By Mallory Whitty
If you had told me 10 years ago I would be one of PropertyGuys.com’s top 10 Canadian franchisees, I would not have believed it. A top-performing franchisee before the age of 30 at an innovative real estate company dominating the industry in a small territory in rural Nova Scotia sounds far-fetched, but after my seven years with the franchise system, I’ve learned nothing is out of reach if you work hard and pour passion into everything you do. Today, I’m a PropertyGuys.com franchisee in Nova Scotia’s Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties.
As a child growing up in Brookfield, N.S., I watched my mom dive into her own entrepreneurial adventures. She was a teacher, had a drivers’ education business she ran after school, and also owned a clothing store called Designer Duds for Kids—she hand-sewed all of the clothing herself. Looking back, I can see that my entrepreneurial spirit was influenced heavily by her work ethic and encouragement.
Rather than lemonade stands or taking over the family business, competitive dance was my first passion. I spent hours in the studio and was considered a well-rounded dancer. From jazz, tap and ballet to contemporary and hip-hop, I did it all. When it came time to decide what to do after high school, I applied to Toronto’s Ryerson University for both its competitive dance and Bachelor of Commerce (B.Comm.) programs.
On the day I was to fly to Toronto for my dance audition at Ryerson, I arrived at the airport to discover the airline
I booked with had gone bankrupt. Needless to say, I didn’t make my flight or audition.
I started business school in September 2006. I like to think of this as the first of many blessings in disguise on my path to success.
At Ryerson, I joined the competitive dance team and after two years studying business, I confidently walked away from the program believing business just wasn’t for me. I transferred back to the east coast to be closer to home and began attending Saint Mary’s University (SMU) with little direction and no declared major.
Like many twenty-somethings, I could never quite put my finger on what I wanted to be, and even after four years of post-secondary school and a pile of student debt, I was no further along on my quest for professional happiness. This feeling of being hungry for change but not quite sure what to sink your teeth into is an experience that I think many future business owners share, no matter their life stage.
One day in early October 2009, I received a call from my former employer and mentor, Daina Hernden. She was the owner of PropertyGuys.com’s Colchester county franchise location.
Daina and I met when I was 15 years old. Brookfield wasn’t too far from Truro, N.S., where she owned a boutique downtown. When my grade nine prom was approaching, I set out to find a dress. After spending about an hour at her store, trying on umpteen dresses and blabbering on about how I was ‘graduating,’ she hired me on the spot.
Daina had seen something in me back then that I didn’t even realize I had: the ability to sell through enthusiasm for a product. I spent my high school career working for her in each of her business ventures. We very quickly became close friends. As it turned out, I didn’t quite enjoy the theory behind business as much as I did watching her exciting practical applications.
When she called, Daina had been running her PropertyGuys.com franchise for about a year. I had heard of it, but I didn’t know much about the company.
On this particular day, she was calling to discuss an opportunity. PropertyGuys.com and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) were holding a contest to award a franchise valued at $100,000. They wanted to see how many young Canadians possessed what they dubbed the “ypreneur gene,” hence it was called the, YPG contest. The winner could choose any available territory in Canada. All you had to do was make a video explaining how you would market PropertyGuys.com on a $100 budget, then get as many people to vote for your video as possible.