A Story About How to Start an English Business in Montreal

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The Idea

Maybe you want to start a business in Montreal and dont speak French. It’s ok, as long as you respect the culture and try to learn some basic French you will be fine! Here is my story on how to start an English business in Montreal without speaking perfect French. As it turns out, its not all that tricky after all and you can do it with relative ease.

Everyone has that idea. That same idea from early adolescence, that one day we would change the world. The idea came and went, and some of us lost touch with the imagination necessary to dream up such an idea again. Still, there it was. In the back corner of the far room in your mind, sitting and waiting for the chance to shine again.

My idea was a community of people, with thoughts of enterprise that benefits all around them. A company where information was shared, services traded, and a community was built. It was a way to have what I needed and some of what I wanted, and to help others do the same thing.
It was ATPress(pronounced like “@Press”). It is a service aimed toward other go getters in Montreal who wanted to make the most out of their attempt to change the world.

I’ve always wanted to change the world, and always thought about crazy ideas that would benefit people in a way that made it attractive to actually pursue. One of those ideas was to make a communal company that brought companies together to stick together and help each other. Actually though.

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Where did the Idea come from?

Going to school for business (marketing) and event planning taught me a lot of entry level information, but what was important were the pratical skills I learned. Techniques and tricks like a SWOT analysis, SMART objectives, project management and budgeting among many more, proved to be great assets to build with. I also learned how to write in a way that appealed to my professors or audience.

I had my first attempt at making a name for myself when I created Green Man Music Festival, a private event I organized. It was a success in terms of outcome and attendee experience, but not financially. I had a great amazing team helping me but for the most part the stress was all on me to get this done. I lost about 5k in the venture, a large portion of which my partners lost as well.

It was a rough time and I had to find a way to get back on top and continue on my path to changing the world. So I got back up and assessed why my plan failed financially. After an in-depth look at what went wrong, all the decisions made I realized it. I had way too much on my plate, and handled the sheer volume of tasks involved and overwhelming information in a way that resulted in loosing 5k.

This had me thinking. I realized I should have outsourced more and delegated tasks to loosen grip on the project. I realized that in the end Green Man was no longer just my project, and that it had become my team’s baby as well. This meant they ran it with passion, love and dedication. By gripping so hard onto it I did not allow them to make decisions they could have made on their own, saving me stress and time. In the end, I would have made better decisions and I would have been much less stressed. How could I translate this into a way to help other entrepreneurs not make the same problem?

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What happened next?

I created ATPress, a company that aims to help the average local go getter or small business become successful and even change the world, if they want. All by providing a means for everyone to learn, and share stories and skills about their exploits and journey into becoming the entrepreneurs they are today. Replacing that overwhelming feeling of information and advice overload, with interesting stories and solutions to problems similar to what you may currently be dealing with. It also provides services aimed at starters that need help structuring and promoting their business. Those services coupled with the comunity I aim to create through ATPress would boost the chances of any small business or go getter.

I made a decision to hold fast to this idea and to pursue it vigorously. I drummed it into belief and am marching to the tune of that drum until this becomes a reality. So I started to learn, relentlessly, learn. I learned how to make a website, I learned how to market myself digitally, I learned about SEO and Adwords. About copywriting and how to design a website that generates income. I even began to learn Photoshop and video editing. Most of all I started to really take learning French seriously.

Being an Anglophone entrepreneur in Montreal makes me short on the draw, because to play ball in the Montreal game effectively, you have to speak the language. I have many French contacts that I can outsource to, providing them with opportunity as well so it works. You have to find a way to compensate for your lack of French if you are in the same boat. It is doable though.

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Tricky bit

Funding a business with no money is no easy task, but it is in no way impossible. The trick is doing it piece by piece until you have a minimum viable product that you can begin taking to market. Once that happens you can build your business as it grows, kind of like a 3D printer that upgrades it’s self progressively.

Creating your small business or service is fun but still serious work. Consider making a business plan or marketing plan, they are great road maps when done right. You have to really think about the branding of your company and the message you want to send. Being creative is fun, but sometimes you have to hire people that have the skill you don’t, to make your vision a reality. You can also learn to do things yourself and practice. This website was made by me, all in a few weeks by learning each step of the way. It’s still growing and getting better, but the main thing is I’m constantly learning how to make it better.

Good information on starting a business is tricky to find sometimes, but it is possible. This is one of the main reasons I started ATPress, to help guide relevant information to entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them grow successfully and efficiently.
Finding new clients for small businesses and entrepreneurs is not always straightforward, but it is possible to do efficiently and organically. Social media is essential in this, but the key is not to sell your product on social media. Instead sell the lifestyle around it, and the excitement it gives you.

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Setting sail

Don’t let not speaking French hold you back from starting the project you want to start. In fact, don’t allow anything to hold you back period. Learn what you need to do what you need to. The rest will come naturally. Don’t wit for everything to be perfect, and network with your English speaking friends. You will be surprised as to the connections you already have in this province. Quebec is tough on english businesses, but I mean, it will just make you a better business person in the end. Its like training in hard mode.

Starting your first business is rough, but you won’t know until you do it. So just start it. Waiting to have everything absolutely perfect before you get out there, will lead you to stunting growth, and waiting for a perfect time to start that will never come. You have to just do it. Practice jumping into cold water. Everyone everywhere is changing the world, we might as well join in and see what the water feels like before judging if it’s for us or not. If you cover your bases and take a little risk, the chances are one of your ideas will work, and you could be the next person to change the world!

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