Photos by Kirsten Maria Photography
Shylah Sheehan spends her days doing what she loves, being creative and interacting one-on-one with people. She is the owner and nail technician at The Gel Bar, a nail salon that she opened in her hometown of Souris in March 2020.
There are lots of laughs in the run of a day, she says, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones through her services.
As she looks towards the future, she can’t picture herself being anything but an entrepreneur.
“I think I’ll always work for myself. Regardless of what that is,” she says. “I’m a leader, and I’m very driven that way. I definitely like being self-employed because of the flexibility.”
However, when she was starting to plan for her business, she wasn’t so certain.
“It was very overwhelming, and there were a lot of unknowns,” she says. “I had a lot of questions, like, what do I have to register, what memberships do I have to sign up for, a lot of different questions, and I was just not sure of the answers.
I was basically starting from scratch, not knowing what to do and what was the first step to take and how to write a business plan.”
After researching, she found information about the Rural Action Centre and booked an appointment at the one closest to her in Montague. The Rural Action Centre staff provided her with information about what resources were available to help in the start-up phase of her business.
Shylah was encouraged to sign up for a free course offered by the Rural Action Centre that helps people write a business plan. It proved to be a turning point for her and end up being very helpful.
“It helped me through the initial planning stages because the overall business plan and information required was really overwhelming,” she says. “The course helped alleviate that stress of trying to figure out what was required when starting from scratch.”
Beyond the business plan course, Shylah always felt like the staff at the Rural Action Centre were there to support her.
“They were always there if I had any questions,” she says. “I could just shoot off questions and get the help that way, and I didn’t feel like I was totally lost.”
Shylah believes it’s important for organizations like the Rural Action Centre to exist, especially for people who may be feeling like she once did, wanting to start a business but not knowing how.
“It’s very helpful to have people help as it’s very overwhelming at the start,” she says. “You want to give up; you don’t want to continue starting your business because you literally don’t know what you’re doing.
So, it’s helpful to have a centre that you can reach out to, and they will guide you in the right way. The right places to go to get information or help you get off the ground basically”
Would she recommend visiting the Rural Action Centre to other budding entrepreneurs? Absolutely, she says.
“As I said, if I didn’t reach out to them or have this help or support, I probably wouldn’t have been able to follow through with my business because it was so overwhelming at the start,” she says. “So for someone that’s starting, it’s definitely beneficial.”