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Life is all in the details

October 18, 2012
Times Colonist
Andrew Duffy
Article Source: Read the Original Article

Corey Holmes' decision to delay university and start a small auto detailing business in Sidney may actually turn out to be one of the best investments the 22-year-old could have made, according to an entrepreneurial expert.

Geoff Archer, professor and director of the Eric C. Douglass Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies at Royal Roads University, said if Holmes is intent on the life of the entrepreneur he may be on the right track. "It sounds like he's balancing the practitioner and the academic," said Archer. "There's a lot to learn from practical life experiences and not just the positive ones."

Holmes opened his business, Sidney Auto Detailing, two months ago after balking at the high cost and inevitable student loans of going to business school in Alberta. His plan, now that the business is up and running, is to go to school next year after the business is established and can either be sold, left to continue under his off-site supervision or even expanded.

Archer said there's every chance business school graduates can come out of academia and start a business and still not know what they are doing. At the same time, Archer said there are countless stories of people being successful without business education.

"The best of both worlds is to have a business education coupled with experience," Archer said.

That's how the affable Holmes sees it. He is a committed entrepreneur.

"This is all about experience," Holmes said. "When I do eventually finish school, I know I will be starting other businesses. I find it very interesting."

He expects the experience of starting out on his own and building a company from nothing will give him a leg up. "When I'm done school, I won't be at an age without experience and doing it the first time," Holmes said.

"This way, I will have a way better understanding about how to do it and the systems that go into it."

Holmes said while he's only two months into the new business, it's been quite an education already.

He had enough money to cover the full cost of his first year at school, but didn't like the idea of graduating with a load of student debt to cover the rest. When he heard a detailing business was for sale in Sidney, he jumped at it.

"As I look at it now, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, so really how could I have turned down this opportunity when it came up?" he said.

He used his school money to buy the business, find a location to house it and renovate to suit a detailing firm. And he's been taking notes all along, some that may help him when he goes to school. He's opted for Royal Roads next year.

"If I had to do this again, I already know what I would do differently. It's been a real learning curve," Holmes said. "And even if this ended right now it would totally have been worth it, I've learned so much already, it's been incredible."

It doesn't look like it will end any time soon as his calendar is full of appointments through the end of this month and his 1,000square-foot, drive-in shop on Galaran Road was filled with cars Wednesday.

One of his former clients, Californian Trudy Williams who had her Lexus detailed last week, thinks Holmes is on his way to success.

"I feel that this young man is a great role model for our younger people who are trying to figure out what to do with their life, as well as anyone aspiring to be an entrepreneur" she said in an email.

Archer said people like Holmes may be ideally suited for Royal Roads, where the business school prides itself on working with an entrepreneurial ethos.

"We don't have students in our bachelor of commerce program that don't have three years of work experience," he said, noting when they talk hands-on business concepts its definitely not in the abstract for students.

"We hire MBAs, entrepreneurs, successful real-world folks to deliver the classroom instruction we [PhDs] have designed so they are not getting book knowledge from a nerd, but book knowledge and street smarts."