• Entrepreneurship

“You can kick a** with [some] help”: Five entrepreneurship lessons from Debbie Shing and Ashwini Bhaskar

Dan Zaiontz | October 27, 2023

During Small Business Week 2023, Shing and Bhaskar served as panelists for a virtual event co-hosted by Futurpreneur and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) 

Small Business Week in Canada brings together entrepreneurs and business leaders, from across the country, for insightful, candid conversations on entrepreneurship.  

Futurpreneur Debbie Shing (pictured) shared her remarkable entrepreneurial journey at one of these events entitled “Elevate Your Entrepreneurship Skills: A Fireside Chat.” Shing is founder of Quvé Group, a progressive-minded Canadian wine agency serving clients across the country. She was an event panelist alongside her Futurpreneur mentor, Ashwini Bhaskar, a business technology leader and experienced entrepreneur. The panel was co-hosted by Futurpreneur’s Corinne Lau, Vice President, Client and Mentoring Experience and David Girolami, BDC Senior Business Advisor. 

Debbie credits Futurpreneur’s support and Ashwini’s mentorship as key drivers in Quvé’s growth and her own success. 

Her entrepreneurial success story is not only inspiring but also packed with ups, downs and valuable insights for aspiring business owners. Most importantly? You don’t need to go it alone.  

Here are five key lessons we can learn from Debbie’s experiences: 

  1. Balance planning and execution

Debbie emphasizes the importance of finding equilibrium between planning and execution in entrepreneurship. She believes that dedicating an equal amount of time to both aspects is crucial. As she puts it, “You can kick-ass with [some] help.” This lesson reminds us that while taking action is vital, thoughtful planning and strategy are equally necessary for long-term success. 

  1. Embrace creativity in problem-solving

Debbie describes entrepreneurship as an “Olympic-level,” hurdle race. To succeed, you must be prepared to overcome challenges with creativity. For instance, when Debbie launched Quvé Group during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she showcased her adaptability by forming creative partnerships to navigate the challenges posed by restaurant closures. This lesson encourages us to view obstacles as opportunities and think outside the box when solving problems.

WATCH: You can revisit the entrepreneurial lessons from “Elevate Your Entrepreneurship: A Fireside Chat”. Click here to watch the full video. May require BDC registration. 

  1. Live by your core values

Debbie underscores that her core values serve as the driving force behind her actions in her business. Your core values can guide you in making decisions that align with your vision and purpose. In entrepreneurship, staying true to your core values can help you maintain your focus and integrity as you navigate the business world. 

  1. Build a network of advisors

Debbie has developed a network of advisors, both formal and informal, Ashwini chief among them. The two connected through the Futurpreneur mentorship program. Ashwini continues to provide Debbie with valuable counsel when facing difficult decisions. It’s important to look for advisors with industry knowledge, a proven track record, shared values and a passion for supporting young entrepreneurs and seeing others succeed. Debbie’s network serves as a sounding board and a source of wisdom. The lesson here is to nurture relationships and rely on your connections when making important choices in your entrepreneurial journey.  

  1. Delegate and invest in your growth

Finally, Debbie shares another valuable lesson: just like dating, you should look for people who share your values. When considering hiring and delegating business responsibilities, assess if you can afford to do so and how it can contribute to your own and your business’ growth. She suggests exploring grant programs as a way to compensate potential employees and enable you to focus on your core strengths. This lesson reminds us that delegation and strategic hiring can fuel business growth. 

Bonus lesson: Continuous learning 

Debbie highlights the importance of learning and facing the things that are most challenging to you. In her case, these were tasks like cash-flow statements and sales projections. She advises entrepreneurs to take the time for regular self-reflection on areas for personal growth. Recognizing the significance of your own role in your business’s success is key. The journey of entrepreneurship is an ongoing learning experience, and embracing this aspect can lead to continuous improvement. 

Balancing planning and execution, embracing creativity, upholding core values, building a network of advisors and strategic delegation have all served as critical elements on Debbie’s path to entrepreneurial success. Her journey serves as a testament to the potential of small businesses in Canada, and how, with the right supports, young entrepreneurs can reach their business dreams.

Read BDC’s report “Entrepreneurship in Motion: Skills to Succeed in a Changing World” to learn about valuable entrepreneurship skills. 

Learn more about how Futurpreneur can support your entrepreneurial dreams.