An entrepreneur by nature, Stefanie Curtis jumped into the business world the first chance she could. Upon graduating with a B. Com from the Sauder School of Business, Stefanie started her first agency with three other partners. She spent the next few years managing several digital agencies until she co-founded Pace Creative Agency, a full service agency specializing in content and digital marketing, and is now a volunteer mentor with Futurpreneur Canada.

Stefanie attributes the success of her current business to the growing and managerial mistakes she made and learned from since day one. We asked Stefanie to share some of her tips and insights for finding success as an entrepreneur. See what she had to say!

 


 

What would you say are some common misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?

1) That all you need is a good idea. It’s not enough. A good idea can only take a start-up so far. When thinking of a business, you will need to think of the business model and make sure it is well thought through. Based on my experience, the 3 keys to success are: holding a clear vision for your business for the years to come, building a strong culture based on specific values, and great strategic implementation for each facet of your business (i.e. overall business strategy, finance, HR, technology, operations, marketing, communication, sales, logistics).

2) Freedom of time. Being an entrepreneur does come with loads of responsibilities, and so, even if your schedule is flexible, you will be most likely working 12-16 hours each day for at least 6 days/week for the first few years if you want to succeed. Make sure you have a clear vision of where you want your business to be in 3-5 years and make realistic goals to achieve your vision to stay motivated and focused. Also, make sure that you hire the right people for the right position earlier on. Be strategic!

3) You will be rich. Well, only a good business idea with a strong model and a great implementation will lead to success. Putting financial success as a priority may come at the detriment of other things such as time spent with your family, spending the time with your significant other, being physically present but mentally absent at home and in social situations, and building meaningful friendships and relationships. I think it is important for entrepreneurs to define what success is for them early on in their career based on their values and priorities in life.

 

Financial literacy is a critical component of business that may often be overlooked. Do you have any tips for building financial literacy as an entrepreneur?

Money matters. Every penny counts, however it does not mean that you have to be cheap or frugal. It means that your investments are strategic and the decision-making process is objective and well researched.

Based on my experience so far I do not think enough effort has been spent on finance. When introduced to any business, I’d like to see and read about the following: realistic sales forecast, specific budgets and expenses for each aspect of the business, cash flow statement, income projections, and break-even analysis

I think that some entrepreneurs might be scared of numbers, so we need to change the perception that numbers are “scary”. The more that entrepreneurs are working with numbers and feel comfortable with them, the more successful an entrepreneur will be. For instance, I have met with a hand full of entrepreneurs that do not grasp the concept of ‘opportunity cost’ and that, in itself, can be very costly.

 

What made you decide to become a mentor?

When you need support and mentorship most, it can also be the hardest to find. Over the last 10 years I have learned from various business challenges I faced including not having a strong corporate culture, dealing with lawsuits and partner disputes, managing bullying or intimidation in the workplace, managing employee expectations and developing gender equal pay grids. My experience has taught me how to create a great team by supporting training initiatives and taking the time to give performance reviews to help motivate employees regularly.

I want to be here for women business owners to help them keep moving forward and know that they can come out on top too.

 

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mentor?

The most rewarding thing is to see a start-up grow step by step and celebrate the small and large successes along the way. Being an entrepreneur is filled with challenges to overcome on a daily basis, so it is important to stay motivated and focused. I think as a mentor we can easily remind entrepreneurs of their successes and help them build their confidence on a regular basis so that they stay focused on achieving their business goals.

 

What makes a successful mentor/mentee relationship?

  1. When my mentee and I discuss issues that need to be resolved, we treat each other with a great deal of respect.
  2. Even though I have a B. Com and I have learnt a lot from the mistakes I made managing my first two agencies, a lot of my experience comes from real life experiences, and some from textbooks! :)
  3. Sharing successes and failures. I think it’s important to have open communication, and to feel comfortable talking about everything, from milestones and achievements to fears and areas for improvement. As an entrepreneur myself I have my own challenges to solve, and I have no problem sharing those as well!

 

Is there anything you have taken from your mentoring role that you didn’t expect?

I have always enjoyed mentoring. I think the aspect that I enjoy the most is the open collaboration. I find it personally fulfilling seeing my mentees succeed.

 

To find out more about our mentoring program click here.

 


 

Financial Literacy Month is brought to you by CIBC.

 

Get up to $60,000
in financial support,
and the support of one
of our 3,000 mentors.

Learn More →