To introduce Loyalist College Business students to the opportunities available to them through the Business Administration, Business Accounting, and Business Sales and Marketing programs, local entrepreneur Mark Hanley delivered an inspiring keynote presentation to an audience of more than 150 students on Wednesday, September 5th in Belleville.
Named Business Person of the Year at the 2006 Quinte Business Achievement Awards, Mark owns and operates several Tim Horton’s franchises in the Quinte region, among other business ventures. He is a strong supporter of the Loyalist Business program and is actively involved in the College’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team, a non-profit international organization, which educates people on market economics and entrepreneurship through outreach projects.
During the hour-long presentation, Mark encouraged students’ passion for business and shared his personal experiences.
“I’ve always had a desire to own my own company,” he revealed. “When I first got out in the business world I was scared, insecure, and nervous. But, I shouldn’t have been. When you get out there, it’s friendly. They can hardly wait to have you! This is the time. If you’ve got an idea or a chance to do something – take it!”
Entrepreneurship is essential to the economic well-being of our communities. By identifying challenges and devising innovative solutions, entrepreneurs create new opportunities for themselves and others. They take their future into their own hands and easily change course with the times.
“I learned a couple of very valuable lessons from my first start-up, which was a complete failure,” said Mark. “But, as soon as I started making mistakes, I got better.”
Loyalist’s Business programs prepare the next generation of savvy entrepreneurs to develop and lead businesses. Whether it’s working for their own company or someone else’s, students discover that they need to be able to work as part of a team.
“When I’m evaluating a new business potential, I’m not picking the business as much as I’m picking the people,” said Mark. “I’m looking at their personality and attitude. My goal is to always hire someone smarter than me.”
Once a new business idea has been conceived, there are a number of steps to market, from getting leadership buy-in, to building the right team, to successfully launching the product or service, and then integrating customer feedback.
“It was reassuring,” said Krystal Snyder, a first-year Sales and Marketing student. “Mark encouraged us to go out and take life by the horns, meet new people, share new experiences and live life to the fullest. I plan to use that as a mantra throughout the school year and in my future career.”
As Mark has demonstrated, our best resource is our people, particularly ones who are entrepreneurial-minded and give back to the community.
“To be a great entrepreneur, you have to be exactly what each student in this room is – ambitious and eager to make a living,” said Mark. “There will be so much opportunity for you in the next five to ten years. I’m investing in you, because you’re building our future.”