February 5, 2019 6:46 pm

Durham business owners tell you ‘How to Quit Your Job’ in new online series

A new YouTube series features six Durham Region-based entrepreneurs who'd had enough of their jobs and started their own businesses. As Jasmine Pazzano explains, these stories may serve as inspiration during a time of job insecurity in the region.

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Donna Benson has groomed dogs for decades, but working for other people just hadn’t cut it for her.

“I’ve groomed around Durham Region in many salons, but I think … it came to a point where I thought, ‘OK, I have different ideas and ways that I’d like to run my salon.'”

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Nine years ago, she made this dream come to life — she opened Touch of a Paw Spa in Oshawa, Ont., and has never looked back. She and her team of eight employees now wash, clip and trim thousands of pets and she offers what she calls a “pain-free” experience for each of them.

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“We live to keep [the pets] happy and comfortable and groomed well,” Benson said.

The 48-year-old is one of six Durham Region-based business owners featured in How to Quit Your Job, a new YouTube series that focuses on just that: how to leave a conventional job and take the leap into entrepreneurship.

Benson said she dumped her job at another Durham Region grooming salon just before she started her business.

“I was afraid to tell my boss that [I was] going to quit to open my own salon,” she says in her series segment, one of six that debuted Tuesday. “I just said, ‘It’s Donna. I’m sorry. I’m leaving.'”

Her boss’s reaction to Benson mentioning she would be starting her own business? “‘Oh,'” quoted Benson in the YouTube video.

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The other five entrepreneurs featured in the series, including the owner of FART Cafe in Whitby, Ont., have similar stories.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business sponsored the video series, and its president says Durham is a great area in which to start a business.

“One of the sweet spots for entrepreneurship across Canada tend to be smaller municipalities on the outskirts of large metropolitan areas,” said Dan Kelly.

He says an area like Durham tends to be a “hotbed” for entrepreneurship, as the region, for example, is one of Toronto’s neighbouring areas.

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Teresa Shaver, the head of Business Advisory Centre Durham (BACD), says entrepreneurship may be a viable option for many people here, including the thousands of General Motors employees who may lose their jobs if the Oshawa plant shuts down later this year.

She says many of her clients at the not-for-profit have been former GM workers, and they have used their skills to start their own ventures.

“They’ve been able to successfully become [renovators] or a windows and doors company,” said Shaver, the BACD’s executive director. “We’ve had one that’s a roofing company … so, we’ve had different retirees being able to start their own businesses.”

If you ask Benson, she says anyone with confidence and passion can take the entrepreneurship route.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “If you know you can do it and succeed, do it.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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