May is Entrepreneur month and last night we had a panel of women entrepreneurs. Each had started her business at a different stage in her life.
At 31, Amy Halpenny, owner and founder of Ella's Pregnancy and Parenting Centre, was the "toddler" on the panel, having started her business just two years ago. While she may have been the "new kid on the block" we all could learn from her business accumen and focus.
Gail Friedlander, of Images that Suit was the seasoned entrepreneur, having started her business back in 1984. She has grown her business from the basement of her home to two locations in Mississauga and Toronto.
Last, but by no means least, Margaret Sarrasin of MJ's Fine Foods, shared her story of how she started her business at the age of 59, baking her flatbreads in her home kitchen. Today, her products are sold in 3,500 retail stores across Canada.
A pretty diverse group of women, yet there were many similarities in the stories they told. Both Gail and Amy have taken an innovative approach which has been part of their branding. They are very much customer-focused and intent on creating an experience rather than just provide a service. Both had gone that extra mile to provide the environment that makes the customer feel special and of value.
Human capital was also another essential ingredient in their success and Margaret emphasized the importance of treating employees with respect; valuing and recognizing their contribution to the company's progress.
But perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the evening was hearing how they started their business, realizing how far they had come, and that we too could aspire to achieve such levels of success.