On the flip side, upskilling and modern tech enable a path toward entrepreneurship for virtually anyone, regardless of age or education, a recent survey from Ownr suggests.
69% of small business owners indicated they significantly rely on technology to run their businesses, according to the survey, and more than half have taken advantage of online educational resources to learn more about business and entrepreneurship, including online courses, workshops, YouTube videos, and blogs.
Leveraging a variety of technologies, Dina has run her business for the past five years, putting out content to help others looking to get into entrepreneurship and start a small business.
Techcouver sat down with Dina to learn more about how she leveraged technology to realize her entrepreneurial dreams.
Tell us about yourself and your experience as an entrepreneur.
DL: Hi! My name is Dina Lu and I’ve been self-employed as a calligrapher, Youtuber, Etsy shop owner, and creative entrepreneur for four years. Since I was in university, I was always interested in starting something of my own, but I didn’t actually do anything until one year after starting a full-time 9-5 job. My first business in 2018 was a calligraphy side business where I sold greeting cards and taught calligraphy workshops. Right now, I focus mainly on my YouTube channel and Etsy shop, and I’m having the time of my life!
What was the inspiration behind starting your YouTube channel?
DL: I started my YouTube channel three years ago during the pandemic. At the time, I ran some coaching programs for calligraphers, and I created the YouTube channel to funnel calligraphers into my email list. A year and a half after making weekly videos, I encountered an existential crisis with my YouTube, thinking, “Wow, it’s taking a lot of effort, and I’m not sure I want to continue this.” After contemplating it thoroughly, I decided that I actually wanted to go all in on my YouTube channel because I had always wanted to be a blogger for many years. I thought to myself, “YouTube is kind of like blogging, but in video format, and I want to inspire people to work towards their dreams. So, let’s use YouTube as my platform to do that and continue to share my experiences and business journey.”
The recent report by Ownr found the majority of small business owners (69.4%) rely significantly on technology to run their businesses. What technology or online tools do you find helpful in running your business?
DL: I rely 100% on technology to run my business. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to make any money without the internet and social media. I have many subscriptions, such as a website subscription, email list provider, market research tools, and bookkeeping to keep my business afloat. When I’m working, I’m basically using my laptop the entire time, planning out content, editing videos, and emailing companies for collaborations. I also use online platforms to manage the legal and admin side of my business. For example, I incorporated my business online with Ownr, which is an platform I recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to set up a sole proprietorship or corporation in Canada.
Technology can be a tool for small business owners to reduce costs, optimize business processes, and be an educational resource. In what ways have you used technology to improve your business?
DL: My entire business was built on the backbone of technology, even my calligraphy business! Even though my calligraphy services are in person, I used social media to market my services and connect with customers. I also created a calligraphy website so that people searching for calligraphy services in Vancouver could find me. With my YouTube channel, I’m using a ton of tools to optimize my growth, such as YouTube market research tools, different editing software, AI tools for idea generation, and graphic design software to create thumbnails and marketing materials. By using these tools, I’m a lot more productive and my processes are streamlined.
In your opinion, why is accessibility to technology important for entrepreneurship?
DL: These days, the majority of businesses use technology in some shape or form to help them run their operations, whether it’s through social media or a website for marketing, bookkeeping software for accounting, or sending emails to customers, stakeholders, or suppliers. Without technology, businesses would miss out on a significant part of the market and wouldn’t be able to optimize their operations to increase profits.
The report also found there are many diverse paths to entrepreneurship, much like your own. For someone interested in entrepreneurship with no formal business education, what resources would you recommend to help them get started?
DL: There are definitely many successful entrepreneurs who have no formal business education. I do have a Bachelor of Commerce, and while it provided me with a lot of foundational knowledge on how the business world works, I would say 90% of what I learned about how to run a business was from simply starting one and learning as I went along. There are so many ways to learn about running a business, such as books, podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, and there are also many paid coaching groups or community programs that people can join to get more support.
Your YouTube channel consists primarily of how-to and advice videos for budding entrepreneurs – what is the question you receive most frequently from viewers, and what is your answer to it?
DL: The most common question is probably, “Where to even start?” Many people get overwhelmed and feel lost with all the things they need to do to get started. I completely understand where they are coming from because I was in their shoes before, but my advice to them has always been to stop researching and planning, and actually take action. This could mean even just spending 10 minutes per day doing something that will move the business forward. If you’re starting a business, I’m cheering you on!