Paul Stokes: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is City Errands Owner/Operator Paul Stokes, who launched his business to offer people time-saving solutions so they can focus on things in life that they enjoy. We caught up with him to hear about his five-year plan and what advice he would share with other young professionals…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell. 
City Errands is a time-saving service provider, and as the Owner/Operator my job ranges from errand runner, to accountant, to marketing manager. A typical day begins with answering emails and scheduling the day based on our pre-booked errands. Our service is 24/7 and many errands come in same day, so it is important for me to be flexible. One minute I am planning social media campaigns and the next I’m hopping in the truck to deliver a tree. To sum it up, my job consists of finding creative time-saving solutions for our clients so they can spend more time doing what they enjoy.

Why did you start working at your company? 
City Errands was born though a common conversation I found myself having with friends and family. I would hear them say that between work and life’s responsibilities, it is hard to make time for the things they really enjoyed doing. I am a fixer by nature, so it just came to me: I can fix this! More than anything I love the feeling that helping someone brings to my life.

What was the inspiration for this career route?
“The trouble is, you think you have time” – Buddha 

This quote really resonated with me. I realized many people are spending time on things that they would rather not do; the world we live in is full of financial and societal pressures, so it is easy to put off enjoyment to a later date. The problem is that later date may never come. This thinking inspired me to find a way to give people time and freedom back.  

I was also at a crossroads in my work life and was tired of not living up to my potential. I figured I had a great idea, so why not pursue it?

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? 
Every day I get to see the reaction on our clients’ faces when the errand is complete – pure happiness!

The most challenging part?
Deciding if I want a sausage or bacon breakfast wrap from Tim Horton’s… kidding. I’d have to say the logistics of getting everything done in a day, but that’s pretty much down to a science now. 

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I find myself glued to my phone. As a business owner, my “work hours” seem to be all hours. However, there is a time and place for everything. If I am unable to clear my mind or put the phone down during personal time, I am likely off balance.  

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see City Errands in major cities across Canada. Toronto looks like our next move, whether that means franchising or another type or expansion currently being worked out. As for my personal life, I recently got engaged, so marriage and possibly a little one on the way.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? 
The main challenge I needed to overcome was the ability to be open. When I started I had no idea how to start a business or grow it. I just had a vision; the challenge was allowing that vision to be flexible and understanding that I had/have a lot to learn. It was about taking criticism and learning to turn it into positive change/feedback.

How did you overcome it?
I reached out to other business owners and professionals I knew. I am lucky to have the support system I do. These people have really become my mentors; we talk almost daily. It’s great to go to them for advice or just to bounce ideas off of.   

What does success look like to you?
When I rest my head on my pillow at night and know I made a positive difference in someone’s day.

Does Money = Happiness?
No. With money you can buy happy experiences, but money does not = happiness. 

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
The day I registered my company name and it got accepted. It was a crazy feeling – I knew at that moment I was in charge of my future. The first call from a client was pretty memorable as well.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
It’s really hard to lose when you never give up. Be yourself, hustle, and make sure to keep a sense of humour. 

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
The Pint Local House is probably my favourite place to go. It’s a great spot to unwind, watch sports, and eat some solid pub food.  

When you’re not working how you do love to spend your “Me” time?
I’m a new business owner, I am always working.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Tofino, B.C. My fiancé and I pack up the car and rent out this small, secluded cabin. No internet, no TV, no phones; at first disconnecting is always a bit uncomfortable, but once you ease in, it is so freeing. It’s become a sort of tradition. When life starts getting to hectic we take our Tofino time out.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Pretender – Foo Fighters.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing? 
I never think about what I would be or wouldn’t be doing… I just think about what I AM doing. So I have no idea.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes. Dress For Success Vancouver. I believe in equality and supporting women’s rights. This non-profit promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by giving them tools to better develop their careers.

What to you is notable?
A person’s happiness.

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