The story of Cofinia started in 2015, I was contemplating my professional future. As I was reading about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs, I was wondering if I had the profile to start a company.

Employed all my life and accustomed to managing my finances responsibly, I was very apprehensive.

We receive a lot of messages about retirement, that we should save 25% of our salary, that we should have an emergency cushion of 3 to 6 months.

Other than my mortgage, I had no debt and was in a good position to make it.

But there was this little voice in my head. Retirement is great, but look at your father who wanted to retire at 55 and his career ended at 52. Should retirement really dictate your professional life?

Then I talked to my entrepreneur friends. I got nothing but support.

My friend Mathieu Veilleux from the Cardinal agency was the one who convinced me. We had been in the same business group for 7 years, he knew my skills; he works with many entrepreneurs as a real estate broker. He was able to understand the business need for accounting support services.

After a few sleepless nights, analyzing the pros and cons, I went for it.

I figured there were quite a few more benefits than risks.

 

Getting Started and Becoming an Entrepreneur

So, where do we start, how do we start a business? How do you become an entrepreneur?

The Name

I had to find a name, in my head it was clear that we would become a small team one day, it would not be a “one woman show”. Giroux conseil was not an option.

What would our services be? Accounting of course, financial projections, companies need that and a little bit of everything that’s required to make an accounting department efficient. I’ve put that together as my business intelligence.

Eric Vignola of Vignola Strategies, who is also in my business group, gave me good advice. He told me: “The name can be anything, but people will ask you where it comes from, it must be evocative for you, and you must be able to talk about it easily in a few words. So I came up with the name Cofinia which means accounting, finance and Business Intelligence in french.

The Logo

It takes a logo… and that takes professionals, because my artistic side is plain zero. After a first red sketch (no, not a good idea, in finance, you don’t want to be in the red!), three or four pencil strokes from my spouse and the drafts from Guy Asselin at Cameleon, we have a logo, which still gets good comments after 2 years. And now we need a showcase and a communication tool; a website and a professional email address.

The Website

I was told it is very simple: “Buy a template, it’s easy, you can do it yourself. Yes, of course, very easy!

At the end of the day on Friday, I called my friend Karine (my top IT person at Innovision) and said “Hi, if I bring a bottle of red wine, can you help me understand what’s going on with the hosting of my site? It’s so much easier when you have good friends!

And then for the website, buy the wordpress template: √check

Install the template at my host: √check

Change template text: √check

Change the colors of the template to match the colors of the logo: ehhhh…shi…. &/%Q&/%

After 2 days of struggling, my website is finally online. It doesn’t look good, it’s even embarrassing, but well, I have a presence on the Internet, that’s something. And then, your little perfectionist side takes over, it doesn’t make sense, you tell yourself, and then you get the checkbook out, and you go look for professionals, there are limits to doing everything yourself!  And thanks to Helium Web Marketing!

Clients

And then you’re ready for clients, which takes mandates. The importance of the network becomes clear. My first three clients came from my engagement, entrepreneurs from my business network and on a board of directors.

Bernard Gaudreault from Planifika, Mathieu Veilleux from Boulangerie La Fabrique (Mathieu is an entrepreneur!) and David Veilleux from David Veilleux Financial Services. You’re optimistic, you feel like you’re headed for glory. And then comes the summer. Not much happens in the summer. Hard to do business development in the summer. How do you do business development? When it’s never been part of your job to get clients, how do you do it?

I told myself that it was time to find a mentor, someone who would advise me and help me think. I was lucky enough to be matched with Réjean Blais, a retired entrepreneur who is still very much involved on the South Shore of Quebec City. Even after 2 years, his advice is still relevant. It allows me to break the isolation, to talk about my doubts, my ideas of grandeur to someone who is not a client, a spouse or a business partner. I recommend him to all entrepreneurs and even to anyone who wants to improve themselves and take their career to the next level.

Following his advice, I joined various business groups, published a few articles on the internet and made phone calls, lunches, offers of services, and started to carry out mandates.

In a future article, the ups and downs of Cofinia!

Marie-Andrée

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