Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chantal Fraser, Founder of Empowered Path Inc., located in Trenton, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I genuinely believe each of us has gifts to share with the world. When we find or create a workplace that appreciates those gifts and provides at least a living wage, we all win. My special interests are leadership (understanding people), sharing success stories, and helping people learn ways to help themselves, their communities, and organizations thrive.
What does that mean? Through my business, Empowered Path Inc. I help people find or create their ideal jobs, AND I help employers learn tactics to help them create more Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible Learning (IDEAL) workplaces.
Tell us about yourself
When I was growing up, I imagined my ideal job as being the boss and being able to tell people what to do. I grew up in a military family and spent 5 years in the Air Cadets, from grade 8 to 12. By the time I started high school, I knew that I wanted to join the military and become an officer. I achieved that goal and served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 28 years, becoming a veteran after I reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
When I decided to become an entrepreneur, largely to be more present in my children’s lives, I decided to create a new ideal job. I knew I wanted to do most of my work while my children were in school and that most days, I wanted to watch them get on their school bus and be there when they got home. I started my business with the vague idea of speaking, training, and writing, if I had to, to influence change in the world and make it more equitable.
Over time, I realized that I received the most joy (and profit) by concentrating on being a Thought Partner, someone who helps you think about things differently. For example, I help influence change to create more IDEAL workplaces by delivering online Indigenous Inclusion training sessions, on behalf of the company Indigenous Link, to employers across Canada.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is repeatable! Every time I help someone find or create their ideal job, I feel great. Every time I help influence change with employers, helping them learn how to create more Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible Learning (IDEAL) workplaces, I consider it a win. During the summer of 2021, I ran the beta version of the Navigating your Career Route Map: Designing Courses of Action to help you Achieve your Definition of Success with a diverse group of 3 participants. (I admit that naming things isn’t my super-power! In retrospect, I should have crafted a shorter name). During the course, I shared strategies and tips I learned during a successful career in the Canadian Armed Forces, which I now apply to my work as an entrepreneur.
We completed the program by the end of August. In December, at their request, we held a reunion to catch up. Mahyar, who was happy in his job while completing the Navigating your Career Route Map program, realized that he should be open to job postings that colleagues were sharing with him. A couple of weeks before our reunion, Mahyar accepted and started a new job with an organization 300 times the size of his last employer. Mahyar now has more opportunities to achieve his goal of becoming a leader in his workplace.
Melissa, who had been searching for a job that fit her needs to prioritize her self-care while giving back to the community for a long time, announced that the reunion took place on the last day at her old job. Her new healthcare job allows her to practice self-care while achieving her dream of serving others in her capacity as a human resource professional. In December, Shawn shared that he was in the process of deciding between 3 different offers. He started his new job in January and received a promotion in May; both roles put Shawn in a position to serve Indigenous people. As of May 2022, Shawn’s Government of Canada job title is Senior Program Officer for Jordan’s Principle.
Mahyar, Melissa, and Shawn all learned to showcase their gifts while being their authentic selves. When they focused on what their ideal jobs entailed, all 3 identified more opportunities. As Melissa shared, the course helped them find their own empowered paths. Their success stories bring me immense joy!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner for me was realizing that it’s OK to be paid well, to do things that I enjoy doing, and am good at. Things that are relatively easy for me. It took me about 5 years of being in business to come to the realization that I could charge people for doing things I love to do.
I’ve been happily mentoring people for over 20 years. Realizing that I could charge people to learn what I continue to share for free with mentees through my professional associations was a game changer. This summer, I’m launching an on-demand Navigating your Career Route Map series of 3 courses, offering them for a moderate fee.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Cash flow is queen! If you’re investing in your business and only breaking even, then what you’ve got is a hobby that pays for itself. It’s important to know how much money is coming in, especially what services or products bring profit to your business. It’s OK to do pro-bono work and to offer free services or products under certain circumstances, as long as you make sure that you pay yourself too!
Even as a solopreneur, having a team that supports you is essential. For example, I outsource some things I know I could do but don’t enjoy doing, mostly to other entrepreneurs in my community, province, and country. My accountant, the printer I work with, and the office supplies store are all within a half hour’s drive from my home (also my place of business). I work with two different virtual assistants, who provide me services such as organizing my home office, and video editing. I’m having my website renovated by Build Marketing and getting closed captioning done for my videos by CCS Inc.; both are Canadian companies. As is Thinkific, the online platform I use to offer my on-demand online courses.
There are all kinds of resources out there to help you start and grow a business. Most communities offer free resources; access these first! Then when you’re ready to grow your business, it’s worth paying someone to be your coach and to take courses to help you learn how to do things more effectively. For example, this summer, I’m taking two courses: Connect, Create and Contribute about using LinkedIn as a business owner with Petra Fisher, and the Think In Color Accelerator offered by Thinkific with XayLi Barclay.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
There are risks and rewards involved with starting your own business. Invest your time and energy in identifying potential risks and how to mitigate them before you start. I have the privilege of receiving a life-long military pension, so making a profit wasn’t as urgent when I started my company as it is for most business owners. My spouse also encouraged me to start my own business. Your decision affects everyone in your immediate circle. It’s worth talking to them and finding your cheerleaders early on.
Wishing you health, joy, peace, and abundance and all your loved ones!
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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