Small Business Owners Learn (and Laugh) at Entrepreneur Roundtable

Krystine Therriault - Seaway News
Small Business Owners Learn (and Laugh) at Entrepreneur Roundtable
R to L: Entrepreneur Roundtable panelists Jessica Bourdeau (Spark Synergy), Eric Lang (ZipGrow), and Kelsey Lee (Love and Lee). (Photo : Krystine Therriault/Seaway News)

Last week, the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre hosted their Fall 2022 Entrepreneur Roundtable at the Lost Villages Brewery in Long Sault.

The free event consisted of a panel discussion with entrepreneurs Jessica Bourdeau (Spark Synergy), Eric Lang (ZipGrow), and Kelsey Lee (Love and Lee) who shared important lessons about starting and growing small businesses.

The panel was moderated by Shauna Baggs, Business Consultant at the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre.

Many participants of the Starter Company program were in attendance, taking notes as the three entrepreneurs shared their stories and gave some sage words of advice.

The atmosphere in the room was jovial and the group had several laughs as customers of the brewery poked their heads in the door to ask, “Are you guys open?”

Some key business takeaways from the event were the importance of defining what success looks like for your business at the beginning, not the end, and documenting your processes as you go so it’s easier to train people later.

More about the panelists:

Jessica Bourdeau opened her business, Spark Synergy, after working for several years in the non-profit sector. When she returned after maternity leave to a workplace whose culture had shifted, Jessica decided to start a business helping organizations improve their work culture. Her biggest lesson: be flexible.

“I think in the infancy stages of your business you establish a vision of what you want it to be like and something like a pandemic makes you look at that and say, ‘Oh. That might not look exactly the way I was hoping’. But to navigate these kinds of unchartered waters you’ve got to shift a little bit… and get back on track eventually,” Bourdeau said of her experience.

Kelsey Lee from Love and Lee started her first business, a princess party company called Dream Birthdays, at age 15. Some of the lessons she learned from that business included: basic customer service, organizational skills, time management and delegation.

“I owned that for quite some time, like four years, and it was great. It laid the foundation for a lot of my entrepreneurial instincts,” said Lee, “So yeah, 100% even those little businesses carry through to even bigger ones.”

When Eric Lang started working on his family farm at the age of 5 or 6, he probably never would have guessed he would later be President and Co-founder of ZipGrow, a successful indoor vertical farming company.

“The first business I started by myself was a brokerage business where I brokered consumable plastics to China. I was like 20-something,” Lang shared, “No matter how hard you try to have your idea work it won’t, so you have to be able to adjust, very quickly. The best entrepreneurs are best at Plan C – Plan A never works.”

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