The 2017 Quebec Entrepreneurship Index survey showed encouraging results for women in business. There are now more women who have gone from dreaming of starting a business to actually putting the wheels in motion. To illustrate this trend, let's take a closer look at two women who took a leap of faith and became entrepreneurs.
Clarisse Fournier left her native France and a career in marketing to start up a business in Montreal with her spouse and her best friend. Anne-Sophie Riopel-Bouvier went into business with her parents while pursuing a career with the Canadian Armed Forces.
"Because of traditional gender roles, there's still a lot of prejudice. But I'm sure that there were far fewer female business owners 30 years ago than there are today," says Clarisse. The business she launched with her two partners, called On Mange Quoi? (OMQ), sells ready-to-eat and oven-ready meals in vending machines. She isn't afraid of change—she went from a marketing professional to a business owner in a complex, highly‑regulated field.
Anne-Sophie Riopel-Bouvier is a go-getter who thinks outside the box. She's a pilot and instructor in the armed forces and works in public security. Her business, EXO Tactik, specializes in providing drone-assisted public safety services using cutting-edge imaging technology.
The statistics in the Quebec Entrepreneurship Index in recent years show that women are often more risk-averse than men.
"I don't think being willing to take risks is tied to your gender. It's more about how driven you are to start your own business. If you're just focused on generating income as quickly as possible, the risk may seem too daunting. But if you start a business so you can do what you love, enjoy your independence and have more freedom, you'll have a better relationship with risk," says Clarisse.
If you dream of launching your own business but are hesitant to take the leap, these two women have a message for you: "Do it!" Lack of confidence is one of the biggest obstacles.
Anne-Sophie is adamant: "You have to feel your inner strength, listen to your inner voice and go! No one is going to lead you by the hand."
"You need to believe in yourself, believe in your project and surround yourself with the right people," adds Clarisse. Loneliness can also be a major roadblock for women entrepreneurs.
Surrounding yourself with the right people means joining a network and spending time with people who believe in your start-up and who can help you develop and grow your business. The Accélérateur Banque Nationale│HEC Montréal and entrePrism are just a couple of the organizations providing support, networking opportunities and mentorship for women entrepreneurs, which can help build confidence and break down isolation.
There are some networks that support, educate, and empower female entrepreneurs such as Mompreneurs which also provide affordable ways to promote their businesses locally and nationally.
Anne-Sophie and Clarisse chose to take a risk and launch their own businesses. And if more and more women take the plunge and become entrepreneurs, it can only benefit the Quebec economy.
But Clarisse believes we still need to do more to encourage entrepreneurial spirit among women. She dreams of the day when women entrepreneurs won't be seen as the exception—they'll just be entrepreneurs.
"We need to start teaching this in high school. We need to show young people, especially young women, that there's another career choice out there, another way of living. We need to teach them that they can achieve anything with a bit of faith. As a business owner, success and a healthy work-life balance are within your reach!"
For more information on female entrepreneurship, check out the 2017 Quebec Entrepreneurship Index [French only].
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