Why clients are important to PeerSpark™
At PeerSpark™, we believe that our economies, communities, and families are stronger when women are full participants in entrepreneurship. Over the past three years of the program, we have witnessed our clients grow their business revenue by more than 31 percent per year while increasing job creation by 30 percent per year. These numbers show that when women are supported and mentored in an effective way, great things happen. We want to support women to continue to positively impact their economies and communities.
Spirit Staffing and Consulting and Fast Labour Solutions Ltd
BELIEVING IN YOURSELF: IT’S A BUSINESS PLAN.
Janice Larocque is the president of Spirit Staffing and Consulting and Fast Labour Solutions Ltd. staffing and recruitment providers. She’s had a long association with PeerSpark since launching her business in 1998, when PeerSpark was just three years old. Janice shares a unique entrepreneurial perspective developed over nearly two decades of steady business growth, staffing a multitude of industries with skilled, diverse labour. She credits her entrepreneurial success to hard work, dedication, and some concrete help from PeerSpark when she needed it most.
“We went from a start-up of two people to twelve internal staff today, with offices in two cities.”
Without PeerSpark, Janice wouldn’t have been able to make a go of it.
“Many of the contacts I’ve made at PeerSpark have been important for my kind of business, particularly now in this economic downturn, when staff demand is lower.”
In addition to receiving five loans for start-up and expansion, she took advantage of PeerSpark at a key time of growth, and was provided with the connections, training, and support she needed to take Spirit Staffing to the next level.
“PeerSpark is a great program that I found super valuable as far as expanding my network and getting training and support. They also have great workshops in the financial and administrative areas, where you learn to streamline processes and get more done with less.”
Janice stresses the importance of being assertive, both externally and internally, when growing a business.
“Assertiveness may not come naturally for a lot of women, but it’s something you can learn. Join PeerSpark and get some training on this. I’m not talking about aggression, more like confidence and the ability to express your thoughts and advance your case. It’s really worth it.”
Seventeen years, two corporate offices, and numerous community and provincial business awards later, Janice is at the helm of one of the province’s most successful staffing firms. Believing in herself was all it took to get started.
BUILDING NEW TRADITIONS, ONE HOME AT A TIME.
Shannon Lenstra is the president of Kon-strux, a construction and home renovation firm now in its ninth year of business. After four years of operation, Shannon bought out her partner and has remained at the helm ever since. She describes the challenges she faced as a woman entrepreneur in the early stages of starting her business:
“It was perception. Women just weren’t seen as owners of construction companies or even employees for that matter. We had to be twice as good right out of the gate.”
Shannon characterizes her relationship with PeerSpark as ‘crucial’, citing the organization as a key source of information, training, business connections, and an opportunity to gain peer support.
“PeerSpark has great programs for anyone starting up or going to the next level. It’s just great advice and information every step of the way in the growth of a business. Entrepreneurs think and act differently in business. They need to share ideas with people who think like them.”
The home renovation business gives her a great deal of satisfaction, both on a business and personal level. She describes it as ‘an incredibly personal business.’
“There’s no feeling like the one you get from seeing someone’s face when they first lay eyes on their new space. It’s that ‘oh my God, it’s awesome’ moment. We are literally in the business of making dreams come true. How good is that?”
To take their ventures to the next step, Shannon urges new entrepreneurs to become financially literate and to take a course if necessary.
“Make sure your numbers are right.”
Latium Fleet Management
STARTING FROM SCRATCH IS NEVER EASY.
Lori Pecorilli owns Latium Fleet Management, a company that manages corporate fleets and logistics for a variety of businesses. She originally began the business with her husband, and has been in operation for twenty years.
“Women are as tough as men, but take a different approach when it comes to working with people. Women enjoy teaching and are collaborative.”
Reflecting on her start-up days, Lori remembers a burgeoning energy industry that lacked a cohesive, efficient way to handle its fleet services.
“It was as ‘start from scratch’ as it gets. All we had was a concept, but it was a unique concept, one that met a need. Companies in the oil industry and others needed better ways to manage and track their all-important fleets. That’s where we came in, both on a consulting basis and by supplying expert staff where and when they needed it.”
A constant innovator, Lori’s proudest moment in business was developing new products that made her industry more efficient, greener, and safer.
“We assembled engineers and developed new GPS and fleet management software. It didn’t exist before then. It’s about seeing a void and filling it.”
She points out the importance of a support network, particularly in the early stages of establishing a business. Lori was empowered not only by PeerSpark’s staff, but also by fellow women entrepreneurs experiencing the same boundaries to growth as her.
“PeerSpark is an important resource, particularly for women business owners who can sometimes feel isolated. It offers them a community, a way to come together. Dreams need the kind of nurturing and encouragement you get from your peers.”
Lori even found help when she wasn’t looking for it.
“The great thing about PeerSpark is that it is proactive. If they come across anything that can help you, they’re on the phone. It’s very personal attention.”
To go from ordinary to extraordinary, Lori offers some bold advice to new entrepreneurs.
“You need big guts. You can have a lot going for you, but you need the courage and support from peers to take a chance.”
Lori took that chance, and hasn’t looked back since.
The PeerSpark™ model has helped numerous women grow their businesses and achieve their goals. But don’t take our word for it – hear what past participants have to say:
I joined the program at a time when I was in need of mentorship and peer guidance on how to continue to grow my business…The sessions and content we have covered in the first year helped me to not only learn how to work on my business and not just ‘in it’, but it gave me the confidence to realize that I could definitely build the company I had always hoped and dreamed of creating. After my first year of participation, I added a new staff member and saw my revenues grow by 20%
It has been good to get out and meet people, and to understand that they have the same issues and problems that we have. The conversations have been excellent no matter what industry or company scale. I have really realized that I’m not alone. It is great to get these other female perspectives.