Articles of Interest

Small Business Advice from a 10-year-old hockey-player…


Source: Minister Ng’s LinkedIn Page


As I travel across the country, one of my favourite things is to hear the inspiring stories of hardworking Canadians. In Winnipeg, gathered in a room filled with small business leaders, mentors, and entrepreneurs, I was struck by the wisdom of a young girl from Altona, Manitoba.

“Who thinks a 10-year-old girl playing hockey on a boys’ team is inspiring?”

Naturally, every hand in the room shot up.

“Me too,” said the proud dad.

While Kevin Klaassen, co-founder of SK2 Custom Homes, was driving his 10-year-old daughter, Leah, home from hockey practice, he asked her if she had any tips for this talk he was giving in Winnipeg to a room full of small business owners.

A recent loss on her mind, Leah was only thinking about hockey. Lucky for all of us, her insights were helpful both on and off the ice.

So, to all the small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to start up, scale up, and access new markets, here are three business tips from a 10-year-old hockey player:

1.When you start out, you won’t be the best player. But if you don’t quit, you’ll get better at playing your position.

Every business owner and entrepreneur is different and brings something unique to the marketplace. That is your power. Don’t chase after other people’s business plans and ideas, losing sight of what you uniquely offer to the market.

Play your position. Become the best.

2.If you don’t fit in, don’t try to fit in. Just be you.

Just like being a girl on a bench filled with boys; standing in a room full of suits, Kevin’s flannel shirt stood out. In the past, when he would be invited to speak at similar events, Kevin said “[he] always felt weird being under dressed and even weirder when [he] would try to dress up.” But somewhere along the way, he realized that his clients buy from him regardless of what he’s wearing because they trust him. Kevin stopped comparing his business style to others in the marketplace and embraced his own.

Don’t try to fit into someone else’s box. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all business plan.

3.Even when you are losing, you have to keep trying hard.

The 2015 oil prices had a big impact on SK2 Custom Homes. But, as Kevin said, “staying in business is the only way you’ll have the opportunity to grow your business.” For a year, Kevin and his business partner did hail insurance work with low margins just to keep their doors open. But from this experience, they found a new market – North Dakota.

You will hit unforeseen and uncontrollable roadblocks. Don’t stop. Use this as an opportunity to hone in on what you’re good at and be open to new opportunities.

Whether you are just starting out or re-entering the workplace after years away; a woman or someone from another underrepresented group; living in the city or a small town; our government believes in you. We have created an unprecedented number of supports for small business owners.

You can begin by visiting Just fill out a brief survey about your business and within minutes, you’ll receive a list of government programs and opportunities tailored for you.

And to Leah, don’t stop. Our country needs inspiring girls like you to fuel the economy of tomorrow. We’re even investing in a strategy to make sure that happens.