Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in coaching but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nathalie Blais, Co-Founder and CEO of Canada Coach Academy, located in Pointe-Claire, QC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Canada Coach Academy is made in Canada for the globe. Our mission is to multiply the impact of coaching, one conversation at a time, by mentoring world-class coaches so that together we can empower others to discover their genius.
All of our Coach Certification courses represent the gold standard in coaching and are approved by the International Coach Federation. When students join us, they belong to a Global Village; a multicultural hub for coaches founded on connection, collaboration, and community.
Tell us about yourself
I was born to be a coach. Coaching found me. I was invited to join a coaching program as a young professional, just 24 years old. That program shaped my mindset. From then on, I noticed opportunities I would have missed had I not been Coached for four years. In 2010 I started working for a company called Cowan International, owned by Andrew Harris. Andrew and I discovered we shared a passion for coaching and understood coaching could be a valuable asset to professionals in the industry Cowan specialized in, which was recruitment. As a result, we connected with the International Coach Federation (ICF). I endeavored to become an ICF Certified Coach while working with a mentor to develop a coaching program that would give recruitment candidates the skills to transfer knowledge and develop others. We ran several pilots and realized that coaching is not an industry-specific skill but a human skill. Then, we decided to take the program and establish an independent company to serve multiple industries and people from around the globe. We founded Canada Coach Academy in 2016.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Everything I do as the CEO of Canada Coach Academy is driven by a mission to affect change in the way people have been taught to communicate. For that reason, the greatest opportunity to make an impact is in schools. Coaching is an inclusive, partnering communication style that honors another person's experience and point of view, and creates safe spaces for people to express their ideas and feel heard. To do that, we as a society need to redefine what it means to inquire with curiosity. I believe listening should be a subject in schools. And our children should be taught the difference between open-ended and closed-ended questions. I also think schools should make fear, failure, and feelings (the three Fs) part of all school curricula.
I'm very proud of the work we've done so far in this space. I am currently in week 18 of a 26-week pilot program for Teacher As Coach. With this program, I intend to approach the ministry of education and teachers' colleges across Canada to lobby for a system-wide change in how teachers are developed and taught. The objective is to give all teachers the skills of a Coach, so they can use these skills to create powerful classroom experiences and transform education.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
As an owner who sat in every role within the company while building, the greatest challenge is to not get in my own way! I created all the programs and facilitated all the courses in the first four years. I was also in customer service, sales, and marketing until I hired my first assistant in 2018. So you can imagine I am very attached to the customer experience and the paradigm of coaching I built into our programs. When we hired our first facilitator in 2020, I realized I had to let go of the reigns to grow. Today we are a team of 20, with facilitators across Canada. I'm very proud of our team. As a leader, the most important thing you do is choose the right people, people who believe what you believe about your mission.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- The most important part of starting a business is to have a mission. Your mission will get you through the hard times, build resilience and give you unwavering faith that you are on the right path.
- Once you cultivate your mission, it's all about doing the work. There is no easy path to building a business, but the nice part is that when you are driven by mission, it doesn't feel like work. It gives your life purpose, meaning, and intention, which fuels everything you do.
- The last tip would be to open yourself up to feedback and learn from your mistakes. There is no shame in failure. Feedback is a powerful way to grow, and it makes us better humans because we often don't see the impact of our actions and decisions. Most importantly, surround yourself with people you trust so you don't mistake criticism for the feedback!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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