As a very young business owner, still in high school, Minna Van found it a constant struggle to be taken seriously. Although she had profits to prove the viability of her venture, she still could not get a business loan or even find someone who would rent her an office space. Years later, and having worked very hard to build multiple businesses to success, Van decided that her next venture would be one to provide emerging entrepreneurs with the support she never had.
“We wanted to create a place where entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses can work for themselves, but not by themselves,” says Van. “It is incredibly important to have support the first couple of years in your business, so we pride ourselves on being able to create a space for people with great ideas.”
In 2006, Van and her partners launched The Network Hub in Vancouver; creating change so other young entrepreneurs wouldn’t have as many barriers to face. The Network Hub provides business services and a space that supports people with great ideas, to help them launch and grow their businesses. Little did Van and her partners know that the business would grow into so much more than just a hub, it would become a community.
“Our success is closely tied to our clients’ success, so we celebrate little wins every day, like when we see the entrepreneurs in our space hire their first employee or when a company from another province opens a Western Canada branch at our office,” says Van.
Creating a Network
Van also uses the office space to host monthly Meet-Up groups for entrepreneurs in the Vancouver area; these events always fill-up and pull in entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries. What her and her partners have built is so much more than just a business; it’s a support system for the self-employed. And Van knows better than anyone that when you take the path least travelled, support is essential.
“Being an entrepreneur is a calling, and it’s not always a very glamorous one,” admits Van “It’s filled with long hours and laying awake in the middle of the night wondering about marketing, operations and sales. And some days you hold your head in the palms of your hands wondering ‘what did I just do’! But it’s the most rewarding path and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
For Van, the greatest success she’s been able to achieve through her entrepreneurial career is to wake up every morning with the same amount of enthusiasm for the business as she did when she first started.
“I wouldn’t trade being an entrepreneur for anything else. I have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever I put into the business I get back 100 per cent,” acknowledges Van. “To continue the success The Network Hub has already achieved, we have ne really simple goal: To help people with great ideas launch their business faster and leaner.”