For this week’s edition of FinanciElle “$tatements”, I had the opportunity to interview Nathalie Vallières Martin, President of FemCity Ottawa.
She is a social entrepreneur and global drowning prevention advocate with over twenty years of experience in advancing water safety education through high-impact programming and advocacy, strategic grant-making and philanthropy, and innovative use of technology and communications via the Lifesaving Society and Swim Tayka.
Paolina: As a social entrepreneur, what has been your hardest experience dealing with your businesses and finance/money and what did you learn?
Social entrepreneurship requires a long-term approach that is sustainable for years into the future.
My social enterprises require the dedication of volunteers. Finding skilled volunteers and doing work without paid staff can be a major obstacle. These challenges can make it difficult to recruit and keep the active volunteers needed to serve the community’s needs. It’s important to find financial incentives that can help offset costs incurred by volunteers when working on a project.
Compared to everything else I’ve done to build and grow my businesses; fundraising is my least favorite task so far. I’ve had my deepest lows because of investor rejections.
All of this has taught me to be courageous enough to withstand doubt, rejection, and bad advice.
Paolina: What advice do you wish you had gotten about finance/money when you were first starting your entrepreneurial journey?
One of the things I learned the hard way was navigating low cash flow. Just as it is in personal finance, inadequate cash flow is crippling to a business.
In terms of income, you can truly make significant sums with the right financial pipelines. The sky is the limit — except there are no safety nets. At one point, a large, new client put my business into expansion mode; but, I learned the hard way how difficult it can be to collect accounts receivables. My savings account was depleted, and I had to quickly refocus and not panic.
The best advice I can give to anyone who is thinking of starting a business is to make sure they “investigate the downside” and to remind them that banks lend you your “own” money. If you have no sizable investments or equity, you will need to find other avenues of financing. If you are risk adverse, I wholeheartedly believe you shouldn’t get into business, but if you want to build a life of your dreams, then do it!
Paolina: What drew you to FemCity?
Social entrepreneurship is important and I knew it would not be sustainable if I didn’t have a plan to take care of myself.
FemCity’s raison d’etre is business for the soul. This is a network I can count on when the day gets tough and I know I can consistently tap into FemCity for support. My network has shifted considerably this past decade and FemCity has helped me cultivate like-minded relationships, worldwide. I wanted to expand my reach beyond Ottawa. The women in FemCity are CEO’s, change makers and worldwide influencers, those are the type of women I needed to help me succeed. FemCity helped me go from a poverty mindset to an abundance mindset, and it basically changed my life. There’s no luck in anything that I do. I live in Miami Beach for a reason. FemCity helped me navigate many of my most important life transitions. I am so grateful.
Paolina: What are your current FinanciElle Faves?
- Favourite business/leadership book? My go to is Mel Robbins. I resonate with her book “The 5 Second Rule”
- Favourite business/productivity tool? QuickBooks and Asana Management are my go-to 100%
- Favourite piece of media – TED talk, podcast…? Oh, that’s a hard one! I love Ottawa’s own kaur.space founded by Komal Minhas! I love to support and encourage local women – I’ve been following Laura Kelly on Instagram and really enjoy her Podcasts: YOUMIGHTNOTLIKEIT. Another one I listen to is Bad+Bitchy Podcast. Ottawa women are AWESOME! We need to support them.