Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Larissa Stoddart, Founder and CEO of Growth & Co., located in Port Elgin, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Fundraising training and coaching. Nonprofit sector leaders (CEOs, Presidents, Executive Directors) and fundraising staff are my customers.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in extraordinary circumstances. When mental health and addiction issues intensified in my family, I decided at 14 that having no permanent home was safer than my family’s home. Unsurprisingly, that solution had a lot of difficulties wrapped up in it.
While living at different locations, often alone, I constantly worried, “what is going to happen to me?”. Unfortunately, going home was a worse option. As a result, I experienced something much stronger than fear. The heartbreak I felt, knowing that my sense of safety and security had been stolen from me, shapes my motivation to help people today. Now, I aid nonprofits that aim to provide the kind of safety that I failed to experience growing up.
After high school, I went on to work with folks with different world views and life experiences than my own– one of them a retired teacher. Through his gentle but persistent guidance, I gained the courage to apply to university. Through the investment of his time, he changed my life because he cared enough to help.
Another person’s time wasn’t the only investment that changed my life. Without money to pay for university, financial assistance made it possible for me to graduate. I will always clearly remember standing in the middle of campus opening an envelope—tears and laughter burst out of me, along with the feeling of pure glee when I realized it was a cheque for a $7,000 scholarship!
As I looked around at the smiling students who passed me on their way to class, I inhaled the scent of cherry blossoms that painted the historic campus in pink and white. I realized that donor funding had transformed my life—and that generous strangers could also transform the lives of countless others.
Today, I work tirelessly to teach organizations how to raise money to ensure that people who might have a different story without access to these opportunities can live out their dreams just like I did.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Enabling CEOs and fundraising staff of nonprofits to raise more money efficiently and effectively. As a result, more individuals in our communities are able to thrive because they have access to critical nonprofit organization services.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
If you own a business that is constantly changing and improving, you’re also constantly in situations you haven’t been in before. You need to become very comfortable with not knowing the best course of action and finding the people who can help you determine your next steps on a regular basis.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Lead with your values.
- Build a business around the lifestyle you want to live.
- Hire experts to guide you through change.
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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