Small Business Week: ‘Doing your research is very important’

sm-biz-logoBy Lindsay Ducharme

Fort McMurray is known as the land of opportunity for many, with Leslie Powell counting herself among them.  Powell, veterinarian and co-owner of Aurora Veterinary Clinic, credits the region for changing and shaping the course of her career she originally set out on.

“I really liked medicine and my initial goal was being a resident and working in schools.  When I ended up moving here to more of a rural location I thought there was a need for more in depth vet medicine with more advanced equipment and techniques,” Powell recalled of decision upon moving to Fort McMurray in 2004.

After working at different clinics within the city, Powell decided to take the leap and open her own clinic in 2006.  While she noted that the region provided the ideal environment to allow her to pursue such a venture, Powell said business men and women alike face a unique set of obstacles doing business in Wood Buffalo.

“I think there is a lot of opportunity, however, I think there are also a lot of challenges that are unique to Fort McMurray.  It depends on the business, but rent is pretty high and finding an appropriate place can be difficult,” she explained.

“I think you need to find people who are supportive.  And doing your research is very important.  We opened in 2008 but I incorporated the business in 2006 and I started attending all kinds of conferences and doing courses on business.  I talked to people in my field about the pros and cons and where would I get my supplies.  I talked to suppliers and made sure look into the availability of people to service equipment should we have problems,” she added.

Since opening Aurora in 2008, Powell has seen her role within the clinic change and adapt as her business has grown.  Although she notes that becoming a business owner has taken her away from much of her direct work with animals, the role has allowed to cultivate new skills.

“I actually said to my dad the other day that sometimes it’s really hard because you are doing so many different things.  I don’t work as a vet as much anymore because I have taken on more of a management role.  Sometimes I miss that but at the same time I get to dabble at the cases that I like and I get to do certain surgeries and procedures I want to do.  At the same time I like having the flexibility of having other people working with me and being my own boss.”

As for the secret to her success, Powell believes it’s no secret at all; it’s simply working hard to achieve your goals. “Its knowing when you have a business it’s a lot of long hours and work doesn’t end at five o’clock.”