Please read the word file and write it as it requires. DO NOT JUST PUT THR GENERAL INFORMATION FROM THE INTERNET. (NEED RESEARCHED ANSWER)
WRITE THIS PAPER AS AN CONSULTANT: You are consulting a company regarding their business.
TOPIC OF THE PAPER:
Water Bottling Facility (WBF) – industrial/commercial projects require potable water for their workforce. The plan involves setting up a small water treatment plant and bottling facility to service the rural First Nation community as well as external customers (non-Indigenous communities in the area). Your clients (ultimately the First Nation community, but via enTrust Engagement Inc.) do not have background with this type of business/service so they are relying on your team to develop the plan from the ground up for them.
**STEP: Student-consultant teams should initially research the Indigenous Peoples of Canada including information on Truth and Reconciliation and First Nation/Indigenous entrepreneurship.
**STEP: Research your business sector/project and begin planning and choosing your design/options, gathering information, and including critical issues and what needs to be addressed enroute to your recommendations/final paper for the business creation and development. You may wish to utilize Business Model Canvas and/or Business Model Circle as part of your initial planning/design framework.
With the referring all the above instructions we need to write following four points assuming on water bottling company run by First nations:
NEED TO WRITE FOLLOWING PARTS OF THE PAPER:
· BACKGROUND INFORMATION
· PROBLEM DEFINITION OR CURRENT SITUATION
· SCOPE: in-scope and out-of-scope
· APPROACH: overview/philosophy of team
3-4 PAGES FOR ALL FOUR POINTS
For references use following existing company background and information:
2.THIS THERE IS ONE PDF (DBA THESIS) ON FIRSTNATIONS REFER THAT ALSO
Mention all references in APA style with intext citations.
First Nation Entrepreneurship: New Venture Creation, Motivation
and Business Model Canvas
Presented to the Faculty of Paris School of Business in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration
Paris, France 2019
Defended October 21, 2019
DBA Supervisor: Thierry Burger-Helmchen
Committee Member: Emmanuel Muller
Committee Member: Octavio Escobar
L’école n’entend donner ni approbation ni improbation aux opinions émises dans les thèses. Ces
écrits doivent être considérés comme propres à leurs auteurs.
Brent Ramsay was born in Delisle, Saskatchewan, Canada. He attended the University of
Saskatchewan and graduated with a B.A. Honors. He attended Simon Fraser University and
graduated with an MBA in Business Administration in 2016. Brent is an Advanced Practitioner
of the Association for Conflict Resolution, a certified practitioner with the Academy of Family
Mediators, and an Approved Instructor with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.
He has worked and consulted in numerous Indigenous communities. He is presently a researcher
and sessional lecturer with Simon Fraser University. He began his doctoral studies at the Paris
School of Business in December 2016.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that the land on which the majority of the information
provided by Indigenous peoples was in the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples,
including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and
Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Diagrams
List of Abbreviations
SECTION I: INTRODUCTION, DEFINITIONS & CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS
Chapter One 1
Who are First Nations people?
Where should entrepreneurship research start?
Primary Dissertation Inquiry
Chapter Two 13
Definitions and Conceptual Frameworks:
Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs, New Venture Creation and Motivation
c. New Venture Creation
a. Four-Variable Framework for Describing New Venture Creation
b. Organizational Emergence Model
c. Goal Setting Theory of Motivation
d. Other Frameworks
SECTION II: LITERATURE REVIEWS
Chapter Three 28
Literature Review 1:
First Nation Entrepreneurship: Organization, Process, Environment and Individual
Variable One and Two: Organization and Process
a. Membertou First Nation
b. Meadow Lake Tribal Council
c. Tahltan Nation
d. Essipit Innu First Nation
e. Westbank First Nation
Reality of First Nation On-reserve Entrepreneurship
Variable Three: Environment
a. Challenges to First Nation Entrepreneurship
b. Benefits of First Nation Entrepreneurship
Variable Four: Individual Motivations
Chapter Four 81
Literature Review 2:
Entrepreneurial Motivation in Challenged Environments
Subset 1: Entrepreneurship and Poverty Alleviation Models
a. Community-Based Enterprise
b. Public Entrepreneurship
c. Opportunity type
d. Social Network Approach
e. Embedded Entrepreneurship
f. Three Social Entrepreneurship Models
g. Social-Founder Identity
h. Micros-enterprise Development
Subset 2. Indigenous Entrepreneurship Approaches (Outside of Canada)
a. Indigenous Australian Entrepreneurs Examining Success
b. Social Capital and Networking
c. Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Culture & Micro-experience
d. Social Capital, Networking and Indigenous Entrepreneurs
e. Australian Indigenous Entrepreneurs: Motivations and Commitment
Collateral Information: Filling the Previous Knowledge Gap
Research Questions and Next Steps
SECTION III: RESEARCH
Chapter Five 108
New Venture Creation, Motivation, and First Nation Entrepreneurs
Research Development and Design
a. Foundation, Theoretical Propositions, and Research Variables
b. Research Methodology
a. Primary Motivators
b. Ranking of Motivators
c. Motivation and New Venture Creation
d. First Nation Business Models
e. First Nation Perception of Mainstream Entrepreneur Motivations
a. Primary Motivators
b. Ranking of Motivators
c. Motivation and New Venture Creation
d. First Nation Business Models
e. First Nation Perception of Mainstream Entrepreneur Motivations
Chapter Six 162
Business Model Canvas and First Nation Entrepreneurs
a. Business Model Canvas: Element Changes
b. Business Model Canvas: Pillar Changes
c. Business Model Canvas: Themes
a. Business Model Canvas: Element and Pillar Changes
b. Business Model Canvas: Themes
c. A New Model for First Nation Entrepreneurs: Business Model Circle
SECTION IV: CONCLUSIONS
Chapter Seven 209
Map of Canada with First Nations
Qualitative Instrument: Chapter 5 Focus Groups
Quantitative Survey Instrument: Chapter 5
Interview Records (A – L): Chapter 6
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. Average Income Score, First Nations & Non-Aboriginal Communities,
Table 2. CWB Component Scores, First Nations and Non-Aboriginal Communities,
Table 3. Condition of Environmental Characteristics of First Nation Entrepreneurship 62
Table 4. Westbank First Nation Environmental Characteristics and Conditions 63
Table 5. Aspects Important to On-Reserve First Nation Entrepreneurship 71
Table 6. Aspects by Category of Importance to On-Reserve First Nation
Table 7. Community Poverty Alleviation Model and Entrepreneurship
Table 8. Motivations of Indigenous Entrepreneurs 99
Table 9. Independent and Dependent Variables 112
Table 10. First Nation Entrepreneur Motivator Importance by Business Stage 128
Table 11. Hypotheses: Change in motivation (static/increase/decrease) 146
Table 12. Business Model Changes per BMC Element and Business Stage 182
Table 13. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Key Resource Primary Contributor (Knowledge) 184
Table 14. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Busy with Growth Combined Postlaunch 186
Table 15. Quotations: Entrepreneurs with Businesses Closed 189
Table 16. Quotations: Entrepreneurs with Businesses Open 190
Table 17. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Prelaunch “help my community” 193
Table 18. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Postlaunch < 2 Years “help my community” 194 Table 19. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Postlaunch > 2 Years “help my community” 195
Table 20. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Bringing Knowledge Prelaunch 198
Table 21. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Increasing Knowledge Postlaunch < 2 Years 199 Table 22. Quotations: Entrepreneurs Using Knowledge Postlaunch > 2 Years 199
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1 Importance value comparison: Combined scores of goal-setting
motivations of Indigenous community entrepreneurial initiatives 94
Figure 2 Importance value comparison: Combined scores of goal-setting
motivations of Indigenous community entrepreneurial initiatives 102
Figure 3 New venture creation motivators: interviews 121
Figure 4 Questionnaire percentages of primary motivators versus other
Figure 5 Questionnaire totals per motivator 122
Figure 6 Interview percentages of primary motivators versus other motivators 123
Figure 7 Questionnaire ranking of First Nation entrepreneur motivations 125
Figure 8 Interview rankings of First Nation entrepreneur motivations 125
Figure 9 Motivators of First Nation entrepreneurs by business stage 127
Figure 10 Importance-value of social good through business stages 129
Figure 11 Importance-value of financial gain through business stages 129
Figure 12 Importance-value of cultural support through business stages 130
Figure 13 Importance-value of Nation Building through business stages 130
Figure 14 Importance-value of joining business collective through business stages 131
Figure 15 Importance-value of social networking through business stages 131
Figure 16 Start-up business types of First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs 133
Figure 17 Business model intent of First Nation entrepreneurs who know of sole
Figure 18 Business model intent of First Nation entrepreneurs who know of
business collective 135
Figure 19 Business model intent of First Nation entrepreneurs who know of
social entrepreneurship 136
Figure 20 Intent to open social entrepreneurship 136
Figure 21 Intent to open sole proprietorship 137
Figure 22 Intent to open in business collective 137
Figure 23 Ranking of mainstream business motivators by First Nation
Figure 24 Comparison of primary motivators: First Nation and mainstream
Figure 25 Social gain: actual versus hypothesized importance-value changes
through business stages 147
Figure 26 Financial gain: actual versus hypothesized importance-value changes
through business stages 147
Figure 27 Nation Building: actual versus hypothesized importance-value changes
through business stages 148
Figure 28 Cultural support: actual versus hypothesized importance-value changes
through business stages 149
Figure 29 Social networking: actual versus hypothesized importance-value changes
through business stages 149
Figure 30 Joining business collective: actual versus hypothesized importance-value
changes through new venture creation stages 151
Figure 31 Social good – financial gain: comparative importance-value changes
through business stages 151
Figure 32 Nation Building – cultural support: comparative importance-value changes
through business stages 152
Figure 33 Social networking – joining business collective: comparative
importance-value changes through business stages 153
Figure 34 Total BMC changes per First Nation entrepreneur 168
Figure 35 Total BMC changes per Postlaunch stage by First Nation entrepreneurs 168
Figure 36 Mean BMC changes in each business stage by First Nation entrepreneurs 169
Figure 37 BMC element changes Postlaunch < 2 Years + > 2 Years by First Nation
Figure 38 BMC element changes Postlaunch < 2 Years of First Nation entrepreneurs 170 Figure 39 BMC element changes Postlaunch > 2 Years of First Nation entrepreneurs 171
Figure 40 Comparison of BMC element changes per Postlaunch stage (bar graph) 171
Figure 41 Comparison of BMC element changes per Postlaunch stage (line graph) 172
Figure 42 Closed vs open businesses: combined mean postlaunch stages BMC
element changes 173
Figure 43 Closed vs open businesses: separated postlaunch stages mean BMC
element changes 173
Figure 44 Sector experience: Business closures > 4 years First Nation entrepreneurs 174
Figure 45 Percentages of First Nation entrepreneurs with backgrounds in their
new venture sectors 175
Figure 46 Combined postlaunch BMC changes per pillar (totals) 176
Figure 47 BMC total changes per pillar Postlaunch stages combined 176
Figure 48 BMC element changes per pillar: Postlaunch < 2 Years versus xi > 2 Years 177
Figure 49 Open First Nation businesses: Changes per pillar Postlaunch < 2 Years 177 Figure 50 Open First Nation businesses: Changes per pillar Postlaunch > 2 Years 178
Figure 51 Total references per BMC theme 179
Figure 52 Number of BMC references during Prelaunch stage 179
Figure 53 Number of BMC references during Postlaunch < 2 Years stage 181
Figure 54 Number of BMC references during Postlaunch > 2 Years stage 182
Figure 55 “Help my community” theme: References per business stage 182
Figure 56 “Financial concerns/action” theme: References per business stage 183
Figure 57 Mean entrepreneur BMC pillar changes per element 188
Figure 58 “Help my community” theme: References and comments per business
LIST OF DIAGRAMS
Diagram 1. Thesis Flowchart 10
Diagram 2. Framework for Describing New Venture Creation 19
Diagram 3. Variables in New Venture Creation 20
Diagram 4. Native Nations Model of Action 21
Diagram 5. Organization Emergence and Creation Process 23
Diagram 6. Cycles of Entrepreneurial Activity 23
Diagram 7. Goal-setting Theory of Motivation 24
Diagram 8. Mean Tendency Framework for Methodological Fit 113
Diagram 9. Indigenous Research Paradigm 117
Diagram 10. Business Model Canvas (BMC) 163
Diagram 11. Business Model Circle (BMCI) 205
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
BMC Business Model Canvas
BMCI Business Model Circle
CBE Community-Based Enterprise
CCAB Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business
CWB Community Well-Being Index
EIFN Essipit Innu First Nation
EMES Emergence of Social Enterprises in Europe
FN First Nation
HDI Human Development Index
IBA Impact Benefit Agreement
MBA Master of Business Administration
MFN Membertou First Nation
MLTC Meadow Lake Tribal Council
NGO Non-government Organization
PREPPY Professional Readiness Employee Preparation Program for Youth
RCAP Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
SWOT Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat Analysis
TN Tahltan Nation
WFN Westbank First Nation
Poverty and economic disadvantage issues are prevalent in First Nation communities. Indigenous
entrepreneurship is an underdeveloped but potential resource to expand and enhance economic
development, self-reliance and quality of life for First Nation citizens. This thesis aims to fill
gaps of knowledge that exist in the field of Indigenous entrepreneurial goals, drivers and
motivations, and thereby contribute beneficially towards citizen member needs, community
prosperity, and Nation building aspirations of Indigenous peoples.
The thesis contains two separate literature reviews. Literature Review 1 establishes that while an
especially difficult business environment exists in First Nation communities, there is a paucity of
research regarding First Nation entrepreneurship. Literature Review 2 provides collateral
information from two different entrepreneurial population segments that identify potential
motivators for First Nation entrepreneurship research.
The thesis consists of two research undertakings, both using terms and conceptual frameworks
found suitable for First Nation entrepreneurial research. Utilizing a mixed sequential research
methodology with seventy-six FN entrepreneurs Research 1 determines the primary motivators
of FN entrepreneurs and their importance rankings, as well as how the motivators change
through business phases. Research 2, in response to a recommendation from Research 1,
examines further aspects of FN entrepreneurship through a qualitative research approach framed
by Business Model Canvas with twelve FN entrepreneurs. Rationales for changes in goal-setting
motivations and business decisions in new venture creation are determined, and a new, adaptive
model, Business Model Circle (BMCI), is developed for potential use by First Nation
entrepreneurs and researchers. The thesis ends with statements on the research limitations and
future research recommendations.
SECTION I: INTRODUCTION, DEFINITIONS & CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS
Preface. Economic disadvantages and issues of poverty exist in many First Nation
communities. To help overcome these oft cited realities (Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Canada, 2011, 2012, 2015; Joseph, 2019; Miller, 2012; Champagne, 2015; Thrush, 2017;
Cornell, 2007) First Nation (FN) small business entrepreneurship is one opportune, but still
underdeveloped, resource towards economic development, poverty alleviation and quality of
life improvement by First Nation citizens. More recently, despite what had previously been
identified as a woeful shortage of these businesses (Cornell, Jorgensen, Record & Timeche,
2007), First Nation entrepreneurship is now surging (Curran, 2018), and has even begun to
outpace non-Indigenous mainstream Canada entrepreneurial growth (Callihoo & Bruno,
2016). More and more Indigenous peoples are pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities and
ventures (Clarkson, 2017). With the increasing numbers and successes of First Nation
entrepreneurs planning businesses, creating and developing new ventures, and expanding
their enterprises, the time is propitious to learn more about their business methods,
motivations, processes, environments, and strategies. Research may provide new
information, understanding and models contributing to future First Nation small business
development (and other Indigenous peoples and minorities) in their quest to strengthen
communities and overcome existing economic disadvantages. The overarching purpose of
this dissertation is adding new knowledge towards these purposes.
But who are First Nations people, and where should entrepreneurship research start?
Who are First Nations people? First Nations people are the predominant Aboriginal people of
the three Aboriginal groups in Canada (First Nation, Inuit, and Metis). Aboriginals are one of the
fastest growing demographic groups in Canada, having risen from 740,500 in 2010 to 911,700 in
2016. They are also a young population: Aboriginal children 14 years of age and lower make up
28.0% of the total Aboriginal population whereas this age group is only 7.0% of all children for
the rest of Canada. (Statistics Canada Data Census, 2016). Aboriginal people own, as well as
control, 20% of the Canada land mass, and that percentage is expected to increase to 30% by
2031 (Cooper, 2016).
Throughout the world there are many Aboriginal or Indigenous people (the terms Aboriginal
and Indigenous are used interchangeably), of which First Nations in Canada are one people.
An example of another North American Indigenous group, native Americans, refers to the
Indigenous people of the United States. Examples from outside North American include the
Māori, Indigenous people of New Zealand, and the Australian Aborigine, Indigenous people
of Australia. There are also typically numerous subcategories of Indigenous people within
each of the larger worldwide groups.
Across Canada, there are 634 First Nations bands or governments (see Appendix: Map of
Canada with First Nations), with a membership population of 977,235 citizens out of
Canada’s total population of 34,060,465, representing 2.9 % of the country’s overall
population (Statistics Canada Data Census, 2016). In 2011 45.3% of the First Nation
population lived “on-reserve”, and the remaining 54.7% lived “off-reserve” (Statistics
Canada, 2011); The 2016 Canadian census did not provide a comparative statistic for this
variable as it was significantly affected by incomplete enumerations of certain settlements
and reserves (Statistics Canada Data Census, 2016), but estimates remain at 46% living on-
reserve and 54% off-reserve A “reserve” is the term used for each of the more than 3,100
tracts of land identified under the Indian Act and treaty agreements for the exclusive use of a
First Nation band or government. First Nation entrepreneurs are those citizen members who
establish and operate their independently owned businesses, usually small or micro-
enterprises, typically on First Nation reserves and/or territories1. First Nation businesses that
are located off reserve land are sometimes referred to as “off-reserve businesses and
enterprises”. The primary focus of this thesis is First Nation communities and First Nation
entrepreneurs who self-identify as having businesses “on-reserve” or “on-territory”. These
small business operations are also distinct from First Nation band-owned enterprises,
businesses and economic initiatives that are often, but not necessarily, of a larger scale. The
terms “citizen entrepreneurs”, “on-reserve entrepreneurs”, and “First Nation small business
entrepreneurs” are regarded as synonymous with First Nation members who independently
own and operate private business enterprises.
Where should entrepreneurship research start? Entrepreneurship and new venture
creation are very broad subjects: how do we define and conceptualize these topics for the
purpose of our research? There are many related terms and aspects: economic development,
small and medium businesses, opportunity, embeddedness, partnerships, client segments,
crowdsourcing, startup costs, nascent and experienced entrepreneurs, social
entrepreneurship, risk management, cost structures, key resources and activities, revenue
streams, profit margins, and much, much more. And furthermore, what do we already know
about First Nation entrepreneurship? What specifically are any challenges and advantages
1 “Territory in this dissertation refers to both Treaty territory (land defined by negotiations and usually designated
cartographically), and Traditional territory (land used and occupied by First Nations but not defined by Treaty).
facing these entrepreneurs? What constitutes success in new venture creation? What are the
most likely causes of their business failures and business successes? What motivates and
drives these entrepreneurs to be successful in overcoming challenges? What can we learn
that adds to existing knowledge of First Nation entrepreneurship: business planning,
processes, decisions, and development? How are business plans developed, followed and
pivoted from? The possible questions around entrepreneurship, and First Nation
entrepreneurs, are many and numerous.
Given the increasing development, and subsequent interest in First Nation business
development including specifically entrepreneurship, this focus of this dissertation is on
determining what knowledge presently exists on First Nation entrepreneurs, what drives and
motivates them, and what models and frameworks are conducive to the research and
development of First Nation new venture creation.
Primary Dissertation Inquiry. This dissertation is impelled by four key questions:
1. In this research, what do we mean by entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs, new venture
creation and motivation?
2. What knowledge exists regarding First Nation entrepreneurship: the entrepreneurs
and their organizations, processes, environments and motivations? (Chapter Three)
3. Specifically, what are the goal-setting motivators driving First Nation entrepreneurs
in new venture creation, and how do these drivers change through business stages?
(Chapter Four and Five)
4. What can we learn about, and add to the knowledge of, First Nation
entrepreneurship through Business Model Canvas? (Chapter Six)
Dissertation Roadmap. To answer these questions, the roadmap and journey followed
through the four sections of this study and dissertation on First Nation entrepreneurship will
(a) framed by the definitions and conceptual schemas of Chapter Two;
(b) impacted in Chapter Three by limitations of information and research on First Nation
entrepreneurs’ new venture creation motivations and goals. This leads to a deeper
and wider scan for analogous, transferable information achieved in the following
(c) extended into collateral literature reviews in Chapter Four: i. International poverty
alleviation models ii. Indigenous community entrepreneurship approaches, which
determine goals and motivators applicable to First Nation entrepreneurs for research
in Chapter Five;
(d) researched via a mixed method sequential design in Chapter Five to determine First
Nation entrepreneurs’: (a) primary motivators and their rankings; (b) changes in
motivators occurring through three new venture creation business stages (Prelaunch;
Postlaunch < 2 Years; Postlaunch > 2 Years);
(e) i. investigated further in Chapter Six research by utilizing the Business Model
Canvas framework in a qualitative study towards deeper understandings of First
Nation entrepreneurs’ processes, change decisions and dynamics during new venture
creation business stages;
ii. enhanced in Chapter Six with the emergence of an adapted business development
model more aligned with First Nation entrepreneurial goals, motivations and values.
(f) concluded in Chapter Seven with the presentation of key findings, dissertation
conclusions, recommendations, and limitations.
Chapter Overviews. This chapter is devoted to introducing the topic areas, and the
population group. It briefly summarizes the upcoming chapters and adumbrates the
dissertation path which commences with Chapter Two.
Chapter Two explores and provides definitions and conceptual frameworks used throughout
the dissertation for four terms that will be utilized in this study: “entrepreneurship”,
“entrepreneurs”, “new venture creation”, and “motivation”. Numerous definitions for these
aspects exist, and to establish consistency in research it becomes important for
entrepreneurial based studies to express as clearly and specifically as possible the ascriptions
and usages of key terms in studies (Gartner,1988; 1990; 2016). Motivation is seen as
especially important given that entrepreneurship theory development requires consideration
regarding entrepreneurs’ motivations and drivers as they make organizational decisions
about their processes and strategies (Shane, Locke and Collins, 2012). Finally, since
entrepreneurship does not remain static, but is active and dynamic, Chapter Two also
presents conceptual frameworks relevant for discussing and understanding entrepreneurial
processes (motivations and actions) across time and through business stages; It also
establishes the structure for the literature review of Chapter Three.
Chapter Three undertakes a preliminary literature review by examining First Nation
entrepreneurship within the definitions and frameworks set out in Chapter Two. The
literature review is delineated into key entrepreneurial elements of “organization”,
“process”, “environment and context”, and “individual motivations” in accordance with
W.B. Gartner’s “Four Variable Framework for Describing new Venture Creation” (Gartner,
1985, 2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989; Katz & Gartner, 1988). A scarcity of
information on First Nation citizen entrepreneurs is found, especially vis-à-vis organization
and process. While overall, a large portion of the literature review information found is
deficit based, focusing on the significant challenges of poverty, infrastructure and lack of
capital as environment contexts experienced by First Nation businesses in their
communities, five examples of First Nation communities with entrepreneurship activities are
presented. It is also determined that there is a dearth of research available on the motivations
driving First Nation entrepreneurial new venture creation. Having identified gaps through
the preliminary literature review, Chapter Three recommends additional literature reviews in
a hunt for collateral information on entrepreneurial motivations with population segments
that have business environment and background similarities with First Nation entrepreneurs.
An extended search, undertaken in Chapter Four, may provide transferable information
towards understanding First Nation goal-setting motivations.
Chapter Four, as a follow-up to Chapter Three is comprised of the two final literature
reviews and fills gaps in knowledge on First Nation entrepreneurial motivations. Both
reviews target the drivers of international entrepreneurs with backgrounds or environments
similar with First Nations. It is hoped this collateral information will be transferable to a
better understanding of First Nation entrepreneurs, not only help to fill the gaps found in the
preliminary literature review of Chapter Three, but to assist in the development of
theoretical propositions and research questions. In Chapter Four, the first literature review is
based on economically disadvantaged communities- something common to many First
Nation communities. It investigates the entrepreneurial goal-setting motivators of ten
different international poverty alleviation models. The second literature review, based on
international Indigenous communities, examines the motivations of five different
entrepreneurship based economic development models from Indigenous peoples of Alaska,
Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa and Australia. A comparison of the two literature review
groups determines motivational similarities, differences and gaps. The findings then are used
as the basis for the First Nation entrepreneurship study conducted in Chapter Five.
Chapter Five, in response to collateral information that has filled in gaps of knowledge
found in the two literature reviews of Chapter Four, produces the theoretical propositions,
research questions and variables for a study on the motivations and dynamics of First Nation
entrepreneurs. A mixed method sequential research is strategized to: (a) confirm the primary
motivators of First Nation entrepreneurs; (b) establish the motivators’ importance rankings;
(c) assess and understand the changes in motivation that occur through business stages (d)
determine the categories of entrepreneurship ventures started or intended to start by First
Nation entrepreneurs; (e); increase knowledge about social entrepreneurship in relation to
First Nations; (e) compare perceptions First Nation entrepreneurs have between their own
entrepreneurial motivations and of their mainstream society entrepreneurial counterparts. In
the study, twelve experienced First Nation entrepreneurs are interviewed, and sixty-four
First Nation entrepreneurs in differing phases of new venture creation respond to a
questionnaire. While the research in Chapter Five provides additional knowledge to the
research inquiries, it also produces an important unanswered question as to why the
motivations change through business stages. Chapter Five recommends a follow-up study,
completed in Chapter Six, to learn more about First Nation entrepreneurial dynamics and
changes through business startup and development stages.
Chapter Six follows up on the outcomes and questions generated in Chapter Five by
conducting a further study on First Nation entrepreneurship: Business Model Canvas (BMC)
is used as a framework and visual template for gathering information. This qualitative
research is based on interviews with twelve separate First Nation entrepreneurs who have
created new ventures into at least a fourth year. The interviews are coded, and emerging
themes determined in order to explore and better understand changes undertaken by the First
Nation entrepreneurs during the business phases of Prelaunch, Postlaunch < 2 Years, and Postlaunch > 2 Years. As well, the elements and structure of Business Model Canvas are
explored in relation to the dynamics found in First Nation entrepreneurial processes with an
eye towards creating an adapted business development model more suitable for First Nation
Chapter Seven, as the final chapter, summates the learning and conclusions of the
dissertation, explains the limitations of the study, and offers recommendations for future
First Nation entrepreneurial research.
A visual overview of the thesis chapters, process and stages is presented in a thesis flowchart
(Diagram 1). Also note the flowchart annotations following the thesis flowchart.
Diagram 1. Thesis Flowchart.
INTRODUCTION, DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction
CHAPTER TWO: Definitions and Conceptual Frameworks: Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs, New
Venture Creation and Motivation
CHAPTER THREE: Literature Review 1 (First Nation Entrepreneurship: Organization, Process,
Environment and Individual Motivation)
CHAPTER FOUR: Literature Review 2 (Entrepreneurial Motivation in Challenged Environments)
CHAPTER FOUR: Literature Review 2 ( SECTION III
CHAPTER FIVE: Research 1 (New Venture Creation, Motivation, and First Nation Entrepreneurs)
CHAPTER SIX: Research 2 (Business Model Canvas and First Nation Entrepreneurs)
CHAPTER SEVEN: Dissertation Conclusions
Why are the definitions and conceptual frameworks important to the thesis?
Given the numerous and varying definitions that exist in entrepreneurship research,
studies in the field need to clearly articulate one’s understanding of the terms and
paradigms utilized in conducting research processes (Gartner 1989, 1990). Section I sets
functional definitions and conceptual schemas for use in the thesis that are broad yet
distinct enough to characterize and describe the population group of research: First
Nation entrepreneurs. Section I prepares and delineates the language and schemas that
frame Section II.
Why are two literature reviews completed?
Literature Review 1 (Chapter Three) and Literature Review 2 (Chapter Four) are closely
linked. Literature Review 1 determined a lack of information and research on First Nation
entrepreneurs, especially regarding their motivations and drivers, a key aspect of the
thesis. To help fill this knowledge gap, Literature Review 2 sought collateral information
on motivational drivers through the examination of similar entrepreneurial population
groups to First Nation entrepreneurs. As a result of the two literature reviews, potential
motivators in First Nation entrepreneurship were ultimately identified. Section II shapes
and formulates the foundation for the theoretical propositions and inquiries of research
undertaken in Section III.
Why are two researches undertaken?
Research 1 (Chapter Five) and Research 2 (Chapter Six) are allied investigations into
First Nation entrepreneurial motivations, processes and decisions. Research 2 is a follow-
up to recommendations that emerged from Research 1 for further examination on changes
in goal-setting motivations through new venture creation stages effected by First Nation
What are principal outcomes and conclusions of the thesis?
(a) Definitions and conceptual frameworks suitable for Indigenous entrepreneurial new
venture creation, development and study are established;
(b) The primary goal-setting motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs are determined;
(c) An understanding of how and why First Nation entrepreneurial motivations change
through new venture creation business phases is developed;
(d) A new business design and model, Business Model Circle (BMCI), is created that is
more adapted and suited to First Nation entrepreneurs and their organizations,
processes and environments;
(e) Recommendations for future research are provided.
Definitions and Conceptual Framework
Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs, New Venture Creation and Motivation:
Preface. This chapter presents the working definitions and conceptual frameworks
employed in the thesis. The terms and models will help bounder, delineate and describe the
process and motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs referred to in the previous chapter.
Well-defined, pragmatic definitions are important in this work given the numerous and
varying terms and meanings at play in the field.
The ultimate purpose of ascertaining frameworks and clarity of terms is to provide focus and
circumscription for the upcoming literature reviews of Chapter Three and Four, as well as
the First Nation entrepreneurship research of Chapters Five and Six.
In the present chapter, the terms “entrepreneurship”, “entrepreneurs”, “new venture
creation” and “motivation” are defined, and then are coupled to dynamic conceptual
frameworks incorporating aspects of business phases, time, interaction and motivational
drivers: (a) “Four-Variable Framework for Describing New Venture Creation” (Gartner,
1985, 2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989; Katz & Gartner, 1988) ; (b) “Organizational
Emergence Model” (Gartner, Bird, & Starr, 1992; Gartner, 1993; Gartner & Brush, 2007);
(c) “Goal Setting Theory of Motivation” (Locke & Latham, 1984, 1990, 1991).
What makes these four terms so relevant to this study: entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs, new
venture creation and motivation? The answer can be summarized in the following two
sentences (terms highlighted). Just as economic development is critical towards meeting the
poverty alleviation needs of First Nation people experiencing economic disadvantages, so is
entrepreneurship critical to economic development. For entrepreneurship to occur, it must
be initiated and piloted by entrepreneurs engaged in the entrepreneurial processes and
stages of new venture creation, all the while being driven by goals and motivations
(a) Entrepreneurship. There a numerous variations and contexts for defining and describing
“entrepreneurship” in the literature. Howard Stevenson (1983) explained entrepreneurship as
the process by which individuals pursue opportunities beyond resources they currently
control. This definition was supported by Eisenman (2013) who underlined the importance
of: “pursuit” (singular, relentless focus); “opportunity” (in innovation, new business models,
cheaper and better products, and targeting new customers); “beyond resources controlled”
(constraints on resources whereby founders control only their own human, social, and financial
capital). Shane and Venkataraman (2010) defined entrepreneurship as a scholarly examination of
how, what and whom effects discovery, evaluation and exploitation opportunities for creating future
goods and services. Zimmerer and Scarborough (1998) defined entrepreneurship as “a new
business in the face of risk and uncertainty for the purpose of achieving profit and growth by
identifying opportunities and assembling the necessary resources to capitalize on them”.
Gartner saw entrepreneurship through the lens of the creation of new organizations (Gartner,
1988), and noted a research tendency among studies on entrepreneurship to consider two
viewpoints, focusing on either the characteristics or the outcomes of entrepreneurship.
Smilor (1997) provided a definition focusing on disruption, whereby entrepreneurship is
regarded as a subversive activity, upsetting the status quo, unpredictable, chaotic, and
disrupting the usual way of doing things. It is an undermining process on current market
conditions through the introduction of something new in response to perceived needs. It is
dynamic and can be thought of as creative destruction creating new market opportunities and
initiating changes and creating new values. Hindle (2011) viewed entrepreneurship as
processes of evaluating, committing to and achieving the creation of new value from new
knowledge for the benefit of defined stakeholder. Wenneker and Thurik (1999) defined
entrepreneurship as the ability to identify and create new opportunities, products,
production, and organizational schemes in the face of obstacles and uncertainties by making
decisions on resource usage. One explanation for the variety of definitions may be the
number of different disciplines studying entrepreneurship, such as psychology, sociology,
economics, and management, and varying disciplines being prone to differing descriptions
and definitions relative to their specific perspectives or contexts (Nielsen & Lassen, 2012).
There is no simple answer, and no one answer to defining entrepreneurship. Rather, there are
many facets to the broad phenomenon called entrepreneurship, just as there are many
entrepreneurships in terms of scope, focus, definition and paradigm (Steyart and Hjorth,
2003). Bird and Schjoedt (2009) pointed out that entrepreneurship is not an event nor an
outcome, but rather a process occurring over time. Steyart (2007) suggested the term
“entrepreneuring” as a more effective description of the process phenomenon.
Gartner stresses that while there is no agreed upon definition of entrepreneurship, it is
important for researchers to “say what they mean” and articulate their understanding of what
entrepreneurship is (Gartner, 1988; 1990; 2016). For the purpose of this thesis,
entrepreneurship is understood as “the broad field, endeavor and journey of entrepreneuring
process, which includes the intent, motivation, volition and action to create, launch and
operate a business organization as a new venture offering services or products in order to
achieve some goal(s) within a given context or environment”.
(b) Entrepreneur. How do we define “entrepreneur”? Schumpeter (1965) defined
entrepreneurs economically as “individuals who exploit market opportunity through
technical and/or organizational innovation”. Hisrich (1990) characterized entrepreneurs as
individuals demonstrating both initiative and creative thinking and being able “to organize
social and economic mechanisms to turn resources and situations to practical account and
accepts risk and failure”. Bolton and Thompson (2000) saw entrepreneurs as people who
created and innovated “in order to build something of recognized value around perceived
opportunities”. Carter, Gartner and Reynolds (1996) defined “nascent” entrepreneurs as
“individuals who were identified as taking steps to fund a new business but who had not yet
succeeded in making the transition new business ownership”. Determining a common
definition of entrepreneur is not only elusive, but can also be controversial (Gartner, 1989).
This work utilizes an adapted definition of “entrepreneur”, developed by the thesis
researcher from existing definitions. The definition is explicated in tandem with his earlier
definition of entrepreneurship: “an individual engaged in the broad field, endeavor, and
journey of entrepreneuring process, which includes the intent, motivation, volition and
action to create, launch and operate a business organization as a new venture offering
services or products in order to achieve some goal(s) within a given context or
(c) New Venture Creation. What is meant by “new venture creation”? And how is new venture
creation distinguished from entrepreneurship? There are varying perspectives in the literature for
this important distinction. Entrepreneurship is seen by a number of researchers as a broader
concept (Klyver,2011; Kim & Aldrich, 2011; Fayolle, 2011), describing a dynamic process of
vision, change, creation, topics and meanings, whereas for other researchers new venture
creation represents the establishment of a new organization (Terjersen, Elam, & Bush, 2011;
Legge, 2011). Still other researchers consider new venture creation and entrepreneurship as
synonymous phenomena, particularly in the frame of classic economic theory (Sundbo, 2011).
Mulej and Rebernik (2011) regard the search for differences between the concepts as being not
particularly meaningful unless research achieves a better consensus for productive paradigms
and models in the field. Gartner supported this reasoning and advised that it is paramount for
researchers to say what they mean regarding entrepreneurship, and to explain the paradigms and
frameworks to be used (Gartner, 1989, 1990).
So, what will be the working definition for “new venture creation”? New venture creation, for
the purposes of this study, is defined as both the “result” and the “process” of an entrepreneur’s
effort to create a new entrepreneurship. This inclusive definition ensure that our discussion
omits neither the business itself that is created, nor the creation activities undertaken by the
(d) Motivation. What do we mean by “motivation”? The development of entrepreneurship theory
requires consideration of the motivations of individuals who make decisions about
entrepreneurial processes and activities (Shane, Locke and Collins, 2012). Examples of
entrepreneurial motivations are many and varied: commercial, social, self, and other (Ruskin,
Seymour and Webster, 2016); contextual and situational (Chedli, 2016); desire for money, desire
for recognition, accomplishment, power, affiliation (Hornaday and Bunket, 1970); independence,
egoistic passion, need for achievement, risk-taking, locus of control (Shane, Locke, & Collins
This thesis is not an in-depth exploration of psychological, behavioral or emotional motivation,
nor does it seek to compile and evaluate multiple nuances and contexts in meaning. The word is
thought to have been modelled after the French motiver or German motivieren, “to stimulate to
action” (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2017). In this sense, as a response to a stimulus, for this
work motivation is understood and defined as “an individual’s inner-driven or external-driven
goal stimulus for an action”. Using this definition, we see that motivation meets
entrepreneurship in the study as follows: the “individual” would refer to the First Nation
entrepreneur, the “inner-driven or external-driven stimulus” refers to the entrepreneur’s
motivational goals, purposes, needs, and personal drivers (internal) in a given environment
(external), while the “actions” are the entrepreneurial processes and business organization
activities throughout the prelaunch and postlaunch stages involved in new venture creation.
But definitions tend to be static. Entrepreneurship, when activated in the real world, comes into
life, engages the environment, and is prone to adapt, change and pivot. In this study, in order to
better understand the inherent dynamism exhibited by the key elements of entrepreneurship, the
terms are contextualized into conceptual frameworks to become more “operable” or “workable”
in future chapters.
The key conceptual frameworks used in this research are: “Four Variable Framework for
Describing New Venture Emergence” (Gartner, 1985, 2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989;
Katz & Gartner, 1988); “Organizational Emergence Model (Gartner, Bird, & Starr, 1992;
Gartner, 1993; Gartner & Brush, 2007); “Goal Setting Theory of Motivation” (Locke and
Latham, 1990, 1991). We will examine them one at a time.
a. Gartner’s Four Variable Framework. Gartner’s model of “Four Variable Framework for
Describing New Venture Emergence” (see Diagram 2) is a useful and straight forward paradigm
with four primary elements encompassing the creation of a new venture: the individual
Diagram 2. Gartner’s framework for describing new venture emergence
entrepreneur, the organization, the entrepreneurial process, and the environment the entrepreneur
starts up and operates in. For Gartner, entrepreneurship “involves diversity among kinds of
individuals, firms, environments, and processes. There is no one type of entrepreneur, no one
type of startup, no one type of entrepreneurial environment, and no way that organizations come
into existence” (Gartner, 2016). Specifically, he maintained that new venture emergence: (a)
emphasized individuals (and their expertise) as a key element; (b) recognized new ventures as
organization entities; (c) stressed that the new venture was a process evolving through time and
phases; (d) exists within the context of its environment (see Diagram 2 and Diagram 3) The
elements of Gartner’s framework are supported by the native nations “model of action” (Cornell,
Jorgensen, Kalt & Contreras, 2007) that hypothesizes economic enterprise, and other
Diagram 3. Gartner’s Variables in New Venture Emergence
interpretations of external (environment) and internal (individuals and organizations)
situations (see Diagram 4). In fact, Gartner, in a later study, also researched cognitive factors
in enterprise start-up actions, including internal and external reasons for getting into
business, plus their effect on persistence of entrepreneurial behavior (Gartner, Gatewood &
Diagram 4. Native Nations Model of Action
Individuals, Organization, Environment, and Process. The multidimensional aspects of new
venture creation interact across the four elements or dimensions: the individual who is starting
the new business organization; the environment or context and situation that surrounds and
money, etc. that
the Nation can
influences the new venture; the process, or actions undertaken by the individual; the
organization itself, including characteristics, focus, and type. The intention of the individual
entrepreneur- for example their purpose and goals, is the motivating genesis of the organizing
and entrepreneurial process for new venture creation (Katz & Gartner, 1988; Gartner, 2016).
Gartner likened the framework to a kaleidoscope, an instrument for observing the complex
phenomenon of new venture creation’s changing and varying patterns (Gartner, 1985). Since
there are many different types of entrepreneurs, and many different entrepreneuring processes
and actions, so the business organizations would be expected to vary tremendously, as well as
the environments in which their creation and operation occurs. Variations and examples for each
of the four variables are pointed out by Gartner (See Diagram 3) and are not meant to be all-
inclusive. The value of the framework is the provision of a systematic means for conceptualizing,
describing and contrasting business ventures. It outlines a framework for research and is the
schema and conceptual framework guiding the thesis.
Gartner’s Organizational Emergence Model: Gartner explained organizational emergence
(Gartner, Bird, & Starr, 1992; Gartner & Brush, 2007) as a preliminary phase of
organization creation activities unfolding over time (see Diagram 5). Emergence activities
begin before the organization itself exists (i.e. has entered the newness phase) which
includes activities of initiation, start-up and take off. Other terms typically used in the
literature for this period of time include preorganization, gestation, organization in vitro, and
inception. An organization is founded once there is an appearance of a start-up, for example
an incorporation, business license, commencing of sales, or other indicators. If the transition
from idea to existence takes place, the organization has now entered the newness phase, also
Diagram 5. Organization Emergence and Creation Process
sometimes referred to as survival and success, founding, expansion, survival and stability, or
growth and direction. Both the emergence and newness phases are dynamic cycles of
activity. Following founding, organizational transformation phases begin to take place.
These are profound and potentially revitalizing changes or new directions which may or may
not be realized.
Prelaunch and Postlaunch. Embedded in the developmental process model of emergence-
Diagram 6. Cycles of Entrepreneurial Activity
ENACTMENT RETENTION SELECTION
Takeoff Startup Initiation
newness-transformation categorizations are the stages of prelaunch and postlaunch (Gartner,
1993). In keeping with Gartner’s static four variable model of describing new venture
creation, the individual (entrepreneur) engages in the emergence-newness-
transformation process of prelaunch and postlaunch stages (see Diagram 6), towards
establishing the business organization within a given environment, situation or context.
Goal Setting Theory of Motivation. Latham and Locke’s seminal work on goal setting theory
maintained an emphasis on organizational settings (Latham & Locke, 1984, 1990, 1991). The
theory is predicated on the basis that conscious human behavior is purposeful, and that goals
motivate action and impact performance, assuming the individual has the requisite ability and
self-confidence (see Diagram 7). Their research found that specific or challenging goals led to
higher performance levels than vaguer goals, or the setting of no goals. Goals, (a) motivate and
direct activities toward relevant actions versus non-relevant action; (b) regulate the effort or
Diagram 7. Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation
intensity towards the level of task difficulty; (c) affect persistence, tenacity and refusal to quit by
inducing individuals to work longer when there are no set time limits, and faster or harder when
time limits do exist. Goals help provide clarity in what tasks need to be accomplished
(Gladstone, 2017). As well, a relationship was found between affect and goals: since goals are
desired or valued outcomes, the greater or more often success is experienced, the greater the
amount of the individual’s satisfaction. Self-efficacy, or expression of confidence, was shown to
be higher among individuals with challenging goals versus those with low goals. The more
individuals feel devoted to the actual goals, the more successful they are at achieving those goals
(Locke and Latham 2002, 2004).
Goal-setting is identified as an important motivational concept in entrepreneurship, and has
a significant role and effect (Shane, Locke, & Collins, 2012). Other studies have
demonstrated the relationship between goals and business results: (a) entrepreneur’s
quantitative goals were found significantly related to entrepreneurship outcomes (Tracy,
Locke, and Renard, 1998); (b) entrepreneur’s growth goals were shown to be significantly
related to subsequent firm growth (Baum, Locke, and Smith, 2001).
Given the numerous and varying definitions that exist in the field, research on
entrepreneurship needs to clearly articulate one’s understanding of the terms and paradigms
utilized in conducting such studies (Gartner 1989, 1990). This chapter: (a) sets functional
definitions and conceptual schemas that are broad yet distinct enough to characterize and
describe First Nation new venture organizations as well as express the dynamic business
processes, individual motivations and decisions effected by these entrepreneurs operating
within their specific Indigenous environments; (b) provides a practical and compelling
framework of terms and models to more effectively assemble, organize and consider the
literature on First Nation entrepreneurship.
Postface. The terms and frameworks from this chapter will be utilized to provide focus and
circumscription for the literature reviews in Chapter Three (First Nation entrepreneurship)
and Chapter Four (other Indigenous entrepreneurship paradigms; poverty alleviation
models). Specifically, the definitions and paradigms used shall be:
1. Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is defined as the broad field, endeavor and journey
of entrepreneuring process, which includes the intent, motivation, volition and action to
create, launch and operate a business organization as a new venture offering services or
products in order to achieve some goal(s) within a given context or environment.
Important aspects of entrepreneurship include: the entrepreneur; the new venture
creation process; the role of motivation.
2. Entrepreneur: An entrepreneur is defined as an individual engaged in the broad field,
endeavor, and journey of entrepreneuring process, which includes the intent, motivation,
volition and action to create, launch and operate a business organization as a new
venture offering services or products in order to achieve some goal(s) within a given
context or environment. The term entrepreneur is positioned and operates within the
model “Four Variable Framework for Describing New Venture Creation” (Gartner,
1985, 2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989; Katz & Gartner, 1988).
3. New Venture Creation: New venture creation is defined as both the “result” and the
“process” of an entrepreneur’s effort to create a new entrepreneurship. The process is
framed within the conceptual design “Organizational Emergence Model” (Gartner, Bird,
& Starr, 1992; Gartner, 1993; Gartner & Brush, 2007).
4. Motivation. Motivation is an individual’s inner-driven or external-driven goal stimulus
for an action; it is understood within the framework of “Goal-setting Theory” (Latham
and Locke, 1984, 1990, 1991).
5. “Four Variable Framework for Describing new Venture Creation” (Gartner, 1985,
2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989; Katz & Gartner, 1988)
6. “Organizational Emergence Model” (Gartner, Bird, & Starr, 1992; Gartner, 1993;
Gartner & Brush, 2007)
7. “Goal Setting Theory of Motivation” (Locke and Latham, 1990, 1991).
SECTION II: LITERATURE REVIEWS
Literature Review 1.
First Nation Entrepreneurship: Organization, Process, Environment and Individual
Preface. Chapter Three reviews the literature regarding First Nation entrepreneurship with a
focus on First Nation small business entrepreneurs and their goal-setting motivations to engage
in entrepreneurial processes of new venture creation in First Nation communities. Framed by
definitions and conceptual models confirmed in Chapter Two, existing First Nation literature is
examined to determine what information exists and where there may be gaps in knowledge. The
literature review in Chapter Three is presented and guided through the lens of entrepreneurship
terms and elements (organization; process; environment; individual entrepreneur) constituent to
the key conceptual model “Four-Variable Framework for Describing New Venture Creation”
(Gartner, 1985, 2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989; Katz & Gartner, 1988). A paucity of
research literature in the field is found (Roness, 2016), gaps in knowledge determined, and a
recommendation for collateral information from two new literature review topics is
recommended to be undertaken in the subsequent chapter.
Variables One and Two: Organization and Process.
We begin with the question of “what is First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurship, and what
can we learn from the literature about First Nation small business organizations, and the
process of their creation and development in First Nation communities?” While there is
relatively limited research available towards answering these questions, there continues to be
a small but growing and developing literature concerned directly with First Nation
entrepreneurship (Corfield, 2019; Canadian Council on Aboriginal Business, 2016b; Lashley
and Olfert, 2013; Missens, Dana, & Yule, 2010) as the number of First Nation entrepreneurs
increases (Calihoo & Bruno, 2016).
Any comprehension of First Nation entrepreneurship needs to ensure: (a) an
acknowledgement of the social and economic conditions experienced throughout the First
Nations, which typically includes distressing socio-economic circumstances, including
poverty and shortages of employment opportunities (Foley, 2003); (b) a recognition of
history, including the legacy of poverty, dependence and bitter feelings resulting from
colonialism, loss of resources, paternalism, racism, residential school, and cultural
suppression (Cornell, 2007) experienced by First Nation peoples; (c) knowledge of the
continuing, extensive present day political and social debate, unrest and controversy over not
only health and social issues but Indigenous land claims across the country of Canada to
have their rights and Aboriginal titles respected, recognized and affirmed by Canadian
authorities. These serious matters have deep significant implications; this researcher
acknowledges, recognizes and affirms knowledge of these issues in the commencement and
process of First Nation entrepreneurship study.
An appropriate starting point for this research is an awareness of entrepreneurial activities
historically undertaken by First Nations. Indigenous peoples across North America have a
long history of productive trade, entrepreneurship and commerce stretching back well before
the arrival of Europeans to the continent (Harrington, 2017). Individual enterprise, along
with a wide variety of other private economic activities, has been commonplace in
Indigenous nations of North America for thousands of years (Miller, 2012). Distinct from
hunter-gatherer processes, the commercial endeavors included manufacturing, trade, plus a
range of organized individual, family and group specialized labour. These activities offered
numerous benefits: improved the quality of life; helped in survival; contributed to the
development and growth of existing property rights systems; ensured the continuation of
communities. The commercial pursuits were planned and purposeful, were driven partially
by economic incentives, and have been at work on the North American continent since it
was populated (Barrington, 1999). The concepts of marketing and profits were inherent in
business practices, as were the practices of loans and credit (Miller, 2012). There is nothing
foreign about business practices, business ownership and entrepreneurship to First Nations
through the annals of both oral and written history through to and including modern times.
Although there is evidence of mercantile attitudes and commercial processes through the
millennia, present day Aboriginal entrepreneurship is now underutilized on-reserve. If more
small business ventures were created, they would be a vital and essential element for the
economic development and the establishment of functioning reservation economies (Miller,
From an Indigenous standpoint the experience of new business venture creation is a dramatic
change process for many Indigenous individuals (Knight, 1997). Cornell, Jorgensen, Record and
Timeche (2007) explain the Indigenous term citizen entrepreneurship as business organizations
started and owned by the community citizens rather than owned by First Nation or native nation
governments. Calihoo and Bruno (2016) refer to Indigenous entrepreneurship as a process
requiring initiative, tenacity, and risk-willingness to innovate and create solutions to problems
that develop into viable businesses. Hindle and Landsdowne (2005) characterize Indigenous
entrepreneurship through four variables: (a) behaviors and actions including creating,
developing and operating new ventures; (b) benefits for Indigenous people by Indigenous people;
(c) sector type encompassing private public and/or non-profit; (d) range of advantage and
economic profit from a sole individual to multiple people, groups or community. Indigenous
entrepreneurship is seen as more holistic than non-Indigenous entrepreneurship, as it focuses on
both non-economic and economic goals, including the desire for self-determination,
entrepreneurial strategies, the understanding of environmental dynamics, and the preservation of
heritage (Lindsay, 2005). Gallagher and Selman (2015) used the term “warrior entrepreneurship”
to describe a portion of Indigenous entrepreneurship that seeks to (a) emphasize culture and
tradition to combat colonial institutions, precepts, and attitudes; (b) increase community self-
sufficiency; (c) revitalize economic activity that was in place prior to European contact.
Newhouse (2000, 2001) emphasized traditional Aboriginal values as a critical element for
altering capitalism and entrepreneurship, an outcome and process he termed “capitalism with a
red face”, the opposite of what he described as the “Borg of capitalism” where capitalism is
absorbed by Aboriginal cultures. Atleo (2015) felt that for Indigenous people to make capitalism
work for them, that it would not be without compromise and consequences. Weir (2007)
indicated that First Nation entrepreneurship and small business was essential for the survival and
growth of Aboriginal communities and their culture. He linked and described First Nation small
business and entrepreneurship as having much in common and being often used interchangeably.
Regardless of the form taken, entrepreneurial enterprise is seen as remaining at the heart of
economic development for Indigenous people (Peredo, Anderson, Galbraith, Honig, & Dana,
The Government of Canada (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada,
2011) has categorized small and medium businesses (SMEs) as: (a) micro (1 to 4
employees); (b) small (5 to 99 employees); (c) medium (100 to 499). In Canada, small
businesses have also been delineated through the following terms: (a) one to one hundred
personnel; (b) being independently owned and operated; (c) not dominating their particular
sector or field; (d) meeting a specified set of standards by either employee numbers or
annual revenue (Nickels, McHugh, McHugh, Berman, & Cossa, 2005).
First Nation entrepreneurship is nevertheless a challenging concept to specifically define.
Weir (2007) suggests that a better and more inclusive definition of First Nation
entrepreneurship would be “a human, creative act that builds something of value from
practically nothing. It is the pursuit of opportunity regardless of the resources, or lack of
resources, at hand. It requires a vision and the passion and commitment to lead others in the
pursuit of that vision. It also requires a willingness to take calculated risks.”
To some extent, the variations around defining entrepreneurship can be attributed to the
specific contexts, frameworks, and purposes utilized throughout the literature. This thesis
takes a wider, holistic approach to the definition whereby there are many aspects of First
Nation entrepreneurship that could have or result in different meaning or emphases
dependent upon the specific community, particular business organization, and the type of
entrepreneur operating it. There is no one perfect definition. Many local differences among
First Nation on-reserve businesses are expected to exist. For example, in some communities
it may or may not be common for family members to work together in small businesses
throughout the entire year, or to set up their operations seasonally, or to close and reopen
dependent on the availability or arrival of other family members, community activities, or at
the request of past or returning clients. Some small business organizations may be very
formal, and others very informal, operating by trade, cash, credit or service exchange. Some
may have a defined hierarchy, some less, or some may have non-hierarchical working
arrangements. As there are many differences in community governance, traditions, cultures,
history, community size, location and business process practices, it would be a challenge to
create a generic definition encompassing the many types of small business organizations
created in First Nations. It may be equally challenging to determine an appropriate
taxonomy of entrepreneurial processes that can capture the breadth, differences and richness
across the hundreds of First Nations. Examples of First Nation entrepreneurship and
businesses will be many and varied: large and small sizes, seasonal and year-round
operations, micro-enterprises in crafts and artistry, marketing and sales by convenience
stores, offering service as mechanics or small engine repair, shuttle, taxiing and hauling
services, bed and breakfast offerings, petrol stations and body shops, games and
entertainment outlets, tow-truck and construction services, guiding and tourism initiatives,
renovation and equipment repair services, janitorial and smoke shops, part-time or full-time
consulting and health care services and sales, marketing, web design, technology and
research, environmental assessment, resource industry support, and much more (James,
2017). Although it is not the goal of this work to gather and classify the vast assortment of
First Nation entrepreneurial business organizations types or their many differing aspects, the
great variety is noted.
For the remainder of the thesis, a broader more compatible definition of First Nation on-
reserve entrepreneurship is proposed. The definition combines Gartner’s new venture
emergence model and terminologies with First Nation entrepreneurial aspects: First Nation
citizen member individuals engaged in new venture creation of small business
organizations or entities of a variety of types, often with one to four employees, operating
independent from government ownership, active in commercial processes while in the
pursuit of specific goals, purposes and motivations, existing within a context or set of
environment conditions including whatever formalized or not formalized community,
institutional, governance, traditional or cultural oversight forms, norms or practices may be
locally in effect.
Research specific to First Nation on-reserve small business entrepreneurial processes is
lacking. The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) calculated the percentage
of Aboriginal businesses in three process stages: (a) “start-up” being in the process of
starting up a new venture: 11% on-reserve; (b) “established with the goal of growth &
expansion”- 22% on-reserve); (c) “established with the goal of stability and profitability”
(representing 66% on-reserve) (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2016b). Altman
(2001) stressed the importance of a differentiated framework of Indigenous enterprises by
way of: (a) scale (micro, small and medium); (b) target objectives (commercial, socio-
cultural, or public good); (c) ownership (individuals or family, native title parties, or
communities and regions). Beyond this, it is challenging to locate research specific to First
Nation on-reserve small business entrepreneurship development processes. But have we
been looking in all the right places? Calihoo and Bruno (2016) speculate that there are
thousands of Aboriginal-owned ventures spread out across Canada spanning every industry
across the spectrum of traditional enterprises to new and modern ventures.
Inferred Entrepreneurship? First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurship appears far from
forgotten in broader community initiative processes and strategies addressing economic
development, but it is possible, in those larger scale initiatives, entrepreneurship may
sometimes be inferred, or even perhaps understated compared to larger corporate or First
Nation administration initiatives. First Nation small business entrepreneurship may in fact be
well embedded in broader community economic initiatives and processes. From the
literature, First Nation entrepreneurial small business creation appears in varying degrees
throughout the overall economic development planning, strategies and activities of First
Nation communities. They may or may not always be readily separable from the larger
economic development ambitions and strategies of communities. If on-reserve
entrepreneurship exists in the broader community economic development initiatives, but has
less, little or virtually no space in much of this literature, perhaps it can be inferred, and can
be found to appear in emergent, implied, assumed, or subsumed forms, as opposed to
explicitly indicated in some cases. Five examples in the literature, drawn from different
regions of Canada, are reviewed for this possibility: Membertou First Nation (MFN);
Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC); Tahltan Nation (TN); Essipit Innu First Nation
(EIFN); Westbank First Nation (WFN).
Membertou First Nation (MFN): Emergent On-Reserve Entrepreneurship. Membertou First
Nation is an urban reserve in Nova Scotia, Canada, a “First Nations progression model”
based on business approaches to government, management, and economic development for
the purpose of achieving social objectives was created. MFN foundational principles
included establishment of operational processes, policies, corporate branding, partnership
and joint ventures, infrastructure development, training and human capital development, and
grounding in community culture. The overall model has proved successful with MFN
ultimately eliminating a $1 million deficit, generating significant corporate asset bases,
increasing employment, generating 75% of their own revenue, and garnering awards such as
Cando Economic Developer of the Year. Along the journey, a growing need for
entrepreneurship education was identified, and an “Entrepreneur Centre” opened to permit
MFN members to train aspiring entrepreneurs and aid in developing small businesses as one
aspect of overall community economic development. Although specific business types,
developmental processes, and motivational data is not available regarding these small
businesses, there has been a “growing number” of emergent new Aboriginal businesses
operating out of their Business Centre (Brown, Finney, Doucette, Tulk, Bernard, & Yuan,
2012), and their contribution to MFN’s economic development, while not an initial pillar of
the Progression Model, has become a part of community economic development.
Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC): Implied On-Reserve Entrepreneurship. MLTC, a
political, service and corporate organization consisting of nine First Nations located in
Saskatchewan, Canada, began operation in 1986. A twenty year plan was undertaken to
“stimulate economic growth for First Nations and to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit
among our people” (MLTC, 1991). The specific objectives included greater control over
their traditional lands, economic self-sufficiency, strengthen traditional values and their
application in business development, and to improve socio-economic circumstances for
community members. MLTC defined entrepreneurship to include all business, corporate and
venture developments, including the non-profit and government MLTC sectors, to go along
with small business. The outcomes of the initiative have been striking: employment
increased 70%, average family income grew by 49%, and logging and reforestation
corporate activities successful. The MLTC economic development initiative and objectives
were extended well into the 21st century. The role of small business entrepreneurship in the
MLTC economic development initiative, while not at the forefront of promotion, was
nevertheless implied, and indeed several ventures and “indirect” jobs were created, and an
overall spirit of entrepreneurship developed (Anderson, 2002). In little more than a decade,
eighteen successful small business start-ups were generated, including tazi operations, rice
harvesting, and convenience stores (Cornell, Jorgensen, Record and Timeche, 2007).
Tahltan Nation (TN): Assumed On-Reserve Entrepreneurship. Tahltan Nation is a First
Nations people with approximately 5,000 members located in north western British
Columbia, 800 kilometers from the nearest city. TN is located geographically at the same
latitude as Juneau, Alaska. In 1985 TN set up the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation
(TNDC) with the goals of widespread economic and social change. The development
corporation, based largely on natural resources (mining), flourished, and what began as an
idea became a corporation worth over $50 million, with 29 joint Venture Partnerships, 8
business divisions, $35 million of equipment, and $23.7 million in annual revenue (Asp,
Moldecky, & Hemmat, 2016). The work and contracts were leveraged to develop training
programs, which in turn developed a skilled workforce. Unemployment fell from 98% to
0%. TNDC developed a “Nation Building” model for sustainable Indigenous led economic
growth, supported by a community economic governance structure and model. Although the
term entrepreneurship is not included in referencing the models (the governance structure
does include the phrase “individual community enterprise”), it is safe to assume small
business entrepreneurs are a relevant aspect and outcome of the overall initiative, since in
fact, available TN contracting services now include construction, rentals, communication,
drilling, explosives, explorations, environmental services, hauling, transport, medical, road
maintenance, and more (British Columbia Indigenous Business and Investment Council,
Essipit Innu First Nation (EIFN): Subsumed On-Reserve Entrepreneurship. Essipit is one of
nine Innu communities in the province of Quebec, Canada, with a population of 673 of
whom 204 live on the reserve. Their traditional territory covers over 8,000 square
kilometers, with forestry, outfitting and tourism being the primary industries for
employment opportunities for community members. Much of the work is seasonal, and full
employment is the norm for summer months. In the early 2000’s EIFN changed their
economic development goals from job creation to: training and up-skilling; income source
diversification; increased access to business opportunities. EIFN followed a community-
based entrepreneurship (CBE) where the community acted corporately to set up and run
enterprises in pursuit of the common community good. They succeeded both socially and
economically (St-Georges, 2009; Proulx & Gathier, 2012). Today the Essipit business
portfolio consist of approximately 30 businesses operating in four economic sectors: (a)
public goods and services; (b) forest-based development; (c) tourism; (d) fisheries. All the
businesses are either community-owned (i.e. fully owned by the Band Council), or joint
ventures with non-Aboriginal enterprises. Revenues and profits have been used for a variety
of community purposes including improving work facilities, reinvesting between businesses
for expansion purposes, allow opportunities for youth and elders to partake in traditional
cultural land-based activities, and generate access to new contract opportunities (Beaudoin et
al, 2015). Individual entrepreneurship (and consequently the individual profit motive) do not
appear in the model. In effect, they are not directly named in the initiative as they have been
essentially subsumed within the corporate community-based enterprise model of EIFN.
Westbank First Nation (WFN); Explicit On-Reserve Entrepreneurship. Westbank First
Nation, with 840 members, two-thirds of whom live on-reserve, is a self-governing First
Nation located in the south central interior of British Columbia. WFN implemented self-
government in 2005. Membership created and ratified a Community Economic
Development Plan, a WFN constitution, and a Comprehensive Community Plan to provide
guidance and protection for growth and development, resource management, and community
planning for reserve lands and traditional WFN territory. The Band Council shifted the focus
from simply “job creation” to “building an economy”. Entrepreneurship was made a key
element of the economic development plan: environmental, social, and cultural factors
supportive of small business entrepreneurship were identified and openly promoted,
including: establishment of property rights; policy for WFN to not compete with member
owned businesses; multiple infrastructure improvements; actively pursued relationship with
banks; created leadership and entrepreneurial training programs; improved housing;
strengthened governance and conflict resolution institutions; improved financial access for
entrepreneurs. Between 2004 and 2014 the number of WFN member business licenses
tripled. Between 2005 and 2015 nearly $450 million in building permits was issued. Today
WFN: has the largest residential and commercial development of any reserve in Canada; has
a gross Domestic Product that has grown five-fold to $500 million; has a dozen banks and
financial institutions on WFN lands. The decision to encourage and support entrepreneurship
was explicit, as evidenced by a statement released by the Comprehensive Community Plan
of WFN, “The success of Westbank First Nation is a result of those individuals who have
educated themselves, either formally or traditionally, and have returned or chosen to stay to
give back to their community as elected officials, community leaders, employees,
entrepreneurs and avid community activists. Their hard work and perseverance has created
the platform on which future generations can stand” (Derickson & Selman, 2017).
Reality of First Nation On-reserve Entrepreneurship. Despite successful community
economic development examples such as MFN, MLTC, TN, EIFN, and WFN, small
business entrepreneurship development, whether understated or not, remains overall meager
and limited for the vast majority of First Nations in Canada. The situation is similar for
Indigenous populations in United States, and the experiences in American and Canadian
Indigenous communities, including the issues, challenges and barrier to success, have been
described as shared (Satsan [Herb George], 2007). Of all ethnic and racial groups in United
States the lowest per capita rate of privately owned businesses belongs to the Aboriginal
sector (Miller, 2012). The Aboriginal independent business sector has been described by
researchers as “small” (Cornell, Jorgensen, Record and Timeche, 2007), and the state of
individual entrepreneurship in American tribal communities represented as “experimenting”
(Champagne, 2015). In Canada, First Nation entrepreneurships are primarily micro-
businesses made up of one to four employees and typically servicing just small, local
markets (Weir, 2007), however they are a largely untapped and growing resource for on-
reserve economic development (Derickson & Selman, 2017). 72% of First Nation businesses
are located on-reserve (Roness, 2016). Four Canadian Aboriginal business surveys have
been conducted between 2002 and 2016, one from Statistics Canada, and three from the
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. They provide some information and reference
points towards First Nation communities, although most of the data gathered is for the
overall Aboriginal population, and for both off-reserve and on-reserve.
2002 Aboriginal Entrepreneurs Survey. The Aboriginal Entrepreneurs Survey (Statistics
Canada, 2002) determined that self-employed Aboriginal individuals, compiled together for
both on-reserve and off-reserve entrepreneurs (the data was not separated into the two
groups), make up 3% of their population, significantly less when compared to Canadian
mainstream statistics of 25% of the population. Of the 3%, only one out of every seven First
Nation entrepreneurs were located on-reserve, making on-reserve entrepreneurs more than
thirty times less in comparison to mainstream society numbers. Canada is known for
entrepreneurship, made evident by the fact entrepreneurship levels are higher than most G7
countries, and ranked second in the world according to the Center for Innovation Studies
based out of Calgary, Alberta (Langford, C. & Josty, P., 2015), but this reputation and
reality does not extend into First Nation country.
Other findings included:
• 67% were sole proprietorships;
• 83% used personal savings for start-up;
• 67% had been in operation for five or more years;
• 50% of primary industries (agriculture; forestry; fishing and hunting; mining,
quarrying and oil and gas extraction), construction, manufacturing, transportation
and warehousing businesses had been in operation for ten plus years, compared to
30% of professional and technical service businesses;
• 20% had a written business plan;
• 85% operated full-time;
• 72% reported profits in the previous one-year period;
• 37% did not expect their business to grow
2011 and 2016 Aboriginal Business Surveys. The 2016 Aboriginal Business survey is an
update of the 2011 survey. The 2016 Business Survey determined:
• Aboriginal businesses are represented across a full range of industry types including
construction, manufacturing, natural resources, retail and service sectors;
• 66% of Aboriginal businesses are home-based (unchanged from 2011);
• 6.3% of the Aboriginal labour force were self-employed in 2016, versus 10.7 of the
rest of the Canadian labour force;
• 27% of all Aboriginal business owners are under 45 years of age, but 45% of all
start-ups by owners under 45 years of age;
• 65% of business owners used personal savings for start-up, the same as in 2011;
• While the overall total of self-employed Aboriginal peoples had been growing at a
rate of 37.6% between 2001 and 2006, and 15.6% between 2006 and 2011, over the
five year period between 2006 and 2011 the proportion of First Nation on-reserve
businesses also experienced a decrease, from 72% of the Aboriginal total in 2006 to
56% in 2011 (the population of self-employed Canadians overall declined 4.4%
during the same period);
• 43,305 Aboriginal businesses existed in 2011, but in 2016 the data was not
determined for Aboriginal businesses;
• 64% of Aboriginal businesses are individual operations without employees (63% in
2011), and 73% are unincorporated (74% in 2011). This profile is similar to
Canadian mainstream businesses.
• 75% of Aboriginal business owners reported a net profit, up from 61% in 2011;
• Aboriginal businesses focus primarily on local markets;
• On-reserve businesses are more likely to do business with Aboriginal governments
than off-reserve businesses;
• 70% reported it was very likely they would still be in business in 5 years (same as
• 63% of business owners reported they introduced new products, services or
processes within the previous three years, up from 49% in 2011;
• 30% had a written business plan, the same as in 2011;
• 46% used Facebook for business purposes and 24% had a business website, but 40%
had no internet or internet connection issues;
The 2011 Aboriginal Business Survey also summarized Aboriginal entrepreneurs by industry:
• Professional: 27%;
• Construction: 18%;
• Primary (agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, mining, oil and gas): 13%;
• Arts, entertainment, accommodation and cultural: 12%;
• Manufacturing, transportation and warehousing: 10%;
• Wholesale and retail: 9%;
• Other: 11%.
The wide range of Aboriginal self-employment, including within traditional hunting, fishing
and trapping, the exploitation of natural resources, tourism and other mainstream industries
is identified by numerous researchers (Calihoo & Bruno, 2016; Roness, 2016; Caine &
Krogman, 2010; Kutzner & Wright, 2010; McGregor, 2009; Whiteman & Cooper, 2000;
However, the 2011 and 2016 Aboriginal Business Surveys reported that an overall
knowledge gap continues to exist for Aboriginal business data. Using available profile data
at their disposal for the twenty year period from1996 to 2006, the surveys indicated
Aboriginal self-employment had increased through that span of time by 85% and speculated
it would continue to rise. Similarly, when we look over to other Indigenous literature, it is
noted that in a the ten year period (2006 to 2016) one of the most significant developments
in Australian Indigenous economy has been the increasing growth and importance of
Indigenous entrepreneurs (Collins, Morrison, Krivokapic-Skoko, Butler, & Basu, 2016). The
number of self-employed Indigenous entrepreneurs had tripled in Australia through the years
1991 – 2011 (Hunter, 2013).
2014 Ontario Aboriginal Business Survey. Highlights from the smaller one province
(Ontario) 2014 survey include:
• 65% of First Nation businesses were located on-reserve;
• 62% were in the service industry;
• 71% used personal savings for start-up
• Business objectives in order of priority included: stability, profit, growth, community
service, personal/family employment, community employment.
Summary. Organization. There remains relatively limited research available regarding on
reserve First Nation entrepreneurship. First Nation small business organizations exist in
smaller relative numbers compared to mainstream Canadian entrepreneurship, nevertheless
they are growing and thriving (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2016b). As well,
First Nation small business organizations exist across a full range of industry types, just as in
mainstream society, although they are less researched and categorized. They also are found
embedded in, connected to, and derived from larger scale economic development initiatives
of specific First Nation communities, although their presence, role and importance appears
not be widely evident in the literature.
Summary. Process. No research exists to indicate whether First Nation small business new
creation processes, or stages, are similar or different than those of mainstream Canadian
business development. The Canadian Council on Aboriginal Business looked at the
percentages of Aboriginal business ventures in each of three arbitrary business stages: “start-
up”; “established” with self-reported goals of stability and profitability; and “established”
with self-reported goals of growth and expansion (Canadian Council on Aboriginal
Business, 2016b). The present work uses Gartner’s organizational emergence model
processes of emergence-newness-transformation, and prelaunch and postlaunch stages of
new venture creation as the paradigm for First Nation entrepreneurship.
Variable Three: Environment and Context
Gartner (1985) termed the conditions, context and surrounding factors of new venture creation as
the environment, describing it as the set of “characteristics that are relatively fixed conditions
imposed on the new venture from without”. Included in his list of characteristics are: population
attitudes towards entrepreneurship; availability of financial resources; skilled labour force and
access to education; market accessibility, transportation, infrastructure, and supportive services;
governance and institutional support; land and lease challenges. The thesis now examines the
literature on these characteristics, both in terms of challenges and perceived benefits, as they
relate to First Nation communities.
(a) Challenges to First Nation Entrepreneurship. Different attitudes and views exist on
Indigenous economic activity’s effect on traditional culture, and vice versa. There are First
Nation leaders who view the creation of reserve economies as incapable of remedying financial
and social issues, and who recommend a return to more traditional economies and ways of life
(Raybould, 2006). Some see market-driven, capitalistic, skill-driven, individually owned and
motivated entrepreneurship and wealth accumulation as disempowering, not unlike the captivity
of an “iron cage” (Champagne, 2015), and recommend Indigenous communities focus and rely
more on traditional values of cultural resources, economic redistribution, and collective
stewardship. Others suggest that economic development would, in fact, not require the stoppage
of being traditional or cultural (Cornell & Kalt, 1992a). One study determined that
entrepreneurship had no eroding effect on Indigenous identities, but provided a platform
strengthening Indigenous identities by: (a) creating self-sufficient attitudes to combat colonial
constructs and government dependency; (b) promoting positive social and self-identities; (c)
operating business ventures ways that give back to First Nations in community-oriented
processes (Gallagher, 2012). Another author presented the perspective that reservation
economies are essential for the support of Aboriginal culture, and stated, “Indian people do face
diverse social and cultural issues in making business decisions. In addition to cultural issues, the
history of economic activities on reservations and federal Indian policies have left many tribal
communities leery of the businessperson and development schemes that are supposed to “save”
the reservation. A long history of having their lands and assets exploited by the majority society
has understandably made many tribal governments and Indians cautious about business and
development. In fact, the very word “capitalism” causes visceral reactions in some Indian people.
In these kinds of situations, Indian entrepreneurs do stand out” (Miller, 2012). It may be that
individual financial success and commercialism are tolerated or accepted in varying degrees
depending on the specific tribal culture, since the fit is not always easy for Indigenous cultures
(Cornell, 2006). Hart (2010) expressed a more cautious, moderating, ‘world-view” perspective
on the cultural-capitalist issue by stating “I recognize that worldviews are not binary consisting
of Indigenous and non-Indigenous, but more fluid between various peoples of the world with
strong overlaps and great chasms. However, without working to reflect Indigenous peoples’
understandings, we may be unconsciously, perhaps consciously in some cases, leading other
Indigenous peoples down the path of internalized oppression”. Nevertheless, while there exists
an attitude and belief among some First Nation leaders that entrepreneurship can only serve to
promote individualism which in turn erodes Aboriginal culture and identity (Miller, 2012), a
contention is made that capitalistic participation by First Nations is a valid and realistic option,
particularly when adapted to fit Indigenous values, and that it will also aid in sovereignty
Financial Access Challenges. To start and operate a business, financial capital is required.
Entrepreneurs typically initiate and develop their small businesses via money from sources
such as: (a) business loans; (b) the use of home equity to secure loans; (c) family resources;
(d) personal savings or other sources of credit accessible to them. However, First Nation
members, owing to reasons and factors such as poverty, low or reduced employment, lack of
home ownership, collateral and home equity resources, plus less access to financial
institutions and activities that will build credit, often inevitably face limited or unavailable
financing. While there are grants, programs, funding and support programs through
Canadian Banking institutions, non-profit societies and other organizations, there remains a
continuing pattern of significant barriers to obtaining capital for Aboriginal businesses
(Caldwell & Hunt, 2002; Weir, 2007; Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2011;
Cooper, 2016). As well, in some cases, the funding opportunities that do exist are found to
be not sustainable (Munning, 2015). The 2011 Aboriginal Business Survey indicated that
only 29% have used any government programs in starting up or in the maintenance of their
businesses. Reasons for not using the programs included a lack of perceived value for their
business, limited awareness about what is available, and deterrence resulting from “red tape”
concerns. As well, the survey indicated that 43% reported access to financing was an
obstacle, and 38% reported equity problems as an issue. Banks and financial institutions
normally require conventional business plans to approve commercial funding, but many
Aboriginal people didn’t feel capable of creating or prepare a business plan, and often paid
to have a third party create one (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2011). The
Aboriginal Business Survey conducted five years later found that almost half of the
Aboriginal businesses had encountered funding qualifications issues. Financing for start-ups
was cited as particularly challenging for those ventures, and three in ten Aboriginal
businesses felt growth was hindered by access to funds. The survey also noted greater
growth of off-reserve businesses over on-reserve businesses by 33%, which they attributed
to the increased difficulties faced by on-reserve businesses in accessing finances (Canadian
Council for Aboriginal Business, 2016b).
Human Capital, Skills and Education Challenges. Business success for Aboriginal
entrepreneurship depends upon understanding business planning, being able to identify and
assess potential opportunities, transforming business concepts into a financial reality, and after
start-up, managing day-to-day business aspects (Roness, 2016). Serious challenges for on-
reserve entrepreneurs include limited business skills and entrepreneurial education (Miller,
2012). With a lack of employment opportunities on-reserve there is also less commercial
mentorship, economic knowledge transfer, and succession planning available. It is challenging
for human capital to gain momentum and develop a critical mass when under-experienced and
untrained entrepreneurs struggle to take advantage of arising business opportunities without
knowledge acquisition that role-models would provide. This can lead to skill exit, as individuals
with talent, energy and ideas or entrepreneurship simply decide to take their chances elsewhere
and move away from their communities (Cornell, 2006). There is a dearth of small business
training programs designed for First Nation operators desiring to conduct business in their own
legal, cultural, and constitutional contexts. Even if training and education may be available, the
shortage of financing to cover educational programs and institutional costs can further prevent
the development of entrepreneurial savvy and financial management skills (Weir, 2007). The
Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business advised Many Aboriginal entrepreneurs attempt to
navigate or grow their businesses without outside support or advice. It is estimated that less than
four out of ten have had an individual or an organization provide them with business advice or
guidance, and that most are not able to envision the guidance they would most like to have
(Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2011). Seven out of ten Aboriginal businesses in
Canada do not have a formal business plan, and either did not see the value in having one or did
not have the resources to create one (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2016b).
Remoteness and Infrastructure Challenges. The remote and rural locations of many First Nation
communities exposes numerous entrepreneurs hoping to start-up or develop their businesses to
try to deal with infrastructure issues such as limited access via high quality grade roads,
inadequate housing and commercial buildings, poor water quality, increased distances from
business resources they may require, plus shortages of services for electrical and communication
needs. Water conditions in Canadian First Nations, including numerous water advisories, have
been described as often “third world” (Levasseur, 2015). Only one out of three First Nation
communities have not had a drinking water advisory in the ten year period leading up to 2014.
During this time span 400 First Nation communities experienced some variety of problematic
water issues, including more than 90% of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick First Nation
communities. One community in the province of Ontario, the Neskantaga First Nation, had been
under a boil water advisory twenty plus years. Less than seven in ten Aboriginal businesses
across Canada regard their internet services as very reliable (Canadian Council for Aboriginal
Business, 2016b). Northern Canadian internet access, above the 60th parallel, typically lags the
rest of Canada in terms of high speed internet availability (National Aboriginal Health
Organization, 2008). Housing on reserves is of substandard, overcrowded, or dilapidated.
Portable structures versus buildings, are not uncommon for schoolchildren in many First Nations.
Remote reserves will often depend on ice roads, with only a limited window of time for ground
support and supply flow. Infrastructure problems, bringing with them a host of social and
physical problems and ills, often with little or no improvement over decades. Former Assembly
of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo, in reference to these infrastructure issues, succinctly stated
in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation “’the gap between First Nations and
Canadians has, seemingly, over the last few generations just grown so deep.” (Stastna, 2011).
Among all Canadian Aboriginal businesses, combining Metis, Inuit, First Nation off-reserve and
on-reserve enterprises, reported infrastructure concerns affected their businesses (Canadian
Council for Aboriginal Business, 2016b). The percentage will be significantly higher just for on-
In summary, given that numerous Aboriginal communities are situated in remote or rural areas,
and therefore far from consumer markets, their economic activities are constrained.
Infrastructure challenges are seen as a unique inhibiting, problematic obstacle to these
entrepreneurs (Miller, 2012).
First Nation Governance Challenges. Another significant problem for Aboriginal businesses are
obstacles and issues related to the governance environment (Calihoo & Bruno, 2016). Most
entrepreneurs going into business in mainstream society assume, expect or take for granted the
existence of: (a) fair and comprehensible regulatory regimes with local bureaucracies that are
manageable; (b) independent and unbiased dispute resolution systems for legal resolutions of
business conflicts or issues; (c) clear commercial codes for businesses to follow; (c) systems that
protect them from political interference. Regrettably for on-reserve businesses, these same
expectations do not hold consistently. Rather, their experience too often is one of: (a) regulatory
regimes that are overly complex, do not exist, or are not enforced; (b) dispute resolution systems
or courts that answer to politicians and councils, or are ineffective or unavailable; (c) non-
existent commercial codes; (d) political interference or influences that is widely present, and may
depend upon how one voted or who one is related to (Cornell, Jorgensen, Record and Timeche,
2007). Elected First Nation leaders have been known to become politically involved to the
detriment of privately owned small businesses (Weir, 2007). Conditions limiting day-to-day
political interference is important in order to support private business development to be
successful, including appropriate governance models (Cornell and Kalt, 1992b).
The tribal governance environment presents similar concerns. American native entrepreneurs
face: (a) political leadership meddling in business affairs; (b) challenging bureaucracies that may
impose costs; (c) lack of business standards or inconsistent commercial codes; (d) court systems,
and an absence of protection against impairment of business contracts; (c) dearth of business
standards and uniformity of commercial codes; (d) an absence of protection through court
systems for business contract issues (Miller, 2012). On the Navajo reservation, an examination of
the underdeveloped business sector (Yonk, Hoffer and Stein, 2017) concluded that the primary
barriers discouraging entrepreneurship were overly complicated and bureaucratic business
licensing, access difficulties to land development, as well as a lack of capital and lending
opportunities. Governance is an essential aspect for the economic development of Indian Tribes
in the United States, including the local entrepreneurship and small business sectors (The
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, 2016). While the various
governance problems and challenges do not exist in all Aboriginal communities, where they do
exist, the results can be devastating for citizen entrepreneurs by way of instability,
unpredictability, wasted time trying to negotiate problematic bureaucracies, and higher business
costs (Cornell, 2006). A path for Canadian First Nations to achieve increased levels of prosperity
is the development of property rights and stable governing institutions that will encourage
economic participation (Flanagan, T. & Beauregard, K., 2013).
Economic Leakage. Economic leakage occurs when money leaves from an economy sooner than
expected, consequently being of less than optimal utility for that locality. Ideally, the money
should circulate and flow through local economies five to seven times before leaving or spinning
out of communities. A lack of on-reserve small businesses on reservations where community
consumers would be able to purchase goods and services is a prime factor in leakage, and
subsequently contributes to poverty (Clarkson, 2017; Miller, 2012). In an American Indigenous
example, 71% of Navajo dollars were found to be spent off-reservation (Choudhary, 2003).
Leakage discourages economic self-sufficiency and reduces employment. A study in economic
leakage was conducted by MNP’s Consulting and Research Economic team in 2014 for the
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, a First Nation bordering the Canadian provinces of Ontario and
Quebec. By analyzing community resident’s spending outside of their geographic areas, it was
found that just over three-quarters of their combined incomes were spent outside of the
community (Seymour, 2014). The findings also noted that government sources provided
approximately 60% of community incomes, further emphasizing the importance of local
economy development and pursuing economic strategies, including in the case of Akwesasne, a
recommendation for specific entrepreneurship development in beverage, food, repair, and
Lease Challenges. First Nation entrepreneurs need to lease buildings and commercial spaces
in order to conduct business on-reserve. Land leasing is another challenge for Aboriginal
entrepreneurs. The process of confirming leases can take considerable time, and dependent
upon the lease type, risk. Any of three on-reserve land lease designations are usually of
interest to potential on-reserve entrepreneurs, but each has their own issues (Munnings,
2015): (a) Designated Land Leases. Once Indian Reserve lands are legally designated for
leasing purposes, the Federal Government of Canada may lease them out on behalf of the
First Nation under the Indian Act (see Appendix: Indian Act). Generally, for large
development projects, these lands are leased to the First Nation’s development corporation,
then in turn subleased to third parties. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs then face expensive,
drawn out challenges to successfully obtain this type of lease, as they require an
environmental assessment, an appraisal, and a community membership referendum (Gailus,
2009); (b) Certificate of Possession Leases. In this situation, a First Nation member may
purchase a Certificate of Possession from a current lease holder, or be allotted a certificate
by Chief and Council, but again the process is often costly and complicated; (c) Buckshee
Leases. These are the most common leases, available for varying lengths of time, relatively
quick and less expensive to secure. While the process avoids the process complexities of the
Indian Act, Buckshee Leases are particularly risky, as the lessee holds no rights of
possession should the holder of the lease choose to evict the business owner, and the courts
are unable to prevent or protect parties being evicted.
Beyond lease issues, new Aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurs face challenges simply in
finding adequate facilities, space and building locations specific to their business needs.
Furthermore, even before these challenges, it is not uncommon that there is very limited
business space available on-reserve to begin with in communities where economic activities
would be like to be situated (Miller, 2012).
Living Conditions in First Nation Communities. First Nation citizens residing on-reserve too
often experience distressing living conditions. While the total population of First Nations is
rapidly growing, the on-reserve percentage versus off-reserve showed a progressive decline in a
35 year period (71% in 1982; 56% in 2005; 45% in 2011), and there is not much doubt that
living conditions are a contributing factor to these relative decreases (Indigenous and Northern
Affairs Canada, 2012). In 2011 there were 637,660 registered or treaty Indians from a total of
1,400,685 individuals in the Aboriginal identity population of 1,400,685 (Roness, 2016). From
this latter group 313,880 lived on-reserve (Statistics Canada, 2011). For these residents the
problematic and difficult living conditions on-reserve is markedly evident. They lag significantly
in socio-economic indicators such as employment, education, health and incarceration rates, and
income when compared to mainstream Canadian society (Manuel & Derrickson, 2017;
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 2015): The proportion of high school drop-out is three
times more than the national Canadian average. Unemployment rates reach more than twice as
high; median income is more than 40% lower; life expectancies are shorter by 10%; infant
mortality rates are two to three times greater; incarceration rates are often tenfold or more
(Gilmore, 2015). In United States of America, where one-third of the Native American
population lives on reserve, the living conditions are similar (Champagne, 2015),
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada uses the Community Well Being Index
(CBW) to measure and quantify the quality of life of First Nations in comparison to other
Canadian communities. The scores, derived from census data, are based on four variables: (a)
level of employment; (b) income; (c) labor force employment; (d) housing quantity and quality.
CBW scores are much lower for First Nation communities in comparison to other Canadian
communities, and a significant gap continues (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 2011).
Table 1 shows the lower quality of life index and continuing disparity experienced by First
Nation communities. First Nation communities average close to twenty points less than non-
Aboriginal communities for a thirty year period from 1981 to 2011. Table 2 shows the average
2011 component score2 comparison of First Nations versus Non-Aboriginal communities. First
Nations are lower on every variable: (a) education by 32%; (b) income by 30%; (c) labour force
activity by 20%; (d) housing by 25%. Poverty is a significant factor regularly referenced
regarding on-reserve living conditions (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 2015).
Shortages of economic opportunities lead to and contribute to poverty in many of the First
Nations, and contribute abundantly to socio-economic issues (Backhouse, 1999). Aboriginal
health determinants have been categorized (Loppie-Reading & Wien, 2009) as:
(a) Proximal. These are the direct and more obvious influencers including income,
poverty, employment, literacy and early childhood development, discrimination,
culture, social support networks, gender, and education;
2 This is the latest available data. Canadian Census gathering is conducted every five years. Income data for Non-
Aboriginal communities was not gathered in 2016. The next Canadian Census will be in 2021.
Table 1. Average Income Score, First Nations & Non-Aboriginal Communities, 1981-2011
(b) Intermediate. These influencers are more “connective”, such as labour markets,
private enterprise, health promotion and care, care and promotion, governance, and
(c) Distal. These health determinants are deeply embedded, foundational influencers such
as historical, economical, ideological, political and social factors.
Indigenous health determinants have also been described by metaphor and paradigm as parts of a
tree (Reading, 2015):
(a) Proximal or visible crown of the tree (foliage and branches);
(b) Intermediate or trunk and core of a growing tree;
(c) Distal or roots of a tree, where existing problems with the tree’s health compound
over time, resulting in long-term, detrimental effects.
Table 2. CWB Component Scores, First Nations and Non-Aboriginal Communities, 2011
Reading comments, “Like the roots of a tree, these deeply embedded determinants represent the
historical, political, ideological, economical, and social foundations (which includes Indigenous
world views, spirituality, and self-determination) from which all other determinants evolve. Just
as maladies observed in the leaves are generally not the proximal, intermediate and distal
determinants of health. Similarly, within each of these strata of determinants, elements of
influence combine to create synergies of advantage and/or disadvantage”.
Where to Take Action? Several researchers have posited recommendations to overcome the
challenging business environment affecting First Nation entrepreneurs in their communities.
There is no shortage of suggestions for action steps to take against these conditions. Cooper
(2016) recommends that mainstream banks increasingly recognize the need for more broadened,
diversified financial services and products for Aboriginal entrepreneurs, and that there is a
growing need for “angel investors” and other sources of access to finance their ventures.
Cornell, Jorgenson, Record and Timeche (2007) enumerated four community predispositions that
would positively impact Aboriginal community venture creation, namely where: (a) Indigenous
culture supports the initiative, growth and success of individual and family business efforts; (b)
sufficient land exists so businesses are able to undertake operations; (c) internal market
populations (ideally both residents and/or visitors) being large enough to support
entrepreneurship; (d) available external, export markets that are conducive to independent
Miller (2012) recommended that: (a) communities determine ways for diverse work groups such
as economic planners, individual entrepreneurs, and tribal government officials to strategize
together to renew and grow the entrepreneurial spirit displayed by Indigenous people throughout
their history; (b) engage and encourage behaviors that lead to community families purchasing
and becoming ongoing consumers within their own communities; (c) promote the certification of
small businesses; (d) educate potential entrepreneurs on business start-up and development, and
promote the value of economic principles in communities; (e) establish strong institutions to
develop and aide businesses in setting up; (f) ensure compatible matches between the planning of
economic activity planning and the prevailing tribal culture.
Champagne (2015) specified the importance of gaining market access, as well as tribal control
over lands, as prerequisite conditions for entrepreneurial development. He also recognized
kinship innovation as an important factor since Indigenous nations, often still based on kinship,
exist as part of the modern world and are expected to remain so indefinitely. They can be
expected to utilize innovative ways to manage economic and political relation in the future.
Weir (2007) proposed: (a) increase financial support for independent small businesses; (b)
locate corporations that would support Aboriginal entrepreneurship; (c) increase research on
Aboriginal entrepreneurship and include the interaction between business and culture; (d)
highlight and profile Aboriginal business and entrepreneurial success stories; (e) make easier
access to programs that support and promote small business owners; (f) improve educational
programs for small business development with proper training on how to manage, supervise
and comprehend macro-environment factors. One example of an innovative small business
training program for Aboriginal youth was the Professional Readiness Employee Preparation
Program for Youth (PREPPY) that ran for three years (2001-2003) at White Bear First
Nation in the Province of Saskatchewan. Students received financial support, life skills,
personal, and career counselling, along with modules that included business start-up,
entrepreneurship, money management, culture, and governance topics. Financed by the Oil
and Gas division of the Economic Development Department, there was an 80% graduation
rate. A similar program ran successfully in the Province of Alberta from 2005-2009 at the
Lethbridge Aboriginal Career and Employment Centre and included mentorship placements
with successful entrepreneurs.
Cornell, Jorgensen, Record and Timeche (2007) detailed environmental factors needed for
on-reserve new venture creation and development as: (a) independent tribal courts for
conflict resolution so as to encourage citizens to feel secure and set up businesses; (b)
commercial codes to govern business transactions including financing, transportation, and
sale of goods so legal recourse exists via jurisdictional courts; (c) a tribal bureaucracy able
to effectively, fairly and efficiently manage business and business related processes; (d)
seed money and other investments to help entrepreneurs begin and develop their businesses,
assist with financial literacy, and help improve management skills.
Wien (1999) recommended three steps to build and grow Aboriginal businesses: (a) improve
and expand market access; (b) support entrepreneurship via improvement of business
advisory services; (c) increase access to on-reserve capital with the establishment of
community-level banking institutions, as well as micro-lending circles, and the availability
of revolving loan funds.
Helin (2006) stressed the psychological importance of overcoming “dependency mindsets”
existing in communities through a combination of self-reliance, policy change and cultural
Begay, Cornell, Jorgensen and Kalt (2007) state that a balance of culture, governance and
business development will be able to overcome business environment challenges.
Cornell (2006) suggested a threefold package of changes were needed: (a) attitudinal
changes by both citizens and their governments towards entrepreneurship; (b) investment
changes that permit better targeting of financial resources to be able to support business
activities; (c) institutional changes so First Nation governments create environments more
favorable to small business development.
Skeena Native Development Society (2003) strategized that First Nation entrepreneurship
could be advanced through three “cornerstone” actions: (a) ensure a functional market
systems are empowered through governance and jurisdiction processes; (b) increase First
Nation peoples’ ability to control and develop land for capital formation purposes; (c)
encourage and develop understanding by First Nations people towards entrepreneurial
thinking and economic models.
The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (2011) listed the eight areas where assistance
might be directed for improving Aboriginal business: (a) innovation; (b) financial aspects;
(c) planning for business success; (d) competing for federal government contracts; (e) social
media communication and marketing; (f) utilization of institutional supports; (g) government
programs; (h) business and entrepreneurial training.
Munnings (2015) suggested the creation of several tools to promote the development of
Indigenous entrepreneurship: (a) program support and related funding benefits such as
scholarships, training, and employment programs derived from Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA).
IBAs are agreements by project proponents with First Nations that exchange such benefits in order
to receive a First Nations’ support for project work based in their traditional territory; (b)
institutional and service changes that would support small business. The development of
these tools would be supported and informed by Indigenous knowledge, laws, traditions, and
Summary: Environmental Challenges. From the literature review, twenty characteristics of
Gartner’s overall environment list were found in relation to First Nation entrepreneurs. These
characteristics were then rated according to their condition of influence and impact described in
the research on new venture creation in First Nation communities (see Table 3). The outcome
reads like an inventory of significant challenges and barriers to business start-up: ”limited”
venture capital and supportive services; “few” mentors; “low”, “lower”, “often low”, “usually
not”; “often not” for skilled labour, supply and market access, governance land regime
development; (c) referendum activities where First Nation members can empower governance
structure changes; (d) leadership by Chief and Council to enact support, immigration,
occupational differentiation; large industrial base; large urban area. Added to this are poverty and
distressful living conditions, high overall barriers to entry, and competition and product
pressures. Not one of the twenty characteristics can be shown to be
Table 3. Environmental Characteristics and Conditions for First Nation Entrepreneurship
“Environment” Characteristics and Conditions for First Nation
On-Reserve Entrepreneurs (Common to Remote FNs)
Gartner’s Environment Characteristics Condition of Characteristic
Venture Capital Available Limited; Complicated
Presence of Experienced Entrepreneurs and
Skilled Labour Force Lower
Supplier Accessibility Lower
Market Accessibility Often Low
Governance Support Low
University Proximity Varies; Often Distant
Land/Facilities Available Often Not
Transportation Access Distance; Road Conditions
Attitude of Population Varies
Supportive Services Limited
Living Conditions Poverty; Health Issues
Occupational Differentiation Varies; Often Low
High Recent Immigration Low
Large Industrial Base Usually Not
Large Urban Area Often Not
Financial Resources Available Low
Barriers to Entry High
Competitor Rivalry Likely
Substitute Product Pressure Replication Concerns
Table 4. Westbank First Nation Environmental Characteristics and Conditions
“Environment” Characteristics and Conditions
for Westbank First Nation
Gartner’s Environment Characteristics Condition of Characteristic
Venture Capital Available Yes
Presence of Experienced Entrepreneurs and
Skilled Labour Force Yes and Growing
Supplier Accessibility Yes
Market Accessibility Good
Governance Support Strong
University Proximity Colleges and Campuses
Land/Facilities Available Yes
Transportation Access Good; Major Highways
Attitude of Population Favorable to Business
Supportive Services Good
Living Conditions Housing Good
Occupational Differentiation Improving
High Recent Immigration Population Growth
Large Industrial Base Good
Large Urban Area Kelowna and Area
Financial Resources Available Yes
Barriers to Entry Decreasing
Competitor Rivalry Average
Substitute Product Pressure Average
a supportive environment characteristic for First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurship.
Conversely stated, twenty of twenty environment characteristics are not conducive to new
venture creation on-reserve. When we compare Gartner’s characteristics from a First Nation
that has had exceptional economic success and strong entrepreneurship development, such
as Westbank First Nation (see Table 4), versus the typical First Nation conditions as per
Table 3, the differences are readily evident. Most, if not all, of the conditions for
entrepreneurship are much better in Westbank First Nation than the typical Canadian First
Given the sum of challenging conditions and barriers to entrepreneurship presented in the
literature, with only a limited number of community exceptions, it is concluded that the
existing environment characteristics in First Nation communities are overall poorly
supportive of new venture creation and small business entrepreneurship.
(b) Benefits of First Nation Entrepreneurship. Recognizing that the environment conditions
are very challenging for entrepreneurial development in First Nation communities, and the
number of small businesses operating in these communities has been relatively small, we ask
the question: exactly what makes it so important to see new entrepreneurial ventures start-
up, develop and hopefully flourish in communities against such difficult odds? We look
again to the literature to understand what the significance and importance of First Nation
entrepreneurship to these communities. Twelve aspects, or factors, of importance were
i. Community Employment. Employment on-reserve will be boosted by an increase in small
business opportunities. Citizen-owned enterprises are important contributors to employment
generation (Cornell, Record, Jorgensen, & Timeche, 2007). For example, approximately 50% of
job creation in the United States is from firms with less than 20 employees and are described as
veritable “job generators” (Cornell, 2006). This is particularly important since American Indians
unemployment rates range from 20% to 80% (Miller, 2012), while in Canada, First Nations
living on-reserve have an unemployment rate of 51.8% (Canadian Council for Aboriginal
Business, 2016). Small business is a robust job performer in mainstream Canadian society and
would be a significant contributor to Aboriginal employment. In 2011 15.4% of all workers
employed in Canada’s economy were self-employed, totaling 2.6 million individuals. During this
same period, self-employed worker numbers grew 13.3 % more than the overall labor force grew
(Innovation, Science and Economic Development, 2012). Assuming this growth differential
continues as a trend with First Nations, small business will increasingly impact their economic
development by adding further employment and increasing community empowerment.
ii. Quality of life; and iii. Increased Choices. Increasing entrepreneurship will add to the quality
of life on-reserve for individuals and families. Additional employment, economic opportunity,
and income growth will mean greater resource access and comfort for on-reserve families.
Augmentation of life choices, healthy activities, and consumer options through entrepreneurship
will reduce travel expense (Cornell, Jorgensen, Record & Timeche, 2007), help to alleviate
poverty, and improve and support psychological well-being, hope, and confidence into the future
with the knowledge that more livelihood choices, opportunities, and options exist. The
Registered Indian and Inuit Human Development Index (HDI) is an example of an available tool
that could quantify and capture life quality improvements. A counterpart to the Community
Well-Being Index (CWB), the HDI is calculated by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
and serves to provide a comparison rate of the well-being averages of Inuit and Registered
Indians with other Canadians (Cooke, 2013). The HDI is formulated and based on the United
Nations Human Development Index, and scores and measures quality of life for more than 170
countries permitting statistical international comparisons (Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Canada, 2016). With increased entrepreneurship and economic activity comes the opportunity to
produce more “living wages”. Living wage refers to the minimum income required for a worker
to meet their basic needs (Living Wage Action Coalition, 2016). Living Wage Canada, an Non-
Government Organization (NGO) outlines the benefits of living wages: the promotion of social
inclusion; increased assurance that families will not experience severe financial stress; promotion
and support of principles for healthy child development; engenderment of a wide range of
community supports (Living Wage Canada, 2016). These desirable outcomes resulting from First
Nation entrepreneurship are in line with First Nation principles of provision and reinforcement of
support for children, families, community and society.
iv. Economic “Multiplier Effect”: The multiplier effect refers to an increasing economic impact
that takes place as a result of new net expenditures introduced into a given economy. The effect,
originally conceptualized, systemized and documented by Quesnay (Quesnay, 1758) likely
existed further back in time, including in Indigenous economies. Later economists further
developed the concept, including Samuelson in his seminal works (Samuelson, 1939, 1962). He
coined the phrase “multiplier-accelerator model” which came to be reduced to “multiplier
effect”. In the context of American reservations, the model was described by Miller (2012) as
when money “circulates and recirculates throughout a local economy and community many
times before it is spent elsewhere. Economists call it leakage when money is spent outside the
local economy. The multiplier effect and the re-spending of the same dollar in the local
community can only occur if there are a sufficient number of businesses available locally where
money can be spent on the necessities and luxuries of life.” The creation and growth of First
Nation entrepreneurship is one way to initiate and produce the momentum for multiplier effects
on-reserve. Successful small business private entrepreneurship start-ups encourage the multiple
circulation of money, and limited the loss associated by financial “leakage” from communities.
Overall, multiplier effects will also be an element contributing towards increases in reservation
v. Reservation Wealth: Growth in overall reservation wealth is connected to economic
diversification (Cornell, Jorgensen, Record & Timeche, 2007; Miller, 2012). Miller cites two
noteworthy examples. First, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahama who successfully
developed a diverse economy of over $100 million in investments by 2009 after beginning, over
twenty years earlier, with only $4,564 in total tribal funds. Second, the Hoopa Valley Tribe of
northern California doubled their budget in 2009 from ten years previously with the growth of
tribal businesses into a private business economy of farming, fishing, cafes, cleaning, supply
stores, nurseries, banking institutions, and a smoke shop. Cornell, Jorgensen, Record & Timeche
explained that wages and profits typically stay on-reservation as the private businesses started up
are usually community members, and the same entrepreneurs can be expected to re-invest profits
to maintain and expand their enterprises.
vi. Economic Diversification: The importance and value of future opportunities for First Nation
economic diversification was explained by Weir (Weir, 2007): “There is plenty of room for
growth and diversification of Aboriginal small business initiatives and activities. This is
especially true for those entrepreneurs that have experienced success in their small business
activities, and have developed connections to finance, capital, and government/corporate support
and programs. Many Aboriginal entrepreneurs are beginning to look at new markets and
opportunities that exist outside of their local communities.” Weir recommended: (a) there be
increasing support for Aboriginal entrepreneurs, especially women, youth and individuals in
remote settings; (b) more creative diversification for Aboriginal businesses to find and take
advantage of opportunities in sectors and areas where corporate and governmental initiatives are
typically not found, one example being correction and other penitentiary services.
The importance of economic diversification for Canadian First Nations is becoming increasingly
evident (Tulk, 2013). In 2010 Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia opened their Membertou
Business Centre, which soon after provided one hundred jobs, and established a business facility
with six incubator units to encourage First Nation start-ups. A key objective of the Centre was to
support community-led economic diversification in the rural Mi’kmaq First Nation communities.
(Nova Scotia Canada, 2010). The Membertou First Nation and other First Nation community
experiences are discussed in more detail later in the thesis. A second example is the
Saskatchewan First Nations Economic Development Network set in motion, beginning in 2012,
by several First Nations in that Canadian province. In the spring of 2016, the Network hosted a
forum titled “Economic Diversification: Innovation, Sustainability and Growth” (Saskatchewan
First Nations Economic Development Network, 2016). Federation of Saskatchewan Vice Chief
Robert Merasty indicated that the diversification forum was initiated and developed for the
purpose of job creation, wealth, and improvement of quality of life for First Nation communities
vii. Potential Tax Base; and viii. Self-reliance: Indigenous tax base propositions have been
recommended in North America. In United States, tribal-small business entrepreneurship could
provide revenue sources for government operations and community infrastructure via a taxation
mandate (Cornell, 2006; Cornell, Jorgensen, Record & Timeche, 2007). American reservation
businesses make use of community roads, services, and various utilities provided by education,
social, justice and other departments, therefore a modest sales or gross-receipt tax formula would
be a worthwhile consideration and help to increase community self-reliance. As well, if Tribal
governments were to support and encourage small business entrepreneurship a win-win-win
situation would develop: communities would gain better infrastructure and greater goods and
services options; families and individuals would gain increased employment and economic
opportunities; local government revenues would improve.
In Canada, First Nation on-reserve citizen-owned businesses could contribute revenues directly
to benefit First Nation communities via leasing, taxation, and user fees (Gallagher & Selman,
2015). Regarding the taxation powers of First Nation governments, Indigenous and Northern
Affairs Canada stated: “Taxation is a characteristic feature of modern governments and the
exercise of tax powers enhances Aboriginal self-government. Constituents of Aboriginal
governments tend to be more interested in the expenditure decisions of their governments when
expenditures involve locally generated revenues like tax rather than transfer revenues from other
levels of government. Taxing governments tend to be more concerned about making the best
possible expenditure decisions on behalf of their constituents. The exercise of tax powers is also
an important means for Aboriginal governments to generate their own, independent, revenues.
Aboriginal government tax revenues are not federal transfer funds or “Indian monies” under the
Indian Act. Accordingly, Aboriginal governments have wide discretion to apply tax revenues to
their own priorities.” (Indigenous and Northern Affairs, 2014).
While the percentage of First Nations instituting taxation mandates in their communities is
relatively few, for more than twenty years laws capable of imposing direct taxes have been
enacted by some First Nation governments in Canada, both within and outside of reserves and
settlement lands. The First Nations Fiscal Management Act (Justice Laws Website, 2015) and
Indian Act (Justice Laws Website, 2016) have provisions for real property taxation bylaws. Other
examples of taxation-enabling legislation include the First Nation Goods and Services Tax Act,
and legislation from self-government agreements, lands claims, and modern treaties. Six types of
taxes are available to Canadian First Nations. Out of 634 First Nations, numbers accessing each
taxation type are:
• Real Property Tax (58 First Nations, or 9.1%);
• First Nations Goods and Services Tax (25 First Nations, or 4.0%);
• Self-Governing Agreements (22 First Nations, or 3.5%)
• Provincial-type Taxes (19 First Nations, or 3.0%);
• First Nations Personal Income Tax (14 First Nations, or 2.2%);
• First Nations Sales Tax (8 First Nations, or 1.3%)
((Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 2014; Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada,
ix. Population Retention; x. Skill/Human Capital Growth: Nearly two-thirds of American Indians
do not reside on reservations (Miller, 2012). In Canada, a smaller proportion of First Nations
people live on reserve than off reserve; From 1996 through to 2016, less than 50% of the total
First Nation population in Canada lived on reserve (Statistics Canada, 2006; Roness, 2016). In
United States nearly two-thirds of American Indians live outside of reservations. The flow of
population from communities to off-reserve living can be attributed to several factors, including
a lack of jobs, issues of affordability and resource options in order to build or purchase adequate
Table 5. Aspects Important to On-Reserve First Nation Entrepreneurship
First Nation On-Reserve Entrepreneurship
Benefits to First Nation Communities Supporting Literature
Citizen Employment Miller (2012); Cornell et al
(2007); Willick (2016).
Quality of Life Cornell et al. (2007); Willick (2016).
increased Choices Reservation Wealth Cornell et al (2007). Willck (2016).
Economic Multiplier Weir (2007); Miller (2012); Willick (2016).
Reservation Wealth Cornell et al (2007). Miller (2012).
Economic Diversification Cornell et al (2007).
Cornell (2006); Cornell et al
(2007); Gallagher & Selman
Cornell (2006);Gallagher and
Selman (2015); Pinto & Blue,
Population Retention Miller (2012); Cornell et al
Skill/Human Capital Development Miller (2012); Cornell et al
Cornell (2006); Cornell et al
(2007); Weir (2007); Miller
First Nation Sovereignty
Cornell (2006); Cornell et al
(2007); Weir (2007); Munnings
housing. Private entrepreneurship has the capacity to fill both lower populations as well as the
existing void in human capital in these communities; Members become be less likely to move
off-reserve, and the push or draw to leave to live in larger centers in search of employment,
financial opportunities, and greater consumer resources would lessen. Entrepreneurship growth,
by increasing employment and job opportunities could be expected to encourage on-reserve
population retention and add to First Nation on-reserve population bases. As well, community
members who are skilled workers and have advanced education, university degrees, or
specialized training could expect to find more job opportunities, including small business start-
up, and other economic alternatives on-reserve. The retention of these skill bases would reduce
the “brain drain” of human capital, which in turn would produce a growing momentum of
business creativity and commercial possibilities in First Nation communities.
xi. Dependence Reduction and xii. First Nation sovereignty: Business growth, through
entrepreneurship, would be beneficial to First Nations by way of: (a) dependency reduction on
outside decision funders and decision makers; (b) serving more adequately the best interests of
the communities, (c) strengthening sovereignty (Roness & Collier, 2010; Cornell, 2006; Cornell,
Jorgensen, Record & Timeche, 2007). Self-determination outcomes would result from economic
activities such as entrepreneurship, overcoming the social vacuum issues that result from
dependency related economic behaviors; Economic development is an important mechanism to
attain Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination (Miller, 2012). The Harvard Project on
American Indian Economic Development advocates small business tribal member ownership as
a significant, emerging pillar of economic development, emphasizing the strong connection
between these developments and self-governance (The Harvard Project on American Indian
Economic Development, 2008). Munnings (2015) agrees that governance is an essential element
for the economic development of First Nations’ people, and explains the differences between
Canadian First Nations and American Indian Tribes, in this regard, as follows: “the rights of First
Nations comes in the form of self-government and is diminished by the legislation and case law
of Canada. It is something that cannot fully exist, but it is something First Nations will continue
to fight for, and which is reflected in decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, including the
most recent Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia (“Tsilhqot’in”) decision. He adds that despite
these restrictions on sovereignty in Canada, First Nations still have the power to
Table 6. Aspects by Category of Importance to On-Reserve First Nation Entrepreneurship
Benefits by Category of Entrepreneurial Importance to First Nation
Quality of Life
Increased Choices Population Retention
Tax Base & Self-
Community Wealth Sovereignty
support their members to become entrepreneurs through opportunity creation and make laws that
influence the private business operators to start-up, remain within or move onto First Nation
land. The 1985 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) linked political self-
governance to Aboriginal business development and included the support and development and
of Aboriginal-owned enterprises within their recommendations (Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Canada, 1991). Other researchers agree that increasing First Nation small business
development is one of the important strategies and methods available to elevate community
economic self-reliance and political self-governance (Weir, 2007; Calihoo & Bruno, 2016).
Summary: Benefits of First Nation Entrepreneurship. In Table 5 the thesis provides a summary
of the twelve benefits of on-reserve entrepreneurship for First Nation communities with the
corresponding literature sources, followed by Table 6 which sorts and realigns the twelve
benefits into three broader categories. The categories are: (a) direct citizen benefit (employment,
quality of life, increased choices, strengthened human skills/capital); (b) community prosperity
(economic diversification, economic multiplier; population growth and retention, reservation
wealth); (c) Nation building (dependence reduction, strengthened institutions, tax base and self-
reliance, sovereignty). Table 5 helps distinguish the three interdependent, and mutually
supporting and building, categories of beneficial results derived from First Nation
entrepreneurship: individual – community – Nation. Each of these interconnected segments
return later in the thesis, linked or related to aspects of the research processes to be undertaken.
In conclusion, entrepreneurship is found to be of significance to First Nation communities for
reasons of benefits derived directly for citizens, increased community prosperity, and
contributions and propensity towards Nation building.
Variable Four: Individual Motivations
There are many differences, characteristics and aspects among individual entrepreneurs, and no
one type (Gartner, 2016). Since entrepreneurs are creators of new organizations, a primary
question is, “how do organizations come into existence? (Gartner, 1988). The origins of the
organizing process begin with the intentions, purposefulness and goals that entrepreneurial
individual or individuals have in mind (Reynolds, 2007). Stated another way, the organization
intentionality of entrepreneurial venture creation reflects the goals, purposes and motivations of
the founding individuals (Katz & Gartner, 1988).
The concept of motivation is a key aspect of entrepreneurship. Researchers (Gartner, Bird and
Starr, 1992) reviewed theories and concepts of motivation as they related to entrepreneurship and
concluded that the motivations individuals hold for new venture creation are equivocal, just as
the “nature” of organizational emergence itself is equivocal. They also surmised that the
motivations for individuals to become entrepreneurs may differ from the reasons and motivations
they continue as entrepreneurs.
Gartner’s (1985) A list of entrepreneurs’ individual traits and factors included the need for
achievement, risk taking, job satisfaction, locus of control, plus the effects of an
entrepreneur’s history, parental background, and work experience. There can be numerous
other factors that influence entrepreneurs including financial security, a better quality of life,
increasing self-esteem, dependence reduction, ending intergenerational family poverty, and
benefiting community. Individual entrepreneur aspects, as Gartner explains, interact with
other venture creation variables, such as the existing business environment, and the various
processes used by different types of business organizations. Entrepreneurs’ goals and
motivations are an important aspect of emerging and existing business organizations
(Gartner, Bird, & Starr, 1992).
What goals motivate First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs? Scarce research literature is
found on Canadian First Nation small business entrepreneurs, including their goal-setting
motivations. Aboriginal entrepreneurs are motivated by a desire for their businesses to
expand, innovate and achieve profit (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2016b).
Those whom saw their businesses as being very successful give credit to characteristics and
aspects such as: hard work – 34%; a steady client base -19%; strong reputation – 16%;
quality of work – 13%; demand for their product or service – 11% (Canadian Council for
Aboriginal Business, 2016b); Success in First Nation country is not primarily profit based,
but is also viewed in terms of legal and political jurisdiction derived from business
enterprises, as well as the number of community members receiving employment (Smith,
2006). A greater emphasis may be placed on sharing among kin, and social value, as
opposed to shareholder value and growth being the main goal of business (Wuttenee, 2004).
In Australia, success in Indigenous entrepreneurship included the need for achievement, and
the desire to provide for family (Foley, 2000). In United States a study on Wisconsin Indian
entrepreneurs’ perceptions of success in establishing businesses looked for, and found,
motivational factors such as the presence of entrepreneurial ideals, knowledge of business
concepts, self-confidence, education, and positive family relationships (Erdmann, 2016).
Studies on the effect of embeddedness values on motivations of social entrepreneurs in
societies, groups, or cultures with higher embeddedness value levels were more oriented to
group rewards and entrepreneurial activity for social outcomes (Arthaud-Day, Pathak, &
Muralidharan, 2016; Schwartz, 2006; Morris, Avila, & Allen, 1993). Nikolaskis (2009)
looked at Indigenous Australian meanings of business success and explained enterprise
development as both a process and objective for a range of socio-economic outcomes where
success varied from providing for family to looking after one’s community. The study also
pointed out that tensions exist between commercial and social outcomes in Indigenous
enterprises. Foley (2000) found that there was a range of broad mixed Indigenous social and
commercial objectives that could be financed through enterprise revenues.
Summary: Individual Motivations. It remains unclear what the goals and motivations for
First Nation new venture creation are. The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business stated,
“The characteristics of Indigenous entrepreneurship are difficult to analyze and understand
using traditional definitions and metrics. Many are small, community-based, unincorporated,
and operated by entrepreneurs with goals and strategies that often privilege cultural values,
community investment, and concern of the environment ahead of profit” (Canadian Council
for Aboriginal Business, 2016b).
In order to further understand and contemplate the goals and motivations of First Nation on-
reserve entrepreneurs, the thesis recommends undertaking a second literature review on two
population segments from similar challenging environments as First Nations’ entrepreneurs:
(a) economically disadvantaged communities that have initiated poverty alleviation models
based on entrepreneurship since economic disadvantage is an experience common to First
Nation communities; (b) other Indigenous entrepreneurs from differing regions of the world
that have engaged entrepreneurship initiatives since this may provide clues, or transferable
knowledge regarding First Nations who are also one of Indigenous Peoples. The hope is that
these reviews will lead to themes furthering the understanding of the motivations of
Canadian First Nation entrepreneurs, as well as contribute towards the research design of
1. There is very little information available regarding First Nation entrepreneurship,
and no question that an overall void exists in the research literature on Indigenous
entrepreneurship, business and economic development (Kennedy, Harrington,
Verbos, Stewart, Gladstone and Clarkson, 2017). An overall knowledge gap
continues to exist for Aboriginal business data (Canadian Council for Aboriginal
Business, 2011, 2016b).
2. First Nation entrepreneurial ventures are increasing rapidly (Canadian Council for
Aboriginal Business, 2016b; Clarkson, 2017). While these ventures may be assumed
or found embedded in, connected to, and derived from larger scale economic
development initiatives of specific First Nation communities, their presence, role and
importance has not been widely evident in the literature.
3. Little or no research exists regarding First Nation small business new venture
creation processes, or business development stages.
4. First Nation entrepreneurs experience an especially difficult and challenging
business environment, and much of the literature that does exist focuses on this
5. In the face of these challenges, First Nation entrepreneurship remains an important
element and opportunity for Indigenous community economic development by way
of direct citizen benefit, community wealth generation, and Nation building.
6. It remains unclear what the goals and motivations for First Nation new venture
creation are. The various aspects and characteristics of First Nation entrepreneurship
are difficult to analyze and understand using traditional system of metrics and
definition (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, 2016b)
7. A second literature review is recommended on two population segments from similar
challenging environments as First Nations’ entrepreneurs: (a) economically
disadvantaged communities that have initiated poverty alleviation models based on
entrepreneurship; (b) other Indigenous entrepreneurs from differing regions of the
world that have engaged entrepreneurship initiatives.
1. Gartner’s paradigms and terminology: (a) “Four Variable Framework for Describing
New Venture Emergence” (Gartner, 1985, 2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989;
Katz & Gartner, 1988); (b) “Organizational Emergence Model” (Gartner, Bird, &
Starr, 1992; Gartner, 1993; Gartner & Brush, 2007); (c) “Cycles of Entrepreneurial
Activity” (Gartner, 1993) were found to be effective tools for the review and
explication of First Nation entrepreneurship (Literature Review One). Likewise,
“Goal Setting Theory of Motivation” (Locke & Latham, 1984, 1990, 1991) was also
an effective model in understanding aspects of First Nation entrepreneurship. The
models and their terminologies will continue to be used in this thesis.
2. Having determined a paucity of literature available on First Nation entrepreneurship
and identified gaps in research (Literature Review 1), further literature reviews in
related areas are recommended for potential collateral, transferable information to
add to what knowledge is available. Reviews of entrepreneurial motivations with two
population subsets that have business context and background similarities with First
Nation entrepreneurs (i.e. “challenged environments”) will be undertaken in Chapter
Four (Literature Review 2): (a) entrepreneurial based poverty alleviation models
(Subset 1); (b) other Indigenous (outside of Canada) entrepreneurship approaches
Literature Review 2.
Entrepreneurial Motivation in Challenged Environments
Preface. Chapter Four reviews the motivational literature on two international
entrepreneurial subsets: (a) entrepreneurial-based poverty alleviation models, and (b)
Indigenous community entrepreneurs as a follow-up to Chapter Three’s Literature Review 1
recommendation. In Chapter Three, limited research and data was found regarding
motivators and drivers for First Nation entrepreneurs. As First Nation entrepreneurs are
Indigenous peoples and many of their own communities experience economic
disadvantages, determining the motivators from the two similar international population
groups may provide insight and transferable knowledge germane to First Nation
entrepreneurial drivers. Towards this purpose, Chapter Four reviews entrepreneurial
motivations from ten international community poverty alleviation models and five types of
Indigenous community entrepreneurial initiatives originating from eight locations outside of
Canada. As a result of comparing and combining the findings of Chapter Three (Literature
Review 1) and Chapter Four (Literature Review 2): (a) six potential motivators applicable to
First Nation entrepreneurs are determined; (b) four research questions are generated on
knowledge gaps regarding First Nation entrepreneurial motivations during new venture
Subset 1. Entrepreneurship & Poverty Alleviation Motivations
Ten studies on community entrepreneurial poverty alleviation models are first summarized,
and then compared in terms of goal-setting motivations.
a. Community-Based Enterprise. Peredo and Chrisman (2006) suggested Indigenous
communities as potential candidates for their community-based enterprise (CBE) model of
poverty alleviation. An alternative paradigm for economic development, the CBE
framework positions the community itself as both entrepreneur and enterprise to achieve
economic and social goals in order to serve the common good. Since Indigenous
communities are often known to prioritize cultural and environmental considerations along
with, or over, economic interests, Peredo and Chrisman postulated these communities as
logical participants. Under CBE a community serves as the entrepreneurial actor who
creates and operates new enterprises embedded within its social structure and network of
relationships. The community operates as an entrepreneur when its citizens perform
collaboratively as managers, owners and employees to create and organize a response to an
identified market opportunity. The community performs as an enterprise when the citizens
jointly work together in venture creation for the provision of services, product exchange,
production, marketing and sales. The community-based enterprise paradigm, although to a
lesser degree than other goals, still promotes the achievement of individual entrepreneurship.
Profits from CBEs become instrumental in achieving the social, environment and cultural
goals of the local community; the role of social networking is a significant aspect of CBE
creation and development. Challenges to CBE include tensions that may occur between
collective and individual needs, as well as sustainability issues requiring economic
diversification away from land-based resources (a common resource in First Nation
communities). Environmental conditions that encourage the emergence of CBE
entrepreneurship in materially challenged regions include lack of social mobility, economic
crises, the need for economic survival, plus the availability of social capital- often evident in
Indigenous communities. Peredo and Chrisman specifically framed autonomous small
business start-up and entrepreneurship within CBE: (a) the interaction between individual
entrepreneurs, community and families is important to the model. Individual entrepreneurs
with extended social networks are advantaged towards entrepreneurial achievement; (b)
CBE communities have typically been involved in collective political action and created a
knowledge base of actions transferrable to CBE and entrepreneurial creation.
Entrepreneurial creation then in turn fosters further entrepreneurial creation; (c) CBE
positively influences attitudes and perceptions towards entrepreneurship; (d) Individual
entrepreneurship becomes a by-product of CBE. The CBE may serve as an umbrella for
entrepreneurial start-ups; (e) CBE creates and enhances infrastructure such as roads, power
grids, and water systems which improve conditions for entrepreneurial start-up.
The CBE model generates several questions in relation to First Nations. Did successful on-
reserve entrepreneurs begin their enterprises under the umbrellas of CBE? Do CBEs in First
Nation communities motivate small business on-reserve entrepreneurs to create their start-
ups? Do they influence attitudes and perceptions about entrepreneurship? Was infrastructure
improved as a result of CBE creation, and did this in turn elevate the motivation of
entrepreneurs towards start-up? .What effect does the desire for social change and economic
community development have on First Nation entrepreneurs?
b. Public Entrepreneurship. Hjorth (2013) proposed the idea of “public entrepreneurship” as an
alternative way of thinking about, as well as an improved concept for analyzing, the relationship
between entrepreneurship and society. Public entrepreneurship introduces the role and
importance of the citizen-entrepreneur, a concept familiar to First Nation literature (Cornell, et
al., 2007). The citizen-entrepreneurs, led by the passion or desire for community change generate
entrepreneurial initiatives and, in the process, create not only economic benefits but new forms
of positive community sociality, local governance and public good. The combined affect and
emotion empowered through their developing assemblages, projects, movements, collectives,
networks, coalescing, or teams, produces the entrepreneurial and social outcomes for the good of
Hjorth placed a greater emphasis on the desire for social change, and a reduced focus on
economic ends for community entrepreneurs. In this way, the model is differentiated from
“social entrepreneurship” as it intensifies the sociality creating aspect and is moved further away
from what was described as “entrepreneurial discourse” (i.e. managerial expertise, economic
efficiency, competition) to a more balanced approach of the two perspectives. Hjorth was
concerned that the social aspect has been pushed back to a minimum owing to the increasing
focus on individual entrepreneurial achievement in society being “managerialized” and made
governable, and a consequent “crumbling relational ethics, a withering sociality and a more
vague connection between belonging and becoming”. Entrepreneurship should not be reduced to
value only in an economic sense but be a creative social force energized by affect, desire and
intensification of relations among community individuals whose combined actions lead to
positive public change. The public entrepreneurship framework presents the desire for social
change and new forms of positive community sociality that come with entrepreneurial initiatives
for economic ends.
Public entrepreneurship, with its increased emphasis on social change while achieving economic
development, may serve as inspiration or motivation for First Nation entrepreneurs. This leads to
the question, what is the desire and the motivation for social change and economic community
development among First Nation entrepreneurs?
c. Opportunity type. Alvarez and Barney (2014 pointed out that too often the typical approaches
to poverty alleviation have been “paternalistic and seeking, even if unintentionally, cultural
assimilation”, both forefront present-day issues in First Nation country. They also noted that
improvements in financial access, human capital and property rights, (challenges expressed in
available First Nation entrepreneurial literature) in fact do not always result in increased
entrepreneurial activity and economic growth. Instead the researchers noted that “failing to
understand the job creation and economic growth potential of different types of entrepreneurial
opportunities and the human capital, property rights, and financial capital needed to form and
exploit these opportunities, has limited the impact of entrepreneurship on alleviating poverty”.
They examined three entrepreneurial opportunity types: self-employment opportunity; discovery
opportunity; creation opportunity.
Self-employment opportunities, such as those in poverty conditions supported through micro-
financing, arise in response to competitive imperfections but have a reduced impact on economic
growth owing to limited community market supply, replication issues (easily duplicated small
businesses), and being nonscalable. Discovery opportunities, on the other hand, are created from
exogenous impacts and shocks (i.e. changes in technology, demographics, or policies) to a
market or an industry, and are scalable. Entrepreneurs engaged in discovery opportunities
become aware or “discover” the opportunity before others exploit it. They respond rapidly before
competitive imitation sets in to eat away profitable gains, erect barriers to reduce duplication,
and maintain sustainable advantages wherever possible. However, in poor communities
discovery opportunity success is very difficult and costly, then ultimately easily replicated.
Creation opportunities are “evolutionary”; the entrepreneurial process is one of experimenting
and learning, and as knowledge is gained business opportunities emerge or develop, resulting in
new knowledge, which in turn creates new opportunities. Co-creation of opportunities takes
place when the entrepreneur, consumers and other stakeholders process and determine
opportunities and markets together, and then the entrepreneur captures as much of the value as
possible. While entrepreneurial discovery and creation opportunities hold the greatest potential
for materially disadvantaged communities (including many First Nations) as opposed to the
easily replicated self-employment opportunities, they require the elements that are largely
missing- human capital (productive knowledge, skills and ability), financial capital (funds for
business start-up and development), and property rights (institutional protection).
An understanding of opportunity typology regarding successful First Nation community
entrepreneurs could be valuable towards future on-reserve small business development. It would
also be interesting to know, (a) how successful any self-employment micro-financing programs
have fared in comparison to entrepreneurial start-ups engaged in discovery, creation or co-
creation opportunities; (b) Do successful First Nation entrepreneurs engage in self-employment (micro-
financing), discovery, creation, or co-creation opportunities, and what motivates them to do so?
d. Social Network Approach. Spilling (2011) reflected on the earlier work of Bengt Johannisson
(Johannisson, 1978, 1983, 1988; Johannisson & Nillson, 1989; Johannisson & Spilling, 1986)
who was skeptical of large scale industry national policies and, like Alvarez and Barney, focused
on small communities and smaller-scale businesses. Much of his work was the result of his
research with the small declining community of Maleras, Sweden where the community
leveraged willingness and involvement to turn negative development into economic growth. He
described entrepreneurs such as this as “professional change initiators” operating as social
entrepreneurs when they regarded both their single enterprise and the local community in its
entirety as a personal responsibility; Small businesses were regarded as social phenomena
embedded in socio-economic structures. Entrepreneurs were creating self-reliance not only for
themselves but for other members of the community. The notion of self-reliance is especially
relevant to present day First Nations. Johannisson summarized the essence of this self-reliance
as: (a) self-respect as belief in values, culture and civilization including withstanding external
dominant power (i.e. mainstream society paternalistic values); (b) self-sustainability through the
use of local resources to meet local demands; (c) fearlessness and attitude to remain independent
and resistant to those external influences. Spilling identified Galtung (1980) as an inspirational
force in the self-reliance model as a by-word for bottom-up strategies for communities to use
their resources, assert their values and gain confidence. Johannisson’s social entrepreneurs at
work in declining communities were typified as change initiators who regarded both individual
enterprise and community development as within their purview. Johannisson (1988, 2008;
Johannisson & Nillson, 1989) described three types of entrepreneurs: (a) the autonomous
entrepreneur who focuses on an independent, market-based business venture; (b) the community
entrepreneur who serves as an agent of change with the main focus being community
development as a whole; (c) the contextual entrepreneur who not only reorganizes resources but
also reorganizes values and makes significant changes in the context in which those
entrepreneurial processes occur. Community entrepreneurs were community developers, and
contextual entrepreneurs as community value reorganizers. The research of Spilling and
Johannisson also leads to the question, “Is the motivation to start-up First Nation on-reserve small
businesses driven by autonomous, community, or contextual entrepreneurial purposes?”
e. Embedded Entrepreneurship. McKeever, Jack and Anderson (2015) also regarded context as a
critical factor in their examination of the relationship between entrepreneurs and the
communities where they operated. They studied two economically depleted communities in the
Northwest of Ireland. Their research viewed entrepreneurs as embedded in networks, places and
communities, and considered the undertaking of entrepreneurship as a socio-economic process.
Embeddedness was understood as the individual entrepreneur’s ties into the community
environment, and therefore an element significant to business practices. “Place” for the small
business enterprise was not just where production and consumption too place but were areas of
meaningful social life. They found that the entrepreneurs did not regard themselves as distinct
and separate but rather as being immersed in their communities, with considerations beyond
economic profit including being respected, following local protocols, and contributing to
changing and raising the fabric of the community while pursuing business activities. The
entrepreneurs also recognized a mutuality, reciprocity and common purpose with community.
McKeever, Jack, and Anderson concluded that communities shape entrepreneurship, and that
likewise, entrepreneurship shapes communities. They state, “This study illustrates that
entrepreneurship clearly has a social value. Not only is entrepreneurship real to the communities
in which it takes place, it can also revitalize communities. Entrepreneurship offers opportunities
and experiences that go beyond economic rationality. When a social focus is combined with
economic outcomes, gains follow, and the very fabric of a community can be changed”. The
embedded entrepreneurship paradigm identifies the social value connected to entrepreneurship
and presents entrepreneurs as motivated to simultaneously induce social change and revitalize
communities while in pursuit of economic interests.
f. Three Social Entrepreneurship Models. Social entrepreneurship offers solutions to societal
problems such as poverty and low employment, but as Bacq and Janssen (2011) point out, a
proliferation of contrasting definitions create issues liable to affect research in the area. They
sought to clarify the terms and language used in the field by reviewing three schools of thinking
on social entrepreneurship: Social Enterprise; Social Innovation; Emergence of Social
Enterprises in Europe. They identified existing definitions and recommended alternative terms:
i. Social Enterprise was defined as the “process of identifying, evaluating and exploiting
opportunities aiming as social value creation by means of commercial market-based activities
and of the use of a wider range of resources”. The social entrepreneur was explained as “a
visionary individual, who main objective is to create social value, able at one and the same time
to detect and exploit opportunities, to leverage resources necessary to his/her social mission and
to find innovative solutions to social problems of his/her community that are not properly met by
the local system. This will make him/her adopt an entrepreneurial behavior”.
ii. Social Innovation. Bacq and Janssen also refer to social entrepreneurs as social value creators,
who in the process of undertaking social missions and community problem solving adopt
entrepreneurial behaviors. The most challenging definition was social entrepreneurship
organization; Bacq and Janssen suggested instead a replacement term “social entrepreneurial
venture (SEV)” in order to better distinguish social enterprises from social entrepreneurship
organizations. To be an SEV, three criteria had to be met: (a) an explicit and central social
mission initiated by citizens either in groups or individually; (b) the commercial orientation must
be consistent with the social mission, and have continuous productivity generating earned
income; (c) are not defined by their legal framework (i.e. social entrepreneurship can be found in
both private for-profit and public sectors.
iii. Emergence of Social Enterprises in Europe. Bacq and Janssen concluded that the central
definitional concern was the tension existing between market requirements and the social
mission. Given that there is considerable overlap between social entrepreneurs and their
commercial counterparts, there is concern about how this “double line” could be managed. They
suggested that the role of governance structures should be researched in managing these tensions,
a topic particularly relevant to Indigenous people. The definitions offered in this study would
appear to be helpful towards future research on social entrepreneurship’s influence on First
g. Social-Founder Identity. Fauchart and Gruber’s (2011) entrepreneurship “founder
identity” schema that was drawn on social identity theory. The researchers wanted to
understand what it means to be an entrepreneur and explored how founder’s self-concepts
shaped decisions in new firm creations. They developed a typology to help develop a
platform to expand and improve understanding of what and why fundamental differences
exist among start-up motivations, processes and outcomes. Three pure types of entrepreneur
founder identities were illustrated: (a) Darwinian (focus their feelings, thoughts and
behaviors on traditional business-orientation, success of the start-up, competition, profit and
economic self-interest); (b) Communitarian (businesses are regarded by entrepreneurs as
social objects whose activities are important catalysts for community development and peer
recognition. They have strong emotional attachment to social-community aspects; (c)
Missionary (entrepreneurs are change agents whose centr-al purpose in firm creation is to
permit the pursuit of political vision and specific social or environmental causes, thus
making the world a better place).
Founder identity can serve as an applicable platform for First Nation entrepreneurial research:
are on-reserve First Nation entrepreneurs motivated by economic self-interest, communitarian
aspects, or political causes? At this point, however, it is important to point out that there exists
discourse and terms within the founder model that would be inappropriate to First Nations. For
example, “Darwinian” is obviously incompatible with the commonly used cultural term of
“creator”, while “missionary” regrettably harkens back to colonization, Residential School and
the abuses often suffered by First Nation people from missionaries. A more appropriate typology
for Indigenous people, specifically First Nation, might be “Business Founder”, “Social Founder”;
“Nation Builder”. The Western world’s need to isolate variables in research through typologies is
Table 7. Community Poverty Alleviation Model and Entrepreneurship Goals/Processes
(Economically Disadvantaged Communities)
Important Very Important Unknown Very Important
Important Very Important Less Important Very Important
Very Important Important Less Important Less Important
Important Very Important Very Important Important Spilling (2011)
Very Important Very Important Less Important Not Important
Very Important Very Important Less Important Less Important
Important Very Important Less Important Important
(European) Not Important Very Important Less Important Very Important
also a challenge to the “holistic” concept extant in First Nation country. First Nation elder and
author E. Richard Atleo (2004) states “the need to focus on isolated variables automatically
obscures any assumption about the general nature of inter-relationships and connections”. So,
from this perspective it is appropriate to First Nations research that Fauchart and Gruber include,
as an extra typology, “hybrid” identity, characterized by a combination of founder meanings.
Consequently, a suggestion may be to add a fourth founder identity term to support the inter-
relational aspects into the typology, such as “Combination Founder”.
The founder identity model also leads us to inquire: how do First Nation on-reserve
entrepreneurs see themselves? What is their self-concept? What is their founder identities? What
are their beliefs, values, thoughts, feelings, motivations and actions in relation to small firm
creation? How is their social identity linked to entrepreneurship desires, decisions, and actions?
h. Micro-enterprise Development. Fuller, Howard and Cummings (2002) looked at the
viability of owner-operated micro-enterprise development in a remote Australian community
after noting the failure of larger-scale Indigenous enterprises to play an important role in the
amelioration of economic problems and social problems faced by individuals in this, and
other, Indigenous communities. They defined the viability of Indigenous-owned small
businesses by the opportunity-cost concept: to be viable, or make a positive contribution to
the local economy, the returns generated need to be greater than the opportunity cost of
capital and labour invested. For example, where high cost and low quality services exist,
Indigenous entrepreneurs may find opportunity for business development. The researchers
conducted a SWOT analysis in the community of Ngukurr, and from that determined the
high-priority goals identified by community owner-managers: (a) financial security for
family; (b) long-term financial security versus short-term financial gains; (c) create
sustainable employment for family members. A case study was also completed on a Bus
Transport small enterprise and found to have the economic potential to provide a community
service which satisfied a range of travel needs in comparison to existing aircraft travel. The
micro-enterprise has as goals the advancement of social and community opportunity to
travel to sacred sites, undertake traditional activities such as camping and hunting
expeditions, permit more participation in outlying social activities, and engage in joint
ventures with other businesses. It also demonstrated a need for more robust and legitimate
institutional arrangements in the community, with the local government authorities
recognized as legitimate, versus non-Indigenous authorities who may have different goals
and objectives for the community.
Outcomes. Ten studies of community models for entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation in
economically disadvantaged communities were reviewed. The specific goals for each model of
entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation were identified. In economically disadvantaged
communities the goals were found not to be solely financially orientated: a total of four goal-
setting motivations were identified: autonomous profit-based goals (financial); social mission-
communitarian goals; political-institutional change motives; collective entrepreneurship
purposes. The four goals were then individually described within each of the ten poverty
alleviation models by assigning a level of importance relative to the study’s perspective: very
important; important; less important; not important (see table 7).
It was determined that:
(a) Six of the ten poverty alleviation models had profit-based goals as either important or
(b) Ten of ten poverty alleviation models had social mission goals as important or very
Figure 1 Importance value comparison: Combined scores of goal-setting motivations of ten
economically disadvantaged community initiatives (importance score out of 30 )
(c) Three of nine (plus one unknown) poverty alleviation models had political-
institutional goals as important or very important.
(d) Five of ten poverty alleviation models had collective entrepreneurship as important or
very important to the poverty alleviation process.
Two new themes result: (a) political institutional change appears as the least important aspect
from the poverty alleviation models; (b) while there is a variety of different poverty alleviation
models, and regardless of the model’s framework, the communitarian social mission, doing
Goals-setting Motivations of Economically Disadvantaged Community Initatives:
Importance Scores (Maximum 30)
social good, is the most important aspect, and the only aspect common to all paradigms for
Figure 1 provides an alternative perspective on the goals of entrepreneurship in economically
disadvantaged communities. The four goals (profit; social mission; political/institutional change,
collective entrepreneurship) were allotted quantitative values in this thesis according to the
importance described within each model, then each goal totaled from all models combined. A
higher number represents a higher importance for each entrepreneurship goal. The maximum
score possible is 27 (9 models x 3). Scoring was allotted from 0 to 3 (Very Important = 3;
Important = 2; Less important = 1; Not Important = 0). The bar graph in Table 5 illustrates the
results and demonstrates that community social good (achieving social mission- communitarian)
is the most important goal (28 out of 30) for economically disadvantaged communities, then
autonomous profit-based (18 out of 30), followed closely by collective entrepreneurship (16 out
of 30), then political-institutional change (14 out of 30). This quantitative comparison produces
the same outcome as per Table 4: achieving community social good (social mission) is seen as
the most important goal for poverty alleviation models in economically disadvantaged
What does this section of the literature review on poverty alleviation models tell us about the
individual motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs? Returning to our definition of motivation,
“an individual’s inner or social stimulus for an action”, the findings suggest the four ranked goals
and purposes for poverty alleviation models may also serve as stimuli motivating entrepreneurial
actions in First Nation communities. Since First Nation communities, like the models that were
reviewed, are often economically disadvantaged these four goals and motivations will be
considered as potential goal-setting motivations in this thesis for First Nation small business.
Subset 2: Indigenous Entrepreneurial Approaches
We now examine research on five Indigenous entrepreneurial approaches initiated in eight
different parts of the world outside of Canada. This literature review will provide a second
perspective to go with the poverty alleviation findings on individual goal-setting motivations
towards adding further insight into understanding First Nation entrepreneurs.
a. Indigenous Australian Entrepreneurs: Examining Success. Foley (2003) researched eighteen
successful Indigenous urban Australian Entrepreneurs in order to understand their paradigm of
success, their attributes and commonalities, and their differences from mainstream Australian
entrepreneurs. He stressed the importance of acknowledging the Indigenous Australian
entrepreneur’s social and economic conditions in defining who they are: “The Indigenous
Australian entrepreneur alters traditional patterns of behavior, by utilizing resources in the
pursuit of self-determination and economic sustainability via entry into self-employment, forcing
social change in the pursuit of opportunity beyond the cultural norms of initial economic
resources”. The study also recognized the general poverty levels Indigenous communities
experienced, and the limited access to resources for enterprise start-ups.
The research found that “success” for Indigenous entrepreneurs had less to do with
motivation for financial achievement than that of non-Indigenous entrepreneurs. Not one
interviewee measured success in terms of dollars or asset accumulation; In fact, a reluctance
to discuss financial gains was a consequence of cultural values that would put them “above”
their community peers. Success was not seen in the non-Indigenous context of what one has
in profits at the end of the day as this would be seen a loss of Aboriginal values. They felt
guilt about not sharing the business profits with family and community when it needed to be
reinvested in the business, as it conflicted with their cultural beliefs of sharing wealth. A
dominating motivational factor for the Indigenous entrepreneur was the desire to correct
negative social perceptions and social stratification as a result of race. Foley determined
seven common attributes of the Indigenous Australian entrepreneur: positivity (to business,
family and life); face (projected image of both their business accountability and their
cultural role modeling towards the wider community); chaos (market conditions and
resource mobilization factors seen as opportunities); education and industry experience;
networking (community ties and connections); immediate family (need to provide);
discrimination (outside and inside of their own community). Social and cultural capital were
regarded as partners for the promotion of Indigenous entrepreneurship, particularly given the
communities were often locked out of external, mainstream society network. Foley also
noted that care should be taken when considering the generalization of research results to
other Indigenous populations “as Indigenous groups differ not only from country to country
(race to race), they may also differ within their own country due to a plethora of reasons”.
b. Social Capital and Entrepreneurship. Light and Dana (2013) felt that social context was
overemphasized in previous research, and that early literature had introduced social capital
(described as social networks involving relationships of mutual trust and reciprocity) as enabling
and enhancing entrepreneurship in groups endowed specifically with that aspect. They felt the
contribution and supportive role of cultural capital was concealed and underplayed, and that both
cultural and social capital variables were indispensable partners in promoting entrepreneurship.
They undertook research with a group with significant social and cultural capital, the Alutiiq
Indigenous people of Alaska. The researchers pointed out that Indigenous North American
communities have abundant social and cultural capital, however experience networking realities
disadvantageous to the development of entrepreneurship: (a) they lack business supportive
cultural capital; (b) they are locked out of essential external networks of entrepreneurial
resources; (c) they exist outside of the cultural space of surrounding mainstream market
societies. Light and Dana also undertook an examination of the claim that the social capital of
powerful groups impedes the entrepreneurship of less powerful groups. The authors’ concluded
that while social capital promotes economic development in general, it does not promote
entrepreneurship universally. In their study, the Alutiiq’s abundant social capital was used for
community hunting and fishing, an economic activity, but did not focus on entrepreneurship.
They stated, “….to facilitate entrepreneurship specifically, social capital requires supportive
cultural capital that directs the social capital toward a particular vocational goal,
entrepreneurship. Every culture does not value entrepreneurship, and social capital will not
transpose into entrepreneurship where entrepreneurship is not valued. When research is
conducted in cultural contexts that support entrepreneurship, the supporting role of cultural
capital becomes invisible, and researchers wrongly conclude that social capital universally
facilitates entrepreneurship”. The Alutiiq Alaska Indigenous entrepreneurs were limited in
business by being locked out of external mainstream markets. In terms of social network theory,
while they had significant social capital available, entrepreneurship was aided only by the
combination of social and cultural capital (and not solely by social capital). These results may
have implications for research involving entrepreneurship among ethno-racial groups including
Canadian First Nation communities: how are First Nations entrepreneurs affected or motivated
by social and cultural capital?
c. Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Culture and Micro-enterprise. Like many Canadian First Nation
communities, Samoan people, particularly in rural areas, have insufficient, little or no
employment opportunities, and the small business sector is underdeveloped and very small. As
well, both experience conditions of poverty, and have limited fina6ncial access and are unable to
utilize land as security given their respective land ownership systems. The economic activities of
these and other Indigenous societies are imbedded in social and cultural aspects, typically
community-oriented. Cahn (2008) studied Pacific Island Samoan micro-entrepreneurial
operations (fine mat weavers and cooperatives of coconut oil producers) and their
interwovenness with the Samoan way of life and culture (fa’aSamoa); Fa’aSamoa incorporates
aspects of social embeddedness, including the importance of personal relationships, reciprocity
Table 8. Motivations of Indigenous Entrepreneurs
Individual Motivations of Indigenous
(Community Good) Researcher
Not Important Important Less Important Unknown Light & Dana (2013)
Important Very Important Important Unknown
Māori Important Very Important Important Unknown
Samoan Important Very Important Very Important Unknown
Important Important Less Important Very Important Foley (2006)
Less Important Less Important Important Unknown
Important Important Very Important Important
Important Less Important Very Important Unknown
and exchange. In her study, the small businesses (five or less employees) were supported by
urban based (non-local) external structures (NGOs). Cahn (2008) defined micro-enterprise
broadly as “small income earning ventures that are managed and operated by the owner, often
with the help of his or her family. Micro-enterprise is a livelihood strategy that, if successful and
sustainable, can achieve the livelihood outcomes of the micro-entrepreneurs and their families”.
Cahn’s research demonstrated that fa’aSamoa was a motivating factor, and an important asset,
enhancing entrepreneurial activity. Furthermore, financial success and sustainability of the
micro-enterprises was significantly affected by how well the entrepreneurial operations blended
with social and cultural aspects. While financial outcomes were important to all the
entrepreneurs, equal importance was given to the development of social and cultural capital,
through the active engagement and expression of fa’aSamoa values. This brings us to again
inquire how social and cultural capital may influence small business entrepreneurship in First
d. Social Capital, Networking and Indigenous Entrepreneurs. Foley and O’Connor (2013)
investigated the social capital and networking practices of three different Indigenous
entrepreneur groups (Australian Aboriginal, Māori, and native Hawaiians) operating in
business as minorities within dominant, urban, mainstream cultural settings. They found
that: (a) Australian Aboriginal entrepreneurs had reduced social capital and needed to use
“bridging” (networking to dominant culture) forms to facilitate business; (b) Native
Hawaiians had distinct separations between social and business networks, and a
predominately bonding (networking within their own culture group) form; (c) Māori
networking was diverse with a solid cultural and social capital base engaged in both bonding
and bridging activities. Although the context of the study was urban, mainstream non-
Indigenous settings, and not local Indigenous communities, there appears to be transferable
knowledge. First, the researchers point out that there is a relatively low number of
Indigenous entrepreneurs (as with Canadian First Nations) and that a specialized
methodology was required to identify and confirm participation, so recommended and
followed a qualitative approach. Second, they provide a useful definition of social capital for
Indigenous people as, “the actual and potential resources embedded both within and
available through their own socio-cultural networks that to a large degree are determined by
their experience of colonization and the contemporary socio-cultural environment within the
dominant society, as well as their ability to function outside of or within structures of
cultural oppression often born of negative stereotypes”. Foley and O’Connor note the
definition contrasts with the more scholarly definitions of social capital as “investment in
social relations with expected returns in the marketplace” (Lin, 2001), and “the stock of
resources for entrepreneurship perceived available to an individual through the strength of
normative and structural ties within a group”.
e. Australian Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Motivations and Constraints. Shoebridge and
Buultjens (2012) found similar promoters and barriers for Australian Indigenous Entrepreneurs
as those identified for Indigenous North America. Constraints included poor education, restricted
land access, limited financial resources, and geographical remoteness. Although there is a long
history of commercial activity with Australian Indigenous people, the differences between
Western capitalist values and strong Indigenous cultural values could pose obstacles, although
Dockery (2010) suggested that traditional Indigenous culture should be regarded a contributor
and influencing factor to overcoming economic disadvantage, rather than a problem. Employing
Figure 2 Importance value comparison: Combined scores of goal-setting motivations of
Indigenous community entrepreneurial initiatives (importance score out of 24 )
other Indigenous persons was as important to Indigenous entrepreneurs as business success.
Other motivators noted by Shoebridge and Peterson included providing for family, being a role
model, empowerment and self-determination of Indigenous people, the influence of mentors,
strong leadership, development of social capital, and good corporate governance. Other factors
that facilitated Indigenous entrepreneurship included the motivation to learn, hard work, desire to
provide for family, personal drive and positivity. It is noted that the entrepreneurs in this study
were from relatively privileged backgrounds, with high levels of education, strong family
support and exposure to business experienced role models.
Social Mission –
Goals-setting Motivations of Indigenous Community Enterpreneurial Initatives:
Importance Scores (Maximum 24)
The researchers concluded that the profit motive for these entrepreneurs was as strong as, if not
stronger then, the motive to generate employment opportunities for other Indigenous people.
Shoebridge and Buultejens also pointed out that government assistance programs were important
to promote Indigenous small business and entrepreneurship but needed to be simplified and more
accessible. Finally, they pointed to the importance of access to mentoring, and the value of
Indigenous business hubs to permit sharing of management, legal, and financial services. Do
similar motivations and effects exist with First Nation entrepreneurs?
Community Contributions of Indigenous Small Businesses in Australia. Collins, Morrison,
Krivokapic-Skoko, Butler and Basu (2016) researched Indigenous private and community-owned
enterprises in primarily micro and small businesses across Australia. (urban, regional and remote
areas). While the study did not specifically target motivators for small business start-up and
development, it does provide clues on entrepreneurs social behavior when we examine the
community engagement and network activities of privately owned enterprises: it strongly
suggests the importance of social networking to the entrepreneurs: 54% sponsored a local sports
team or cultural event; 56% frequently provided free advice or support to others; 62% sought to
employ Indigenous people; 67% volunteered for community services; 89% acted as a positive
role model for young people in the community. The researchers also found that “customary
obligations and practices (i.e. hunting, gathering and fishing) had only a marginal impact on their
businesses…the market was the major factor shaping enterprise activity and success. This is not
to say that Indigenous culture is not relevant to the dynamics of Indigenous private enterprises or
to the lives of Indigenous entrepreneurs”.
Outcomes. The literature reviewed on Indigenous entrepreneurship presented four primary
individual motivators: (a) the impetus and employment of social networking capital; (b) the
effect and role of traditional cultural capital; (c) the desire for financial achievement; (d) the
calling or aspiration to accomplish community social good or social mission. How important, by
way of relative ranking, are each of these motivators to Indigenous entrepreneurs? In Table 8,
results are shown for each of the four variables in terms of qualitative values (very important,
important, less important, not important) according to the importance value assessed in each of
the different studies. If qualitative data is not available or discernable, then the table shows
“unknown”. Figure 2 then summarizes each of these variables quantitatively in terms of “very
important” (value of 3), “important” (value of 2), “less important” (value of 1), “not important”
(value of 0), or “unknown” (no value assignable), and provides totals for comparison.
Financial achievement ranks first in importance (17 out of 24), followed by traditional cultural
value (16 out of 24), then Social Networking Capital at 13 out of 24). Social Mission-
Community Good was not ranked relative to the other variables as only one value out of eight
was determinable, scoring 3 out of 3, since there was only one study targeting this aspect.
The motivators for Indigenous entrepreneurs outside of Canada may be like the motivators for
First Nation entrepreneurs: social networking capital; traditional cultural capital; financial gain.
The social mission purpose and motivator was less studied, so remains unknown for Indigenous
entrepreneurs, including First Nations.
Findings. The two literature reviews of this chapter indicate:
(a) Poverty alleviation models in economically disadvantaged communities are driven by
four purposes, goals and motivations, listed in order of importance: i. accomplishment of
community social good; ii. attainment of autonomous profit-based ends; iii. assemblage of
collective entrepreneurship; iv. achievement of political change. Some, none, or all, of these
goals are potential motivators of First Nation entrepreneurs, given that First Nation
entrepreneurs also create, organize and operate businesses in economically disadvantaged
(b) Indigenous entrepreneurs outside of Canada are motivated by, in order of importance, the
advancement of: i. financial gain; ii. traditional cultural capital; iii. social networking capital.
A fourth aspect was identified, accomplishing social mission and doing community good,
but only one study was available on this aspect, although it did identify the element as
important. Some, none, or all these entrepreneurial motivations may be the same or similar
for the Indigenous group examined in this thesis- First Nation entrepreneurs.
(c) When combining poverty alleviation models and Indigenous entrepreneur research from
outside of Canada, six different entrepreneurship motivators result. Two motivators were
common to each literature review, financial gain and social entrepreneurship (although the
latter was more limited in Indigenous research). The four remaining motivators were: (a)
increasing traditional cultural capital; (b) increasing social networking capital; (c) achieving
political change; (d) entering and accomplishing collective entrepreneurship.
Chapter Four Collateral Information: Filling the Knowledge Gap from Chapter Three
In Chapter Three (Literature Review 1) we determined a knowledge gap exists regarding
First Nation entrepreneurship (i.e. what are the motivators of First Nation entrepreneurs in
new venture creation?). In Chapter Four (Literature Review 2) collateral information was
found from poverty alleviation models and Indigenous entrepreneurship paradigms to fill in
the knowledge gap by identifying potential motivators applicable to the individual
motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs undertaking new venture creation, including the
relative importance of six possible goal-setting motivations: (i) financial gain; (ii) social
mission and social good ends; (iii) participation in collective entrepreneurship; (iv) political
change, including Nation building; (v) traditional cultural capital; (vi) social networking
capital. As well Chapter also determined another knowledge gap exists in terms of
understanding social entrepreneurship as a business model in First Nation entrepreneurship.
Through the first four chapters the thesis has: (a) determined pragmatic models and terms for
the study of entrepreneurship (Chapter Two); (b) found these paradigms and terms to be
effective in describing and understanding First Nation entrepreneurship (Chapter Three); (c)
reviewed the literature on First Nation entrepreneurship and found it lacking and with an
identifiable gap in knowledge regarding motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs (Chapter
Three); (d) identified collateral information (motivators) providing information to fill in this
identified gap (Chapter Four) that subsequently generates four research questions (see
beneath) for research in Chapter Five.
Research Questions and Next Steps.
Chapter Four generates four research questions for the thesis’s next steps: Chapter Five’s study
(Research 1) on First Nation entrepreneurial motivations for new venture creation:
1. What are the individual goal-setting motivations among First Nation entrepreneurs and what
are the motivation differences in new venture creation phases: (a) prelaunch (emergence); (b)
postlaunch (newness, less than 24 months of business operation); (c) postlaunch (newness, 24
months or more of business operation)?
2. How do First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs prioritize individual goal-setting motivations in
each of the creation phases?
3. What can we learn about the role of social entrepreneurship as a goal-setting motivation for
First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs?
4. To what extent are on-reserve First Nation entrepreneurs’ perceptions of their goal-setting
motivations differ from their perceptions of mainstream Canadian dominant society
SECTION III: RESEARCH
Motivational Drivers of First Nation Entrepreneurs.
Preface. Chapter Five researches First Nation entrepreneurship as a follow-up to findings,
knowledge gaps and results from the two literature reviews of Chapter Three and Four. In
Chapter Four, six entrepreneurial motivations and drivers were found rooted in community
poverty alleviation models and Indigenous entrepreneurship from outside of Canada. This
finding provided collateral information for the thesis research given that First Nations are also
Indigenous peoples and similarly their First Nation communities experience economic
disadvantages. The six potential goal-setting motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs are
examined in the present chapter’s research on new venture creation, as is the role of social
entrepreneurship. The research questions determined at the end of Chapter Four are now tested in
a mixed method study in Chapter Five to see: (a) if they apply to First Nation entrepreneurs, and
how they are ranked; (b) how First Nation entrepreneur motivations may change through three
business stages (Prelaunch; Postlaunch < 2 Years; Postlaunch > 2 Years); (c) the role of social
entrepreneurship in First Nation communities; (d) a comparison, as perceived by First Nation
entrepreneurs, of their own motivations and mainstream society entrepreneurial motivations.
Research Development and Design:
Foundation. The research design employs on Gartner’s Four Variable Framework, his Model of
Organizational Emergence, and literature reviews of (a) First Nation on-reserve
entrepreneurship; (c) entrepreneurship and goal motivations in community poverty alleviation
models; (d) individual motivations of Indigenous entrepreneurs outside of Canada. Gartner’s
frameworks were selected as they furnish appropriate schemas and terminology for usage and
framing of the literature reviews, as well as discourse for the aspects of the research
methodology. The literature review of Canadian First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs showed
that although there is limited research available, it is evident many First Nations are
economically disadvantaged, and small business growth, despite very challenging environments,
is an important player for community economic development. The reviews of entrepreneurial
motivations in the contexts of ten poverty alleviation models, as well as eight Indigenous
communities, was undertaken in the search for comparative and transferable knowledge to First
Nation entrepreneurs, as these entrepreneurs typically also operate in economically
disadvantaged communities, and likewise are Indigenous people.
Six conclusions, two research gaps, and four research questions resulted from the literature
reviews. These will guide the research design and development, including the formulation of
research propositions and research variables.
Theoretical Propositions. The initial research propositions are:
Proposition One: The goal-setting motivations of First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs in each
new venture creation stage will be:
(a) “prelaunch”: i. financial gain, ii. traditional cultural capital, iii. social networking
capital, iv. membership in collective entrepreneurship;
(b) “postlaunch less than 24 months”:i. social mission, ii. financial gain, iii. traditional
cultural capital, iv. social networking capital, v. membership in collective
(c) “postlaunch 24 months or greater”: i. nation building; ii. social mission. Iii. financial
gain, iv. traditional cultural capital, v. social networking capital, vi. membership in
Proposition Two: Each goal-setting motivation will be most important in the following new
venture creation stages:
(a) financial gain: prelaunch stage;
(b) social networking capital: prelaunch stage;
(c) traditional cultural capital: postlaunch less than 24 months;
(d) membership in collective entrepreneurship: postlaunch less than 24 months
(e) social mission: postlaunch 24 months or greater;
(f) nation building: postlaunch 24 months or greater.
Research Variables. In Propositions One and Two the dependent variables are six motivations of
First Nation individual entrepreneurs: (a) financial pursuits; (b) achieving social and community
good (social mission; social entrepreneurship); (c) traditional cultural capital; (d) political change
(i.e. (governance and institution creating; Nation building); (e) social networking capital; (f)
participation in collective entrepreneurship.
The independent variable in Propositions One and Two is the Stage of New Venture Creation.
Three modalities exist in the independent variable (i.e. “prelaunch”; “postlaunch less than 24
months”; “postlaunch 24 months or greater”).
Dependent and Independent Variables.
The research variables (see Table 9) are summarized as:
Dependent Variables (entrepreneurs’ goals and motivations):
(a) Financial Gain: motivation, desire, intent or purpose to achieve financial or economic
profit goals (for benefit of self/family/business organization).
(b) Achieve Collective Entrepreneurship: motivation, desire, intent or purpose with a
goal to become a participant or stakeholder in a collective community business
(c) Politically oriented (Nation Building): motivation, desire, intent, or purpose to create,
develop or grow First Nation sovereignty, governance or political goals.
(d) Social Mission (doing social good): motivation, desire, intent, or purpose to create,
develop, grow or derive community benefits goals
(e) Relationality and Social Networking Capital: motivation, desire, intent or purpose for
relations, whether for strictly personal, social reasons and/or business relation
(f) Traditional Cultural Capital: motivation, desire, intent, or purpose to create, develop
or grow traditional cultural capital in keeping with community norms, practices,
history, and expectations.
Independent Variable (new venture creation stage). The independent variable has three
(a) Prelaunch: the period of time or process stage prior to the startup, birth, or founding
of a small business venture;
(b) Postlaunch to 24 months: the period of time or process stage following the startup,
birth, or founding of a small business venture;
(c) Postlaunch 24 months or more: the period of time or process stage following the
startup, birth, or founding of a small business venture.
Table 9. Independent and Dependent Variables
Process Stage (Independent Variable)
<24 Months Modality Postlaunch >24
Research Population. The population sector to be studied is First Nation on-reserve
entrepreneurs. For the purposes of this work, First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs are regarded
as individuals who are First Nation members identifying as prelaunch or postlaunch on-reserve
micro-enterprise or small business entrepreneurs. A goal of the research methodology is to
ensure the research processes capture understanding and new knowledge on the topic of
individual motivations specific to these three phases of First Nation entrepreneurs.
Overall Approach and Philosophical Perspective. The overall approach to theory development
in this research is abductive. From the philosophical perspective, this dissertation proposal
follows an interpretivist philosophy as: (a) it undertakes study with a research population which
creates, develops, and experiences their own social and cultural realities; (b) it collects
information that has meaning specific to the research population.
Purpose. The research is a combined study with multiple purposes: (a) exploratory; (b)
descriptive; (c) evaluative; (d) explanatory. It is exploratory as it seeks to gain insight into the
individual motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs, including learning about the role and effect
of social entrepreneurship for these entrepreneurs. It is descriptive since it is interested in gaining
an accurate determination of what the individual motivations of First Nations entrepreneurs are.
It is evaluative in the sense that it hopes to create a priority ranking of individual motivations for
Diagram 8. Mean Tendency Framework for Methodological Fit
the researched population sub-groups (prelaunch, postlaunch to 24 months, postlaunch 24 the
researched population sub-groups (prelaunch, postlaunch to 24 months, postlaunch 24 months or
greater). Finally, it is explanatory given that it searches to understand if there is a causal
relationship between individual motivations and an individual entrepreneur’s stage (prelaunch,
postlaunch to 24 months, postlaunch 24 months or greater) in new venture creation.
Methodological Fit and Methodological Choice.
Methodological Fit. To determine the most suitable research methodology for this study , the
“mean tendency” framework of methodological fit for business management field work was
utilized (Edmonston & McManus, 2007). In the model, (a) management field research is
defined as systematic research relying on original data, either qualitative or quantitative, in
real organizations; (b) methodological fit refers to the internal consistency among four
elements of a research project: research questions, stage of prior theory on the subject
matter, research design, and theoretical contribution; (c) the conditions under which hybrid
models mix qualitative and quantitative data are an important focus. The framework offers a
continuum of theory in management research (see Diagram 8) from nascent theory
(answering novel research questions), to intermediate theory (presenting provisional
explanations of phenomenon, including introducing new constructs in relation to established
constructs), to mature theory (precise models with extensive research on questions in the
field). Based on the theoretical continuum, the most suitable research methodology can be
Where in the “mean tendency” model does this research’s theoretical platform place? Since the
research (a) offers some novel goal-setting explanations based upon mature research theories of
entrepreneurship, poverty alleviation and Indigenous examples, it would be centrally placed
between the two ends of the continuum in the “intermediate” zone of the “mean tendency”
framework. Consequently, the best methodological fit would be a hybrid design, combining both
qualitative and quantitative strategies. If only qualitative data (one end of the continuum) was to
be collected, the risk would be a lost opportunity for preliminary statistical support of hypotheses
and implicit claims of a new construct. If only quantitative data (the other end of the continuum)
was to be collected, the potential risk would be a lack of credibility without qualitative
illustration and triangulation, thus creating an uneven status of empirical measures.
Methodological Choice. Following the “mean tendency” framework, the research process in this
study will incorporate a multiple method design; The methodological choice is a sequential
exploratory mixed method (simple) in two phases, combining the use of qualitative and
quantitative collection techniques and analytical procedures. Phase One will be qualitative, and
Phase Two will be quantitative. A sequential exploratory mixed method beginning with a
qualitative strategy will: (a) help provide contextual background, and better understand the
research problems. Since there is scant research available on First Nation entrepreneurship the
qualitative case study strategy (interviews) expects to generate more information and a better
understanding about the individual motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs; (b) contribute to
determining and defining the nature of the following quantitative research in Phase Two. The
increased understanding of First Nation entrepreneurs from the Phase One case study will guide
the redevelopment and planning of Phase Two; (c) aid in the redrafting or formulation of
questionnaire items for the quantitative strategy in Phase Two, thereby improving the
Phase One (Qualitative): i. A Pilot focus group with four First Nation entrepreneur participants
will be held in order to: (a) check and refine the initial theoretical propositions; (b) test and refine
the Case Study interview questions (see Appendix: Pilot Instrument). The focus group session
will be approximately 90 minutes.
ii. The Case Study interviews will begin once the theoretical propositions and Case Study
instrument are finalized. Eighteen potential participants have been identified and will be asked to
participate in the Case Study; the goal is to complete a minimum of twelve interviews. Each
interview will be approximately 40 to 60 minutes in duration.
Phase Two (Quantitative): Phase Two will utilize a survey (questionnaire) strategy. The survey
instrument will be developed dependent on what is learned from Phase One. The goal is to
complete a minimum of 50 questionnaires from qualifying participants.
Indigenous Research Methodology. Indigenous research should encompass Indigenous world
views, be guided in communities ethically and credibly, and ensure Indigenous voices are heard
and honored. When constructing knowledge regarding Indigenous peoples it is important to have
Indigenous interests, experiences and knowledge at the heart of research methodologies
(Atkinson, C., 2008; Anderson & Kukutai, 2017). Shawn Wilson (2008) represents the
Indigenous ontology-epistemology-axiology-methodology paradigm in a circle (see Diagram 9).
He emphasizes accountability, reciprocity, rights, and responsibility are key elements in
The following principles and functions are respected and followed in the thesis research
i. knowledge and consideration of community: community is regarded as an essential
aspect of this research.
ii. the approval of the research proposal and methods by Indigenous peoples: the use of
Indigenous focus groups and qualitative feedback processes and tools is utilized.
iii. ways of relating and acting within community, including the principles of
sharing/reciprocity and fidelity/responsibility: research results will be shared with
participants and interested Indigenous stakeholders.
iv. ensuring participants feel safe and confidentiality is respected: all participants will
need to provide their permission for participation and are to be provided with
Diagram 9. Indigenous Research Paradigm
v. listening and observing the self, and the self in relationship to others: relational
aspects, including the importance of respectful listening and sharing, are key aspects
of this study.
vi. a connection and awareness between the mind (logic) and the heart (feelings): an
important element of this research is a holistic approach to understanding First
Nation entrepreneurs and their intentions, thoughts, experiences, feelings and actions
regarding their organizations, environmental contexts and processes.
vii. acknowledgement that the researcher brings to the research their subjective self, non-
judgmental and reflective considerations of what is seen and heard: the researcher
acknowledges these requirements and abides by them.
viii. a purposeful plan based on lessons learnt from listening: the outcomes of this
research are based on lessons learned from feedback and listening to First Nation
ix. responsibility for accuracy and fidelity in regarding what has been heard, observed
and learnt: the researcher affirms responsibility and adherence to these important
Secondary Data: There appears to be little data available for analysis regarding goal-setting
motivation of on-reserve First Nation entrepreneurs by way of Federal Canadian government
documents, First Nation archival records, organizational databases, industry statistics,
institutional or labor market surveys, and related sources. An option for secondary data that will
be explored is Aboriginal employment and training service centers in Canada. Four centers, one
each in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, plus three Territories,
Yukon, Nunuvut, and North-West will be contacted to determine if they have entrepreneurial or
self-employment data resulting from their educational programs that is pertinent to this study.
(a) Pilot Study: the focus group participants (n = 4) will be First Nation entrepreneurs who
are members of any one of the 13 First Nations in Yukon Territory. The focus group will
be held in a Board Room in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
(b) Phase One (qualitative): the case study interviews (n = 12) will be with First Nation
members from a variety of First Nation communities in Canada. Eighteen potential
interviewees have been identified. The interviews will be held in-person or via skype
(c) Phase Three (quantitative): the questionnaires (n = 50 to 100) will be administered in two
or three groups of approximately 30 to 35 participants in Vancouver, British Columbia at
the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University. The qualifying participants will
be First Nation members from different parts of Canada who are enrolled in the
Executive Master of Administration Aboriginal Business and Leadership program who
presently are, or hoping to become, entrepreneurs.
Schedule/Timeline: The proposed timeline and schedule for research activities is:
(a) Pilot (Focus Group): April 20, 2018;
(b) Case Study (12 Interviewees): May 20 – July 20, 2018;
(c) Questionnaire (3 groups; face-to-face): September 15 to December 15, 2018
1. What are the differences in individual goal-setting motivations among First Nation on-
reserve entrepreneurs in the following new venture creation phases: (a) prelaunch
(emergence) (b) postlaunch (newness, less than 24 months of business operation) (c)
postlaunch (newness, 24 months or more of business operation)?
2. How do First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs prioritize individual goal-setting
motivations in each of the creation phases?
3. What can we learn about the role of social entrepreneurship as a goal-setting motivation
for First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs?
4. To what extent are on-reserve First Nation entrepreneurs’ perceptions of their goal-
setting motivations differ from their perceptions of mainstream Canadian dominant
society entrepreneurs’ motivations?
Twelve First Nation community entrepreneurs, either active or former business owners,
were interviewed to provide information on business motivations based on their
entrepreneurial experiences. These entrepreneurs came from twelve different
communities located in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. As well, sixty-four Executive MBA First Nation
students/program participants completed questionnaires regarding entrepreneurial
motivations. All questionnaire respondents were either previously or presently active in
entrepreneurship or interested and intending to startup a business venture. They also
came from a variety of Canadian First Nation communities located in Yukon Territory,
and provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.
(a) Primary Motivators
Six primary motivators of Canadian First Nation community entrepreneurs for new
venture creation are proposed: contributing to social good; financial gain; cultural and
Figure 3 New venture creation motivators: questionnaires
Figure 4 Questionnaire percentages of primary motivators versus other motivators
64 64 61 59 60 59
2 1 1 1 1 1 1
QUESTIONNAIRES: FIRST NATION ENTREPRENEUR
QUESTIONNAIRES: PRIMARY VERSUS OTHER
Six Primary Motivators
traditional support; Nation Building (institutional, governance and sovereignty
development); joining a collective business enterprise; increasing social networking. This
sextet of potential motivators emerged from examinations of international poverty
alleviation and Indigenous community entrepreneurship models: Peredo and Chrisman
(2006); Hjorth (2013); Alvarez and Barney (2014); Spilling (2011); McKeever, Jack &
Anderson (2015); Bacq and Janssen; Fauchart and Gruber (2011); Fuller, Howard &
Cummings (2002); Light and Dana (2013); Foley and O’Connor (2013); Cahn (2008);
Figure 5 Questionnaire totals per motivator
Foley (2000, 2003, 2006); Shoebridge and Buultjens ; Collins, Morrison, Krivokapic-
Skoko, Butler & Basu (2016).
Quantitative Results (Questionnaires). Figure 3 provides the list of all motivators
identified by the questionnaire respondents, along with the totals for each motivator out
12 12 12
2 2 2
1 1 1 1 1
INTERVIEWS: FIRST NATION ENTREPRENEUR
of a maximum score of 64. Figure 4 indicates that 88% of questionnaire respondents feel
that the primary motivators are from the six hypothesized motivators, while 12% feel that
there were other significant motivators than the primary six.
Qualitative Results (Interviews). Figure 5 provides the list of all motivators identified by
the interview respondents, along with the totals for each motivator out of a maximum
score of 12. Figure 6 indicates that 81% of interview respondents feel that the primary
Figure 6 Interview percentages of primary motivators versus other motivators
motivators are from the six hypothesized motivators, while 19% feel that there were other
significant motivators than the primary six.
Representative quotes from the interviewees regarding primary business creation
INTERVIEWS: PRIMARY (HYPOTHESIZED)
VERSUS OTHER MOTIVATORS
Six Primary Motivators
“Although we for sure want our businesses and enterprises to survive and make profits,
what good are they if they don’t succeed? We think regularly, and absolutely take into
consideration, how the business can help others. We also care about cultural beliefs and
traditional aspects like environmental or ecological protection when conducting business
practices. That has always been a part of who we are”
“Financial gain for business survival is important in planning a business, early start up
(first two years) and sustaining the undertaking afterwards but doing social good is there
from the beginning of planning as one of the motivators. Social networking and relations
are also necessarily part of the early planning and thinking and remain throughout the
business’s lifetime. Traditional practices as well.”
(b) Ranking of Motivators
Three of six First Nation primary motivators were hypothesized to be of greater overall
importance and priority to First Nation entrepreneurs and thereby ranked the highest:
achieving social good; financial profit; supporting traditional/cultural aspects. The
remaining three primary motivators were conjectured to be of a lesser importance and a
lower priority to First Nation entrepreneurs: Nation Building; joining a collective
enterprise; social networking. The separation into two motivator ranking groups
eventuated from the review of international poverty alleviation and Indigenous
community entrepreneurship approaches, where the same division was discovered.
Figure 7 shows the questionnaire (n = 64) ranking of First Nation Entrepreneurs’ six
main motivators in decreasing importance from left to right. A Likert scale scoring First
Nation entrepreneurs’ motivations from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest score in importance)
Figure 7 Questionnaire ranking of First Nation entrepreneur motivations
Figure 8 Interview rankings of First Nation entrepreneur motivations
QUESTIONNAIRES: FIRST NATION ENTREPRENEUR MOTIVATIONS:
OVERALL MEAN LIKERT SCORES
INTERVIEWS: FN ENTREPRENEURIAL
IMPORTANCE SCORES (MAXIMUM = 115)
was completed by the questionnaire respondents in order to determine a mean score for
each of the six primary motivations. Scores for all stages of new venture creation
(prelaunch; postlaunch < 2 years; postlaunch > 2years) were combined to derive the mean
Figure 8 shows the means scores from interviewees of First Nation entrepreneurs’
motivations ranked from left to right in decreasing importance. The interviewees
provided information on the six primary motivators for both: (a) their own direct
experience as business owners (12 of 12); (b) what they saw and experienced that were
important motivators for other First Nation entrepreneurs (11 of 12). A total of 23
rankings was determined from the interviews. Each set of the six primary motivators
With the highest score in importance, and zero lowest. If a motivator was not included in
the interview, it was automatically given a score of zero, and the remaining primary
motivators scored starting with most important being 5 followed by the next most
important scored 4 and so on in decreasing importance until all motivators were
enumerated. If all six motivators were confirmed in the interview, the lowest ranked
motivator was scored zero. The highest possible score for any one motivator was 115 (23
rankings x 5 = 115).
Representative quotes from interviewees regarding rankings of primary business creation
“In my fishing business you sold your catches for money and profit, but you always gave
fish to your extended family, and others in the community. This was normal and
“When I opened my consulting business, like most of our community entrepreneurs, I
was motivated initially by survival and self-preservation of the business, but at the same
time from the beginning I also had the goal to be able to help the community be better.”
(c) Motivation and New Venture Creation Stages
Presently no research exists on individual motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs as
their start-ups move through new venture creation stages (Gartner, 1985, 1996, 2016).
Advancing social good, financial gain, and cultural traditional community aspects are
hypothesized to be the most important motivators throughout each of the three stages
(prelaunch; postlaunch < 2 years; post-launch > 2 years). Motivations of Nation Building,
First Nation Entrepreneur Motivations by Business Stage FN
Figure 9 First Nation Entrepreneur Motivator Importance by Business Stage
social networking, and joining a collective enterprise are hypothesized to each be
increasingly important through the stages of business development stages.
Table 10 Importance Values by Business Stage: First Nation Entrepreneurs
First Nation Entrepreneur Motivators: Importance Values
FN Pre 4.22 4.14 4.23 4.14 3.39 2.91
FN < 2 4.04 3.81 3.72 3.74 3.49 2.98 FN > 2 4.32 4.18 4.18 4.03 3.77 3.21
4.19 4.04 4.04 3.97 3.55 3.03
Table 10 and Figure 9 indicates changes in each of the six primary motivators through
each of the business stages.
This research indicates that: (a) each of the six motivators change in importance to First
Nation entrepreneurs during the three stages from pre-launch through post-launch < two years to post-launch > 2 years; (b) the four most important motivators (see figures 10, 11,
12 and 13) throughout new venture creation (social good; financial gain; Nation building;
supporting cultural traditional practices) undergo decreases in importance during post-
launch < 2 years, and then increase in importance during post-launch > 2 years; (c) the
two least important motivators (see figures 14 and 15) throughout the new venture
creation process (social networking; joining a business collective) only change during
post-launch > 2 years, when they increase in importance.
Figure10 Importance-value of social good through business stages
Figure 11 Importance-value of financial gain through business stages
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
Figure 12 Importance-value of cultural support through business stages
Figure 13 Importance-value of Nation Building through business stages
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
Figure 14 Importance-value of joining business collective through business stages
Figure 15 Importance-value of social networking through business stages
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
Representative quotes from interviewees regarding motivational changes through
business stages included:
“I can say that after two years some of the motivations definitely changed for me. For
example, others began looking at the business success I was having and questioning the
money being made. My motivation increasingly moved to less about profit and being able
to show the positive impact it had on community and community members”.
“When I think about the different motivations and goals I had in running a business, I can
say that they were linked in that through them all I was doing something that had a social
pay-off for the community as well as my business.”
(d) First Nation Entrepreneur Business Models
Social Entrepreneurship. Social Entrepreneurship was identified as a model of relevance
for community poverty alleviation models (Bacq and Janssen, 2011), but there has been
no research on this in relation to First Nation on-reserve community entrepreneurship. A
survey by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (Canadian Council for
Aboriginal Business, 2016b) examined all Canadian Aboriginal businesses- Metis, Inuit,
First Nation, urban, and rural, determining that six in ten were sole proprietorships, one in
ten were partnerships, and three in ten were incorporated under a provincial or federal
charter. Overall two out of three aboriginal businesses in Canada were home-based. Of
the total number of aboriginal businesses 56% were on-reserve, however there was no
breakdown of business type on-reserve.
The present study explores social entrepreneurship through both questionnaire (n = 64)
and interview (n = 12) methods.
Social Entrepreneurship versus Sole Proprietorship and Business Collective Models. In
this study, data from 64 questionnaire First Nation entrepreneur respondents is seen in
Figure 16 and indicates that nearly one in four who are interested in starting a business
would create a social entrepreneurship enterprise. Six of ten first-time First Nation on-
Figure 16 Start-up business types of First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs
reserve entrepreneurs would open their own business, while approximately one in seven would
undertake a new venture as part of a business collective.
Past Exposure to Business Models. No First Nation research is available on entrepreneurs
exposed to different business backgrounds and modalities and whether they have a propensity
towards similar business models in new venture creation. This study investigates what business
Have a business <2 6% Have a business >2
Used to have a
Their own business
Interested /plan start-up
First Nation Business Background / Type of Business Would Start
type First Nation entrepreneurs had been exposed to and what type of business model (social
entrepreneurship; sole proprietorship; business collective) they themselves would open. 62 of the
64 questionnaire respondents knew one or more entrepreneurs in their community. As indicated
in Figures 17, 18 and 19, this study finds:
i. Know Sole Proprietors. Nearly nine of ten First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs who
know a First Nation sole proprietor would open a sole proprietorship; Six in ten who
Figure 17 Business model intent of First Nation entrepreneurs who know of sole
know a First Nation business collective would open a sole proprietorship; Four in ten
who know of a First Nation social entrepreneurship would open a sole proprietorship.
ii. Know Business Collectives. Just over six of ten First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs
who know a First Nation sole proprietor would open a venture in a business
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%100%
Would open their own business (87%)
Would open a Social Entrepreneurship (24%)
Would open in Business Collective (12%)
First Nation Entrepreneurs Who Know Sole
collective; two in ten who know a First Nation business collective would open a business
collective. Two of ten who know of a First Nation social entrepreneurship would open a
Figure 18 Business model intent of First Nation entrepreneurs who know of business
iii. Know Social Entrepreneurs. Two of ten First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs who
know of a social entrepreneurship would also open a social entrepreneurship. Three
of ten who know of a business collective would open a social entrepreneurship. Four
of ten who know sole proprietors would open a social entrepreneurship.
See Figure 20 for a percentage comparison of intent to open a social entrepreneurship by
nascent First Nation entrepreneurs. There are no differences in intent to use this model
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%100%
Would open their own business (63%)
Would open a Social Entrepreneurship (21%)
Would open in Business Collective (21%)
First Nation Entrepreneurs Who Know Business
See Figure 21 for a percentage comparison to open a sole proprietorship by nascent First
Nation entrepreneurs. Nearly nine of ten who know sole proprietors will also open a sole
proprietorship. Six of ten who know of business collectives will open a sole
Figure 19 Business model intent of First Nation entrepreneurs who know of social
Figure 20 Intent to open social entrepreneurship
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%100%
Would open their own business (43%)
Would open a Social Entrepreneurship (21%)
Would open in Business Collective (29%)
First Nation Entrepreneurs Who Know Social
Know Sole Proprietor
Intent To Open a Social Entrepreneurship
Figure 21 Intent to open sole proprietorship
Figure 22 Intent to open in business collective
proprietorship. Four of ten who know social entrepreneurs will open a sole
See Figure 22 for a percentage comparison to open a business collective by nascent First
Nation entrepreneurs. Two of ten who know business collectives will also join a business
Know Sole Proprietor
INTENT TO OPEN SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP
Know Sole Proprietor
INTENT TO OPEN IN BUSINESS COLLECTIVE
collective. Three of ten who know social entrepreneurs will join a business collective.
Just over one in ten who know sole proprietors will join a business collective.
Thinking like Social Entrepreneurs. Interviewees provided information on social
entrepreneurship vis-à-vis First Nation entrepreneurs. From this qualitative research a
common theme emerges: First Nation entrepreneurs are predisposed to think like social
entrepreneurs. Representative quotes from interviewees regarding social
“There is an element of social entrepreneurship within each First Nation businessperson
from the perspective that it is important to help the broader community”;
“First Nation businesspeople understand the concept, even if not practicing it”;
“My first business wasn’t a social enterprise, but I thought like a social entrepreneur”;
“I have seen social entrepreneurship in my community- it is very important because it
allows our people to see, feel, and recognize community accomplishments”;
“I think probably all, or almost all, successful First Nation business have a social aspect,
but they usually aren’t social enterprises nor being operated by social entrepreneurs”
(e) First Nation Perception of Mainstream Entrepreneur Motivation
Data was collected from First Nation entrepreneurs through twelve interviews and 64
questionnaires to determine their perceptions of mainstream entrepreneurs’ motivations.
No research has been conducted on this topic to date. Based on qualitative data
(interviews), financial profit is hypothesized to be the most important mainstream
motivator as perceived by First Nation entrepreneurs. To capture this information, a
Figure 23 Ranking of mainstream business motivators by First Nation
Likert five-point scale measurement was used in the questionnaires.
Figure 23 shows the motivation rankings of Canadian mainstream entrepreneurs as
perceived by First Nation entrepreneurs, ranked in highest importance of motivators from
left to right with mean scores from the questionnaires.
Figure 24 Comparison of primary motivators: First Nation and mainstream
2.806 2.806 2.710
SOCIAL GOOD NATION
Mainstream Entrepreneur Motivations According to First
Mainstream 4.738 3.677 2.806 2.806 2.710 1.839
FN 4.042 3.522 3.210 3.970 4.192 4.044
Comparison of Mainstream versus First Nation
Figure 24 shows the side-by-side comparison between each of the six primary motivators
for First Nation and mainstream entrepreneurs as identified b First Nation entrepreneurs.
Representative quotes from the First Nation entrepreneurs regarding mainstream business
“First Nation people- small business operators included, see entrepreneurship as much
different and bigger in meaning to our community than mainstream society sees it for
their own. I don’t think mainstream society knows or understands this”.
“I have been in meetings with mainstream entrepreneurs and heard comments like “well,
we aren’t here to lose money” which represents their business attitude and business
goals- make money, make profit. They just don’t seem to understand the concepts, and
importance, of social good and social entrepreneurship”.
“Mainstream believes in capitalism and is motivated by it, while First Nations are
thinking- I mean really thinking- about community when planning, starting and
establishing a business”.
“It always seems non-native society focuses on making money as their only priority”.
This section demonstrates how the findings of this study address the research questions and build
on the previous literature. It also discusses the implications of the findings, as well as the
limitations of this research. The section begins with a restatement of the research questions, then
addresses each research question in order.
(a) Primary Motivators
The study confirms the hypothesized six primary goal-setting motivators of First Nation on-
reserve entrepreneurs are: creation of social good; Nation building, financial gain; social
networking; cultural-traditional support; joining a business collective. This is consistent with
the motivational driver findings for entrepreneur-based poverty alleviation models as well as
Indigenous entrepreneurship in other parts of the world.
Motivational goals are important as they improve business results (Tracey, Locke, and
Renard, 1998) and encourage firm growth (Baum, Locke, and Smith, 2001). Since First
Nation on-reserve small business entrepreneurship is critical to job creation and community
economic growth (Halkias and Thurman, 2012; Miller, 2012; Weir, 2007; Canadian Council
or Aboriginal Business, 2016), the recognition of accurate new venture creation motivators
will permit better targeting of relevant First Nation community training programs and
funding for programs supporting entrepreneurial growth. While noting the importance of this
finding, it remains germane to recognize that 634 First Nation communities exist across
Canada, and the finding is limited in the sense that it does not identify differences among
entrepreneurship training needs depending on existing levels of economic development, size
of population, and location of First Nation communities.
(b) Ranking of First Nation Entrepreneur Primary Motivators
In order of highest importance to First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs, the primary goal-
setting motivators are ranked: (a) social good; (b) financial gain and Nation building and
cultural support (equally important); (c) joining a business collective; (d) social networking.
i. Social Good. This research confirms that the hypothesized most important of the six
primary motivators for First Nation community-based entrepreneurs is the creation of social
good. This is uniform with the preeminent motivator found earlier in this research in
Indigenous entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation models from other parts of the world.
With achieving social good as the foremost important entrepreneurial motivator, how can
First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurship flourish, let alone exist, after more than a century
within the dominant and much larger economic mainstream society focused on a persistent
profit-based ethos of business competition? The answer is that while it exists, in most cases
First Nation economies do not flourish. They exist, or perhaps subsist, within the confines of
economic disadvantage and poverty (already impacted by factors of racial stigmatism, lack of
financial resources, and limitations imposed by the Indian Act), unable to compete as
effectively as dominant society but still motivated to the daunting task of creating social
good, their traditional ethos, in an effort to achieve economic balance and fairly distributed
resources and benefits among citizens, something dominant society does not hold as an
important motivator. First Nation and other Indigenous communities are entrepreneurial, but
they have been traditionally, and continue to be, entrepreneurs with a strong social
conscience, predisposed to values of community sharing while simultaneously operating with
the drive and capacity for business success. Awareness of the most important motivator of
new venture creation for the researched population along with the above dilemma can serve
as a fresh starting place for positive change in policy by dominant society towards First
Nation business interests and community economic development. Monetary achievement and
financial success alone are not enough to sustain new venture creation in First Nation
communities. The recognition and generation of entrepreneurial models inclusive of social
good creation is critical to First Nation communities: First Nation entrepreneurship cannot
properly be understood and supported without recognition that the creation of social good is a
paramount goal and the preeminent motivator of new venture creation in First Nation
ii.Financial Gain, Cultural Support, and Nation Building. The study hypothesized that three
of the six primary motivators (doing social good; financial gain; cultural support) would be
of a greater importance to First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs than the remaining three
primary motivators (Nation building, social networking, joining a business collective). The
hypothesis was based upon international poverty alleviation models and Indigenous
entrepreneurial findings and is not confirmed. Instead, the study finds that four motivators
(creation of social good; financial gain; cultural support; Nation building) are of greater
importance than the remaining two motivators.
Social good is addressed in (a) above. The other three of four motivators are equal in
importance to First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs: financial gain; Nation building; cultural
support. Of these three, firstly, financial gain as motivation for business survival is easily
understood to be a key business requirement motivating First Nation entrepreneurs, since a
new venture requires sales and financial viability to survive and become sustainable.
Secondly, cultural support as a business motivator may be expected in First Nations as it is
often a common aspect of those communities (Gallagher and Selman, 2015; Atleo, 2015;
Newhouse, 2000, 2001), and is found in other areas and cultures of the world (Thai and Anh,
2016; Patel and Selvaraj, 2015). However, this does not mean it is fully accepted or
recognized as a business motivator in every First Nation community. There remains
contrarian attitudes regarding the association of culture with business development
(Champagne, 2015). Thirdly, Nation building, the final member of the three motivators after
social good was not expected. The importance of nation Building principles of sovereignty,
improved governance systems and institutions, along with the development of effective
dispute resolution methods both supports and is supported by community entrepreneurs. It
supports entrepreneurship by providing systems conducive to entrepreneurship development
and protection. It is supported by entrepreneurship because it reduces dependency through
increased employment, income, and opportunities; it also can provide a community tax base,
and help to retain a dwindling on-reserve populations (Willick, 2016; Miller, 2012; Ferasso
and Saldanha, 2011; Cornell, 2006, 2007, 2015; Cornell, Jorgenson, Record & Timeche,
The First Nation entrepreneur has a lot to think about, a lot to consider in planning, and
consequently perhaps much to do. The complex intertwining and interplay between and
among these motivators may be considerable. On the one hand, the entrepreneur not only
needs to balance financial gain versus the preeminent goal of social good but keep in
consideration how to support cultural aspects and contribute directly to a higher good of
Nation building. It may that these motivators are strongly linked, require one another for
support and development concomitantly. In this way, one might think of Nation building as
both a motivator and a result or consequence, linked to the other key motivators. Two
alternate theories as to why Nation Building is found to be an important motivator may be:
(a) the research population is taught business, and their program includes elements of Nation
building in their MBA program. Perhaps they are more inclined to be motivated by this
aspect; (b) notwithstanding (a) above, Nation building and sovereignty are getting increasing
significant discussion and media in Canada in relation to natural resources and human rights,
and this increased dialogue and exposure could be a contributor to importance. An
international example of the connection between entrepreneurship and successful Nation
building is found the Alpine micro-state of Liechenstein (Schuessler, Schaper and Kraus,
iii.Joining a Business Collective and Social Networking. The study identifies that the two
least important of the six primary motivators are: joining a business collective; social
networking. Why are they lower in importance?
Productive social capital is conceived as a collective good, and there is considerable evidence
that it contributes to poverty alleviation, entrepreneurship and economic development
(Seferiadis, Cummings, Zweekhorts and Bunders, 2015). As an important aspect of social
networking and business collectivity, social capital would appear relevant to First Nation
community entrepreneurship. Then why are they the least important of the primary First
Nation motivators? Perhaps social networking is seen by First Nations as (a) mainly a
mainstream business activity and not a common historical practice of First Nations; (b) a
practice that would be “taking advantage of your community contacts” (i.e. friends, family
and community members). In other words, “using” your social network to make money may
be cultural mores and seen as exploitive of communal good (as opposed to contributing to
“social good”- First Nations’ primary motivator for entrepreneurship.
(c) Motivation and New Venture Creation Stages
No research presently exists for changes in motivation through new venture creation stages
of pre-launch and post-launch (Gartner and Brush, 2007) and changes in goal-setting
motivation (Latham and Locke, 2002) for First Nation entrepreneurs.
The directional change in importance-values (i.e. decrease; increase; remain static) for each
of the six primary motivators of First Nation community entrepreneurs was
Table 11. Hypotheses: change in motivation (static/increase/decrease)
Hypotheses: Change in Motivation (Static/Increase/Decrease)
Postlaunch < 2 Postlaunch > 2
Social Good Not Supported Not supported
Financial Gain Not Supported Not supported
Cultural Support Not Supported Not supported
Nation Building Not Supported Supported
Join Collective Supported Not supported
Social Networking Supported Not supported
hypothesized (see Table 11) < 2 to postlaunch > 2.
The hypothesized motivational importance-value changes were:
i.Social good hypothesis: the importance-value of social good motivation after prelaunch
remains static in postlaunch < 2 and remains static in postlaunch > 2. A consideration
towards the hypotheses was that social good motivation may perhaps generally be a
constant value in First Nation communities and unaffected by business stages. Both
hypotheses were not supported. Research indicates the importance of doing social good
decreases after prelaunch during the first two years following start-up, and then increases
after two years. See Figure 25.
ii. Financial gain hypothesis: the importance-value of financial gain motivation after
prelaunch remains static in postlaunch < 2 and decreases in postlaunch > 2. A
consideration towards the hypotheses was that an aegis and foundation of business
survival would be financial success, and thus remain constant and likely not be subject to
motivational decreases or increases. Both hypotheses are not confirmed. Research
Figure 25 Social gain: actual versus hypothesized importance-value changes
through business stages
Figure 26 Financial Gain: actual versus hypothesized importance-value
changes through business stages
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
indicates the importance of financial gain as a motivator decreases after prelaunch during
the first two years following venture start-up, and then increases after two years. See
iii.Nation building hypothesis: the importance-value of Nation building motivation after
prelaunch increases in postlaunch < 2 and increases in postlaunch > 2. A
Figure 27 Nation Building: actual versus hypothesized importance-value
changes through business stages
consideration towards the hypotheses was that Nation Building as a goal-setting
motivation is perhaps a long-term end, and therefore may increase in importance to
entrepreneurs through the two postlaunch phases as their ventures develop through
time. The first hypothesis is not confirmed. The second hypothesis is confirmed.
Nation building decreases during the first two years following venture start-up, and
then increases after two years. See Figure 27.
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
iv.Cultural support hypothesis: the importance-value of cultural support motivation
after prelaunch remains static in postlaunch < 2 and remains static in postlaunch > 2.
A consideration towards the hypotheses was that perhaps cultural and traditional
Figure 28 Cultural support: actual versus hypothesized importance-value
changes through business stages
Figure 29 Social networking: actual versus hypothesized importance-value
changes through business stages
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
practices may remain relatively constant as an element within First Nation
communities. The hypotheses are not confirmed. Research indicates the importance
of cultural support decreases after prelaunch during the first two years following
venture start-up, and then increases after two years. See Figure 28.
v.Social Networking hypothesis: the importance-value of social networking as
motivation after prelaunch increases in postlaunch < 2 and remains static in postlaunch > 2. A consideration towards the hypotheses was that social networking
might be a significant contributor to new venture creation in the early stages of
postlaunch to help with financial successes. The first hypothesis is supported.
Research indicates the importance of social networking does increase as hypothesized
after prelaunch during the first two years following venture start-up. The second
hypothesis is not supported: motivation increases after two years. See Figure 29.
vi.Join business collective hypothesis: the importance-value of joining a business
collective as motivation after prelaunch remains static in postlaunch < 2 and decreases in postlaunch > 2. The first hypothesis is confirmed. Research indicates the
importance of joining a business collective does increase as hypothesized after
prelaunch during the first two years following start-up. The second hypothesis is not
confirmed. The motivation increases after two years. See Figure 30.
Interpretation of the results is aided by Figure 31, Figure 32, and Figure 33. Figure 31
compares changes through business stages of the two highest ranked motivators in
importance. Figure 32 compares the changes through business stages of the third and
fourth highest ranked motivators. Figure 33 compares the changes through business
stages of the fifth and sixth ranked motivators. Note that the four highest importance-
value motivators in Figures 31 and 32 all have the same v-shaped configuration
Figure 30 Joining business collective: actual versus hypothesized
importance-value changes through new venture creation stages
Figure 31 Social good – financial gain: comparative importance-value
changes through business stages
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
Join Business Collective
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
Social Good and Financial Gain
Social Good Financial Gain
indicating that for each of them importance values decrease during postlaunch < 2 and then increase during postlaunch > 2. In Figure 33 the two lowest importance-
value motivators have the same increasing value configuration through postlaunch
business stages, increasing slightly in postlaunch < 2 and then more significantly in postlaunch > 2 Years. Why do the four most important motivators undergo similar
changes in importance through time and postlaunch stages, while the two least
important motivators also match each other’s angles through time and postlaunch
Figure 32 Nation Building – cultural support: comparative importance-value
changes through business stages
focus in prelaunch strategizing, then followed increasingly by the two least important
motivators during the postlaunch stages (hence their increase in importance). This in turn
would account for the four highest motivators temporarily decreasing in importance in
the earlier stages of business launching (postlaunch < 2) in compensation for the now 3.400 3.500 3.600 3.700 3.800 3.900 4.000 4.100 4.200 4.300 FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
Nation Building and Cultural Support
Nation Building Support Culture
increasing entrepreneurial energy diverted to the two lowest motivators. Later
(postlaunch > 2) all six motivators increase in importance in tandem.
Figure 33 Social networking – joining business collective: comparative
importance-value changes through business stages
Another way of understanding these patterns is that social networking may be seen
initially as less important to First Nation entrepreneurs, due to concerns that it would be
perceived as “taking advantage of your community members for financial gain”- an
unwanted black mark. Social networking may only be appropriate as a motivator later,
once the reputation and sustainability of the new venture is already in place. Similarly,
joining a business collective may be a “Plan B” option in the event the new venture is not
successful on its own accord, so increases in importance to potentially ensure a back-up
plan exists to sustain the venture. Another alternative for the business collective increase
in importance would be that once the owner-operator venture was successful (had
survived to postlaunch > 2) the entrepreneur may wish to aid other entrepreneurs, or
FN Pre FN<2 FN>2
Social Networking and Business Collective
Social Networking Business Collective
perhaps simply feels more comfortable joining a business collective in the later business
stage once their business is more firmly established and in their control.
In summary, research suggests a harmonic movement among the six primary motivators,
particularly with the four most important motivators changing in importance together in
an interactive function with the two lesser important motivators. Regardless, it would
appear remiss to fully separate and disconnect the six primary motivators from each other
in First Nation entrepreneurship, for reasons including that entrepreneurial processes
necessarily interact and effect one another (Gartner, 1985, 2007, 2016), perhaps even
more so with First Nation entrepreneurs. First Nation entrepreneurs operating individual
businesses are consistent and well organized in their cognitions around motivational
strategizing for new venture creation processes in the face of especially challenging
The consequences of this knowledge are inviting. Since First Nation entrepreneurs have
the requisite capacity, and know their motivating goals, the prognosis for business
success is good (Latham and Locke, 2002), especially with appropriately targeted
training and mentorship programs designed to understand, accommodate, develop and
support all their six primary motivators.
(d) First Nation Business Models
Three First Nation business models were studied and compared: social entrepreneurship; sole
proprietorship; business collective. In the literature social entrepreneurship was identified as
a potential model and motivator for communities experiencing economic disadvantages and
poverty (Bacq and Janssen 2011), but little is researched or known in this regard vis-à-vis
First Nation new venture creation. This research gathered both quantitative (questionnaires)
and qualitative (interviews) data.
Quantitative. A trio of aspects are explored: (a) which of three entrepreneurship models
(social entrepreneurship; sole proprietorship; business collective) do First Nation on-reserve
individuals prefer to select for new venture creation?; (b) does knowing community business
owners and their business models affect First Nations entrepreneurs’ choice of new venture
creation models?; (c) How often do First Nation entrepreneurs start up social
Startup Model Preferences. 23% of nascent First Nation entrepreneurs would like to start up
a social entrepreneurship versus 63% for sole proprietorship, and 14% for a business
collective. While sole proprietorship is the most selected model for First Nation startups,
nearly one in four would opt for a social entrepreneurship, however only one in twelve First
Nation entrepreneurs eventually open a social entrepreneurship venture.
Awareness of Business Models and Startup Model Preferences.
i. Social Entrepreneurship. 24% of First Nation entrepreneurs who know sole proprietors
would start up a social entrepreneurship. 21% who know social entrepreneurs would start
up a social entrepreneurship. 21% who know business collective entrepreneurs would
start up a social entrepreneurship. Whatever business model a First Nation entrepreneur
has been exposed to, whether a sole proprietorship operation, part of a business
collective, or a social entrepreneurship undertaking, will create no change on whether that
entrepreneur will open a social entrepreneurship venture. Regardless of the business
model they are aware of through other First Nation entrepreneurs, the intent to open a
social entrepreneurship start-up remains consistent at nearly one in four First Nation
ii. Sole Proprietorship. The results also indicate that no matter what business model the
entrepreneur is exposed to the most probable start-up will be a sole proprietorship.
However, the percentage of sole proprietorship start-ups decreases when the
entrepreneurs knows a First Nation businessperson other than a sole proprietor: Nearly
nine in ten First Nation entrepreneurs who know at least one sole proprietor First Nation
entrepreneur would in turn open a sole proprietorship. If they know a businessperson who
is a member of a business collective, they will start a sole proprietorship only six times
out of ten. If they know a businessperson who owns a social entrepreneurship enterprise,
then the number drops even further to four times out of ten.
iii. Business Collective. Three out of ten First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs who know
a businessperson who owns a social entrepreneurship, and two out of ten who know a
business collective entrepreneur, and two out of ten who know a business collective
entrepreneur would open a business as part of a business collective. However, the
percentage drops by half to one out of ten, if the entrepreneur knows someone who has a
sole proprietorship. This phenomenon may be explained as weak social capital assists
solo entrepreneurs in new venture creation, while for team start-ups social capital has no
direct effect (Cantner and Stützer, 2010).
Overall, this research finds that while First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs are most
likely to create business start-ups in sole proprietorship, they are less likely to do so if
they know either social entrepreneurs or business collective entrepreneurs.
Qualitative. Twelve First Nation entrepreneurs were interviewed on social entrepreneurship.
Based on their own experiences regarding on-reserve entrepreneurship 58% (7) indicated that
First Nations think like social entrepreneurs. Since First Nation entrepreneurs think like
social entrepreneurs, and nearly one in four would like to start up a social entrepreneurship
business, and one in five know someone who has started a social entrepreneurship venture,
then why so only one in approximately twelve actually startup new ventures with social
entrepreneurship as their model of choice? One possibility is that training programs and
funding focus on the mainstream perspective that training should concentrate on financial
success and profit motive versus social aspects.
Another possibility is that historically First Nation peoples have long been traders and
entrepreneurs (Miller, 2012; Harrington, 2017). This combined with the need to subsist and
survive in an economically challenged environment may prompt or encourage First Nation
people to tend to engage in private ownership entrepreneurial activities in order to first self-
sustain, rather than initially create social entrepreneurship and business collectives.
Social entrepreneurship is a prominent form of entrepreneurial activity, with a main goal of
creating social value through processes that seek out innovative solutions to outstanding
social issues and problems. As well, three drivers of social entrepreneurship- social capital
through training and education, wealth distribution with income growth, and institutional-
governance improvements (Méndez-Picazo, Ribeiro-Soriano & Galinda-Martin, 2015) speak
to the needs and issues in First Nations. While only 8% of First Nation community
entrepreneurs presently create new ventures through the social entrepreneurship model,
nearly three times as many express an intent to create new businesses under this model.
Social entrepreneurship is an important, but untapped, new venture creation model and
opportunity for economic development and poverty alleviation in First Nation communities.
(e) First Nation Perception of Mainstream Entrepreneurial Motivation
Canadian First Nations exist within a larger mainstream society and economic framework
across the ten provincial and three territorial regions of the country. They often interact with
mainstream population economically and socially, and generally have the same access to
media and communication systems. They are also impacted by decades of colonialism,
racism and inter-generational residential school issues.
It was hypothesized that First Nation entrepreneurs perceive mainstream society
entrepreneurs as motivated: (a) more by financial gain, and less by the remaining five
primary motivators of First Nation entrepreneurs- achieving social good, Nation building,
supporting culture, joining a business collective, and social networking. The hypothesis is
shown to be correct.
The only motivator of equal importance to mainstream and First Nation entrepreneurs is the
desire to join a business collective. However, for both groups joining a business collective is
lower in importance among the primary motivators.
Except for joining a business collective, First Nation entrepreneurs’ perception of
mainstream society entrepreneurs’ goal setting motivations are dissimilar to their own
business motivations. First Nation entrepreneurs identify financial profit as the most
important driver for mainstream entrepreneurs followed by social networking, whereas their
own preeminent entrepreneurial motivator is the achievement of social good. Mainstream
Canadian society exists within a capitalist economy, whereas First Nation historically
through to present times is regarded as having more of a collective and communal approach
in their communities (Miller, 2012). Furthermore, from this research, First Nation people
often feel they have been financially taken advantage of by mainstream entrepreneurs which
may in turn affect their perceptions of mainstream society being more materialistic, profit
oriented and comfortable using social networking towards commercial success compared to
their own goal-setting business motivations.
1. There are six primary goal-setting motivators for First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs.
Ranked in order, beginning with the highest importance to entrepreneurs, they are: (a)
social good; (b) financial gain and Nation building and cultural support (equally
important); (c) joining a business collective; (d) social networking.
2. First Nation entrepreneurship cannot properly be understood and supported without
recognition that (a) the creation of social good is a paramount goal and the preeminent
motivator of new venture creation in First Nation communities; (b) Nation building and
cultural support are equally important goal-setting motivators as financial profit to First
Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs.
3. First Nation entrepreneurs start and operate businesses in the face of especially
challenging entrepreneurial environments.
4. First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs are most likely to create business start-ups in sole
proprietorship, but they are less likely to do so if they know either social entrepreneurs or
business collective entrepreneurs.
5. Social entrepreneurship is a largely untapped business model and opportunity for the
support of new venture creation, economic development, and poverty alleviation in First
6. First Nation entrepreneurs’ business perceptions of mainstream entrepreneurs are vastly
different from their self-perceptions as entrepreneurs: First Nation entrepreneurs identify
financial profit as the most important driver for mainstream entrepreneurs, whereas their
own preeminent entrepreneurial motivator is the achievement of social good.
7. Training and funding programs for First Nation business and economic community
development should be designed with consideration given to conclusions i. through vi.
(a) There are 364 First Nations in Canada. Although this research includes entrepreneurs from
more than 30 different communities, it does not take community differences (cultural,
population density, remoteness of locations) into account.
(b) The research did not explore and examine the meanings of social good and nation building.
(a) Research and compare the business motivators of off-reserve to on-reserve First Nation
entrepreneurs to see differences and similarities. Communities with similar entrepreneurial
needs and motivations could learn from one another, or work in tandem for business
(b) Research and identify the numbers of on-reserve entrepreneurs and their business types in
order to provide data for future training programs.
(c) Research, identify and learn more about the specific meanings of social good to First Nation
communities. Since social good is the preeminent entrepreneurial motivator, this becomes an
important finding towards encouraging entrepreneurship development and poverty alleviation
in First Nation communities.
(d) Research mainstream perceptions of First Nation entrepreneurship motivations, particularly
Canadian, provincial and territorial government and non-government organizations that fund
or provide entrepreneurial education to First Nation communities, in order to determine if
their models are appropriate, or can be improved, for the communities being served.
(e) Conduct further research regarding the changes in motivations and business decisions
effected by First Nation entrepreneurs through new venture creation stages in order to better
understand the processes at play with these individuals and their organizations in startup and
Recommendation (e) above will be undertaken by this thesis in Chapter Six (Research 2). Where
Chapter Five (Research 1) studied and determined drivers and motivational changes in First
Nation entrepreneurs engaged in entrepreneurial startup, Chapter Six will further examine the
entrepreneurial business changes, decisions and motivational drivers in a qualitative research
methodology utilizing Business Model Canvas through the three stages of new venture creation.
Business Model Canvas and First Nation Entrepreneurs
Preface. Chapter Six provides further research regarding First Nation entrepreneurs by way of a
qualitative follow-up study to findings from Chapter Five. In the previous chapter, the primary
motivators of First Nation entrepreneurs were determined, along with changes in these drivers
through three business stages (Prelaunch; Postlaunch < 2 Years; Postlaunch > 2 Years). Chapter
Six uses Business Model Canvas as the conceptual framework in research to further understand
First Nation entrepreneurs’ new venture creation processes, actions and changes through those
three stages. The research also generates an alternative framework (Business Model Circle) more
suitable for First Nation entrepreneurial new venture creation and development.
Conceptual Framework. Business Model Canvas (Osterwalder & Pigneur, 2011) is used as the
conceptual framework in this research. Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a strategic
management tool, visual business chart, and organized template to help develop new or existing
business models. It can quickly and easily describe, define and communicate business concepts
and ideas in coherent ways. BMC breaks the business into nine interconnected elements: value
proposition; key partners; key activities; key resources; customer relationships; customer
segments; channels; cost structure; revenue streams. When presented visually as a one-page
template (see Diagram 10), the rectangular model of connected boxes is designed to help clarify,
work through and inter-relate the fundamental aspects and elements of a business or product for
the entrepreneur in start-up, growth or re-development. In qualitative research such visual
material can serve as an adjunct to one-to-one interview processes, working in tandem with
words, questions, and exploratory dialogue (Butler-Kisber, & Poldma, 2010; Glaw, Inder, Kable
& Hazleton, 2017; Pole, 2004).
Diagram 10. Business Model Canvas (BMC)
The Business Model Canvas template may also be a potentially valuable tool and framework for
research involving First Nation people. Indigenous researcher Shawn Wilson (Wilson, 2008)
describes Indigenous research methods in terms of Indigenous paradigm where knowledge is
relational and includes “viewing objects as the relationships we share with them- on how we see
concepts and ideas” (Wilson, 2008, p. 74). In a similar way, relationality is a precept taken up by
other Indigenous scholars in describing Indigenous research in a holistic conception of inter-
connectiveness between and among parts that can be seen, heard, felt or touched (Moreton-
Robinson, 2009; Weber-Pillwax, 2001).-
In a study of Native American communities, the Medicine Wheel was a visual framework used
during interviews and focus groups to illustrate the four essential elements of context, body,
mind and spirit (Cross, Earle, Solie,& Manness, 2000). E. Richard Atleo, in his book on
development of an Indigenous theory (Atleo, 2004), uses several visual illustrations as an
additional means to deliver his treatise.
Perhaps the value of visual tools and models was explained best by Black Elk in John Neihardt’s
Black Elk Speaks: “It was the pictures I remembered and the words that went with them; for
nothing I have ever seen with my eyes was so clear and bright as what my vision showed
me….the meanings came clearer and clearer out of the pictures….” (Neilhardt, 1972, p. 49).
Theoretical Propositions. Given that there can be a huge difference between intention,
realization and performance in establishing a Business Model Canvas, it is hypothesized:
(a) The utilization of Business Model Canvas will deliver valuable research information on
the dynamics involved with, and deepen the understanding of, First Nation entrepreneurs.
(b) By learning how Business Model Canvas evolves through First Nation business stages we
shall better understand the thoughts, actions and drivers of First Nation entrepreneurs.
(c) Through use of Business Model Canvas with First Nation entrepreneurs we shall suggest
an alternative model of Business Model Canvas for First Nation entrepreneurs.
Research Questions. The study undertakes the following research inquiries:
(a) What can we learn from changes made (or not made) to Business Model Canvas by First
Nation entrepreneurs in their new ventures through different business stages?
(b) What can we learn about First Nation entrepreneurs from themes that emerge via
Business Model Canvas?
(c) How could Business Model Canvas be modified to benefit First Nation entrepreneurs?
Research Population. The population group is twelve First Nation members who are small
business owners delivering services or products from First Nation reserves or territory. They
have a minimum of 3.5 to 4 years continual success in their enterprises. All twelve entrepreneurs
were operating businesses within the boundaries of the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Research Design. The study is qualitative and abductive. Over a seven week period twelve First
Nation entrepreneurs were interviewed once each for 90 to 120 minutes using the BMC as a
visual reference guide. Notes were made during the interviews, and then completed and
compiled into summarized written form within twenty-four hours of completion of each
interview (see Appendix: Interview Records). Interviewees were explained the purpose of the
research and provided with a copy of the BMC template for their reference during the interviews.
Each of the seven BMC elements to be explored were explained to the interviewees. They were
then asked for feedback on the elements. Value proposition was explained inclusive of the terms
“products and services”. Key partners, key activities and key resources were explained and
included as a grouping within the pillar “management of infrastructure”. Customer relationships,
customer segments and channels were explained and included as a grouping within the pillar
“client interface”. Following the introduction, when each interviewee acknowledged
understanding BMC, they were asked to provide feedback and information on the seven elements
for each business stage: (a) prelaunch; (b) postlaunch < 2 years; (c) postlaunch > 2 years.
Each interview was conducted in the following order:
(a) (Prelaunch feedback: (i) value proposition; (ii) management of infrastructure; (iii) client
(b) Postlaunch < 2 feedback: (i) value proposition; (ii) management of infrastructure; (iii) client interface”. (c) Postlaunch > 2 feedback: (i) value proposition; (ii) management of infrastructure; (iii)
The visual template of BMC was used throughout the duration of each interview.
Analysis Steps. Analysis includes:
(a) Determine BMC element changes. Postlaunch < 2 Years and Postlaunch > 2 Years stage
changes are calculated for each of the seven BMC elements from the FN entrepreneur
interviews. Prelaunch BMC elements are compared with Postlaunch < 2 Year BMC elements, and Postlaunch < 2 Year BMC elements are compared with Postlaunch > 2
elements. The number of changes are tabulated for each stage and BMC element.
(b) Determine BMC pillar changes (Value Proposition/Products and Services; Infrastructure;
Client Interface). A comparison between Postlaunch stages is undertaken.
(c) Determine themes. BMC First Nation entrepreneur interviews are coded, and emerging
themes determined for each of the three business development stages. The coding follows
an inductive process to determine what categories or themes emerge.
(a) Business Model Canvas: Element Changes
i.All changes for each of the seven BMC elements from each of the twelve interviewees
(marked A to L) are shown in Table 12 for Postlaunch < 2 Years and Postlaunch > 2 Year
stages along with totals. All twelve entrepreneurs interviewed (see Appendix: Chapter 6
Interview Records) had businesses that continued into the fourth year (a requirement for the
study to match the business stages under study). Four of the entrepreneurs closed their
ventures just prior to the start of the fifth year (interviews C, G, I, and K marked with
asterisks), whereas eight remained open.
Table 12 Business Model Changes per BMC Element and Business Stage
Business Model Canvas Changes in Elements
A (< 2) Change change 2
A (> 2) Change change Change change 4
B (< 2) change 1 B (> 2) change change Change change change 5
C (< 2) 0 * C ( > 2) change Change 2
D (< 2) 0 D (> 2) change 1
E (< 2) 0 E (> 2) change change Change Change change change Change 7
F (< 2) change change change Change 4 F (> 2) change change Change Change change change Change 7
G (< 2) change 1 * G (> 2) change change Change 3
H (< 2) change 1 H (> 2) change change Change Change 4
I (< 2) 0 * I ( >2) change Change 2
J (< 2) change change Change 3 J (> 2) Change 1
* K (< 2) 0
K ( >2) change Change change change Change 5
L (< 2) change change change Change 4 L ( > 2) change change Change change 4
9 11 5 9 12 7 8 61
* business closed during fourth year of Postlaunch
ii. Every First Nation entrepreneur interviewed (n = 12; marked A to L) effected changes in BMC
elements during the postlaunch stages, ranging from 1 to 11 changes. See Figure 34. Note that
three of the four closed businesses (C, G, I) had some of the lowest totals (C = 2; G = 4; I = 2) of
BMC element Postlaunch stage changes. Twelve out of twelve Postlaunch > 2 Years had —
element changes. Eight of twelve Postlaunch < 2 Years had element changes, while four did not: Figure 34 Total BMC changes per First Nation entrepreneur of the four that did not have element changes in Postlaunch < 2 Years, three were ultimately closed later in Postlaunch > 2 Years.
Figure 35 Total BMC changes per Postlaunch stage by First Nation entrepreneurs
A B C * D E F G * H I * J K * L
Series1 6 6 2 1 7 11 4 5 2 4 5 8
Total BMC Changes per Interview:
Postlaunch Stages Combined
(* closed prior to end of Year Four)
< 2 Years > 2 Years
T o t a l C h a n g e s i n B M C E l e m e n t s :
1 2 F i r s t N a t i o n E n t r e p r e n e u r s
( P o s t l a u n c h < 2 Y e a r s & P o s t l a u n c h > 2 Y e a r s )
iii. Of the 61 changes in BMC elements recorded from the twelve First Nation entrepreneurs 16
element changes took place in Postlaunch < 2 Years and 45 element changes occurred in Postlaunch > 2 Years. See Figure 35.
iv.The mean changes per First Nation entrepreneur during both Postlaunch < 2 + Postlaunch > 2
= 5.08 element changes. The mean changes for each of the two Postlaunch stages were:
Postlaunch < 2 Years = 1.33; Postlaunch > 2 Years = 3.75 (see Figure 36).
Figure 36 Mean BMC changes in each business stage by First Nation entrepreneurs
BMC element changes increase by nearly three-fold (281%) from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2 Years. (For an annual statistical comparison, when the BMC Postlaunch changes
are broken into annual mean scores the element changes are .67 per year for Postlaunch < 2 Years, and 1.88 per year for Postlaunch > 2 Years. The mean combined Postlaunch stages
element changes are 1.27 per year per entrepreneur).
iv.The total number of changes for the seven BMC elements from First Nation entrepreneurs in
Postlaunch < 2 Postlaunch > 2 Postlaunch < 2 + > 2
MEAN BMC CHANGES POSTLAUNCH < 2, POSTLAUNCH > 2, COMBINED
FIRST NATION ENTREPRENEURS
combined Postlaunch < 2 + Postlaunch > 2 stages are shown in Figure 37: the element with the
most changes is Key Resources (12), while the element with the least changes is Channels (4).
Figure 37 BMC element changes Postlaunch < 2 Years + > 2 Years by First Nation Entrepreneurs
Figure 38 BMC element changes Postlaunch < 2 Years of First Nation entrepreneurs 0 5 10 15 12 11 9 9 8 7 5 N um be r of C ha ng es (C om bi ne d Po st la un ch St ag es ) BMC Element Business Model Canvas Changes after Prelaunch per Element: First Nation Entrepreneurs (Postlaunch < 2 Years + > 2 Years)
4 4 0 3 3 3
BMC Element Changes during Postlaunch < 2 Years: First Nation Entrepreneurs 171 Figure 38 shows the seven BMC element changes for Postlaunch < 2 Years: the elements with the most changes are Key Resources (4) and Client Segments (4), while the element with the least changes is Client Relations (0). Figure 39 shows the elements’ change for Postlaunch > 2
Figure 39 BMC element changes Postlaunch > 2 Years of First Nation entrepreneurs
Figure 40 Comparison of BMC element changes per Postlaunch stage (bar graph)
8 7 9 8
5 5 4
BMC Element Changes during Postlaunch > 2 Years:
First Nation Entrepreneurs
< 2 Years 3 4 0 1 3 3 1 > 2 Years 5 7 9 8 5 4 4
BMC Element Changes Postlaunch < 2 Years versus Postlaunch > 2 Years:
First Nation Entrepreneurs
< 2 Years > 2 Years
As shows in Figure 40, each of the seven BMC elements increased in number of changes from
Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2 Years for First Nation entrepreneurs. The greatest
increases were with Client Relations (0 to 9 changes) and Value Proposition (1 to 8 changes).
Figure 41 Comparison of BMC element changes per Postlaunch stage (line graph)
The lowest increases were found in Key Activities (3 to 4 changes), and Key Partners (3 to 5
In Figure 41 the line graphs show the changes in BMC elements from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2 Years. While the lines do not meet and intersect given that all BMC elements
increase in Postlaunch > 2 Years, the graph does delineate (a) the three most significant BMC
changes through time- one from each of the three Pillars studies: i. Client Interface Pillar (Client
Relations); Value Proposition Pillar (Products and Services); Infrastructure Pillar (Key
Resources); (b) the nearest intersection points where two of the BMC elements come the closest
to being equal for each Postlaunch stage (Key Partners and Key Activities).
(c) Four of twelve First Nation entrepreneurs “closed” their business by the end of the fourth
year in Postlaunch > 2 while eight of twelve entrepreneurs remained “open” by the end of the
Client Relations Value
Key Resources Client
Key Partners Key Activities Channels
BMC Element Changes by First Nation Entrepreneurs:
Comparison of Postlaunch < 2 versus Postlaunch > 2 Years
< 2 Years > 2 Years
fourth year from start-up. Figure 42 compares the mean number of BMC element changes
combining both Postlaunch < 2 and Postlaunch > 2 for “closed” versus “open” First Nation
entrepreneurs. Businesses remaining open averaged 6 element changes through the Postlaunch
stages while those that closed just prior to the end of postlaunch stages averaged 3.25. Figure 43
separates Postlaunch stages into mean changes for both closed and open businesses.
Figure 42 Closed vs open businesses: mean both postlaunch stage BMC changes
Figure 43 Closed vs open businesses: separated postlaunch stages mean BMC changes
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5
Postlaunch > 2 Years
Postlaunch < 2 Years Mean BMC Element Changes: Closed vs Open First Nation Businesses Separated Postlaunch Stages Business Closed at End of Year Four Business Open at End of Year Four 6 3.25 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Business Open at End of Year Four Busines Closed at End of Year Four MEAN NUMBER OF BMC ELEMENT CHANGES BU SI N ES S O PE N O R CL O SE D M e a n B M C E l e m e n t C h a n g e s C o m b i n e d P o s t l a u n c h S t a g e s : C l o s e d v s O p e n F i r s t N a t i o n B u s i n e s s e s 174 v.Background Experience of First Nation Entrepreneurs Business Model Canvas interviewing provided information on the background, history and experience of the First Nation entrepreneurs interviewed. Eight First Nation entrepreneurs had a background (from previous employment and/or direct personal/family exposure) in the business sector in which they had created a new venture. Seven of these eight businesses remain-ned open beyond the postlaunch > 2 (i.e. past four years). Four First Nation entrepreneurs opened
new businesses in sectors in which they did not have background. One of four remained open
beyond 4 years. Figure 44 shows the number of First Nation new ventures remaining open after
four years for entrepreneurs with and without backgrounds in those sectors. See Figure 45 which
shows the percentage of First Nation entrepreneurs with backgrounds and experience in their
new venture business sector.
Figure 44 Sector Experience: Business closures > 4 years of First Nation entrepreneurs
Businesses open > 4 Years
Sector Experience No Sector
Sector Experience: Open and Closed Businesses > 4 Years of
First Nation Entrepreneurs
Business Opened Businesses open > 4 Years
Figure 45 Percentages of First Nation entrepreneurs with backgrounds in their new
b.Business Model Canvas: Pillar Changes
First Nation entrepreneurs provided information on three of the four BMC pillars: infrastructure;
client interface; value proposition (products and services). For each pillar, the total number of
changes by First Nation entrepreneurs after Prelaunch from combined Postlaunch < 2 Years plus Postlaunch > 2 Years are shown in Figure 46. The highest number of changes was with the
infrastructure pillar (27) followed closely by client interface (25); the lowest pillar changes took
place with value proposition (9), for a total of 61 Postlaunch changes. From a different
perspective, Figure 47 shows the combined Postlaunch BMC changes for each pillar in
percentages: infrastructure (44%); client interface (41%); value proposition (15%).
The changes per pillar for all First Nation entrepreneurs are shown in percentages relative to
each other for Postlaunch < 2 Years plus Postlaunch > 2 Years combined (Figure 14); Postlaunch
< 2 Years (Figure 15); Postlaunch > 2 Years (Figure 16).
Percentages of First Nation Entrepreneurs with Backgrounds
in the Their New Venture Sectors
Business Sector Background
No Business Sector
Figure 46 Combined postlaunch BMC changes per pillar (totals)
Figure 47 Postlaunch BMC changes per pillar: percentages
Figure 48 drills down further into the data from Figures 46 and 47 to show the total element
changes for each BMC pillar from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2 Years: value
proposition increases eightfold; client interface increases fourfold; infrastructure increases nearly
Value Proposition Client Interface Infrastructure
C o m b i n e d Po s t l a u n c h B M C C h a n ge s p e r P i l l a r
Postlaunch BMC Changes per Pillar: Percentages
Figure 48 BMC element changes per pillar Postlaunch < 2 Years versus > 2 Years
For a different perspective, Figures 49 and 50 show the changes indicated from Figure 48
between Postlaunch stages by percentages for each pillar in each of the two postlaunch stages.
Client interface and value proposition changes increased the most, almost equally,
Figure 49 Open First Nation businesses: Changes per pillar < 2 Years < 2 > 2
Value Proposition Client Interface Infrastructure
BMC Elemen Changes per Pillar Postlaunch < 2 years versus > 2 years
< 2 > 2
Open First Nation businesses: Changes per pillar < 2 Years Value Proposition Client Interface Infrastructure 178 at 12% and 13% percentage points respectively from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2
Years. Infrastructure lost 25 percentage points from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2
Figure 50 Open First Nation businesses: Changes per pillar > 2 Years
c. Business Model Canvas: Themes
The interviews were coded and a total of four themes emerged. Two themes were found in each
business stage (i.e. “triple stage themes”). One theme was found in two of the business stages
(i.e. “double stage theme”). One theme was found in only one of the business stages (i.e. “single
“Triple stage” themes:
Two themes emerged from each of the three business stages: “Help my First Nation
Community” (97 total references); “Financial Concerns/Actions” (56 total references).
Open First Nation businesses: Changes per pillar > 2
“Double stage” theme:
One theme emerged in two of the three business stages: “Knowledge: bringing / growing /
using-focusing” (35 total references from Prelaunch < 2 Years plus Postlaunch > 2 Years).
“Single stage” themes:
One theme emerged in only one business stage. “Busy with business” emerged from Postlaunch
< 2 (25 references); The BMC reference totals from all three business stages are shown for each theme in Figure 51. Figure 51 Total references per BMC theme Prelaunch Primary Themes: (a) “Help my community” (i.e. advance or support community social mission/culture/Nation Building). Score of 24 references. (b) “Financial concerns/actions”. Score of 19 references. (c) “Knowledge: bringing”. Score of 15 references. 25 35 56 97 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Busy with Business Knowledge: Bring/Grow/Use-Focus Financial Concerns/Actions Help My Community Total Number of BMC References Th em e Total References per BMC Theme: First Nation Entrepreneurs 180 Postlaunch < 2 Years Primary Themes: (a) “Busy with business”. Score of 25 references. (b) “Financial concerns/actions”. Score of 19. (c) “Help my community”. Score of 11 references. Postlaunch >2 years Primary Themes:
(a) “Help my community”. Score of 39 references.
(b) “Financial concerns/actions”. Score of 18 references.
(c) “Knowledge: growing”. Score of 10 references.
(d) “Knowledge: using/focusing. Score of 10 references.
For a different perspective, the reference counts for each of the three business stages are shown
as “reverse pyramids” (highest theme counts at the top descending to the least) in Figures 52, 53,
Figure 52 Number of BMC references during Prelaunch stage
Figure 52 (Prelaunch) shows the “help my community” theme perched at the top at 24, then
descending to the bottom level in Figure 53 (Postlaunch < 2 Years) with 11 references but rising again to the top level in Figure 54 (Postlaunch > 2 Years) with 34 references.
Figure 53 Number of BMC references during Postlaunch < 2 Years stage The “financial concerns/action” theme never changes its position through Figures 52, 53 and 54; it stays consistent through the business stages with references counts of 19, 18, and 19 respectively). The “busy with business” theme is seen to emerge only in Figure 53 (Postlaunch < 2 Years) with 25 reference counts which takes it to the top level. The “two stage theme” of knowledge emerges in Figure 52 (Prelaunch) with 15 references, and then reappears after Postlaunch < 2 in Figure 54 (Postlaunch > 2 Years) with 20 total references
broken down into two aspects of 10 references each (“knowledge growing” and “knowledge
Figure 54 Number of BMC references during Postlaunch > 2 Years stage
An alternative perspective is provided through independent line graphs for each of the two “three
business stage themes”. In Figure 55 the “help my community” theme tracks changes in
Figure 55 “Help my community” theme: References per business stage
Prelaunch Postlaunch < 2 Years Postlaunch > 2 Years
“Help My Community” BMC Theme:
References per Business Stage by First Nation Entrepreneurs
reference totals through the three business stages from 24 during Prelaunch, decreasing to 11 in
Postlaunch < 2 Years, then increasing to 38 in Postlaunch > 2 Years. In Figure 56 “financial
concerns/action” theme reference totals are shown through the three businesses stages with 19
for both Prelaunch and Postlaunch < 2 Years, and 18 references during Postlaunch > 2 Years.
Figure 56 “Financial concerns/action” theme: References per business stage
a. What can we learn from changes made to Business Model Canvas elements and
pillars by First Nation entrepreneurs during stages of new venture creation?
(i) BMC and First Nation Business Planning (Prelaunch).
All First Nation entrepreneurs changed Business Model Canvas (BMC) from the planning stage
(prelaunch) through the postlaunch new venture creation stages. Among the twelve entrepreneurs
there were 61 BMC changes. Why so many changes? One of the potential reasons is lack of
formal business planning. Through all three business stages three of twelve (25%) set out a
formal written business plan- with only one of these having prepared a business plan in the
Prelaunch Postlaunch < 2 Years Postlaunch > 2 Years
Financial Concerns/Actions BMC Theme:
References per Business Stage by First Nation Entrepreneurs
prelaunch stage. Two other entrepreneurs had also prepared a written business plan but waited
until the end of year two from venture startup, the time at which they decided doing so could
benefit their business. This number compares to approximately 35% with combined Canadian
Indigenous- First Nations on-reserve and off-reserve, Metis, and Inuit (Canadian Council for
Aboriginal Business 2011, 2016b). Without a detailed and well-developed business plan the
entrepreneurs may find themselves in business position requiring more reactions, changes or
Table 13 Quotations: Entrepreneurs Key Resource Primary Contributor (Knowledge)
Key Resource: Entrepreneurs Own Skill/Knowledge Base
Interview B Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“I had now added a new intellectual resource which was business know-how and business
Interview D Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“…technology changed the industry…I followed through all of these changes….”
Interview E Postlaunch < 2 Years: “There were no real changes other than I had to tweak my models….” Interview F Postlaunch >2 Years:
“To enhance my skill and be accredited I took the appropriate courses….”
Interview J Postlaunch < 2 Years: “To keep my knowledge base up-to-date, and to advance it or improve it, I enrolled in a post- secondary program….” Interview L Postlaunch < 2 Years: “I also expanded my skill set and ability to be a problem solver” 185 pivots in the early postlaunch phase. Being less prepared for arising business problems would mean they would need to react to circumstances they did not initially anticipate or expect. (ii) BMC and Business Development. All BMC elements had changes within the interviewee group through the three business stages as the First Nation entrepreneurs developed their new ventures. The BMC elements that changed the most for the entrepreneurs were: “key resources” (12 changes) and “client segments” (11 changes); the least changes were with the element “channels” (5 changes). The remaining four elements were changed between 7 and 9 times. Why did the most changes occur with key resources? The answer is that 50 % of the key resource changes (6 of the 12 key resource changes) were due to the entrepreneur’s own business knowledge growth (i.e. being their own business resource), whether by formal education or experiential learning. This is indicated in interviews C, D, E, F, J and L (see Table 13). First Nation entrepreneurs rely on the growth of knowledge as one of their most important resources; knowledge growth and use is a significant and important change for them in the operation and survival of their businesses. “Knowledge” emerges as an important theme in this research and is discussed in more detail further down in this section. Looking further into the BMC change numbers, it is noted that First Nation entrepreneurs had considerably more Business Model Canvas changes overall in years three and four of business startup than years one and two: 46 changes versus 15 changes. The average change in years three and four were 3.83 per entrepreneur versus 1.25 per entrepreneur in year one and two. An increase in BMC changes from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2 Years can be an
indication that the business founder is learning and adapting. This could include finding new
markets; adding resources; confirming partnerships; adjusting services and/or products. It may
also be due to the need to “take action” in order to ensure business survival. Second, as seen
previously in Figures 40 and 41, the greatest gap in BMC elements from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2 Years is for “client relations” (increase of 9 changes, from 0 to 9) and “value
Table 14 Quotations: Entrepreneurs’ Busy with Growth Combined Postlaunch
Interview B Postlaunch < 2 Years: “My planning and expectations were fairly accurate for my customer base. I picked up quite a few high-end clients, as well as the public overall in general. The client segments matched what I had speculated they would be early on, and my business was picking up and began doing well at both store fronts I had set up”. Followed by: Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“While I continued my main products and businesses of selling art in my stores, there now was a
significant addition to my business products/services after a couple of years went by”.
Interview K Postlaunch < 2 Years: “Our value proposition remained the same. All the parties involved in our business and service chain were happy with the process and results that came from using the product. Our service end was strong and had a growing reputation”, “the client segments we expected to access came through and began purchasing our products and services”. Followed by: Postlaunch > 2 Years
“after two years the business was ready to expand and scale up”, and “it was time to expand
our client base”.
Interview J Postlaunch < 2 Years “My value proposition hit the mark for the first two years”. 187 proposition” (increase of 7 changes from 1 to 8). On the one hand, the large gaps between these elements may speak to the readiness to enact change: perhaps at startup First Nation entrepreneurs were less prepared for change (caught off guard and reacting), or conversely that they were more prepared to make changes (ready and waiting to respond). However, the large increase in these elements from Postlaunch < 2 Years to Postlaunch > 2 Years may be due to
increasing business growth and expansion requiring pivoting. Growth and opportunity in very
active product and service sales seems the probable cause when one compares interview
quotations from entrepreneurs’ Postlaunch < 2 Years (being busy with sales and service) and Postlaunch > 2 Years (responding to the growth and opportunity). See Table 14.
It appears that First Nation entrepreneurs were busy making changes to BMC elements in
response to increasing business opportunity, growth and development.
(iii) BMC Pillars.
There was little difference in element change totals between the two BMC pillars consisting of
three segments each: (a) BMC Infrastructure: key resources; key activities; key partners. (b)
Client Interface: client segments; channels; client relations. Over the four-year startup period,
both BMC pillars had almost the same number of changes for First Nation entrepreneurs. BMC
infrastructure had 25 changes (mean of 2.08 per entrepreneur) while BMC client interface had 27
(mean of 2.25 per entrepreneur). The most changed BMC infrastructure element was key
resources, and the least was key activities. The most changed BMC client interface element was
client segments, and the least was channels. Value Proposition was regarded as a one element
pillar (i.e. Value Proposition is both an element and a pillar in this study).
While the data shows the least pillar of change was value proposition, a new perspective results
if we take the mean changes per entrepreneur divided by the number of elements within each
pillar. Then, we note almost no difference (see Figure 57). While this does not change the
conclusion that the Infrastructure and Client Interface pillars are more active pillars of change for
First Nation entrepreneurs compared to value proposition, it does point out the importance of
recognizing the contents of each pillar as part of any comparison.
Figure 57 Mean entrepreneur BMC pillar changes per element
Numerically: i. Infrastructure Pillar (27 changes divided by 3 elements divided by 12
interviewees equals 0.75 changes per entrepreneur); ii. Client Interface Pillar (25 changes
divided by 3 elements divided by 12 interviewees equals 0.70 changes per entrepreneur); iii.
Value Proposition Pillar (9 changes divided by 1 element divided by 12 interviewees equals .75
changes per entrepreneur).
Overall there were no remarkable differences between the BMC Client Interface and
Infrastructure pillars in terms of total change differences, nor noteworthy aspects or themes from
overall interviewee comments by way of entrepreneurial perspectives between the two.
Infrastructure Client Interface Value Proposition
MEAN ENTREPRENEUR BMC PILLAR CHANGES:
DIVIDED BY ELEMENTS WITHIN PILLAR
(iv) First Nation Business Survival: Closed versus Open Businesses
i. BMC Elements. First Nation businesses that “closed” before the end of their fourth year had
less Business Model Canvas element changes than First Nation businesses that were “open” at
the end of their fourth year. Closed businesses averaged 3.25 Business Model Canvas element
changes versus 6.0 changes for business remaining open. The differences for each two-year
period from startup are also of note. First Nation businesses that remained open at the end of year
four had seven times as many Business Model Canvas element changes in their first two years
than businesses that closed in year four. As well, First Nation businesses remaining open at the
end of year four had 40% more Business Model Canvas element changes in years three and four
than First Nation businesses that closed by the end of year four. This suggests a connection may
exist between BMC changes in elements and business survival for First Nation entrepreneurs.
Table 15 Quotations: Entrepreneurs with Businesses Closed
Interview C (closed business):
“I had kept the same training services and was starting to focus on how I could keep the same
“I hadn’t diversified enough”
Interview G (closed business):
“My key physical resources and activities remained the same: location, signs and so forth. I still
marketed and promoted as before and had the same menu and equipment. I tried really hard to
stay the course”
Interview I (closed business):
“I continued with my store location and the plan to have walk-in traffic and customers. I still
spoke with other businesses and shared information”
“My client channels….didn’t shift…”
Comments from the interviewees (note the phrases in bold) who closed their business (see Table
15) attest to this.
Based on the wording in the quotations from three separate entrepreneurs who ended their
ventures, it appears that the continuation of the same business model, without pivoting and
making changes to the BMC elements, was a contributing factor to business closure.
ii. Sector Experience. During the BMC interviews all First Nation entrepreneurs provided their
backgrounds in relation to the sector in which they opened their business. Of the eight First
Nation entrepreneurs who had background in their business sector, seven were still open for
Table 16 Quotations: Entrepreneurs with Businesses Open
“I had worked several years at a branch of a large Canadian Bank and planned and then
opened my own business as a financial consultant”
“From a young age I lived near a big lake in British Columbia, and spent a lot of time fishing,
rafting and boating there, so I knew the water, shorelines and area very well. I had very good
local knowledge that I could utilize in talking to my potential customers and making their water
trip fun and interesting”
“After working several years in the media business, including news editing, I decided to open
my own small business in the film and television industry”
“I also have been a First Nation Band Manager, so my business ideas evolved from my
knowledge and experiences”
“I worked for several years for my First Nation. From this experience, as the years went by, I
eventually came to the decision to open up my own event planning business”.
business at the end of four years. Of the four entrepreneurs who did not have backgrounds in the
sectors which they opened their business, only one was still open at the end of the fourth year.
Note example quotations (see Table 16) from First Nation entrepreneurs who opened businesses
related to their background and experiences. These statements support the position that First
Nation entrepreneurs having a background and experience in the business.
sector they open their new venture increases the probability of business survival beyond four
b. Business Model Canvas: Themes
Two themes emerge from within each of the three business stages through Business Model
Canvas: “helping my community” and “financial concerns/actions”; These themes are congruous
with the four primary First Nation motivators from the previous chapter. “Helping my
community” is synonymous with the three motivator “bundle” of: achieving social mission;
supporting community culture; advancing Nation Building” outlined in Chapter Five. Also,
financial concerns/action is analogously linked to “financial gain” from Chapter Five.
Theme 1: “Helping My Community”. The number of references for “helping my community
changed dramatically through business stages:
i. Prelaunch: 24 references
ii. Postlaunch < 2 years: 11 references iii. Postlaunch > 2 years: 38 references
The changes decrease remarkably from Prelaunch expectations during the first two years of
business operation, declining by more than 50%. Then, in years three and four “helping my
community” increase dramatically by just over 300% compared to the first two years; the
increase is also greater than the references of intent to help community in the prelaunch stage- by
42%. The significant changes in this theme suggest that the intent to help community through the
new venture during prelaunch planning decreases when it turns into achieving the desired result
during the opening stages (i.e. first two years). However, in years three and four of business
operation, “helping my community” then increases considerably. Why? What is happening in the
first two years of startup that reduces the number of references and appears to limit First Nation
entrepreneurs from their initial prelaunch intentions to achieve social mission? A clue exists
from a one business stage theme arising in years one and two after startup- “busy with
business”. First Nation entrepreneurs had 25 references to this category- the only stage in which
“busy with business” appears as a theme. This suggests the realities of new venture creation and
being caught up in the many tasks of doing business (i.e. being “busy with business”) in the first
two years hindered the entrepreneurs from engaging more social mission “activity” as they had
intended during the prelaunch stage. Subsequently, in years three and four we see a very large
increase in “helping my community” references (and presumably an increase in intent,
motivation, and action). This would answer a question remaining from Chapter Five: why does
“helping my community” (i.e. achieve social mission; support community cultural aspects;
improve Nation Building) decrease from the Prelaunch stage during Postlaunch < 2 years, and then increase in Postlaunch > 2 years? During the first two years of startup First Nation
entrepreneurs are very busy creating and developing their new venture- “doing the business of
business” (including business survival). Consequently, they would seem less able to dedicate the
energy required to deliver as much help into the community as they had hoped from their
planning stage. Not until years three and four would they be able to devote the time and activity
needed for accomplishing social missions’ tasks for their community. The changing BMC
statistics reflect this: as “helping my community” references decrease from Prelaunch (24
references) to Postlaunch < 2 Years (11 references), the “busy with business” theme emerges dramatically in Postlaunch < 2 Years (25 references) and supplants “helping my community” in that phase by more than two to one. Following this, in Postlaunch > 2 Years we see a resurgence
of “helping my community” (39 references) while “busy with business” declines and disappears
off the theme list in Postlaunch > 2 Years.
Quotations from First Nation entrepreneurs in each of the three business stages (see Tables 17,
18, and 19) who were interviewed using Business Model Canvas support this conjecture.
Table 17 Quotations: Entrepreneurs Prelaunch “help my community”
Interview A Prelaunch:
“I wanted to help First Nation people and First Nation communities”
Interview G Prelaunch:
“You see, one of my purposes in opening the business included to be able to hire and support
other First Nation women- to help them not only financially but to become confident and
Interview E Prelaunch:
“Overall my business had two main goals in the planning stage: to make money and to create
social benefits to First Nations through education”
Interview J Prelaunch:
“I wanted to focus on organizations, primarily First Nations, that want to do positive social
change and whom I could move down the path of self-determination, stronger governance, and
Interview K Prelaunch:
….to help as many First Nation people as possible…”
In Table 17 (Prelaunch), note the intent expressed by First Nation entrepreneurs to help
community. Then, in Table 18 (Postlaunch < 2 Years), the quotations shift focus to the amount of work and dedication required during this business phase. Table 18 Quotations: Entrepreneurs Postlaunch < 2 Years “help my community” Interview A Postlaunch < 2 Years: “I was kept busy trying to meet everyone’s needs and request while still doing substantial networking that took quite a bit of my time” Interview B Postlaunch < 2 Years: “Something that happened was that early on, after I launched my business, reality really hit home when the bills started coming in” Interview C Postlaunch < 2 Years: “I launched my business, and everything happened really fast” Interview D Postlaunch < 2 Years: “The first year or two took all my energy. It was a huge amount of work even though I had good contacts and began fairly soon” Interview J Postlaunch < 2 Years: “I wasn’t able to spend time with the non-profits or organizations that worked towards “social accomplishments” since I was so busy working” Interview F Postlaunch < 2 Years “I worked hard and often long hours” Interview L Postlaunch < 2 Years: “I was away travelling so much” 195 And then finally, in Postlaunch > 2 Years (Table 19) the focus returns stronger than ever to
“helping my community”.
Table 19 Quotations: Entrepreneurs Postlaunch > 2 Years “help my community”
Interview A Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“I could now more effectively give back to my community and help in this way (this was
something that was always on my mind and I wanted to do but couldn’t do as well as I wanted to
in the early stages of my business). I was also able to devote more time and energy to supporting
cultural events in our community”
Interview B Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“They would come and talk to me about their idea and dreams for business; I wanted to help
them get ahead. Now I could”
Interview D Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“I am also happy about and proud that I was increasingly able to hire more and more First
Nation people- about 50% of my contractual hires were First Nation, so this was a benefit to my
people. I also contributed over 600 hours of relevant cultural and/or First Nation based
programming that was authentic”
Interview F Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“As well, after those early years I found more time to give back to the community”
Interview H Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“Now that I had more time and had settled into my business processes and had met continued
success, I was able to help other First Nation community members even more”
Interview J Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“I haven’t given up. I still want to be able to help them with self-determination, governance,
community empowerment and Nation Building. I haven’t stopped trying- it is important to me”.
Figure 58 “Help my community” theme: References and comments per business stage
Note Figure 58 where the “help my community” graph line shows not only the number of
references for the three business stages but now has interviewee quotations transposed onto each
of the business stages: The Prelaunch stage has quotes from “helping my community” taken from
the Prelaunch interviews; The Postlaunch < 2 Years stage has quotes from “busy with business” taken from the Postlaunch < 2 Years interviews; The Postlaunch > 2 Years stage has quotes
from “helping my community” taken from the Postlaunch > 2 Years interviews. This
combination of quantitative and qualitative indicators works together to help explain the changes
in references to “help my community”. Being “busy with business” is seen as the greater focus
(most reference points) of First Nation entrepreneurs in Postlaunch < 2 Years, reducing the focus on “helping my community” in Postlaunch < 2 Years from the original intentions (reference 24 11 39 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Prelaunch Postlaunch < 2 Years Postlaunch > 2 Years
Help My Community Theme:
First Nation Entrepreneur References and Comments per Business Stage
“to help First Nation people
“to be able to hire and support
other First Nation women”
“to create social benefits”
“to do positive social change”
“I was kept busy”
“reality really hit home when
the bills starting coming
“and everything happened
“a huge amount of work”
“and often long hours”
“since I was so busy
“away travelling so
“I could now more
effectively give back
to my community”
“I want to help them
get ahead. Now
“I was increasingly
able to hire more
and more First Nation
“I found more time
to give back to the
points) of the Prelaunch stage. Then when the “busy with business” declines in Postlaunch > 2
Years we see the First Nation entrepreneurs resume their focus (increase references) on “helping
This answers a question remaining from Chapter Six: why did three primary First Nation
entrepreneur motivators (“social mission”; “support culture”; “advance Nation Building”)
decrease in importance from the Prelaunch business stage to the Postlaunch < 2 Years stage, only to then increase in Postlaunch > 2 Years? The answer is because the entrepreneurs, who fully
intended in the Prelaunch stage to “help my community”, became very active (“busy with
business”) during Postlaunch < 2 Years with the tasks of opening and developing their new ventures, and it wasn’t until Postlaunch > 2 Years that they were able to turn their attention back
to more effectively “help my community” through an increasing focus on achieving community
missions, supporting cultural and traditional activities, and advancing Nation Building initiatives.
In short, First Nation entrepreneurs from the early stage of business planning have as an
important goal and full intention to see their new business ventures contribute to achieving social
good in their communities, but due to the myriad of other business activities required in the first
two years of startup to establish the new ventures, then are able to increasingly engage
community social mission activities in years three and four, and beyond. Having established their
businesses in the early years, they are now better positioned to work towards their original goals
and intentions from their planning stages. The motivation to do social good in their community is
not seen to decrease in the first two years- rather it is the very difficult to find time and energy
for the social mission activities early on since they are extremely busy with the numerous,
challenging tasks entrepreneurs face in the earlier startup years of creating, launching, and
establishing business. First Nation entrepreneurs do not waver from their original goal-setting
motivations in the planning stages to ensure their new business ventures help community through
social mission, cultural support, and Nation Building activities; this is particularly evident once
they have started up and established their businesses.
Theme 2: “Knowledge”.
“Knowledge” emerges as an important theme for First Nation entrepreneurs. It was found in the
planning stage and in years three and four from startup. Three aspects of knowledge were
indicated: bringing knowledge into the business; growing knowledge from and for the
Table 20 Quotations: Entrepreneurs Bringing Knowledge Prelaunch
Bringing Knowledge (Prelaunch):
Interview A Prelaunch
“My key resources included….my own knowledge…”
Interview E Prelaunch:
“My key resources were to be the model- the intellectual property- that I designed”
Interview J Prelaunch:
“My relatively deep and broad experience in this business sector gave me a knowledge base to
be able to work with”
Interview H Prelaunch:
“My knowledge base was my most important resource”
Interview L Prelaunch:
“I had an education background related to Treaty negotiation, and I noticed at that time from
my own first-hand experiences in First Nations that no one was doing much of any community
“I had my education background, and some street smarts”
Table 21 Entrepreneurs Increasing Knowledge Postlaunch < 2 Years Growing Knowledge (Postlaunch < 2 Years): Interview F Postlaunch < 2 Years: “To enhance my skill and be accredited I took the appropriate courses” Interview H Postlaunch < 2 Years: “I learned a lot about Business” Interview J Postlaunch < 2 Years: “To keep my knowledge base up-to-date, and to advance it or improve it, I enrolled in a post- secondary program for Indigenous people” Interview L Postlaunch < 2 Years: “I expanded my skill set and ability to be a problem solver” Table 22 Quotations: Entrepreneurs Using Knowledge Postlaunch > 2 Years
Using Knowledge (Postlaunch > 2 Years):
Interview E Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“Another thing that I did as my business continued through several years was to add to and
build a business model and governance model based on both traditional and modern concepts”
Interview J Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“I was able to apply some of my cross-sectorial expertise, and my ability to both solve and
prevent problems as I had hoped”
Interview D Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“The one thing I noticed with equipment was how technology changed the industry. I followed
through all of these changes”
Interview F Postlaunch > 2 Years:
“I had very good local knowledge that I could utilize in talking to my potential customers”
business; using the knowledge in the development and growth of the business.
Note the interviewee quotations based on knowledge: “bringing knowledge”
into the business during Prelaunch (Table 20); “increasing knowledge in Postlaunch < 2 Years (Table 21); using knowledge in Postlaunch > 2 Years (Table 22).
Theme 3: Financial Actions/Concerns. The number of references for “financial
concerns/action” did not change through business stages, but remained static:
i.Prelaunch: 19 references
ii.Postlaunch < 2 years: 19 references iii.Postlaunch > 2 years: 18 references
There were no theme indicators showing noteworthy differences among the financial
concerns/action theme through the three stages. Financial matters remained equally referenced
by First Nation entrepreneurs across three business stages as shown earlier in Figure 56. As well,
although finances are shown to be one of the important themes for First Nation entrepreneurs, at
no time through the three business stages did finances become the predominant aspect for First
Nation entrepreneurs. This is consistent with the research in Chapter Five where financial gain
and profits were found not to be the main goal-setting motivators in First Nation new venture
creation, and overall were positioned secondary in importance to the intention and actions of
doing community social good.
c. A New Model for First Nation Entrepreneurs: Business Model Circle (BMCI)
(i) Benefits and Challenges of the BMC Model to First Nation Entrepreneurs.
Benefits. First Nation entrepreneurs appeared to respond readily and with clarity through most of
Business Model Canvas interviews, often referring to and looking at the visual BMC template.
Following the introduction, explanation and visual review of the model, there were relatively few
questions, concerns or confusion from interviewees in recognizing and understanding the seven
elements under study within the BMC template. (An exception, noted later, was confusion over
the BMC term “pillar” and how and why it connected to the BMC diagram). While financial
aspects did come up during the interviews, none of the entrepreneurs questioned the non-
inclusion of the BMC Financial elements/pillar (cost structure; revenue stream).
First Nation entrepreneurs also were adept at separating the business stages (Prelaunch;
Postlaunch < 2 Years; Postlaunch > 2 Years) throughout the BMC interview process. During the
interviews they often referred to Prelaunch as “planning” or “getting ready”; Postlaunch < 2 Years as “the first couple of years” or “the early years”; Postlaunch > 2 Years as “after two
years” or “the later years”.
Challenges. What was difficult to place within the existing model for First Nation entrepreneurs
were the concepts of community contributions to doing social good, supporting First Nation
cultural and traditional practices, and advancing governance and sovereignty (Nation Building).
All these concepts were identified as themes (bundled together for the purposes of this thesis into
“help my community”) of importance to First Nation entrepreneurs in the undertaking and
development of their new business ventures. They gave this theme voice even though it was not
recognized nor categorized in BMC. “Help my community” was the only theme referenced,
along with “financial concerns/action”, through all three business stages, and the theme with
them most total references.
It was also challenging for First Nation entrepreneurs, within the existing BMC model and
template, “to find space” where the theme and “voice” of “knowledge” could be represented. For
the interviewees, “knowledge” had important value and could be carried, shared, utilized and
accumulated. It also had origins and sources. In this sense knowledge was regarded not only as a
form of accumulating gain or wealth, but as a form of prosperity. Similarly, the support of
cultural and traditional community aspects also had value, as did business contributions that
helped advance sovereignty and Nation Building. These important goals and motivations were
also seen as having business value, wealth generation and prosperity importance towards helping
their community. Indeed, the purpose of First Nation businesses, in terms of prosperity is seen as
the growing and improvement of community good through social mission, cultural support, and
Nation Building hand-in-hand with financial sustainability and gain. Given this, a modified
Business Model Canvas schema is recommended- one ideally inclusive of those aspects critical
to First Nation entrepreneurs.
A modified framework should include the “help my community” aspects: achieving community
good; doing social mission; supporting cultural aspects; Nation Building. It should also
incorporate the theme of “knowledge”, which was also given important space and voice in First
Nation entrepreneurship. Such a model would more fully represent and capture the elements
shown to be relevant to First Nation entrepreneurs in new venture creation from the course of
(ii) BMC Design versus BMCI Design
BMC. The existing BMC template is organized in a set of boxes framed within a rectangular
“canvas”. For First Nation entrepreneurs, one consideration may be to change the design to a
circular format, a framework design similar as that used by some Indigenous researchers
(Wilson, 2004; Walter & Anderson, 2013) and seen in the Medicine Wheel (Cross et al., 2000).
It was noted during this research that some First Nation interviewees lifted the BMC template
diagram and turned it clockwise then counterclockwise (or vice versa) when reviewing it.
Although this is only anecdotal, and not an intended part of the study, it appeared almost as if an
effort was being made to view the BMC template circuitously.
The typical mainstream society design tends to be square or rectangular, commonly with
connecting or intersecting lines, or adjacent boxes pulling or joining together constituent parts
for some purpose or goal. A hierarchy layout from top to bottom is also not unusual. Business
Model Canvas places financial elements (cost structure; revenue streams) at the lower,
foundational section of the diagram, giving the impression that they are the “support” of the
structure, and everything else “grows” or “arises” from that location. This visual presentation,
whether by purposeful design or not, does not readily align with First Nation entrepreneur new
venture creation goals and values found in this study. Likewise, BMC refers to “three pillars”,
which was one of the design elements that did create uncertainty during the interviews. From the
BMC diagram it is not readily apparent how the elements (boxes) link, support, or interactively
operate. One example is the pillars- where are their linkages to the other pillars and the various
elements, what are the pillars supporting (and how), and what is their relative role to the overall
design and operation? While many of the parcels of information that answer these questions can
be pieced together in reading through the texts accompanying the BMC diagram, it still remains
that BMC is a mainstream model for new venture creation, and the design, terminology and
presentation is not ideally suited to First Nation entrepreneurs. There is no question that the
BMC model is purposeful and valuable, however the mainstream business discourse,
psychology, intentions, motivations and profit-based goals behind the design ultimately do not
fully nor accurately represent those of First Nation entrepreneurs.
(iii) Business Model Circle (BMCI).
Visual Model of BMCI. Utilizing visual representation of information and ideas is important to
the sharing and analysis of indigenous knowledge, life experiences and conditions (Chilisa,
2012). An adapted visual model of Business Model Canvas unique for First Nation entrepreneurs
(Business Model Circle) is shown in Diagram 11. The suggested adaptations to Business Model
Canvas in the creation of Business Model Circle include:
i. There are eight elements rather than nine: value proposition, key resources, key
partners, key activities, customer segments, client relations, channels, and cost
structure. The ninth element, revenue streams, has been moved into the centre of the
BMCI to take its place along with the other three sources of wealth as one of the four
prosperity streams found to be important drivers of First Nation entrepreneurs.
ii. The elements are arranged circularly rather than in a box, rectangle or pillar design.
iii. There are four prosperity streams rather than one revenue stream: social mission,
cultural support, Nation Building, and revenue sources. At the core or heart of the
model is “knowledge” which is surrounded, supported and stabilized by the four
iv. The eight elements and the four prosperity streams combine to make a total of 12
aspects: this is relevant as Native people are governed on numerous occasions where
the number of 12 may be appropriate, for example in Diné (Navajo) culture where 12
kernels represent the origin and growth of language, and 12 leaders would manage
arising crises (Claw, Verbos & Rosile, 2017).
v. Encircling the prosperity streams and knowledge situated in the centre of the circle
are the eight elements.
Dynamics of BMCI. BMCI is a dynamic, interactive entrepreneurship model more suited to the
First Nation entrepreneurs’ intentions, motivations and business stage processes in new venture
creation within their own environments. The adaptive, multidimensional, dynamic and
interdependent systems of all entities is well known to Indigenous peoples (Claw, Verbos &
Diagram 11. Business Model Circle (BMCI)
Rosile, 2017; Cajete, 2000). It is readily discernable (note terms marked in bold) within W.B
Gartner’s classic four-variable models of entrepreneurship ((Gartner, 1985, 2016; Gartner,
Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989; Katz & Gartner, 1988). BMCI recognizes the robust, unique and
transformable motivations of the First Nation entrepreneur, identifies key interactive aspects
and supportive elements needed for their organizations to be brought to startup life and
development, sources the critical streams of prosperity as knowledge and activity processes, and
incorporates a more holistic design and approach required to move adeptly through their specific
business environments. It provides a model, language and active discourse for the First Nation
entrepreneur engaged and in motion through the stages of new venture creation. BMCI still
contains much of the original BMC model, but with adaptive changes more suitable to First
The constituent parts of BMCI are supportive of one another, and critical for balance. The inner
circle is represented by the four primary motivators and goals of First Nation entrepreneurs. Each
is a stream and source of prosperity generated by the business venture. In turn, the four streams
flow into and build a knowledge base at the very core of the enterprise, strengthening
sustainability, enhancing business adaptability, and providing potential reference bases and
guidance for future First Nation entrepreneurs. The outer circle includes crucial components and
aspects required to move the venture into the four prosperity streams. Each one is seen as equally
important. Metaphorically, if we envision the circle as a wheel in motion moving, should one of
the outer circle parts be missing- then the wheel will have trouble moving forward and may
“become stuck”, or “drag”. Every one of the parts of Business Model Circle is important to the
whole model, just as every citizen member would be an important constituent of the community;
the two are inseparable.
Business Model Circle is also transmutative. The parts within not only support one another but
they affect and influence one another. For example, do the channel elements being selected align
with the goal and motivator of cultural support? Do the key activities have an impact on potential
Nation Building opportunities? Are potential key partners onstream with social mission
initiatives? Do key activities reflect the inner circle goals, and vice versa? How can the value
proposition best reflect the desired prosperity streams? What sources would add more
knowledge? What knowledge is needed, and where should it flow from? How do various
elements of the outer wheel ultimately affect knowledge growth and use? Every part of BMCI
will have some affect, greater or less, on other parts. Every part is important, not just
independently, but dependently to the whole.
Business Model Circle represents a new path in business discourse for First Nation
entrepreneurs. The value of Business Model Canvas is certainly not erased, rather it is molded
and augmented into a design more reflective of the needs, values and processes of First Nation
entrepreneurship. BMCI presents both a comprehensible visual model and a dynamic design to
further aid the growth and development of new venture creation with First Nation entrepreneurs.
BMCI offers a new model, modality and opportunity in economic progress and development for
First Nation communities looking to further engage entrepreneurial creation and support.
(a) Business Model Circle is neither a challenge to the schema nor the rationality of Business
Model Canvas, rather it is an outcome and model based on an analysis of the needs of
First Nation entrepreneurs to change parts of the framework according to their desire and
motivation to serve various purposes, whether socially, culturally, Nation building, or
(b) The results of closed versus open businesses after four years compares only four
closures with eight openings. It would be helpful to have had more entrepreneurs in both
groups in order to make more reliable comparisons. One Business Model Canvas pillar
(financial aspects) was not explored in the study, although it was referenced consistently
by the interviewees.
It would be interesting to deepen the understanding of First Nation entrepreneurs by studying: (a)
business ventures that continue beyond the fourth year; (b) what “knowledge” means to this
population group in planning, starting up and developing business; (c) the effectiveness of
Business Model Circle.
SECTION IV. CONCLUSIONS
Preface. Chapter Seven concludes the thesis. It begins with a summated account of the research
questions on First Nation entrepreneurship generated from Chapters one through Six, and then
provides the key findings in response to the set of inquiries. It finishes with statements on the
limitations of the study and offers research recommendations into the future.
1. What does the literature inform us about First Nation entrepreneurship?
2. What types of business models do First Nation entrepreneurs utilize in new venture creation?
3. What are the motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs, and how do these drivers change
through new venture creation stages?
4. How do First Nation entrepreneurs change their business elements through stages of new
5. What can we learn about survivability of First Nation entrepreneurial business ventures?
6. What terms, conceptual frameworks and business paradigms are suitable for conducting
research on First Nation entrepreneurship?
1. What does the literature inform us about First Nation entrepreneurship?
Research Paucity. There had been scant information available regarding First Nation
entrepreneurship, and no question that a void exists in the research literature on Indigenous
entrepreneurship, business and economic development. An overall knowledge gap is evident
with little or no research regarding First Nation small business creation processes and business
development stages. It had remained unclear what the goals and motivations for First Nation new
venture creation were. The various aspects and characteristics of First Nation entrepreneurship
have been difficult to analyze and understand using traditional system of metrics and definition.
Benefit and Value. First Nation entrepreneurship is an important element and opportunity for
Indigenous community economic development by way of direct citizen benefit, community
wealth generation, and Nation building. First Nation entrepreneurial ventures are increasing
despite not being widely evident in the literature. For example, the entrepreneurial ventures are
often assumed or found embedded in, connected to, and derived from larger scale economic
development initiatives of specific First Nation communities, however their presence, role and
importance often goes understated in comparison to large scale economic projects. More
awareness of existing First Nation entrepreneurs and promotion of opportunities that exist for
Indigenous peoples in the field is recommended.
Successes and Challenges. Two out of three First Nation new venture creations were still in
business operation at the start of their fifth year. First Nation entrepreneurs are successful
businesspersons: although they are exposed to especially difficult and challenging business
environment in many regions and communities, they continue to startup and operate businesses
in the face of what are often significant challenges such as access to capital, locations that are
remote or rural, market availability, poor infrastructure, and numerous other barriers to entry.
Successful First Nation entrepreneurs should be profiled and celebrated as success examples to
other potential Indigenous business operators.
2. What types of business models do First Nation entrepreneurs utilize in new venture
Sole Proprietorships. First Nation entrepreneurs are most likely to create business start-ups in
sole proprietorship as opposed to collective entrepreneurship initiatives or social
entrepreneurship enterprises. However, if First Nation entrepreneurs know other entrepreneurs
who are operating in a collective business or social entrepreneurship enterprise, they tend
towards opening one of the two latter business types.
Social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is a largely untapped business model and
opportunity for the support of new venture creation, economic development, and poverty
alleviation in First Nation communities. Twenty-three percent of First Nation entrepreneurs
express interest in opening a social enterprise, but ultimately only eight percent actually do so.
Policy development and funding streams could be developed or reconfigured to encourage First
Nation social entrepreneurship.
Formal Business Planning. Regardless of the type of business model utilized in startup, three out
of four First Nation entrepreneurs do not draw up formal business plans either during Prelaunch
or Postlaunch business phases. More awareness of the importance of business planning and more
training opportunities is recommended for First Nation community members. As well, BMCI is
suggested as a framework more appropriate for Indigenous business planning that could be
incorporated into education and training.
3. What are the motivations of First Nation entrepreneurs, and how do these drivers
change through new venture creation stages?
Primary Motivators. There are six primary goal-setting motivators for First Nation on-reserve
entrepreneurs. Ranked in order, beginning with the highest importance to entrepreneurs, they are:
(a) social mission; (b) financial gain and Nation building and cultural support (equally
important); (c) joining a business collective; (d) social networking.
Achieving Social Mission. The creation of social good, the preeminent driver of First Nation
entrepreneurs, is critical to First Nation new venture creation and entrepreneurship. Achieving
social mission through the business startup and development is a paramount goal of new venture
creation entrepreneurs in First Nation communities. Secondary to contributing to social good,
Nation building and cultural support are found equally important as goal-setting motivators along
with financial profit to First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs.
During the early new venture creation stages (Prelaunch; first two years; years three and four)
First Nation entrepreneurs remain committed to helping their community and doing social good
as the key motivation. The ability and drive to achieve social mission is found to have a
temporary reduction in the first two years after startup due to entrepreneurs being very busy with
venture launch and the many pressing early business requirements of early startup. However, this
driver then increases significantly as a goal-setting motivation in the third and fourth years
following startup once the venture becomes more established.
Motivation Comparison to Other Entrepreneurial Subsets. The goal-setting motivations of First
Nation entrepreneurs is consistent with those found with other Indigenous entrepreneurs across
the world, as well as international poverty alleviation models. As well, First Nation
entrepreneurs’ perceptions of mainstream entrepreneurs’ motivations are vastly different from
their self-perceptions as entrepreneurs: First Nation entrepreneurs identify financial profit as the
most important driver for mainstream entrepreneurs, whereas their own preeminent
entrepreneurial motivator is the achievement of social good, with profit being secondary.
Motivators of new venture creation and business stage adjustments that happen through business
stages are important aspects for inclusion in training protocols and development of First Nation
business education programs. As well, entrepreneurial training programs that mix Indigenous
and non-Indigenous students should be aware of the different goals and drivers of these two
groups and adjust training protocols to accommodate or blend differences.
4. How do First Nation entrepreneurs change their Business Model Canvas elements
through stages of new venture creation?
(a) First Nation entrepreneurs change their business model an average of five times in the
first four years of business startup.
(b) First Nation entrepreneurs change their business models three times as often in the
third and fourth year of business compared to the first two years of business.
(c) The key resource changed most often by First Nation entrepreneurs is the
augmentation of their own knowledge base in new venture creation.
(d) First Nation entrepreneur business model elements that change the least in the first
two years of startup (client channels and value propositions) are also the business
elements they changed the most in the third and fourth year.
(e) BMC pillars that change most often for First Nation entrepreneurs during the first
four years of business startup are infrastructure and client interface.
Business education specific too First Nation peoples should incorporate aspects (a) to (e) in their
training curriculum to ensure the most appropriate content possible.
5. What can we learn about survivability of First Nation entrepreneurial business
Background of First Nation Entrepreneurs. First Nation entrepreneurs are more likely to have
new ventures remaining open at the end of the fourth year if they have backgrounds in the
business sector which they open their enterprise.
Business Model Changes. First Nation entrepreneurs making lower than average business model
changes in the first two years are more likely to have businesses close at the end of four years
than those entrepreneurs with higher than average business model changes in both the first two
years and in years three and four.
These knowledge points are important for the new entrepreneur starting up business and may
help with decisions on business type and the importance of pivoting in business design in the
early stages of development.
6. What terms, concepts and business paradigms are congruous with First Nation
Terms and Definitions. Given the wide variance in terminology and definitions in the overall
field the following terms and their definitions are recommended for First Nation
i. Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is defined as the broad field, endeavor and journey of
entrepreneuring process, which includes the intent, motivation, volition and action to create,
launch and operate a business organization as a new venture offering services or products in
order to achieve some goal(s) within a given context or environment. Important aspects of
entrepreneurship include: the entrepreneur; the new venture creation process; the role of
ii. Entrepreneur: An entrepreneur is defined as an individual engaged in the broad field,
endeavor, and journey of entrepreneuring process, which includes the intent, motivation, volition
and action to create, launch and operate a business organization as a new venture offering
services or products in order to achieve some goal(s) within a given context or environment. The
term entrepreneur is positioned and operates within the model “Four Variable Framework for
Describing New Venture Creation” (Gartner, 1985, 2016; Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989;
Katz & Gartner, 1988).
iii.New Venture Creation: New venture creation is defined as both the “result” and the “process”
of an entrepreneur’s effort to create a new entrepreneurship. The process is framed within the
conceptual design “Organizational Emergence Model” (Gartner, Bird, & Starr, 1992; Gartner,
1993; Gartner & Brush, 2007).
iv. Motivation. Motivation is an individual’s inner-driven or external-driven goal stimulus for an
action. It is understood within the framework of “Goal-setting Theory” (Latham and Locke,
1984, 1990, 1991).
Conceptual Terms. The term “knowledge” is a key aspect of business development identified by
First Nation entrepreneurs in their quest to achieve the goals of new venture creation. As such,
“knowledge” should be considered an important aspect for inclusion in research with this
population group. “Knowledge” is an important, dynamic concept to First Nation entrepreneurs
in their business; identified by First Nation entrepreneurs as encompassing the skills, learnings
and experiences they bring to the venture, their ongoing growth and development, and when and
how they make use of them.
Existing Conceptual Frameworks. The following existing conceptual frameworks and schemas
are recommended for use in designing First Nation research:
i. “Four Variable Framework for Describing New Venture Creation” (Gartner, 1985, 2016;
Gartner, Mitchell, & Vesper, 1989; Katz & Gartner, 1988).
ii. “Organizational Emergence Model” (Gartner, Bird, & Starr, 1992; Gartner, 1993; Gartner &
iii. “Goal-setting Theory” (Latham and Locke, 1984, 1990, 1991).
New Conceptual Framework.
iv.“Business Model Circle” (BMCI).
Business Model Circle, developed from this research, is a new business design and model
adapted from Business Model Canvas (BMC). It is more suited to First Nation entrepreneurs’
intentions, drivers and business stage processes in new venture creation. It takes into account
the goal-setting motivations crucial to Indigenous business startup and development within their
own community environments and contexts. BMCI recognizes the robust, unique and
transformable motivations of the First Nation entrepreneur, identifies key interactive aspects and
supportive elements needed for their organizations to be brought to startup life and
development, sources the critical streams of Indigenous prosperity as knowledge and activity
processes, and incorporates a more holistic design and approach required to move adeptly
through their specific business environments. It provides a model, language and active discourse
for the First Nation entrepreneur engaged and in motion through the stages of new venture
creation. BMCI would be a good tool for increasing First Nation business planning; presently
only one in four First Nation entrepreneurs draw up business plans during new venture creation
stages (i.e. prelaunch and first four years of postlaunch).
BMCI is recommended for consideration and use by: (a) First Nation entrepreneurship and
economic development researchers; (b) Indigenous entrepreneurs looking to startup and/or
develop their ventures; (c) educators and trainers in Indigenous business, both academic and
practical; (d) policy and fund developers establishing or reviewing Indigenous economic
development and educational initiatives
The research in this study is limited by three factors: sample size; generalizability to population
studied; time and funding resources.
Sample Size. There were 92 First Nation entrepreneur research participants. Four participated in
the focus group; twenty-four participants were interviewed; sixty-four participants completed the
questionnaire. A greater number of qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (questionnaire)
participants would be desirable. The research was limited by difficulties in accessing First Nation
entrepreneurs due to several factors: (a) First Nation entrepreneurs numbers remain low
compared to mainstream Canadian entrepreneurs despite recent growth in venture startups by
Indigenous peoples; (b) the rural and often remote locations, including long distances from larger
centers and between communities where First Nation on-reserve entrepreneurs can be found
operating their businesses; (c) periodic mistrust or concerns by some Indigenous community
members and leadership over data gathering in First Nation communities “from the outside”.
While by-and-large individual First Nation entrepreneurs were willing to share their business
stories, it is challenging to find “clusters” or “groups” of entrepreneurs whom are available for
Generalizability to Population Studied. The participants in this research came from more than
forty First Nations, with the majority being within the British Columbia borders. However, there
are 364 First Nations in Canada, and although they are all part of Indigenous peoples, there are
many different languages, dialects, customs, practices, environments and social/economic
conditions. Consequently, a broad generalization and application from the research findings may
not apply to every First Nation.
Time and Funding Resources. The time, travel and costs involved in completing research with
the widely separated First Nation communities and businesses operations can be challenging,
especially in doctorate study. It is important to learn, follow and respect community protocols in
accessing First Nation communities, members and information. As well, honoria costs for
participants can be significant when gathering quantitative data, so this requires advance
planning and budgeting.
(a) Business Model Circle (BMCI).
Further exploration and continuing development of the Business Model Circle paradigm is
Exploration. Business Model Circle is based on the research findings from First Nation
entrepreneurs. It pulls together the intentions, desires, motivations, actions and results of these
individual entrepreneurs, who is many cases persevered and successfully overcame significant
business challenges. An opportunity exists to utilize BMCI to explore not only First Nation
communities, regions and territories but other Indigenous peoples, and beyond into various Non-
Indigenous minority groups.
First Nation research could compare community differences and similarities in each of the
twelve BMCI components, how they are linked to and what they mean to knowledge
accumulation and usage. BMCI can help determine business elements and drivers more
favorable or specific to various First Nations.
Likewise, BMCI could explore and compare entrepreneurship with Indigenous peoples from
different parts of the world. Commonalities could lead to mutual sharing of ideas, information,
knowledge and skills. Differences could be recognized to reduce any potential
misunderstandings or misapplications.
Non-Indigenous minority groups in different parts of the world may find value in BMCI research
as it takes cultural, community and governance aspects into consideration within the framework
of the model. Minority groups can better recognize the most relevant aspects of their needs,
motivations and goals beyond but not excluding financial aspects. Social mission can support,
cultural aspects which can support financial aspects which can support community and Nation
Building aspects, and on and on between and among the prosperity streams emerging from the
BMCI could serve as a training tool for Indigenous entrepreneurs as it would be more reflective
of the goals, values and desires of participants hoping to open businesses in their communities. It
could serve as a guide for business planning thereby increasing the likelihood of funding
approval needed for startup.
Mainstream Canadian society may have something to learn from BMCI as well. With the
renewed focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR), BMCI may be an opportunity for
exploration of goals beyond financial profit and further into mission and improving governance
and management infrastructure.
The feasibility of BMCI for cond ucting research and exploration into
entrepreneurship with First Nations, other Indigenous peoples, minority groups and
even mainstream society business, appears propitious. The model and template is
transportable, applicable, more comprehensive, and conve niently structured and
readily comprehensible by both its holistic design and constituent circles and
elements. As well, with its crucial prosperity flows supported by the interacting,
recognizable elements of origin form Business Model Canvas, Business Mo del
Circle appears fluid and broad enough for further development.
Development. How can Business Model Circle be further developed? BMCI, like entrepreneurs
and entrepreneurship, should always be progressive, future and forward thinking, and relevant to
the goals and needs of individuals, communities and nations. Further research can provide not
only nuances within each section of the model for specific entrepreneurial groups, but may
indicate specific broader categories, motivators, and prosperity streams for inclusion.
Some specific areas for development though further research include: BMCI and business stages;
BMCI and business types.
i. BMCI and Business Stages. Business Model Canvas was an effective framework for
gathering data on business stages in Chapter 6. It remains for future research to determine
how effective Business Model Circle may be with Indigenous and other entrepreneurial
groups. Studies using the BMCI framework to analyze entrepreneurship would aid in
determining the research efficacy of BMCI across business stages and time. This would
also help to see how BMCI may be of benefit in the planning/prelaunch activities of
ii. BMCI and Business Types. Future research should use and test BMCI across different
business model types: sole proprietorship; business collectives; social entrepreneurship to
determine if any adjustments in the model would be beneficial to the study of each of the
(b) Other Recommendations.
Knowledge. Future research on new venture creation knowledge management by First Nation
entrepreneurs is also advisable. Presently, no data is available in the literature on the important
theme of knowledge identified in this dissertation by the entrepreneurs. With a better
understanding of the role of knowledge in new venture creation and development, policies and
training strategies could be adjusted or built to help First Nation entrepreneurs achieve business
Primary Motivators. The key motivators and their respective importance rankings may vary from
entrepreneur group to group depending on location, background, nationality and culture. BMCI
may be a proficient tool for measuring the motivational differences among Indigenous
communities given the broader scope of prosperity streams in the framework. Further BCMI
research with different entrepreneurial regions, nationalities and cultures would help to assess
differences. Once any differences are determined, startup and early new venture creation support
can be better targeted and directed to increase and enhance small business development with
those population groups.
Social Entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is indicated as an area of interest for First
Nation entrepreneurs, and as the BMCI multi-dimensional focus includes achieving social
mission, research using BMCI would serve as a good platform for learning more about this
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Map of Canada with First Nations
Qualitative Instrument: Chapter 5 Focus Groups
Quantitative Survey Instrument: Chapter 5
Interview Records (A – L): Chapter 6
Map of Canada with First Nations
The Indian Act is the primary statute by which the federal government administers Indian status,
the management of reserve land, communal monies and local First Nations governments. The
Act sets out Canadian governmental obligations to First Nations peoples, including determining
“status” (recognition of an individual’s First Nation heritage) which provides certain rights
including the right to live on reserve land. Initially, in 1876, it was introduced as a consolidation
of previous colonial ordinances with the purpose of eradicating First Nations culture into
assimilation within Euro-Canadian society. Between 1951 and 1985 the Act has been amended
several times- mostly for the removal of discriminatory sections within. The Indian Act only
pertains to and is applicable to First Nations peoples; it does not include either Inuit or Métis
peoples. The Indian Act is an evolving document impacting generations of First Nations peoples
in the areas of human rights, social and cultural disruptions, and trauma. (Henderson, 2018).
Qualitative Instrument: Chapter 5 Focus Groups
(a) What the research is about;
(b) What the purpose of the focus group is;
(c) Explanation of ethical processes and principles;
(d) Amount of time, process for the focus group (what to expect).
Question Guide (open discussion encouraged for each question):
1. Do you now or have you ever owned or ran a business? On-reserve or off- reserve?
2. If yes, was it on-reserve or off, and for how long? If no, are you thinking of, hoping to, or
planning to start a business on-reserve?
3. Do you presently hope, plan or want to start a business?
4. What advice would you give someone who wanted to start a business in your community?
5. What business goals did you have when you were/are planning your business start-up?
6. What personal goals do/did you have for setting up business?
7. What goals and motivations do you think community members have when they are preparing
to start a business? Once the business is running, for the first two years? For more than two
8. What goals do you/did you have when you were preparing to start your business? After your
– Tell me about the financial goals (if any) of your business, or potential business.
– Have you been part of, or are you aware of, a business starting up with the goal of
achieving community good-social goals as their main purpose? If so, please tell me about
– Tell me about the traditional-cultural goals (if any) of your business, or potential
– In setting up your business, was one of your goals to join a broader community
development or economic initiative, enterprise or program? After your business opened?
Please tell me about that.
– In setting up your business, was one of your goals to be able to create, encourage
political, governance or institutional changes in the community? Please tell me about that.
– In setting up your business, was one of your goals to have and/or create better and/or
increasing social relations with other people in the community? Please tell me about that.
9. What goals are/were most important for you when you were setting up your business? After
starting your business (first two years)? After the first two years of running your business?
10. When you are/were thinking, planning or getting set-up to start your business what were your
aims and purpose?
11. Once you had set up the business, how did your goals change during the first two years?
After two years?
12. How do you think First Nation goals and motivations for starting and operating a business
are different from non-First Nation businesspeople?
13. Would you like to add anything else about what goals and motivations of community
members starting their own business?
14. What advice do you have to offer for how the upcoming individual case study interviews
should be conducted? Types of questions? Wording of questions? How to commence and
complete the interviews? Recording of interviews? Special protocols or cultural considerations?
Quantitative Survey Instrument: Chapter 5
1. I am:
� interested in, or planning, to start my own business
� presently have a business (2 years or less)
� presently have a business (more than 2 years)
� used to have a business
2. If I was to start a new business in my community, I would:
� own my own business
� own it as part of a business group or business collective
� a social entrepreneurship (i.e. own it myself or with others, not to make a profit, but rather to achieve a
particular social purpose or community)
3. In my community I know people who:
� own their own business
� are business owners as part of a business group or business collective
� work in or have a business that is a social entrepreneurship (own or are part of a business where the
goal is not to make a profit, but rather to achieve a particular social purpose or community need)
Part II (a)
(a) Before your business starts (or started):
“What would (or did) motivate you during the planning phase (pre-startup) of a business?”
Circle a number from 1 – 5 (not very important to very important) on each item beneath.
“Motivations and goals when planning
to start a business (pre-startup)”
1. Financial Gain
(make a profit)
2. To Do Social Good
(help out the community)
3. To Strengthen Community
4. To Support Nation Building
(create stronger institutions/governance)
5. To Join a Group or Collective Team
6. To Improve Social Networking
(more and improved people-relations)
Part II (b)
(b) After your business starts (or started):
“What would (or did) motivate you during the first two years of business (start-up),
and then if successful after two years?”:
Circle a number from 1 – 5 (not important to very important) on each item beneath.
“Motivations and goals after your
business starts and then is successful”
1. (Start-Up) First Two Years →
(make a profit)
After Two Years →
2. (Start-up) First Two Years →
To Do Social
(help out community)
After Two Years →
3. (Start-up) First Two Years →
and Traditional After Two Years →
4. (Start-up) First Two Years →
Building After Two Years →
5. (Start-up) First Two Years →
To Join a Group
Or Collective Team
After Two Years →
6. (Start-up) First Two Years →
(more and improved After Two Years →
7. (Start-up) First Two Years →
After Two Years →
Please indicate your opinion:
“What motivates mainstream (non-First Nation) entrepreneurs to plan, start-up
and run a business?”
Circle a number from 1 – 5 (not important to very important) on each item beneath.
Mainstream (Non-First Nation)
“What motivates them to
plan, start-up and run a business?”
1 Financial Gain
(make a profit)
2 To Do Social Good
(help out the community)
3 To Strengthen Community
4 To Support Nation Building
(create stronger institutions/governance)
5 To Join a Group or Collective
Team of Businesses
6 To Improve Social Networking
(more and improved people-relations)
I come from the following region/territory/First Nation: ___________________________________
Age: �25 and under �26-35 �36-45 �46-55 �56-65 �66 and over
If you would like to learn about the results of this research please provide an email address:
I would be interested in a follow-up interview: � Yes � No
Thank you very much for your participation. Please give the completed
questionnaire to Brent Ramsay. He will provide your $20 honorarium payment.
Interview Records (A – L): Chapter 6
Business Model Canvas Interview # 1
(April 11, 2019): opened a business in financial consulting
I had worked several years at a branch of a large Canadian Bank and planned and then opened
my own business as a financial consultant. It was a successful undertaking.
My value proposition was to reduce the cost of banking services paid by clients in order to free
up capital and cash flow for them. Examples included interest fees, mortgage rates, carrying
costs, and so forth. I saw the costs many of them paid and realized they could be lessened- in
some cases significantly.
My client segments were any and all First Nation businesses and First Nation
community/administrative organizations regardless of size, service, background, private or NGO.
I wanted to help First Nation people and First Nation communities. And I wanted to have a
financially successful business. My customer channels were planned to be in acquisition-
meaning to find and secure them in contracts. I planned to connect with them and maintain
relationships through direct personal contact- meet with key individuals of various organizations
in person or by phone and explain my service and the value it offered. For all client types/groups
I intended to provide direct face-to-face personalized service by myself.
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources included data banks on First Nation businesses, my own knowledge of the
financial industry related to banking and banking services, and a home office space and office
equipment. I was the only employee.
Key partners were other consultants who offered connected services to banking in which I didn’t
have background. This included trustees and business managers. Some of them were competitors
and some weren’t- if I needed to I could either draw on their expertise (consult with them) and/or
refer clients to them if circumstances required.
My key activities were problem solving and providing new
solutions/recommendations/improvements in their financial/banking activities that would most
effectively reduce costs and free up cash for them.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: I discovered in my earlier start-up stages that my service products were catching on and being 259 successful. I was gaining more business knowledge and increasing clients. I was kept busy trying to meet everyone’s needs and requests while still doing substantial networking that took quite a bit of my time. I could see the networking was having the desired effect, but it took a lot of time and energy. Interface clients: My client segments continued to be any and all First Nation businesses and First Nation community/administrative organizations no matter their service, size or needs; it felt sometimes like juggling. My client relationships were focused on acquisition: I felt a need to build and secure contracts and so I networked as much as I could- basically anywhere and with any opportunity to present my business and myself possible. I learned that my best networking was on the golf course with potential clients, so I spent a fair bit of time networking this way. There was a lot happening and a lot of what I call “noise” going on out there and it was sometimes hard to figure out what and where was important to attend in networking, so I usually tried to do any and all I could in the early couple of years. I often went to any or every event I possibly could to meet people- this was my “shotgun” approach to find work and work leads. Once a client was “interested” I still connected to them through personal contact- and meet with key individuals of various organizations and then when some business or contract was “secured”, whether larger or smaller, I would follow through to meet their needs myself. Through time in this stage I build my credibility, and also learned how to better deliver my services including how to walk my clients through the processes of my service delivery. Management of Infrastructure: My key resources now were events of all types- not always be business related. I wanted to meet people, get my name “out there and spread the news” of my business and it’s offerings. The key activity I increased was my networking activities- gathering lists and data on events where I could meet people and hand out business cards or just get to know them and increase my overall networking that could hopefully lead to increased work for my business. Otherwise my key resources were pretty much the same. I was the only employee and becoming very busy. I still retained some key partners (consultants in related financial services) for making referrals when necessary, if a topic/issue was outside of my scope of knowledge. My key activities remained the same, including problem solving, and providing new solutions/recommendations/improvements in their financial/banking activities that would lower costs and free up their cash. Post-launch > 2 years
I continued with my key service delivery/products and made additions- for example, I now
cash management lending, further cost analyses, and some other services. I was being asked to
take on more work and contracts of varying sizes, amounts and time.
I was kept very busy trying to meet everyone’s needs and requests that were now arrived, so I
felt it was time to refocus and make some decisions about my networking, my clients, and my
use of time.
I made changes to my client groups. I had been spreading myself too thin. I decided now to take
on only two types of clients, instead of everyone who came to me: (a) the largest clients with
longer-term needs that provided security for my business; (b) community based organizations,
including smaller NGOs, so I could now more effectively give back to my community and help
in this way (this was something that was always on my mind and I wanted to do, but couldn’t do
as well as I wanted to in the early stages of my business launch). I was also able to devote more
time and energy to supporting cultural events in our community.
My client relation methods remained the same. I provided the direct service/consulting for my
clients and didn’t hire any staff.
Client channels were focused much less on acquisition and more on adding within those contract
and clients I already had. I would make an exception to small community organizations and
make new contract acquisitions, even if it didn’t pay much, in order to help the community.
I also changed my networking strategy. Instead of my “shotgun” approach and “golf course”
networking I refocused on community boards and committees. While this was networking that
could help or add to my business when needed, more importantly it was giving back to the
community. I felt I could now devote more time to do this as my business was more mature, and
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources were narrowed down: continue to grow my own knowledge and experience in
the financial business world; community boards and committees; physically, my home office. By
sitting on Board and Committees I could help and strengthen my First Nation regarding
governance and leadership decisions.
My key consulting activities remained the same, although I always tried to add to my knowledge
in the field.
My key partners received more referrals from me, as I was taking on less work to focus on
primary clients and community needs related to my business now were events of all types- they
didn’t have to always be business related.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 2
(April 11, 2019): opened a retail shop
Although I wasn’t an artist myself, I wanted to sell art, and make First Nation arts and crafts the
focus of my business.
My value proposition was to sell customers native art that was “authentic”- mostly hand crafted
and not mass produced. It had to be done by Indigenous artists, not non-Indigenous people. The
art was to be high quality and reasonably priced to be accessible for purchasers.
For my business the client segments were to be quite broad to include any one who could afford
art and was interested especially in native artistry. I was thinking mostly they would be
customers who wanted to buy art as gifts. However, I had an inkling that “well-off or high-end”
(by that I mean well-off financially) non-native people interested in native culture could be a
primary customer group. I had noticed this group of people through my younger years, and I saw
first hand that they weren’t always buying authentic native goods- too often they had been made
and painted in China or somewhere outside of Canada. They may have looked “stereotypically”
native with native motifs of animals, drums, carved images, etc., but they weren’t authentic. I
didn’t have any ready-made clients, so my customer relationship focus was planned to be
“acquiring” customers. My selling channels were to be direct by face-to-face, with one or two
I also regarded the native artists themselves as customers in the sense that they were often
struggling to make ends meet, and I wanted to be able to help them. The way I would do this was
by buying their artwork and goods at prices fair to them. That would be contributing to my
community, and to my culture.
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources were to be physical and human- the stores themselves, and the equipment
(shelves, etc.) in the locations, as well as some in-store sales people for retail selling during
business hours. Financially, I had enough resources to be able to get myself started.
My key partners were to be suppliers- the artists themselves directly and not through some third
party, “middle-man”, or warehouse supplier. I had met artists through the years, and had some
relationships built up I hoped to be able to follow-through on to be able to purchase goods from
these artists for resale to the public.
My key activities in the planning stage was to focus on finding store locations I could afford and
that were not close to any competitors. I had to figure out a good store size- not too big and not
too small. Also, I had to locate the suppliers, and promote my business.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: My products and services stayed relatively consistent in the first year or two of business. My focus remained selling only authentic native art and goods. I decided to initially open two store- fronts in locations that had no competitors nearby. I continued to use only native artists. Something that happened was that early on, after I launched my business, reality really hit home when the bills started coming in. I had been quite passionate about both keeping suppliers paid fairly and keeping my cost to the public low, but suddenly I had no choice but to make sure I kept focused enough on the tasks at hand to be sure to keep operational and survive. It was a wake-up call, and a very busy time, so I needed to concentrate on doing “first things first”. I had focus on what was right in front of me day-to-day: suppliers, training staff, customers, lease costs, other bills, staffing, payroll, etc. Interface clients: My planning and expectations were fairly accurate for my customer base. I picked up quite a few high-end clients, as well as the public overall in general. The client segments matched what I had speculated they would be early on, and my business was picking up and began doing well at both store fronts I had set up. I continued to acquire clients (word of mouth brought new customers, along with newspaper ads), but there were now repeat buyers and I wanted to also focus on retaining them. I learned that my non-Indigenous customers really liked the “’story behind” the art. This became an important part of my relations with customers- the “history or story” was a key part of the sale, and something they were very interested in learning and knowing about to go along with the native artwork they purchased. Management of Infrastructure: My key resources and partners types continued through the first couple of years of business. The artists I purchased from grew in numbers, as did my customers and sales. Both of my stores continued to stay open and be successful. I was very busy myself managing the stores, and able to staff them. One of my newer marketing activities during this period was to be sure to find fund-raising events I could donate art to. This helped get my business name out into the public. I spent quite a bit of time meeting people and looking for ways to promote my business and get the word out there. Post-launch > 2 years
While I continued with my main products and business of selling art in my stores, there now was
a significant addition to my business products/services after a couple of years went by. My
business had become quite successful, and I found that I was being asked by other First Nation
people to help them build their own businesses. They had seen my stores survive and do well.
They asked for help. I absolutely wanted to help them, and now I had the time to be able to do
so. By helping them, I could help my people, and support culture and community even more!
I became a business advisor to go along with an artist storefront entrepreneur. I need to explain
that while I did charge for the business advice, my fees were actually very low. I was more
interested in helping the new First Nation entrepreneurs than I was in making money from them.
My stores were most of my income, but now I had time to help other First Nation people and I
was able to charge them quite low fees so as not to impinge on their start-up costs.
Specifically, I usually helped them with designing and drawing up business plans, as well as
finding sources of funds through grants and other means so they could get their businesses off
the ground. I helped eight First Nation businesses take off- they included a bakery, charters for
fishing trips, a mall, a grocery store, consulting business, etc.
I had a new client group – First Nation people desiring to be entrepreneurs.
For this group, I didn’t really need to do any marketing- they would come and find me. I think
because my retail stores were so successful, when they heard about it- and knowing of me
personally as well- they would come and talk with me about their idea and dreams for business; I
wanted to help them get ahead. Now I could.
My client relation methods otherwise remained pretty-well the same. I gave direct store-front
service to the other customer groups and still had store staff I managed.
Client channels for my stores continued to focus on new acquisitions, and retention. I didn’t
market my business support services as there was only so much time I could devote to it, and I
didn’t want it to become full-time or take any more time away from the stores- but it was very
important for me to help the budding First Nation business people whenever I could.
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources remained for my stores as did my key suppliers, but I had now added a new
intellectual resource which was business know-how and business development skills. This came
primarily from my own experience, and eventually I would add to it with courses and further
education. I also added an activity which was regularly attending trade shows, conferences and
events related to my store operations.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 3
(April 16, 2019): opened an employment training business
I was always interested in helping First Nation people improve their quality of life, especially
through having more employment opportunities. To me that meant they needed more and better
education in order to “open up doors” for work and employment. It also meant I could become
my own boss and hopefully become a financial success! I opened an education and training
business specific to First Nations.
Many First Nation communities live in remote or difficult to access areas, and there are
differences between each community and differences in needs. So, my thinking and idea with
value proposition in the planning period was to design and offer employment training programs
directly into the communities instead of them having to travel out to bigger centres for the
courses they would take. Since each community has some differences I would offer “custom-
designed” courses that matched the needs and interests of each community. Examples of training
courses and workshops were to be office assistants, foundation programming for the trades, or
literacy training so they could take entry-level jobs (for example, at MacDonalds, etc.).
My clients were to be rural First Nation communities in the interior and north of the province.
They would pay for the training programs to come to their communities and teach interested
community members. So, my clients were both the community leadership (for example Chief
and Council or First Nation economic development departments who made decisions and would
probably pay most of the costs), and the students (community members themselves) who would
receive the training. The students might have to pay something as well, but hopefully the
community leadership would find or secure the funds to cover educational costs.
I would need to find clients (interested communities) so I would initially be looking to acquire
customers to support the program, and following this, if successful, I would need to find and
secure the students for the courses as well- although the community would probably be expected
help a lot with determining this. My sales channels were to be direct contact and to have one or
two sales people to start out who would pitch the ideas and assess what the needs were in
specific communities. Then I could design the training programs and find the person or people
who would deliver the courses.
Management of Infrastructure:
I would need key partners: post-secondary institutions that could provide courses, as well as
educators who would be able and willing to travel and deliver the trainings. My key resources
would be human- staff to sell and to do training; physical- an office space for us to operate out
of; financial- enough of a slush or start-up fund to cover initial costs and travel. The main
activities would be researching what First Nation communities would be interested and want to
have training projects delivered. I made a five-year plan.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: I launched my business, and everything happened very fast and successfully. The training services were desired by communities as I had hoped when I was planning, and two rural First Nations signed up for substantial programs early on. I was surprised at how quickly everything came together- work, marketing, selling, contracts, service and payments. The services delivered were as planned. Interface clients: Marketing quickly became word-of-mouth and there was so much interest and activity I had to concentrate on the two large clients. It turned out that corporations, for example corporation involved in the extraction of natural resources on First Nation land, were financing the education programs as part of their extraction agreements- so they became clients as well as they were part of the dialogue, and ultimately provided the funding to First Nations to pay my business. I focused more on retaining the clients I had as the programs they wanted were so large and the contracts were significant. Therefore, I wasn’t thinking so much in the first year or two to find new clients. Face-to-face and regular contact and ongoing relationship maintenance with the clients was important. Management of Infrastructure: My key partners remained (post secondary schools, teachers/trainers, sales person). Corporate contacts were now partners as they needed updates and deliverable results from the training programs which were soon up and running. Most of the activity was delivering programs, following through and problem solving with students and adding trainers, concentrating on ensuring payroll and expense reimbursements. I continued to use the same office space. It was a very busy and exciting time, and everything seemed to happen so fast, and almost seamlessly. My sales person also did assessments of community needs and helped with the relationship building and maintenance, and program set-up on-site. Post-launch > 2 years
I now had just started to expand my services: I did an evaluation of an existing educational
program a community was utilizing-entrepreneurship incubation. I interviewed the students to
write an assessment report.
Unfortunately, as quickly as my business was successful in landing contracts, I was surprised
after a couple of years how quickly the business dried up. Other than this one evaluation, I had
kept the same training services and was starting to focus on how I could keep the same value
propositions but improve on them, based on what I had learned the first couple of years (remote
custom-designed delivery; face-to-face services). Two things happened that changed things. One
was that the corporate funding dried up very quickly and unexpectedly as natural resource
extraction issues and politics (outside of my control) took place. Secondly, I hadn’t diversified
my services enough (except for the one evaluation) nor looked for other contracts but focused on
just those two contracts/clients/communities. Now education training funding was virtually zero
in remote communities who had relied on corporate funding. I had no other clients.
My business was struggling.
I wound down and finished up the service delivery and contracts using the same staff and client
contact and relationship methods. I was unable to acquire any more clients for the service- there
were no longer funds for the training programs.
Management of Infrastructure:
I had to eventually lay off staff- both sales and trainers/educators. I eventually closed my office,
having wound down my partnerships with the post secondary institutions, and finished the last
elements of the existing contracts.
I am now doing other work and continuing some of my own educational upgrading.
Looking back at this experience as a First Nation entrepreneur, there was something that really
affected me when I had such financial success in the first one to two years- I really felt “guilty”. I
felt guilty selling to First Nation communities because I was always asking myself if what I was
doing was being seen as a colonial mechanism (make money and take advantage of First
Nations), or if it was really helping them. I struggled with trying to figure out if education was a
colonial mechanism or a way out of poverty. I really felt conflicted about these two aspects. And
I always felt under so much pressure to provide a good and consistent service. All these feeling
while I was doing the work during the successful period really affected me, in fact it would bring
me down, and even kill my motivation. It was like trying to live within two world views at the
same time- really burdensome and stressful, and I think ultimately for my business actually had
some devasting effects.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 4
(May 6, 2019): media business
After working for several years in the media business, including news editing, I decided to open
my own small business in the film and television industry. As an indigenous woman, I was a
rarity in this industry when I started, as I was in business later in the field. My business has been
up and running for twenty plus years.
For my business, the value proposition was to design and produce film and television
documentaries that focused on “true stories” of First Nation people, their life experiences, and
their businesses. From my salaried work in the field I often saw skewed, inaccurate
representations of First Nation people. I believed I could bring a better, more realistic product
into the public.
My client segments were specific as it was a narrow client base available for the industry in
Canada at the time: CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Corporation
CRTC would put out calls for proposals from their broadcaster base looking for programs. I had
good background information and history with CRTC, so they were my client base. I knew they
would continue to put out requests for cultural programs and language (including First Nations).
I didn’t have any client contracts when I started, so I had to acquire them through the request for
proposal process. I had good contacts from my salaried job with the CRTC so I didn’t need to
advertise or set up a store front. I wanted to coordinate and produce the programs and would be
the contact and face for proposals/projects. I also wrote all the proposals.
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources were to include contract people, both “up-level” (directors, narrators, etc.) and
“down-level” (boom operators, camera-people, etc.): they were to actualize the actual program
work that I created, designed and oversaw. Physical resources included equipment; equipment
was very expensive- for example, a camera back then would cost $80,000 and that is only one
piece of equipment. I needed other filming equipment- lighting, etc. I knew the business
model/plan would have me going from project to project because that was just the way the
My key activities would be proposal writing, design of the program, and overall project
management throughout start to finish. This would include obtaining equipment and personal
necessary through contracts, as well as arranging locations and following through with the
personnel I hired. This involved ongoing problem solving to go along with good planning and
Post-launch < 2 years 268 The first year or two took all my energy. It was a huge amount of work even though I had good contacts and began fairly soon with my first project. All of my work was project- so when one finished I would be looking right away for another. It was a continuous cycle this way, but I loved the work. What happened with my business was that as soon as a project of a specific size was complete I would look for another – but bigger – project. My desire and motivation never dropped; I stayed with it project after project. Often there wasn’t a lot of money being made for me in my business, but I kept going. In thinking about money, you know for me in my business it was that the social value was way more important than the dollars. By this I mean that from the get-go I was doing cultural programming and “real” programming and this was helping promote my people. As well, I was hiring more and more First Nation people. I had quite few person-to-person agreements that were handshake deals- these worked out well as there was a lot of trust built up in my services and in myself in the field. Products/Services: My business model and services remained the same as planned from start-up and through the first couple of years. Proposal writing, responding to requests for proposals, overseeing program delivery all continued. Interface clients: I still had to acquire new customers as I went, plus there were repeat customers. I didn’t need to do advertising or set-up a website.My client segments continued to be any and all First Nation businesses and First Nation community/administrative organizations no matter their service, size or needs; it felt sometimes like juggling. My client relationships were focused on acquisition: I felt a need to build and secure contracts and so I networked as much as I could- basically anywhere and with any opportunity to present my business and myself possible. I learned that my best networking was on the golf course with potential clients, so I spent a fair bit of time networking this way. There was a lot happening and a lot of what I call “noise” going on out there and it was sometimes hard to figure out what and where was important to attend in networking, so I usually tried to do any and all I could in the early couple of years. I often went to any or every event I possibly could to meet people- this was my “shotgun” approach to find work and work leads. Once a client was “interested” I still connected to them through personal contact- and meet with key individuals of various organizations and then when some business or contract was “secured”, whether larger or smaller, I would follow through to meet their needs myself. Through time in this stage I build my credibility, and also learned how to better deliver my services including how to walk my clients through the processes of my service delivery. Management of Infrastructure: My key resources remained contract people, both “up-level” (directors, narrators, etc.) and “down-level” (boom operators, camera-people, etc.), and equipment rental for each and every project. 269 My key activities remained the same: proposal writing, design of the program, and overall project management and problem solving that needs to be done through the life of the project. Post-launch > 2 years
One thing that became more and more, and which was an add-on to my service was mentoring. I
began doing more and more mentoring to the point that I mentored and helped over 200 people
in the industry over twenty years- about ten or more per year. This included broadcasters, film
production, coordinating, and post-production services.
cash management lending, further cost analyses, and some other services. I was being asked to
take on more work and contracts of varying sizes, amounts and time.
I was kept very busy trying to meet everyone’s needs and requests that were now arrived, so I
felt it was time to refocus and make some decisions about my networking, my clients, and my
use of time.
I am also happy about and proud that I was increasingly able to hire more and more First Nation
people- about 50% of my contractual hires were First Nation, so this was a benefit to my people.
I also contributed over 600 hours of relevant cultural and/or First Nation based programming that
was authentic. My business model never changed much other than the mentoring that became an
add-on. I never felt a need to change my business channels. I was always looking to add new
clients- but many of my original clients were retained.
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources continued as before. The one thing I noticed with equipment was how
technology changed the industry, and also cut into profits that could be left over. The industry
went from splicing to Beta tapes to digital. I followed through all of these changes, but while it
drove up my production costs, there was decreased profits as it also led to decreased business
funds as more competition was arriving with access to the technology. Things have really
changed this way in the past few years.
My key partners received more referrals from me, as I was taking on less work to focus on
primary clients and community needs related to my business now were events of all types- they
didn’t have to always be business related.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 5
(May 6, 2019): opened a business in human resource consulting
I worked quite a few years in First Nation administration/government helping design/redesign
economic development programs as well as problem solving for reducing band debt. I also have
been a First Nation Band Manager, so my business ideas evolved from my knowledge and
I saw that there was a gap in qualified human resource services in First Nation, and given my
background I believed I could offer better quality human resource consultation, problem solving
and program design than what was currently out there. In short, I felt I could do it properly- in
line with First Nation needs. For example, I also recognized that in First Nation world we had a
lot of unresolved trauma and addictions that needed to be taken into consideration with human
resource work. These were realities that impacted our population and our businesses and our
families. Furthermore, given the lack of academic standing in the communities in the human
resources, First Nation often hired non-Indigenous human resource consultants, so I wanted to
fill the cultural knowledge gap from my First Nation experience and background. and the
background. Lastly, I had negotiated for Chief and Council and wanted to provide disruptive and
effective models for First Nations based upon traditional knowledge and aspects.
My focus was to be on educational and governance training and education. Examples include
school and education upgrading, learning and accreditation of trades, and
management/leadership skill sets.
Overall my business had two main goals in the planning stage: to make money and to create
social benefits to First Nations through education.
I planned my client segments to be corporations that would fund human resource related
programs – both education and governance/leadership. They would provide the funds and the
participants for programming that I would design, and either deliver myself or contract out.
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources were to be the models- the intellectual property- that I designed. This included
assessment tools for First Nation community members, and then strategizing the design specific
to participant needs and corporate model compliance factors. I had available, from my past work,
a list or data base of prospective corporate clients.
I was to be the key human resource. I planned a sole proprietorship.
I didn’t need or plan to have any key partners or suppliers.
Post-launch < 2 years 271 Products/Services: My services sold quickly and I had never changed any of my products or services in the first two years. My model that included cultural material related to or directly part of the training needs sold right from the start. I had 18 corporate clients in the first two years requesting programs. My business began as I had hoped and planned. I was very busy. Interface clients: My client types remained as per my planning stage. My channels of communication and dialogue were through my reaching out to previous contacts and presenting my ideas if they had corporate funds to offer education to communities as a result of mineral extraction, hydro, or whatever resource was being utilized by the corporation form a First Nation community. Management of Infrastructure: My key activities and resources remained as per my plan. There were no real changes other than I had to tweak my models for a given community or corporate training requirement or need. Post-launch > 2 years
The only change I made was to focus my training and human resource programming on long-
term career strategies for communities. For example, career paths of the
participants/students/community members. By that I also mean that the programs were meant to
be not short-term, but longer-term learning to make sustainable.
I had too many clients and found that I needed to be more selective of what contracts to take. The
corporations weren’t as reliable as I had hoped for budget and funding follow-thorugh. I reduced
my client base of services provided down to four main ones from eighteen. These would be
retained clients. To have long-term learning (or life long learning programs) I would need to not
just acquire clients but need to retain clients for ongoing contracts/services.
Also I eventually began promoting my business to global clients, as there are Indigenous
communities all over the world that I could potentially do work with.
I opened a website to reach out and beyond into other territories and countries.
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources remained the same- models and assessment tools with the exception that I
added a family member as a business partner.
Another thing that I did as my business continued through several years was to add to and build a
business model and governance model based on both traditional and modern concepts. I am still
working on this, and hope to use it in upcoming projects.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 6
(May 7, 2019): opened a water taxi business
From a young age I lived near a big lake in British Columbia, and spent a lot of time fishing,
rafting, swimming and boating there, so I knew the water, shorelines and area very well. There
were also some historic traditional areas that I would visit; this included some ancient
pictographs- almost twenty different spots of drawings.
My value proposition seemed straight forward. There was no competition so I would be the only
water transporter on the lake. It seemed like a good opportunity. I was a young guy at the time
and had free time so could be available to boat people around or across the lake. I didn’t need a
lot of money for myself so I could charge a modest price.
This is what I would be able to offer with my business idea- readily available, low-cost water
transportation anywhere on or around the lake and lakeshore. As well, I could offer enjoyment
for customers just interested in leisure, having fun and learning more about First Nations people
in our territory. I could give information and tell stories about the lake, it’s history, and explain
the role it played in our culture to anyone who wanted to know more about that. I had very good
local knowledge that I could utilize in talking to my potential customers and making their water
trip fun and interesting. I was an outgoing, respectful and considerate person who wanted my
future clients to feel good about the experience.
My customer segments were going to be people from our First Nation community and any
tourists in the area who wanted to access areas around the lake not accessible by either a
constructed road or off-roading.
I didn’t have a marketing plan, other than to promote by talking to people and relying on word of
mouth, so that was to be my client channels.
I would have to find clients as soon as possible, because at that point it was only an idea, and
there weren’t any certain customers waiting for water transport, and I still didn’t even have my
Management of Infrastructure:
Physical resources: I needed a boat and the equipment to go with it. While my parents had a boat
that I was able to use, it was too small for what I had in mind. The equipment to go with a new
boat would include a replacement battery, motor, air horn, radio equipment life jackets and other
boating supplies. I would also need a reliable truck to pull the boat. The boat itself had to be big
enough to handle the lake and waves safely.
Since I didn’t have money or the required boat and equipment, I went looking for a partner and
started with the Tribal Council who I had heard could offer grants and financial support to First
Nation would-be entrepreneurs. They liked my idea and after a summary business plan
presentation they gave me the funds to make all my equipment purchases. The boat and truck I
purchased were sufficient and safe for my purpose and business, though not as big as I had hoped
initially. Nevertheless, it was great to be able to get my business off the ground and going.
My key activities were in preparing my water routes and activities for any customers, and getting
the word out there. They would either have somewhere they wanted to go and make inquires
with me, or I could make suggestions if they just wanted a tour, so I wanted to have some
options available. Also, I had to plan thoughtfully about the weather and water conditions for
purposes of safety. Furthermore, there would be ice coming onto the lake for the winter season,
so I had to be watching for start and finish dates seasonally, even though in my location the
winter period to be off the lake wasn’t overly long. I would also had to be very knowledgeable
about the weather and safety issues
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: My business did very well. Just as I opened my venture I was fortunate enough to get a significant client contract. I worked hard and often long hours, so made sure I was available. There continued to be no competition for water taxi transport or tours the first two years. My off- reserve clients were often interested in touring the lake to see the pictographs. My community clients also kept me busy, but there were also new customer groups in the early years. Interface clients: My first client contract was with the Tribal Council. This was a big boost in starting my business. Not only had they been my business start-up partner, but they paid ahead of time for my services for the bands in the area. This really helped and go me on my feet and running. Word of mouth and a set of events (development of natural resources, regional infrastructure improvements, environmentalists becoming more active) worked together to further help my business in those first two years. My customer groups expanded to include a wide range of different needs: ecological specialists (for example, spotted own observers); development protestors; Hydro development slashers; sight seers of all kinds; loggers; international visitors including many Americans and Germans. The pictograph sites were of great interest to the tourists and I would usually take them to each of the sites. They loved to take pictures and I would usually charge them by the hour. My business continued to be all by word of mouth, and the news traveled through the region and beyond for anyone who needed to cross or travel down or around the lake whether for commercial, personal, or sight-seeing purposes that they should in touch with me and that I was reliable and readily available. I was paid now very well for my services, and I was really, really busy sometimes going from early in the morning to late at night often day after day. I kept going as my business was doing well and I didn’t want to miss the opportunities or let the clients down- 275 there were many requests. Some were planned ahead of time, and others would arise depending on circumstances or occasionally an emergency. More and more groups requested transport. Another one that came to me that I added were blasters who cleared rocks for the railway tracks. Management of Infrastructure: I needed a bigger boat as the commercial requirements kept growing. I obtained a new partner to help me buy larger and better equipment, including a boat. I needed this as the loggers had material and equipment for moving. My new partner was the Community Futures Corporation. I didn’t hire any staff, although my young daughter would ride along with me and often provided support and bits of help. Post-launch > 2 years
My business continued to be in demand, and it was doing well financially. After about two years
there were some people in my First Nation community who became jealous at the success. They
would say things like “don’t be like a shama (like a white person)”. To counteract this I finally
went to a band meeting where there were many of my community members present and I
explained how my business worked, and how it had developed, and how hard I was working.
This helped that I was able to be listened to, and I think better understood.
My original services remained the same- there was a lot of corporate development requests. I
made three changes to my tourist services. The first was that I noticed that tourist groups would
schedule for five-hour tours, but there were invariably some people in the group who became
fatigued so I changed the length to three hours. Secondly, I noticed some pictographs were being
chipped away and parts removed, so after consulting with the band administration we agreed that
tourists would only be allowed to go to four pictographs and not all twenty. We needed to protect
and preserve them from damage, defacing or theft of pieces. Third, I added increased cultural
aspects to my tourist trips- without harming or effecting the locations I would show them sites
such as where many of the eagles were, including their habitats and nesting sites, and on
occasion where they could safely spot bears
I added corporate customers. Telus Corporation was one important one- they were laying fibre
for technology. I also now had surveyors as a customer group.
I began to promote my business more, beyond word of mouth. The band helped me develop a
website. I also began trading a free day of boating for advertising (brochure or newspaper ads).
As well, after those early years I found more time to give back to the community. I did this in
two ways. First, I began hiring and employing band members in my business. Second, I donated
my boat for ninety days to do supply runs for the community people when they needed it with
the road situation and also the blockade happening.
Management of Infrastructure:
I needed an even bigger boat and more equipment. I had a temporary business partner- the
Aboriginal Business Corporation who helped me with covering 40% of my capital needs, and
70% of soft costs such as documentation, legal paperwork and other non-capital business
expenses. They reviewed my business plan and accepted it.
I purchased an even larger boat and motor.
I hired local people under contract work. I now picked up the tourists and drove them to the lake
and dropped them off again, so I needed drivers, cooks, cultural people to give talks to them, and
I also hired other boaters and leased out their boats and themselves as operators.
To enhance my skill and be accredited I took the appropriate courses in boating and passed my
My business was successful for several more years. I became active in other community work –
positions in the band office, as well as leadership work through Chief and Council, so I
eventually closed my business to focus on community work.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 7
(May 7, 2019): opened a cafe
I had wanted to own and operate a small business for some time, so I decided to open an Indian
Café in my community.
My value proposition was to provide low cost food at quick preparation and service. It was to be
affordable, prompt and accessible meals for people stopping over who were en route and
traveling as it was on a main highway thoroughfare. Another value for customers was my plan to
hold an all-day breakfast special- something not available in the area I lived so there wasn’t any
competition. Also, I wanted to provide what I regarded as “comfort food” for customers. As a
value to customers it would be available and reliably open for seven days a week with long daily
A highway ran through my community and there was considerable tourist traffic so I chose to
lease a spot in a strip mall alongside the highway. My client segments were to be tourists who
went up and down that road. My client channels, advertising and promotion were done through a
large sign at my café and a road sign/banner. I also sent out brochures to other businesses and
locations they could give to tourists who were in the area so they could know my café existed,
what the hours were, and what it had to offer them. I would start without any customers so I
would be acquiring them. I knew that there were returning tourists because I lived in the area and
had seen them arrive and then come back so there would hopefully be returning customers as
Management of Infrastructure:
My primary physical resources were the lease space, restaurant equipment, signs and food
preparation and ingredients. I actually started at a location that was an empty shell so I had to do
everything to get going- location renovations, equipment, marketing, food and menu planning,
record systems, and so forth. My human resource capital was to be myself- my own labour, as
well as other First Nation women I would hire from my community to do food preparation,
cooking, serving and cleaning. I had to learn food preparation and to learn to cook the café
meals, which I did. The First Nation band was an important partner as they provided funding
through a grant for my purchases to get started- lease, equipment, food and so forth. The key
activities were promotion, service, hiring, bookkeeping, cooking, clean up, supplies, payroll, and
such. It was all new to me, and a huge challenge but I was existed about it. It felt good to be a
First Nation women and to be able to have become my own boss.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: 278 I kept my same menu and services hours throughout the first two years. There was virtually no change in my menu or hours. My location remained the same. I had made an early decision to hang in as long as I could to see if the business could survive, thrive and grow. Interface clients: I continued with my advertising campaign sending out brochures and advertising through tourist spots in the region. I maintained my signs and roadside banner advertisements, but I never did set up a website or use Facebook. Looking back now, I wish I had- but then again at the time I wasn’t aware how to do those things, or how important they could be to a business. My client base was very different than I had planned. Over time during that first couple of years my business did not draw any where near the number of tourists I had anticipated. In fact, I can say that my client base was completely different than expected. It became almost entirely local traffic and local people. While that was a regular client group, without the tourist draw and business income, it made financial survival more and more financially challenging. My ongoing promotion didn’t improve tourist numbers or cash flow. The unexpected change in client base did something else significant. You see, one of my purposes in opening the business included to be able to hire and support other First Nation women- to help them not only financially but to become confident and independent. As the months wore on, my business cash flow grew tighter and tighter and eventually I had to lay off my staff person by person. My mother began to help me to cover labour and labour costs and became a partner in the second year. While that helped, I was very disappointed not to be able to help the community members with employment as I had hoped. We worked long days until late in the evening, and seven days a week. Management of Infrastructure: My key physical resources and activities remained the same: location, signs and so forth. I still marketed and promoted as before and had the same menu and equipment. I tried really hard to stay the course. Unfortunately, for economic reasons my staff were eventually all let ago except for my mother who helped me work all of the tasks and became a partner through necessity. The First Nation band became a new type of partner as offered to help by taking over the paperwork, bookkeeping and accounting. That was helpful. Post-launch > 2 years
I continued into my third year but it became impossible and unrealistic to continue and expect
to have business survival. I closed shop and ended my business. I had to admit it was not
working, and my small business venture “went under”.
I never successfully accessed different client segments, and I didn’t do any other advertising or
promotion activities. In looking back I think I acquired as many clients as possible from the local
client base but didn’t otherwise gain or acquire many customers. I also had only moderate take
out food options and didn’t do deliveries or large groups.
Management of Infrastructure:
I closed up my café , sold my equipment, and ended the lease and other activities. I really
appreciated the work done by former staff, mother and the help I got from the band.
The one thing I can add is that during the early start-up period there were some people from my
community who assumed, thought or said I must be well off and rich to have a business, and this
caused me some grief, as it was a misperception and/or simply untrue. I was trying to be a
success in business, and to help other people in my community, so that part wasn’t really a very
Business Model Canvas Interview # 8
(May 7, 2019): opened an event planning business
I worked for several years for my First Nation, and one of my responsibilities was to plan and set
up meetings and workshops for seventeen bands in our territory. From this experience, as the
years went by, I eventually came to the decision to open up my own event planning business.
The value proposition that I wanted to offer was timely, professional event planning that could
be provided throughout the region. I felt I was a very good problem solver both for custom
planning and design of events, but also as problems arose “on the fly”. The value proposition I
felt would be most powerful was my ability and skill to be able to provide an overall “seamless”
delivery of the event to the customers contracting with my business. Also, I could respond
quickly to any requests, as I was motivated and new how to work hard and “get things done”. I
had a lot of background experience. I believed in, and practiced, excellent customer service; This
came primarily through my previous experience (when younger) working at the front desk of a
tourism service and realizing how important customer service is.
I also enrolled in and completed a two -ear event planning diploma to go along with my
experience working for my First Nation.
I wanted to, and did, open a sole proprietorship. I did up a business plan through related school
courses I was taking which was really helpful.
There were two customer segments I was targeting. The first were the First Nation organizations,
band administrations, departments and businesses who wanted to set up meetings or conferences
and needed venues, catering and organizing of their programs- something they required
regularly. The second were individuals and work teams who would pay to come to events I
organized with speakers who presented on various topics. I was quite enthusiastic on the latter
group although I had no experience with that. I felt it would be an add-on customer group
attracted to speaker forums and workshops I organized myself independent of other
organizations or groups. This way I could set up my own venues and conferences and not have to
pay someone else to do it. I could profit from two ways- the speakers and the venue planning and
costs savings as I would do it myself.
My way of reaching out to customers was through two ways. First, I was quite well known in the
community for setting up events so word-of-mouth would be important and I expected that
would happen quickly. Second, I planned to set-up a face book page to keep in touch with clients
and find new ones.
To get started, as I didn’t have any contract requests yet, I needed to find customers.
Management of Infrastructure:
My physical resources were what was needed for a home business: desk, computer, printer, and
other office equipment. My human resources were myself as a sole proprietor. I would need
partners who I contracted with to do the cooking/preparation/catering, and hotels or venue
locations to contract with regularly. I had personal financial resources available fortunately. My
knowledge base was my most important resource- I knew how to do event planning and had lots
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: Those early years were very busy, and I am still busy to this day ten years later. I started up my business and it was successful right from the start. My value proposition remained the same for the first two years- I made sure to respond promptly to planning requests, arrange the contracts and budgets, ensure delivery of all aspects of the events that were needed- including catering, venue and other needs- and to solve arising problems for the event sponsors during the contract servicing. Interface clients: I was successful with one of the two customer groups that had I planned to access to make my business successful. The First Nation band organizations and departments, seventeen First Nations in our territory- each with different departments and organizations, regularly asked me to set up their conferences and meetings. This was very successful and carried my business financially and by way of reputation. The client group I had hoped to be a successful add-on (organizing my own speaker forums) was not as successful, and I dropped this client group shortly after my business opened. I continually provided the important face-to-face connection with my clients, their needs, and their special or arising requests. I really personalized the relationships and communications. I stayed connected with my customers through the whole process from the very first contact right through to the end. I believed strongly in mutually respectful relationships. Word of mouth and Facebook continued as promotion processes for my businesses, but I added posters and newspaper advertising, plus brochures, in the first two years. I retained my customer groups and they often became repeat clients. I also gained more new clients. I believe my customers were happy that I made the whole process easy for them, and did a good job. Looking back at those first years the hardest thing for me in business was self-promotion- promoting my business which was really myself and my skills. Growing up we were taught in our First Nation community by family and elders not to brag and not to talk about yourself. So there was always a struggle for me early on with business promotion-self promotion that I tried to work through during that time. 282 Management of Infrastructure: My key physical resources and activities were still the same: home business location, office equipment, contracting out for caterers and venues. I did my own books and finances, and prepared and discussed budgeting and costs with clients. Post-launch > 2 years
Those early years were very busy, and I am still busy to this day ten years later providing the
same services and doing the same activities as during the first two years.
Something I can say that I added on to my services after two years, now that I had more time and
had settled into my business processes and had met continued success was to be able to help
other First Nation community members even more. I hired locally- contracting out catering and
venues. I kept my workshop locations local. The community saw this, understood this, and knew
me for this. I was helping our people.
I added another service for our people- I arranged for First Nation story-tellers, artists and elders
to be available to work at the venues if needed by the customers. I built a local team of
contractors who then could share their skills, help the customers, and be paid for their work.
Beyond this I began to mentor other First Nation people in doing business- it has been often I am
asked how to start and run a business- even though I am not paid to this, I see it as part of my
business, my responsibility and my community and culture. I am willing to share my information
and learning with others, and I do this for our people.
My client remained the same with the exception community that I kind of regard the community
members I mentor or give advice to my clients as well. It is an informal part of my business, yet
also part of my business and who I am and what my business is. It has a good community
reputation and consequently I believe that I do as well. In fact, people know my business more
by my personal name than by my business name!
Management of Infrastructure:
Otherwise nothing has really changed in terms of my key resources, partnerships and activities
over the past eight or so years. Thank you for letting me share my story.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 9
(May 7, 2019): opened a First Nation gift shop
I had wanted to open a gift shop in my community that focused on local First Nation products for
some time, and I finally I made the jump when a funding opportunity came up with my band.
I decided to set up a social enterprise as my business model. My primary goal was to showcase
local talent- artists and craftspeople and to help them make a living and hopefully advance their
careers and financial independence. I wanted to help our people.
I knew that the business would have to make money in order to survive and to be able to help the
artists and craftspeople it would be supporting. The idea was that they would be paid for their
work, and after business expenses including a fairly modest pay draw for myself, the profit
would go back into the artists and craftspeople as income sharing. That was my model.
The products to be sold would be moccasins, drums, drawings and paintings, dream catchers,
ribbon skirts, and other items they created- all made by our people and with their own materials
and know-how. The products were 100% First Nation.
I wanted to open a store in a location that I felt was appropriate and would draw in both
Indigenous and non-Indigenous customers. I would advertise through both word of mouth, and
by providing face-to-face information to other non-competing businesses to share with their
customers who might be interested in our products. The contract artists and craftspeople, along
with myself, would ideally both promote the products by work of mouth. I also planned to link
them in with activities and events that went on in the surrounding region so their good could be
shown off, and where they could hopefully give presentations about their skills and products.
I didn’t plan to use a website and didn’t think there would need to have very much print
advertising if any.
Management of Infrastructure:
Physical resources would be a store location (leased) and shelves and attractive interior items. I
would also need a clerk desk, business material for records and sales, cleaning supplies, and so
forth. My key human resources would be the contract artists and craftspeople, and I would need
to hire store employees to do sales to the incoming traffic in the store. I had a key partner which
was my band- they helped me with the financing (grant) through a program called the
Community Futures Program which gave me the seed money I needed to start-up.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: 284 I had drawn up a very good business plan. It was approved by the band and the Community Futures Program, so I started-up my business as from the document and followed through on the business strategy aspects laid out within the start-up and development plan. The products were as I envisioned and went for sale in the store. Interface clients: My client channels were as planned and didn’t shift through the first two years- word of mouth and contact with other businesses in the area who were willing to promote my business, artists and craftspeople to potential customers. Management of Infrastructure: I used the money from the Community Futures Program as per business start-up framework and agreement, then invested some of my own money into the business to keep it going. I found and retained artists, drum makers, skirt creators, and a variety of craftspeople willing to sell their goods through my store and receive profits back. My intent to provide jobs, income and a boost to the artist and craft community of my First Nation remained, and I followed through on my commitments to them. As time went on, I fell further and further into personal debt to keep the business going, and meet all of the financial overhead costs, pay myself some wages, and ensure appropriate pay to the artists and craftspeople. I continued with my store location and the plan to have walk-in traffic and customers. I still spoke with other businesses and shared information. I had enough contractors (making the products) but it was getting to the pont that I had to lay off store sales staff and try to run it by myself. Post-launch > 2 years
I realized that the business wasn’t making enough money to continue much longer than the first
two years. What I can say, when I look back at this, is that personal circumstance, situations and
problems primarily contributed to why the business did not continue long after two years. I had
to lay off staff, return products to the artisans, artists and craftspeople, and close-up shop. I was
left with a fair bit of debt; fortunately, things have worked out better for me since this time.
I made sure I met the obligations to my contract staff and store staff before having to let them go.
I was left in debt, but fortunate through time to be able to do ok.
Management of Infrastructure:
The shop was closed. I paid my final bills, but was left covering expenses that put me in debt for
I learned a lot about business, and without going into any details, for sure personal issues are a
contributing factor to how a business does, and that is a factor to go along with the business
proposal, how you market, and make changes on the go with you business. I am glad I was able
to help some of the community members for a while, but I wish it had been more successful.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 10
(May 13, 2019): opened business in strategic communication/development
I spent about half of my career working for large organizations in the field of communication,
branding/marketing, and related business strategies. This included a variety of groups such as
government, non-profit sector, education and public health. I did a lot of what is called cross-
sector work, so I had a broad base of workplace and corporate experiences and had built up quite
a few business and corporate connections. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided it was time
to open my own independent consulting business providing services to mid-sized/ large
organizations needing communication and strategic development at the “executive level”. I had
worked extensively in social marketing and with corporate social responsibility (CSR).
I wanted to focus on organizations, primarily First Nations, that wanted to do “positive social
change” and whom I could help move down the path of self-determination, stronger governance
and Nation building. I could help them build or rebuild- in many cases “turn an organization
around” in a good direction re: their communication methods and strategic direction. With
Indigenous organizations this could be band administrations or large departments, or corporate
entities ran or owned by Indigenous groups or communities.
My value proposition was fourfold. First, my relatively deep and broad experience in this
business sector gave me a knowledge base to be able to work with complex or cross-sectorial
organizations. Second, I could construct teams and be quite nimble and prompt with service
provision to clients. Third, my background in Indigenous work would give me an edge for
contracts and customers in that area. Lastly, I could be flexible in pricing so potentially outbid
One way I would describe my services would be that I would not only make improvements to the
organizations, but I would solve their problems and help prevent problems.
I would need to begin finding clients as soon as possible.
My strategy was to use my extensive contacts and business network to find clients, and at the
same time to set up a website outlining my business and skill set.
My customer segments had a wide scope across sectors (public health, government, non-profits,
education, etc.), but in these areas I mostly wanted to work with First Nation organizations.
I was also extra interested in cross-sectorial work- that is, working in combination with two
corporations that were distinctly different yet would have some commonalities that would satisfy
their mutual self-interests. One example of this would be if a non-profit organization and a
corporate for-profit organization were to work together with the non-profit gaining some funds
and social accomplishment while the profit organization gained advertising, promotion and good
social will for their reputation and brand.
Management of Infrastructure:
I planned to be a sole proprietor and would need a home office and all the equipment and
trappings that go with it.
My key activities would be designing and implementing programs for branding and
organizational growth and development.
Key human resources would be my network of business connections from my old job who could
make referrals to me. As well, in the event I received a fairly big contract I would develop a team
of contract consultants I could rely on, and oversee, to help me complete the larger deliverable
contracts. The latter seemed important because I knew I had powerful, global competitors out
there like KPMG who had significant resources- people, locations, money and history.
Another important resource I had was my experience and some intellectual property/models
(service frameworks, templates and processes) that I had developed over time that would come
with me as part of my business.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: My value proposition hit the mark for the first two years. I obtained two significant clients at the very beginning of my start-up that kept me busy for just over two years. I provided marketing and strategic planning almost exactly as I had planned. With each organization I worked through an ongoing roadmap and set of processes. The two organizations were quite different- one being in education and there other connected to immigration work. I was however able to apply some of my cross-sectorial expertise, and my ability to both solve and prevent problems as I had hoped. Even if I had acquired some new clients for my business, my availability had gone down, and I didn’t have any business partners, colleagues or support staff. Interface clients: I continued to use my website and network building to promote my business. Even though I was busy I recognized that the contracts would be winding down and I would need to secure new contracts from new customers. The two existing clients were not going to be retained for other work, as all the required work was going to be completed. I would always have to search for new clients. As none were forthcoming in the first year, and into the second, I tried to devote more time, when I could to drawing in new contracts but hadn’t been successful. I decided to focus more on my one-to-one network contacts rather than rely on website incoming expressions of interest or Request for Proposals. I felt this low-level marketing approach would be the most helpful. My thinking was that my continued work would build credibility and that would be an important element of marketing and growing my business. 288 I wasn’t able to access First Nation organizations during the early years of business, as I had hoped, so my scope of clients did not expand. As well, I wasn’t able to spend time with non-profits or organizations that worked towards “social accomplishments” since I was so busy working on the two contracts, and finding time to promote for new contracts so my business would be sustainable. Management of Infrastructure: In terms of key resources, including partners, colleagues or short/medium/long term contractors to hire, I hadn’t been able to find any one through this time I felt I would like to work with- something I would need in my business should a larger opportunity come up that I couldn’t handle solo. I had hoped to create key partnerships to be able to form working alliances but that hadn’t happened. My physical office space (home-based) remained the same, and there were no new physical resources. To keep my knowledge base up-to-date, and to advance it or improve it, I enrolled in a post- secondary program for Indigenous people. This also took time away from promoting my business, but felt it would benefit in the long-term once I completed it. Post-launch > 2 years
I carried on with my service model and methods, and fortunately the original two clients kept me
on and had more work for me using my existing frameworks, models and strategies. Although, I
was adding to my education, the skill sets helped my business thinking but didn’t actually change
my service and product delivery.
I followed through beyond the two year mark with my same clients, and was still looking to add
further clients. Both of my retention or returning clients continued to give me work. I continued
to try to add to my business network. I engaged more and more First Nation organizations and
individuals connected with them in the hope for contracts, but still to this date I haven’t received
Now that my school is winding down, I hopefully can devote more time to networking as I look
for business opportunities beyond the same two clients.
While I haven’t reached my goal to move to Indigenous organizations and group with my
business, I haven’t given up. I still want to be able to help them with self-determination,
governance, community empowerment and Nation building. I haven’t stopped trying- it is
important to me.
I am thinking of nuancing my marketing and skill set to include Indigenous and corporate
relations- relations that are mutually beneficial.
One of the ways I am planning to reach new customers is to do pro-bono work. Providing free
services for some organizations would be both helpful to communities and organizations, as well
as my own business.
Management of Infrastructure:
I have not added contract staff or partners. I remain my own and my only employee as a sole
proprietor. I have no new human resources added to my business.
My physical resources haven’t changed- office space (home-based with essential small-business
My business has survived, and is doing okay financially. All of this is due to the continuation of
my two original contracts, so I am going to continue looking for work to either add-on or follow
in succession. It is still my vision to help First Nations with self-determination their own stronger
infrastructures and systems.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 11
(May 16, 2019): opened a pre-paid debit card business
Something I noticed with our citizens in my First Nation, as well as other First Nations both in
our region and beyond, was how difficult it was for many of the people to get cheques cashed, or
even to open a bank account. This applied to our band members on-reserve and to those, such as
students or trainees, who were temporarily off reserve and waiting for cheques to cover living
expenses. There were a number of reasons for these issues, and I eventually came up with an
idea to open a business that provided pre-paid debit cards.
The value that I proposed to offer customers was to reduce the reliance on carrying cash and
having to go through long, sometimes complicated, processes to simply cash a cheque. The idea
was to establish a secure pre-paid debit card available to any First Nation citizen. The
registration process would be straightforward and brief. It would be supported by a secure
platform and professional trust account management with a reputed financial institution. Risk of
loss of cash would be reduced. Lost cards could readily be replaced, and not used by other
people should someone try to commit fraud. There wouldn’t be the long waits to cash cheques,
nor to wait for the cheques to be written. If someone didn’t have ID (a too common problem on-
reserve) the card would be registered and ID acceptable. The cards could be used to obtain cash
or for direct purchases at point of sale.
Cheques would then not have to be written, and the entire process of money from payer into
people’s hands would be come streamlined. Each cheque cost about $6.00 to write so totaled up
to a very significant amount. It also was labor intensive, and my payment system could be more
In brief, I saw that this product and service would make life easier for citizens, customers,
organizations and band offices by saving time, money, worry and hassle when it came to “the
cheque writing process/industry”. In my community, and many others, cash had to be flown in
regularly and a whole process of security and distribution undertaken (we were a fly-in
community, and many other First Nation communities are either fly-in, use winter roads, or are
in remote or more distant regions. The banking fees involved, and the costs passed onto First
Nation citizens, would be lessened.
The whole idea was not just to help as many First Nation people as possible, but for the business
to also make money and be profitable.
The client groups I expected to access included First Nation citizens; First Nation band offices
and their departments, and any First Nation businesses operating on-reserve.
The channels for client communication and promotion would be two ways. First, by word of
mouth, including from clients themselves passing along their experience and benefits to others.
Second, by attending First Nation conferences and workshops in our region and further out to
spread the word to band managers and businesses, and other conference attendees. Initially, I
wasn’t going to create a website but was going to rely on what call the “moccasin trail”- word of
But first things first, I would have to get the business set up, and then to begin acquiring
customers. I designed the plan through to details of how the card would work and how we would
run set-up and run the business.
Management of Infrastructure:
I knew I would have to find some key partners.
To keep my workload reasonable, I would need a business partner to share start-up costing,
sweat equity and strategic follow-through on our activities.
I would need a financial institution to provide the distribution platform and to serve as the
trustee/financial carrying arm of the business (cash access funds for clients).
Finally, I would need a production group to make the pre-paid debit cards for clients to carry and
In terms of hard, physical resources I could operate the business out of my home office, and
using my phone and laptop.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: I was happy to see the start-up business run and begin making money. The first two years were successful and the business grew bit by bit. It was profitable. People were happy with the product and the ease with obtaining and utilizing it. When I shared the idea out in the business world I found that it garnered quite a bit of interest and soon after direct support. Our value proposition remained the same. All the parties involved in our business and service chain were happy with the process and results that came from using the product. Our service end was strong and had a growing reputation. Lost cards didn’t result in loss of money or risk to the holder. Time was saved for the purchaser and the vendor. Cash flowed into and around our communities and territory faster. First Nation administrations and businesses that used it found it convenient, and their customers happy. We didn’t make any changes to our product nor to our services in the first two years. Things went pretty much as planned, and we didn’t have any real significant external or internal surprises or problems. Interface clients: 292 The client segments we expected to access came through and began purchasing our products and services. We remained close to home, selling and servicing in the region known to us personally. We would set up the customer profiles and registrations, arrange and distribute the cards, and be available to help the customers or businesses as needed. Our product was being used by a combination of: First Nation members, First Nation businesses and organizations, and band administrations. Word of mouth and networking at conferences remained our main promotion to look for new customers. Our financial institution partner set up a website that served as another channel to reach customers. We also made sure to handle any concerns that arose with customers as promptly as possible. We added one customer channel to our business strategy: we began doing demonstrations at the conferences, larger meetings and workshops held by First Nations. How it worked was that we would meet an individual (First Nation member) at the conference (businesses and band managers would often watch to see how it worked) and walk them through the process to register for their card, have their card confirmed and made, and then receive it to begin using it right away if they so wished. By the time they had a cup of coffee in the conference room (the whole set up process usually took about five minutes from process start to finish) and walked back over to our table, the card would be ready to use. This also brought us interest, and new customers. Management of Infrastructure: I lined up and confirmed all my key resources and partners, and we began business activities successfully almost from the beginning. We were able to enter the market early on by following through on the strategy and ideas I had developed. The business did well early on and for the first two plus years. I found a business partner- another First Nation business person like myself who took on sharing the responsibilities and the risks. We became a joint partnership: two person operation. Up. I connected with a well-known, reputable national financial institution who agreed to use their platform and to provide the trustee and cash management system for the cards. This was a great partnership and their end of cash management was guaranteed. We successfully arranged for card manufacturing in line with the financial institution and our requirements. My partner and I both opened our home offices, and purchased the office equipment we would need. We ran our business successfully and it was paying us and making a profit. Our customers were happy with the product, and we were now hoping to scale up from our own region across Canada. As our second year of business was winding down we developed a new partnership. We did train-the-trainer sessions to hire contractors to help in person with the process of signing people up and following through on services and maintaining the business. 293 Post-launch > 2 years
After two years the business was ready to expand and scale up.
We continued with the same model of service and same products. We didn’t make any changes
to our design, and our value proposition continued as we had planned, and as we had experienced
the first twenty-four months. We wanted to carry over the value proposition into other regions of
It was time to expand our client base after two years.
Our key partners were ready to jump in: the financial management firm, and the card production
We prepared to set up our business website and hire an IT person. This website would be
independent, but work in conjunction with the website of the financial management firm that
promoted our business the first two years.
The customer groupings would continue to be First Nation citizens, business, organizations, and
Management of Infrastructure:
Most importantly, we were readying to set up four regional offices across Canada- Maritimes,
Quebec, Ontario, and Western Canada divisions. This would include sales teams, and a
Our key resources were all ready to roll out the expansion: staff/human resources; national
partner; production team; training plan; strategic plan. Financing for scaling up was to come
from our operating account – our profits we had put aside for over two years.
Post-script: Unfortunately, one resource quickly disappeared (financial). This was a completely
unexpected internal event. What I learned from this was that one should be sure to have all
contracts/agreements in place with business partners in business relationships. Regrettably, the
business had to be closed- there was now no cash flow, and subsequently a loss in reputation
capital and in the trust and relationships with our national partner who stepped away.
Business Model Canvas Interview # 12
(May 19, 2019): opened a business in community development
I had an education background related to Treaty negotiations and I noticed at that time from my
own first-hand experiences in First Nations that no one was doing much of any community
development planning, nor seemed to have community interests very much in mind, in regards to
Treaty settlements- there seemed to be financial agreements with no or virtually no future
planning on what to do in the communities once the agreements were in progress or when
signed. I opened my advising and consulting business from that experience and thinking.
I didn’t lay out a business plan or use any business model. In fact, my business really developed
as it went. Before I started, my proposition for client value that I offered was twofold. First, since
First Nations were often negotiating in aggregate- several bands together- I offered to create
individual community development plans for how the Treaty agreements could help specific
bands. Each band had different needs so I could individualize their use of Treaty funds and
Treaty development, something they were lacking. Secondly, I would offer my services for free,
at least initially, based on the understanding that I wouldn’t be paid for my services until the
Treaty funds arrived. This would mean offering to do “community needs assessments” to see
what development was best for each community depending on its unique situation before the
Treaty agreements came to fruition and carrying the cost and time of this part of the work
I expected there would likely be a “broad slate” of development needs within each of the
communities, and they could or would vary from one to the other. I was also sure that the
individual communities “weren’t being heard” in the negotiations, and that I had something to
offer them that they were missing. I hoped to be able to create a situation where the individual
bands could participate and get their specific interests met from these negotiations.
My client group was to be First Nation bands- I had more than ten in mind who I knew were
doing Treaty negotiations in the area where I was living.
The channels I planned to use would be “grass roots” methods- in-person and face-to-face with
Chief and Councils of First Nation bands, as well as leadership people who oversaw First Nation
agencies and departments in those communities- education, health and social services, and so on.
I didn’t plant to use a website or any other form of advertising or marketing.
I had no specific clients ready or eager to use my services ahead of time, so I would need to
begin acquiring customers.
Management of Infrastructure:
I would need to open a home business out of my house and purchase all the trappings of a small
business office- computer, printer, scanner, desk, etcetera. Also, since there would likely be a lot
of documents- confidential documents- I would need a secure storage space for both hard copies
and electronic copies.
I planned to be a sole proprietor, so didn’t have any key partnerships, supports or backing.
I had my education background, and some “street smarts” in working with bands and First
Nation issues, so those were my key intellectual and emotional resources I would need to start
and be successful in business I felt.
In thinking back, I was going to be pretty much my own key resource.
Post-launch < 2 years Products/Services: The services I offered caught on quickly. What happened was I met with and identified one First Nation early on that was interested in my work and offer. They had me start right away. What was interesting was that this early beginning with one First Nation led them to give me a much broader variety of work in their community. I worked throughout different departments and different areas of the administrative and governance systems of the community- really a “myriad” of responsibilities and tasks during the first two years. My services morphed into several topical areas depending on the department and situation within that individual band. This also led to mentoring services with existing staff and leadership individuals in the two First Nations. A second band then retained my services, and the same thing happened with them. I now had two primary clients, and they became retained and repeat customers. In fact, they gave me enough work that I didn’t need, or have time, for any other clients! I was doing primary research in traditional areas for the two bands, and secondary research in the areas of their band governance. So, my services definitely expanded. I would gather the data, and then depending on the results and the analysis I would identify gaps and then do the work to fill the gaps. In short, from these assessments what does the community want out of the Treaty negotiations, and how to get there/how to do it. It was so busy, I couldn’t take other work, nor did I need to. I was to busty basically helping the communities with their own capacity building. I had many projects to handle, and was on the go all of the time. I really didn’t have time for much else. Interface clients: My client groups remained First Nation bands, but I didn’t expand beyond the two communities as I had so much returning and ongoing work with them. My first two clients were retained through the two years after my start-up. 296 I still utilized word of mouth and direct contact with the customers and clients- Chief and Council, Department Heads, and community-based business leaders. I didn’t need to advertise. Management of Infrastructure: I was away travelling so much that I had to open a second office to go along with my home office. I was regularly provided access to staff by the two First Nations depending on what was needed to accomplish a given task- assessment work, economic development, negotiations aspects, and so forth. They would provide the funds to pay for contract staff that helped me in completing the work, and I would review and determine who was to be hired, but the band provided payroll and liability coverage. So, these workers became one of my key resources, and I never did need to hire and pay for my own staff. I also expanded my skill set and ability to be a problem solver. My key activities really were assessing, planning and solving. Once the bands gave me permission to move ahead with a plan or a task, If I needed resources to help achieve it, they would typically arrange for those resources to be at my disposal. Post-launch > 2 years
My services continued as in the first two years, and then expanded further to include “aboriginal
rights” specific to treaty land claims, and then into economic development planning with
communities. I still continue with all of these services through to today.
I realized after two years that what I was really doing, or had become in business, was a “project
manager”. When the First Nations who were my customers had a problem or situation or need,
they would typically come to me and I would set up a plan or project, gather the resources,
oversee the work, and ensure it was followed through to completion. It could be a fiscal matter, a
Treaty matter, a human resources matter, or other issues.
Now, I regard myself as more of a “crisis management professional” although there are still
clearly “project management” aspects in my work.
Here is what I think my value proposition has become over time: flexibility; crisis management;
problem solving; cost effectiveness; clarity of costs and budgeting; desired results; trust building.
I never did open a website, and my clients through time have remained the two bands as my
customers, with some periodic work with Provincial or Federal Government along the way.
However, my primary clients continue to be the two First Nation communities who give me
business and work as it arises and/or is ongoing.
I eventually got business cards, but didn’t open a website or do other advertising. My
communications channels with my ongoing clients were always direct and face-to-face in the
Management of Infrastructure:
My key resources remained the same as in the first two years of start-up. The human resources
that I am given access to by the two First Nations have become what I refer to as “collaborative
informal and formal”. Informal would be through discussions leading to utilization of existing
band staff if they have availability, and formal would be if a given situation requires additional
help or staff.
I still have my two offices and own business. I remain a sole proprietor.
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