Roshan is a Saskatchewan entrepreneur who focuses on new creative projects. He has helped build start-ups from zero to a million dollars in revenue, a member of a digital marketing co-operative, and is an advocate for small business Saskatchewan. In addition Roshan is the co-author of the internationally published, award winning book, The New Rockstar Philosophy, that has been called the bible for modern musicians. Roshan has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Marketing, with over 12 years of Marketing and Strategy experience.
1. Discuss yourself, your businesses and what it is like to be an entrepreneur. Why did you decide to be an entrepreneur?
I am a part of two ventures. The first is Unite Digital Marketing, a cooperative. We develop marketing strategy, graphic design, video production, campaign strategy and websites and print. We are a co-operative because everyone can work together if they want to but we can also work individually. We’ve worked with Affinity Credit Union, Federated Co-op, The Sask Health Region, and a whole bunch of smaller organizations.
Sasklandia is a new project that we’re starting with the help of Square One and small businesses, and it’s about 95% done! It will eventually take the form of app for to entice people to buy from locally owned businesses. How it works is local businesses can offer an “incentive” for coming into the store. We call them handshakes and they do not necessarily have to be a discount or deal. Sasklandia also helps people find which businesses are local. We are working with the Saskatchewan Government to implement a buy local day, just to get people thinking about it more. Right now we have an email sign up for consumers and eventually they will receive a card to present at the stores they visit. Soon businesses can sign up – it’s free for the first three months – and post their handshake which can be changed anytime you want, You can post handshakes for the public, but we encourage handshakes that are only applicable to cardholders of Sasklandia, so you track to see if the Sasklandia incentive is actually working!
At one point I was an employee, and I wouldn’t go back. If you want freedom and independence be an entrepreneur, but it’s not for everybody. the cash flow is never regular, you have to do a lot of things – accounting, sales, manage people, and be accountable to the promises you make. I chose to be an entrepreneur because I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. I wanted more control.
2. How do you promote your business and mitigate risks as a freelancer?
Word of mouth is working now, but at first it was cold calling or I knew someone in the organization that knew some etc. I use my network of people and we work with other co-ops and socially conscious organizations. We’re focusing on these markets because it seems to be paying off. I’ve saved two years’ worth of personal expenses, so if things go wrong, I would be okay for a while. Also, keeping costs down – do I need an office? Do I need to print? It’s important to think about business necessities versus luxuries. Lastly, diversification! I am always looking to invest in new markets.
3. How do you get the word out about Sasklandia and your other businesses? Who do you sell your ideas to?
Depends on who you’re talking to. No one likes a dude that’s always selling. Let them talk, find out what they are interested.
4. You are the co-author of an internationally published book, The New Rockstar Philosophy. Can the theories be applied across all industries?
It focuses on the music industry, but parts of the book are applicable to all industries For example, the first part is about knowing who you are. Also, there’s also discussions about how the rules always change, managing cashflow and how a plan you had 10 years ago may not work today.
5. Do you have any partnerships? Why are partnerships a good thing for entrepreneurs?
It’s all partnerships. It’s good and bad – good because there are things that your partners do that you can’t do. You can discuss various perspectives and share costs. It’s bad because you give up decision making, not all, but there’s more compromise. You can’t do what you want all the time. You have to include everybody.
6. Do you have any mentors? Why should entrepreneurs have mentors?
John Hunt – He lives the life I want to live. He’s on top of new technology and always knows what’s up and coming. He knows more about new technology than a lot of people younger than him. Also my last employer, the founder of Tiny Eye Inc., gave me a lot of great advice. I love reading blogs and books. My bible is Timothy Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Workweek. The Lean Start Up, by Eric Ries is great as well and talks about how to keep costs down in the first few years of business. Seth Godin is great for marketing tips.
If you get a mentor, then you need to know what you don’t know and keep in mind it’s a two way relationship. Mentors do not know everything, but they experience stuff before you do and their advice is worth listening to. . Many people think that mentor-protégé relationship is about the mentor giving advice, but that’s not true. The mentor has questions and will listen to the protégé.
7. If you could give entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would it be?
If you have an idea, lots of people will shoot it down. You will definitely hit obstacles and there is no way around that. So instead of fearing and trying to get around them, welcome them as different bosses. As long as you have cash, you’re in the game. If you don’t have cash, then find a way to get cash. And for me, I just want to have a good time. It’s not always about the profits. If you’re in business for the sake of being in business, that’s cool too, but it’s important to have other goals.