Small business consultant and founder of XL Consulting Group in Burlington, Ontario, Elaine Slatter had an impressive corporate career before diving into entrepreneurship.
Starting in an entry-level role doing administration for a company in Oakville, Elaine pursued marketing classes at Sheridan College which allowed her to make the move from admin to marketing in the company she was working for. She ended up working her way up to marketing manager for Canada for a global corporation based in St. Louis, Missouri. After completing large IT projects and working as the head of an international customer service department and then as a CEO of the Canadian branch of the same corporation, Elaine said farewell to her corporate career and became an entrepreneur.
Today, on top of running her own business, Elaine also has written her own book called Fabulous Fempreneurship and volunteers as a business mentor through Futurpreneur Canada. We chatted with Elaine to hear a bit more about her experience, her advocacy for women entrepreneurs and why she decided to become a Futurpreneur mentor.
How did you become such a big advocate for women entrepreneurs?
I became a big advocate for women entrepreneurs when I saw Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk, where she mentioned not much will change in the leadership positions of women in her lifetime. Many of my clients were women and were challenging the status quo by starting their own businesses. They were determined to succeed as entrepreneurs. I wanted to pay it forward and help as many women as possible succeed in entrepreneurship.
Tell us a bit about your book, Fabulous Fempreneurship.
Fabulous Fempreneurship is a complete start-up guide for women entrepreneurs. I answer many of the same start-up questions in my consulting practice and saw the need for a book to cover the common queries. Over 30 women contributed to the book, either by offering advice or their entrepreneurial story. Women really relate to these stories as the contributors were very candid about their experiences.
Why do you feel it’s so important to encourage and celebrate women entrepreneurs?
It is so important to encourage and celebrate women entrepreneurs because women who become entrepreneurs are very successful and we need to help more women achieve this success. The numbers of women entrepreneurs are rising but there is still lots of room for growth as women have a lot of catching up to do in Canada and around the world.
What inspired you to become a mentor with Futurpreneur?
I love working with the younger generation of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is not easy if you are trying to work it out by yourself. That’s why the Futurpreneur program is so valuable. Futurpreneur is a source of funding, but more important with the funding comes two years of mentorship support. The mentorship support is just as valuable or even more valuable than the funds.
What has been the most rewarding part about mentoring?
For myself the most valuable part about mentoring is learning what issues keep entrepreneurs up at night and helping them solve these issues. Coming from a corporate background, I enjoy assisting start-ups in organizing themselves for success. By this I mean, making sure they have financial literacy and accountability by understanding all aspects of their profit and loss statements and keeping their record keeping up to date monthly. This way there are no surprises at the end of the year. The entrepreneurs can make adjustments to their business as necessary once they have this financial literacy.
Why would you encourage other people to get involved and give back?
I learn as much from the mentees as they do from me. Anyone who has had business experience can encourage a whole new generation of entrepreneurs if they could spare just a few hours a month as a mentor. I think we owe the younger generation, who are eager to engage in business start-ups on their own terms, the transfer of knowledge from our own business experience. Long term employment with a single corporation is not the current workplace model for most and many in the younger millennial generation are not interested in this type of employment. Why not help this generation achieve their own dreams via entrepreneurship?
What’s your biggest tip for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Overcome your fears and be brave in launching your business. There is a whole tribe of men and women who are only too willing to help. You can’t do it on your own, but with all the organizations that are across Canada that support women, it isn’t too hard to find assistance. The Futurpreneur programme is the gold standard for long term mentoring support, so take full advantage of this mentor programme.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The most important lesson I learned in my career was to cultivate strong business relationships. Once you have a great network, anything is possible.
Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada