Matthew Taker - Caribou Building London Inc.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Matthew Taker. I’m a Red Seal Journeyman Carpenter. I own and operate Caribou Building London Inc. I grew up in Northern British Columbia, the “Cariboo” region specifically. I have always been interested in building. After high school, I took a pre apprenticeship course. With that course, I was able to get a job as a labourer and eventually an apprentice, where my main focus was framing. From there, I got my Red Seal. Not long after my wife and I decided to relocate to London, her hometown. After a few years of working for a local contractor, I decided to venture out on my own.
Tell us about your business
Caribou Building has been operating since January 2019. We do residential renovations ranging from flooring and trim, all the way to total gut jobs, additions and out buildings.
It started as a sole proprietor business and quickly grew into the need to incorporate. I now have three employees.
Has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
Being a young business is difficult in a non-COVID-19 world but certainly COVID-19 has impacted our daily operations. We have needed to adapt to the requirements for safe job sites within COVID-19 context and need to closely monitor government guidance for small businesses. Material sourcing has likely been the biggest challenge overall. The pricing and availability of products has been volatile and this is forcing almost daily flexibility and creativity when it comes to sourcing what we need.
What services have you utilized at the London Small Business Centre and how have they helped?
I attended the “Nuts and Bolts” seminars, the accounting and bookkeeping seminars, and was able to be a part of the “Scale Up” program for trades. All were hugely helpful as they all provided business advice and information that I was looking for as a new small business entrepreneur.
What were some of the challenges you faced getting started and how did you overcome them?
Some of the biggest challenges I faced were around organization, time management and finances/accounting. There is a lot involved with running a small business; I did not fully appreciate this until I got started. The resources and mentorship through the Small Business Centre were extremely helpful. I do a lot of ongoing learning to help fill in some gaps for me - construction magazines, podcasts, and books. I also found a great accountant who has been extremely patient and has been an invaluable resource. My wife has also been helpful in developing procedures and processes that have helped to create more efficiencies in my work.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Plan your life into your business. This advice really resonated with me as sometimes the business becomes all encompassing. I am learning to plan what I want with my family and life into the business instead of the other way around.
What advice would you give to an aspiring Entrepreneur today?
Plan your life into your business, prepare as much as possible before the jump - become a student of it, and lastly make efficiencies for yourself.