skiing, tennis lessons, sewing lessons, hiking or camp activities, swimming lessons.”
Students must be aged 15 to 29 and returning to school in the fall (check Ontario.ca/summercompany for more information). Summer Company provides up to $1,500 up front to successful applicants, matches them with mentors, provides business training, and throws in up to another $1,500 upon the successful completion of the program. “We don’t tie ‘successful completion’ to the amount of money that they’ve made. We do tie it to their successfully going through the business experience,” explains Martin
“We’re planting the seeds of entrepreneurship and giving them a taste of the real world and what it’s like to manage every aspect (of a business).”
The ideas for businesses range from the straight-forward to the downright batty. One young man in the Stratford area noticed his neighbours had a problem with bats, so he developed a humane bat removal service. “He had a profit in the vicinity of $10,000 over the course of the summer. He continues to operate the business,” notes Martin.
Anthony Condello, a business student at McMaster University, launched Home Painting & Decorating. He “absolutely” recommends Summer Company.
“I’m very appreciative of them,” says Condello. “How else could I get that kind of professional advice for free? Working with the staff and the mentors at the sessions gave me new ideas, and different perspectives from the marketing and legal mentors.”
Summer Company is closed for applications for this summer, but starts taking ones for next year in November. Martin recommends getting applications in early to beat the rush.