Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Small business owners to be commended

Only 25 per cent of small businesses make it to 15 years or more

Statistics indicate that about 21 per cent of small businesses will fail in their first year.

But it gets worse because the stats show that approximately 30 per cent will fail in their second year, 50 per cent in their fifth year and 70 per cent in their 10th year.

In fact, if the statistics are to be believed, only 25 per cent of small businesses make it to 15 years or more.

Those are pretty frightening numbers for people with the dream to become their own bosses and run their own enterprises; taking all the risks and responsibilities and putting everything on the line in their efforts to be successful entrepreneurs.

Yet many take the plunge and I greatly admire their spirit and ambition, whether they succeed or fail.

I’ve been fortunate to meet many impressive small business owners in the Cowichan Valley while writing for my weekly Business Notes column that is published in the newspaper every Thursday.

While they may come from different backgrounds and run businesses that range from auto repair shops to restaurants, they all have that same drive to succeed and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal.

I remember Elly Ruge, the former owner of Cowichan Auto Repair and a woman working in an industry long dominated by men, who put such an emphasis on teaching women to do basic mechanical repairs on their vehicles.

Ruge hosted a variety of automotive workshops for women at her shop for years before she sold the business earlier this year and moved on to other challenges.

Ruge’s dedication to educating women on the basics of car repair and maintenance earned her and CAR a coveted automotive communications award in 2017 at the “Women in Auto Care” award ceremony in Las Vegas.

Then there’s Tierra Lynn, the new owner of Duncan’s Cardino Shoes which won in the “Best Shoe Store” category in this year’s Best of the Valley competition, who I just recently met.

She told me that she and her husband decided to take a chance and bought the store in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their gamble could have easily failed, like so many small businesses have during the ongoing pandemic, likely leaving the family in a financial mess.

But, not only has it been a success so far in the short time they’ve owned it, the couple doubled down and opened a second Cardino Shoes in Langford just this month.

From what I understand, it has become a welcome and popular addition to Westshore Town Centre.

One of my favourite new business owners in the Valley is Nick Mravunac, a young man just in his 20s who is known as The Wiseguy in hip-hop circles and operates a music studio in Duncan.

With his long hair and T-shirts, Mravunac doesn’t much look the part of a typical budding entrepreneur, but don’t let that fool you.

When a small space became available at 51 Trunk Rd. this summer, Mravunac saw an opportunity to open a niche store, called The Capsule, which offers an assortment of snacks and soft drinks, like Peanut Butter Captain Crunch and Chubby Soda, that are hard to get in Canada, as well as vintage clothing and memorabilia posters and toys.

From what I understand, the store has attracted a lot of interest and I hope it succeeds.

Small businesses make up the backbone of the Canadian economy and it’s daring and adventurous entrepreneurs like these who are instrumental in keeping the nation’s, as the local, economy humming along.

Even though I’m sure they must be aware of those frightening statistics that I mentioned at the beginning of this column, they have enough faith in themselves and their business ideas to take a risk and move forward with them.

For that, they should be commended.

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