A Lockdown Business Start-Up Story; Ryan McCreanor of Sativa Learning tells us more…

Lockdown, due to Covid-19, provided an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneur Ryan from Crumlin to explore the option of self-employment when he was made redundant from his job.

Ryan (pictured middle) received a comprehensive support package through both The Go For It Programme and Business Start Up Coaching Programme from Mallusk Enterprise Park Business Advisers Sandra Young (pictured far left) and Peter Weir (pictured far right).

Did you always aspire to be self-employed?

No, it’s not something that I aspired to be, however I knew that I didn’t want to work in an industry that I wasn’t passionate about or for a Company I had no interest in. With limited opportunities for employment in the nascent cannabis industry, I decided that the best way forward was to start my own business, which I hope will one day offer career opportunities to others who are excited about this Industry.

How long did you have your business idea before meeting with a Business Adviser to discuss?

I had the business idea shortly after returning home from Canada in November 2019. When I was out there I had the great fortune of working for the Government in the legal cannabis industry and I thought that I could use this valuable experience to kick-start my own business at home. It wasn’t until March 2020 that I decided to reach out for help through the Go For It Programme and set up a meeting with a Business Adviser in my Local Enterprise Agency, Mallusk Enterprise Park.

 What does your business do?

I’m in the process of establishing an e-learning platform which will provide much-needed education for all avenues of the legal cannabis industry, through a range of accredited online courses. Our first course will be centred around the CBD industry. The course will be designed to educate CBD retailers, customers and  job seekers who are considering joining this booming industry.  Future courses will cover topics such as medical cannabis and industrial hemp cultivation.

How long have you been trading?

I’m currently in the start-up stage. The website will launch October 2020.

 Are you happy that you went into self-employment?

Ask me in a years’ time……………

 If you were to give one piece of advice to someone starting up what would it be?

Start networking and asking questions. With no previous background in business, it’s been a steep learning curve. I’ve found platforms like Linked In really useful to connect with like-minded people. I find it really motivating to see other people succeed and I find it useful to reach out to these people and ask them questions.

I’ve realised how lonely it can be to start up your own business. If you’re used to working in a team it can be big change to start working on your own with only your ideas keeping you company.  Having a solid network in place can be beneficial, even if it’s just for a chat with someone to bounce ideas back and forth.

 Was the Go For It programme beneficial to you? If so, how?

The Go For It Programme was a great help in getting my idea down on paper, with a comprehensive business plan. I had a dedicated Business Adviser who was available to answer questions and walk me through each step of the business plan. This helped me to make sense of each step, from market research through to financial forecasting.

What was the best part of the programme?

Receiving support to create a professional business plan. Previously I had googled “Business Plan” and attempted to put my own together. When I went on to speak with Sandra I quickly realised that my attempt was not fit for purpose.  The support was first class. My advisers had real life experience of running their own businesses and also a wealth of knowledge gained from years of advising aspiring entrepreneurs like myself.  Virtual meetings were able to take place at time, which suited me and worked well. I quickly built up rapport with my support team.

The Business Start-Up Coaching Programme (funded by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council) was a welcome suite of additional support which followed on from the Go For It Programme.  It gave me the opportunity to receive one to one business coaching from local businessman Peter Weir who brought a new perspective to the table. A second experienced adviser to bounce ideas off was a welcomed surprise following on from Sandra Youngs’ support.

 How did you finance your business?

I used my own personal savings to finance the business. The E-Learning platform is my biggest outlay.

 Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

My goal is to be the top online educational platform in the UK and Ireland for the Cannabis Industry, working towards becoming the best in Europe.

If you are interested in exploring the idea of self-employment, simply contact us and a member of our team will be in touch within one working day.