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Food vendors sell hamburgers, hot dogs and other eats along Queen St. West in Toronto. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Food vendors sell hamburgers, hot dogs and other eats along Queen St. West in Toronto. (Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Small Business Briefing

Hot-dog vendor succeeds in 'a patty place' Add to ...

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The third time’s a charm

“Jamaica is a patty place, hot dogs are not going to sell,” Guyard Silvera’s mother told him when he asked her to “fix up one of the old broken-down carts in her garage” and send it to him.

The 51-year-old entrepreneur, who had been deported from the United States for a third time in 2007, told the Jamaica Observer that he’d tried his hand at several ventures upon his return home: construction work, building cement blocks, selling clothes on the streets, and driving robot taxis.

Then he found his calling.

"I knew I was good, very good, at selling hot dogs,” Mr. Silvera recalled. “Every day on the streets of New York I used to get compliments ... so I said ‘why not try that right here in Jamaica?’”

He chose a particular type of sausage for its texture, and offered a standard mix of toppings, such as sauerkraut, onions, mayonnaise, mustard, radish, pepper, ketchup, and cheese. In two years, he managed to expand the number of carts, and he now has eight employees. The product mix has expanded to include tea and sandwiches.

It’s an unlikely success story, but proof that hard work and perseverance really can pay off. Mr. Silvera’s plan is simply to “grow and grow and grow” as he’s convinced the potential of fast food in Jamaica is tremendous.

Pearl Jam is the better role model

Give it your all. Fit isn’t just important, it’s everything: if a team member is causing strife within the group, make a change. Show respect for others in the ecosystem. Build a direct relationship and then tend it. Remember/honour the founder(s). Let the client drive sometimes.

If you’re thinking this sounds like a list of rules for any small business to follow, you’d be right. But it’s how the list came about that’s interesting. A blog post on the Wellington Financial website is titled “What entrepreneurs can learn from Pearl Jam.” It’s loosely tied to the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones, no slouches in the ‘making money’ department. “But when it comes to entrepreneurial role models,” the post reads, “I think Pearl Jam is the better choice for 2012.”

Start me up

Up for another game of lists?

The barriers to starting a company have been falling. The tax man is dealing with startups more intelligently. A variety of helpful financial schemes. The benefits are not just limited to British citizens. The rise of Seedcamp and government support.

In a guest post for Forbes, David Mytton outlines why Britain is the best place to start a new business in 2012. “Over the last five years,” he writes, “the British Government has announced changes in every annual budget to help nurture the growing ecosystem that had already started to establish itself organically in the United Kingdom.”

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Alberta addresses skilled worker shortage

Starting Monday, Alberta employers looking to hire highly skilled foreign workers in certain in-demand occupations can benefit from expansion of a Temporary Foreign Worker pilot project announced by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and Alberta Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education Stephen Khan. The program enables them to be issued a work permit to move freely between Alberta employers, without authorization from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada/Service Canada in the form of a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

Get ready for the rush

Sue Clement of Success Coaching is holding a free, 75-minute webinar on how to take advantage of the summer slowdown by boosting your marketing efforts so you don't lose traction in the leadup to September. It runs July 19, and you receive access information after submitting your name and e-mail (which she promises not to share).

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

To stay the course, or change it?

Our first feature related to Failure Week examines the popularity of pivoting. While for many businesses it makes good sense, there is reason to question whether it’s always smart to pivot, or whether it’s sometimes better to to stay, or make a tweak to, the course. Either way, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly or without due diligence, experts say.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Taking food concepts to the streets

Food trucks are increasingly pulling creative, business-minded foodies into the streets. While some owners are launching second careers, others see the food trucks as a low-risk way to road test their dream restaurant concept, Jessica Leeder found back in October, 2011.

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