Postitive Attitude Key to Success

Alice Taylor owned a successful restaurant in rural Manitoba when her husband Mac suggested that laser engraving would be a creative and lucrative business. He discovered the idea at a trade show he attended for work.

Alice spent six months investigating if it would be a viable business. She started with research at the Women's Enterprise Centre (WEC), which led her to the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre and other resources that provided her with the information she needed. She decided that this was something she wanted to pursue.

It took eighteen months to sell the restaurant, so she ran the restaurant while simultaneously launching her laser engraving business. Because the Canadian government was guaranteeing major equipment loans, she was able to secure financing to purchase the $111,000 laser engraver. In 2001, Innovative Laser Works (ILW) was born. Since then, ILW has been offering laser engraving, vector cutting and related services.

Four years later, Alice decided it was time to move to Winnipeg and expand her business. Submitting her business plan to the Aboriginal Business Service Network's competition and winning a cash prize helped Alice obtain shop space. However, securing funding for expansion was a challenge; because it was a "high-tec" business, it was not familiar to funders or the public. Alice found that she had to educate people about the business. Along with a chunk of their own money, Alice secured a loan from WEC. While she pursued funding from a variety of possible sources, she encountered doubt and negativity. "I was told we would not succeed," she says. "Because of the industry we're in, there's no track record so we're the only one. Today we are industry leaders."

Alice found that being a woman in a male-dominated field has its challenges. There have been times when her husband has had to step in and "close the deal" because clients were more comfortable dealing with a man. However, she Is committed to doing business her way and "breaking the glass ceiling" for women in her industry.

Nothing gets Alice down. No matter what challenges life throws her way - and she's had her share of curve balls with health and personal challenges - she is reaching new milestones she hadn't anticipated. Alice was recently nominated for the 2009 Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

While most people discuss whether their cup is half full or half empty, Alice says, "My cup is always half full, but usually overflowing."