This article is a series highlighting the graduating businesses from the Business Advisory Centre’s Starter Company Plus program. This program has been a key stepping-stone for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to grow in the region and since 2017 has resulted in the creation of 74 startups and supported 47 business expansions. The program has also seen the opening of 22 brick-and-mortar locations in the region, and has created 141 jobs in the local community.
Suzi Home Maker helps with downsizing, de-cluttering, sorting, organizing, selling, donating, disposing, recycling, packing, moving, unpacking, helping people get settled in and clearing estates.
What was the Starter Company Plus experience like for you?
Peterborough is so very lucky to have a program for budding entrepreneurs. The Starter Company Plus program has been integral to the success of my business launch. While I had a solid idea and had done my research for this business concept, having the opportunity to be a part of this program ensured that I had a strong and well-laid-out business plan along with various skills to draw upon as a new entrepreneur.Susan Dunkley, Owner of Suzi Home Maker
Where did the idea for Suzi Home Maker come from?
This past summer, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law decided to move back home to the East Coast. My husband had COVID-19 for over 20 weeks and was still not well enough to help them sort through their possessions and pack up in preparation for this big change. It fell to me to go and help them, and I quickly realized that there was a lot to go through and it needed to be done in a very short time.
Years of accumulated items that had precious meaning at one time were now a burden to sort through and the choosing of precious items to keep and decide on how to dispose of that which no longer had meaning or service. Items were shared with family members, numerous trips to the thrift stores were made, and items that couldn’t be recycled were disposed of. There were still ample items for them to set up their new home in New Brunswick. I realized that there was a great need for elders in our community for this type of service. The need in the community is amplified by the complications of COVID-19, which means that often family members cannot travel to support their loved ones as they make this life-changing transition. I look forward to serving my community and know that I will be able to do a better job thanks to the support of the Starter Company Plus program.
What are your hopes for the business in the next 3 years?
I anticipate that the business will grow exponentially as our population ages. I hope to have a team of 20 staff in place within two years and franchising will be an option that is in our future.
Has it been difficult launching a new business during the pandemic?
There have been a lot of challenges for businesses with the pandemic. And starting a business at this time has certainly presented challenges! My biggest challenge to date has been getting insurance as I will be working with people over 65 and I received a lot of nos from insurance companies before I finally got help from the team at Monkman Gracie Johnston. I am now fully insured and ready to go.
What has the response in the community been since you launched?
My launch has been soft. But even with that, I have had a tremendous response from the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce community and the Women’s Business Network community. I anticipate as word gets out, Suzi Home Maker will be well received.
What is your favorite thing about living and working in Peterborough & the Kawarthas?
I have now lived in Peterborough and the Kawarthas for over 30 years. I cannot even being to say how much I love this community. I love the closeness to nature; the rivers, lakes and trails that I can enjoy with my husband and our dog. I love the strength of spirit in the community and how we all work hard together to help each other succeed; whether as a volunteer or an employee or employer. There is no place better to live, work and play!