Langara student business owners find the struggle is real

Students are finding running a business while working for yourself presents its own obstacles

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By LOUIS BERGERON

Students say running their own side business affords more flexibility than traditional jobs to work around their school schedule and helps them cope with the high cost of living. Yet it’s not always the perfect solution.

A 2022 RBC Small Business poll showed that 84 per cent of small businesses started by Gen Z entrepreneurs were motivated to start a small business or side-hustle due to the increasing cost of living. In 2023, RBC reconducted the poll and found that 84 per cent of respondents between 18 and 34 said that they think “entrepreneurship is a suitable alternative to traditional nine-to-five desk jobs.”

Sarah Lubik, SFU Beedie School of Business professor and director of entrepreneurship said that there is a variety of reasons students may want to start their own businesses.

“People start it because they want a side hustle, they want something that is fun or cool. They see something as a hobby of theirs that they might be able to make money off of,” she said. “Other ones who, if they reach a ceiling in their job they might decide like ‘Screw this, I don’t want to work this hard to work for someone else. I should go and work for myself and make my own opportunities.’”

Higher responsibility, higher reward

Lubik also said that she has seen students having to run their own business more often in order to get through school, despite the struggles that may come with it.

“You’re more responsible for yourself, which can, which can feel daunting,” she said. “So, you’re more responsible for yourself, but then you own more of the upside if it goes well.”

Stephanie Chau is a second-year Langara student in the Asian studies program who has a hobby of crocheting simple bags for her friends and family, which she is turning into a business. She said that her biggest motivation to run her own business is money.

“I want to earn money, but I don’t want to work for people it makes me feel so stressed,” Chau said.

Chau spends her time working on her emerging business whenever she is not attending school, but finds it challenging to share her time between her schoolwork and working on her crocheting. “I actually have to spend the whole day to do my schoolwork and also my crochet work,” said Chau.

From crafts to clothing

Chau is not the only Langara student business owner who struggles to balance their school with their work.

“The main con is just having to divide my time,” said fourth-year Langara student Matthew Jones.

Jones, who has two degrees but came back to Langara College to take Asian studies, owns his own clothing business called Sexy Boys and Girls Club. He works out of a small studio on Fifth Avenue in Vancouver.

“If you manage your time properly it’s not that much extra work . . . I like to have a balance in my life, so I do some school and some work and not just focus everything on one thing,” he said.

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