A Fresh Face in Design
Although Tim Lum may seem young to be running his own business, he believes his fresh thinking and innovative ideas are what will make his venture a success.
Lum knew what he wanted to do at an early age. At 22, he has already completed two years of a graphic design course at Canadore College, has returned to school for a third year and is currently running his own multi-media company, Dexterous Designs. "In my second year is when I knew I wanted to start my own business," Lum said. "I started doing small freelance projects for outside clients, things like logo design, illustrations and corporate branding." Dexterous Designs, Lum's part-time, home-based business, deals with developing Web sites, logo design, flash development, interactive CD ROMs and graphic design, to name a few. Lum describes his business as a full multi-media business that comprises a type of service engaged in planning, designing and managing of production of visual communication.
He started his venture through a program offered by The Business Centre Nipissing Parry Sound, dedicated to helping students experience entrepreneurship. "It gave me the qualifications to expand my business to a full multimedia business," he said. The program it offers youth between the ages of 15 and 29 an award of up to $3,000 to start their own business. The first. $1,500 covers the start-up cost. They go through a training component at the centre, where they meet mentors who assist and guide them. At the end of the eight-week program, successful students receive an additional $1,500. Erin Richmond, manager of the Business Centre, says approximately 20 to 30 students apply to the summer program per year. They submit a business plan and then, depending on how many available awards per region, students are selected for the program based on quality of the plan, feasibility of the project and an interview process.
"We look at everyone equally," Richmond said. "Obviously, sometimes there is a difference in the quality of plans, we take that into consideration. That is really one of the reasons why the interviews are so important. Because some students might show well in the interview but not on paper. We have to make sure that the person we are interviewing has a genuine interest in being an entrepreneur." She said in the three years the program has been running, there have been some encouraging results. "They all received a valuable experience in terms of financing," Richmond said. "We've been lucky in our area that everyone has been able to make some money during the summer, which is a good feat because businesses usually take some time to get going." Richmond thinks the program is important in giving youth the opportunity to experience the hardships and benefits of starting their own business, with no strings attached. "It is part of the provincial young entrepreneur strategy," she said. "The province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation, is really trying to give youth an opportunity to learn about entrepreheurship in a risk free environment."
She remembers Lum as one of the centre's success stories because although he is still in school, he continues to operate his business on the side. "He had a true passion for what he was doing," Richmond said. "He really enjoys the graphic design components. He is also from an entrepreneurial family, his parents own a business in town. So, he had a little bit of an idea what it was like to run a business, but he wanted to experience that for himself, in his own field. He had a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm." Lum, whose parents Jack and Lisa own the Chinese food restaurant Chopsticks, agrees he has enthusiasm and flare for his work and says that is the key to running and maintaining a small business. "To start your own business you need the finances, you need resources, and just a love for your trade. You have to maintain your hunger level, your drive, your passion and just have fun with it," he said. Lum has a few clients he found by networking through his friends and the community. He would like to see his business run full-time and keep it based in North Bay. "With technology it is vastly easier to work with clients all over the world," Lum said. "So essentially I could be working anywhere. The motto that I go by is 'work locally think globally.'"
He says he was not as focused on his business as he would have liked because he was finishing the interactive multi-media course at Canadore College, which he graduated from in April. Now he plans to try and find work in his field to gain more experience. "I want to try out the market, I might want to work for someone for a bit but still maintain my business on the side," Lum said. Although he plans to find a full-time job, he will continue with his business until the day where he will have the client list and experience to run the business at full capacity. "I want to maintain my hunger level, my drive, and become a well-recognized multi-media business." he said. "This is something I want to do for the rest of his life."