Artists and other creative professionals often lack the business skills needed to make their careers thrive.
CreativePEI has run a creative entrepreneurship incubator program five times since 2014. The HIVE brings together emerging creative entrepreneurs with business experts and provides training on business strategy, marketing, and finance.
For the 2021 program CreativePEI consulted with the Black Cultural Society of PEI, the Mi’kmaq Confederacy, the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada, and la Fédération culturelle de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard to attract participants from a diverse variety of backgrounds.
The program targeted people between the ages of 18 and 30 who had a business idea they were ready to develop.
Participants were invited to submit a detailed business pitch to CreativePEI that outlined how they planned to get their business off the ground, who their target audience was, and why they felt their business idea brought value to the community.
By the end of the program, The HIVE aimed to employ people with the skills needed to set-up their creative enterprise with the intention that by the end of the internship the business would be fully functional.
Plan For Success
HIVE participant Alyssa Gallant said knew from a young age that she wanted to be an entrepreneur.
In 2020 Alyssa partnered with her sister and developed a made-in-Canada planner that filled a hole in the market. The duo printed 150 planners and had an overwhelming response and even found themselves ranked #1 on Amazon Canada’s bestseller list for stationary products. Alyssa continued to develop new products during her time at The HIVE including a new journal and daily planner.
HIVE participants were paid while taking part in the program. This was done to give the participants the time they needed to develop their businesses without having to worry about paying bills.
Another participant, Reequal Smith, a graduate of Holland College’s School of Performing Arts, said the financial support gave her the opportunity to develop her dance and choreography studio, Oshun Dance.
“I wanted to be able to assist new and emerging dancers so they could also be able to bring their style to the forefront. There’s so many talented dancers out there, but the Island doesn’t know anything about them.”
Reequal said The HIVE really helped her discover not only herself but her business and gave her a clearer vision of what she needed to do in order to get her business off the ground.
“The main thing for us was to try and create a business that would be profitable 3 to 5 years down the road so you’re able to see your hard work come to life.”
Business consultant Sara Roach Lewis was brought in to the HIVE to deliver the business training component and to mentor the participants in a variety of areas related to setting up their own business.
She met with the participants twice a week, the two sessions focused on business fundamentals and one-on-one coaching sessions.
During the first few coaching sessions the most common issue participants struggled with was finding their place in the world of business.
“This is a question that everyone has to answer for themselves. I am never going to be the person to say “You don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Being your own boss requires a certain degree of risk tolerance to it, but I encourage people to never say never.”
“If they’re passionate about their business idea, then it is going to happen. Passion does make up for a lot of things.”
Roach Lewis told the participants defining success was one of the first things they would need to do. Success should be about putting yourself in a position to be financially successful, healthy, happy, and still having time for yourself.
“Another key and critical component to success is taking action. The willingness to have imperfect action, to take that next step, even if you’re not entirely confident on what the outcome is going to be. The way that you learn and grow as an entrepreneur is by creating a plan, taking action, and then reflecting and building on it.”
“‘Done is better than perfect.”
Though people may not be confident in their business ability or suffer from imposter syndrome, Lewis said they should look to other parts of their life they excel in to strengthen their belief in themselves.
“I think it is helpful to know that everyone experiences imposter syndrome at one time or another. Knowing you’re not alone is comforting and helps you regain your confidence more quickly.”
Mark Sandiford, Executive Director of CreativePEI is enthusiastic about the program. The HIVE is one of the most valuable programs we run.” he says. “Since 2014, 68 creative entrepreneurs on PEI have been able to jumpstart their careers thanks to the HIVE.”