by Marie-Christine Jeanty
Women represent 42.8% of business owners (Quebec Entrepreneurship Index 2017). Starting a business contains its share of unknown and pitfalls. This edition of SABLE presents the advice of Tracy Perrault of Baiser Velouté, Ingrid Agbato of Coo-Mon Accessoires et Culture and Nancy Jean of Rose Bonbon Services. These three dynamic and determined women made the big jump less than 5 years ago: left the comfort of their 9 to 5 to pursue the entrepreneurial passion and let their creativity guide them in their respective domains.
Tracy Perrault is the owner of Baiser Velouté, a company that first specialized in selling cupcakes, from which the services have evolved with the aim of filling most richly the needs of its clientele by the constant striving for innovation. Tracy learned too late the existence of the Self-Employment Support Measure*. It is a program that provides financial and technical assistance in support of people wanting to go into business to ensure the good starting up of their company. “Unfortunately, when I knew of it, I had not only launched my business but had already quit my 9 to 5! #toolate”.
She experienced a roller-coaster ride of emotions, but also the constant sense doubt which drove her. Finally, she would like to have known that “we do not get rich until several years later”, and that it is necessary to have enough money saved to earn a living because an entrepreneur can rarely receive an adequate salary in the first years.
Ingrid Agbato owns Coo-Mon Accessoires et Cultures that produces casual-chic fashion inspired by the diverse continents and colors of the world, caters to clients with a thirst for discovery and openness to other cultures.
Ingrid begins by telling of her years in business. “In the beginning, I answered the solicitations that promised visibility. Event planners who, to gather the rental cost of their room, in my opinion, created spaces for exhibitors without worrying about attracting visitors; or new bloggers in search of visibility, who wanted free products of which they would speak to a public, which at that moment, was close to non-existent.” She highlights the necessity of working hard, but in a smart way, for the body does not always follow.
She ends with these words: “I began with a beautiful amount written on paper, but the whole of which was not in my bank account. One of my first disappointments in business was not to have obtained the allowance of the Self-Employment Support Measure”, that Tracy talked about. She didn’t believe she would be able to make it but understood, after reading the free guide by Julien Brault “Lancer un start-up en 7 jours avec 700$” (transl.: Starting a startup in 7 days with $700) and “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John, that everything is a question of strategy.
Owner of Services Rose Bonbon, the name says it all, the company specializes in floral arrangements and candied bars adapted to a diverse number of occasions, all to please the imagination of her most demanding customers.
Nancy goes headfirst into the money issue: “A working capital. You know about that? I must say that circumstances made me go into business without really knowing what I was doing financially. Without savings, I didn’t have emergency funds but moreover, necessary spending power. Take the time to set money aside for dead periods and hire a good accountant. Seems obvious, but it’s essential.”
She then insists on the importance of having a mentor and adds her regret of not having one earlier, out of fear. She joins Ingrid with her last advice: “It’s okay to say NO. You don’t go into business to do volunteer work and gifting at your expense. Visibility is much easier with social media, so take advantage of it. Don’t sell yourself short”.
To venture in business is a huge challenge, as you may have noticed from these three testimonies. It also require a rigorous financial planning and thorough knowledge of available resources for new entrepreneurs. It is an adventure that oftentimes may bring us to doubt our decision but one thing is definitely essential – know and believe in the value of your product or service, especially when you’ll be asked for a quote.