As a new entrepreneur, there is no question you will experience a lot of ups and downs, and have more questions than you could ever imagined you’d have. But what if you had someone to talk to who had been through it all before?
A business mentor can be one of your most valuable business assets. They can help you gain valuable, expert business advice, learn from their experiences, and build confidence from the feeling of having someone there you can count on. At Futurpreneur Canada, we have almost 3,000 volunteer mentors who dedicate their time and expertise to help the next generation of entrepreneurs. We don’t always have the opportunity to thank and recognize these mentors and their incredible contributions to Canada’s entrepreneurial space, so that’s why we partnered with BDC to present the BDC Mentorship Award each year.
This award honours a Canadian business mentor who has been credited by their mentees and peers for providing valuable advice, support, and making an impact in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada. This year, the winner was Mary Jane Copps, a Halifax-based mentor and entrepreneur who has been mentoring with Futurpreneur Canada for six years, and has been an entrepreneur for 29 years.
Mary Jane’s years of business experience, combined with her dedication to sharing her expertise and knowledge in a way that can make an entrepreneur’s difficult times easier, is what fuels Mary Jane’s love of mentoring. One of her mentees, Natasha Marchewka, describes Mary Jane as being someone who has no shortage of confidence-boosting tools at her command, and is always there to remind her of her accomplishments and strengths. “Mary Jane makes me feel like I am the only one in the world when she’s mentoring me,” Natasha explains. “Through countless jobs and business situations, and then supporting me in my pursuit of entrepreneurialism, Mary Jane has made herself available to me time and time again.”
Mary Jane is a former journalist, who created her first national communications company in 1987. After selling her shares in 2001, she spent a few years market testing another idea, which has led her to where she is today, the Owner and CEO of The Phone Lady. Mary Jane now works with corporations, entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, and more to improve phone communication in areas such as sales, customer service, and fundraising.
After years of pursuing her own business ventures, Mary Jane knew firsthand the courage it takes for people to take the leap into entrepreneurship and how lonely and frightening the journey can be at times. Because of this, she wanted to give back and make this journey less intimidating for others. So Mary Jane decided to become a business mentor to young entrepreneurs, so she could share in the incredible successes of today’s entrepreneurs and give back by helping them along their journey.
Fast forward six years later, and Mary Jane is still a dedicated business mentor, and what keeps her coming back is the enthusiasm, optimism and energy of today’s entrepreneurs. She explained that each of her relationships with mentees has involved several “ah-ha” moments. “Sometimes you don’t even know it’s happened until your next meeting, but suddenly you are sitting with an entrepreneur who’s discovered or understood something that’s launched their business to a new level.”
Mary Jane’s mentee, Natasha, believes that she deserved this award because of how tirelessly she works as a mentor, a big sister, a volunteer, and more. “I’m glad she is receiving the recognition she deserves for her service to so many people,” she shared. And if running her own business on top of being a dedicated mentor isn’t enough for Mary Jane, she also sits on the Board of Directors for the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network in Nova Scotia and takes part in panels and talks as often as possible.
Mary Jane is the true reflection of someone who has made a notable impact on the entrepreneurial space, both as an entrepreneur and mentor. She truly believes that entrepreneurs are vital to Canada’s economic growth and creating advances and innovations in all fields. We are proud to have Mary Jane as a Futurpreneur mentor, and want to give a special shout-out to all the finalists for this year’s award. Congratulations!
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada