“All I know about marketing and sales, I learnt at church,” confesses Lisa, tongue in cheek, as we talked about her business.
Her family were simultaneously entrepreneurial and religious.
Because of her father’s work in the church while she was growing up, her family moved a lot – Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock and Sarnia. There was even a two-year stint in St. Lucia where her father worked with the church there.
It was his skill in growing church congregations that caused them to move so much. He was a natural marketer, coming up with innovative strategies – from offering a Dial a Sermon service using an old style answering machine, to doing newsletters for the community, to his current strategy of taking coffee and conversation on the road to remote areas of Saskatchewan.
Growing up in this environment was bound to rub off on Lisa.
Her father also ran a business. He would lease apartments, fully furnish them and then sublet them to companies by the week, complete with maid-service (Lisa’s first business). So early on she got a taste of the work involved in being an entrepreneur.
“I am inspired by people who take risks.”
With her English degree behind her, Lisa’s first job was as a technical writer/copy writer for an IT company. Then at 27 she became Director of Sales and Marketing for a web development company.
By 28 she had started her first business, a marketing agency which she successfully ran for ten years, while also launching two other companies at the same time. – a property management company and, bringing together a group of investors, a real estate investment company. Definitely the serial entrepreneur.
While she built the business up, growing it to almost $1.5 million, she grew restless. “The agency just wasn’t feeding my soul any more,” she says. It was also 2008, and the economy was tanking and so she took the opportunity to exit, selling most of her accounts off to employees and keeping a small handful for herself.
It was then that she was approached by Constant Contact to head up their field marketing and business development in Ontario. Lisa was there for seven years and during that time much happened in her personal life – including having a baby and getting divorced. For the last two years of her time there, her territory expanded to cover all of Canada. “Much of my time was spent travelling, which as a single parent with full-time care of a toddler, was difficult. It was time for a change.”
When Constant Contact was acquired two years ago, Lisa could see the writing on the wall and she started to make her plans.
“My heart is with small business and I wanted something that would work with my family and have me close to home.” explains Lisa. She purchased a franchise – The Alternative Board – from someone retiring from the business after ten years.
Through that business, she brings together CEOs of privately owned small and mid-size companies into a peer network to help one another grow, solve challenges, and plan for their next step.
Never one to do one thing only, she is also developing her own brand – a learning program for entrepreneurs past the start-up stage who want to scale up their business. In Go Beyond Entrepreneurship, she works with people who find they are spending too much time, for too little return in their business and want to change the outcome for themselves.
“I am inspired by people who take risks.” she shares. And after hearing Lisa’s story, I’d say she is pretty inspiring too.