EnPoint has always been fuelled by a passion for helping others cultivate meaningful careers. To share her knowledge, Chantal Brine has written an article outlining the 5 most important lessons she’s learned as the founder and CEO of EnPoint.
According to Forbes, roughly 45.4% to 51% of small businesses survive to see the 5 year mark. This June, I am proud, among many other feelings, to be celebrating EnPoint’s 5 year anniversary. It hasn’t been easy and we would not be here today if not for many amazing mentors, clients, allies, an amazingly committed team, and lots of hard work. Building a business from the start is like trying to carve a path in the forest with your bare hands. As my fellow entrepreneurs know , entrepreneurship is a roller coaster filled with highs, lows and turns- often when you don’t expect them. And like many others on this ride, the journey to 5 years has not been without it’s lessons along the way; here are 5 that standout as I reflect on the journey to date and road ahead as we continue to strive to grow our reach and impact towards supporting 1 million people in building meaningful careers, through mentorship.
Be Passionate & Purpose driven
From its inception, EnPoint has always been an idea that stemmed from a passion of helping others cultivate careers that they are passionate about. You’ve probably heard that an average one third of our life is spent at work. While this may not be the case for everyone, work takes up a predominant amount of our energy, of our mind space, of our creativity, and our day to day efforts. So this begs the obvious question: why would you not find a career that you are passionate about?
From the moment people begin their career, and journey through various roles, and progressions, they encounter lessons, problems and challenges. The purpose of EnPoint is to help solve these challenges and cultivate a learning mindset by helping to facilitate relationships at the right place at the right time. We believe the right relationship between a mentor and mentee is transformational both professionally and personally. When done well, these relationships can help propel people into a passion-fuelled career. It is through having this passion and purpose to help connect people that is the north star of myself & my team; it drives us to do the work we do. Whatever your passion or purpose may be, use it to anchor yourself, your career, and hopefully the rest of your life too.
Value Progress over Perfection
As a former ballerina and dancer, I was always taught to strive for perfection. Unbeknownst to me, when I started my entrepreneurial journey, perfection is often the enemy of “success”. It can prevent you from starting, hold you back from saying what you really want to say or taking a risk, and contribute to self-doubt. When it comes to ballet, you are expected to be perfect-poised all the time, have the perfect body and perfectly perform. The unlearning of this mentality has been one of the most transformative lessons in my entrepreneurial journey. This lesson was impressed upon me by two of my mentors Wayne and Patricia who helped me understand that my perfectionism was actually interfering with my progress. Until I had gotten out of my own way, I wasn’t able to gain the momentum I needed to grow. In my team, sometimes in light of the chaos of the day to day, “good enough” has to suffice. I am very proud that our team has internalized the mantra of progress over perfection. Rather than expecting perfection every time, we instead strive for improvement, even if it’s just 1% everyday.
Stay True To Yourself & Commit To Ongoing Self-Discovery
With so many different businesses out there, an industry filled with what seems to be endless competitors, and so many entrepreneurs you may feel inclined to compare yourself to, it’s really important to know yourself and stay true to your “why”. When navigating your entrepreneurial journey, it’s easy to fall prey to your thoughts of self-doubt. It’s important to not let others’ definitions of success colour what you are looking to achieve and rob you of taking pride in what you accomplish.
When it comes to startups, there is often the pervasive idea of “fast growth” through working hard, quickly raising and burning through capital and this is often done at the expense of the founder. This “startup mindset” that often many “unicorns” implement is something I knew quickly that I was not aligned with. For me, building EnPoint has always been about impact and not just fast growth. I truly believe that you can be both a for-profit business while doing good in the world. It’s important to me that while growing EnPoint, I continue to stay true to doing good. This is all possible to do without the expense of my physical and professional health. To me, understanding and setting boundaries as a founder, role-modeling the best version of yourself to your team, partners, and funders while driving home your organization’s purpose - this is what success means on my terms.
As a founder, my entrepreneurial journey intersects with my ongoing journey of self-discovery. I started EnPoint in my early 30s and life has certainly changed a lot in that time (with a global pandemic in there too). I’ve been reminded throughout my journey that who I was when I began EnPoint may be different than who I am today, whether it’s as a founder, a leader, a mentor or a mentee. I’ve learned two important things: 1) this “me” was always there but I allowed it to be quieted for a time, but no more and 2) while I am growing a business I am also a human who will make mistakes. It’s through making mistakes, and sometimes repeating them, that allow for the lessons about building a business and about myself begin to really sink in. Without discomfort or pain, how can there be growth? Embrace that discomfort - it’s one of your best teachers.
Understanding The Importance Of Your People
There is no doubt that there is no possible way EnPoint would have crossed the 5 year mark without the people who helped make it happen. It’s incredibly imperative to not only understand the importance of your people’s skills and experience but their value as well. This starts with your hiring decisions. Growing a business requires the right people on your team. Those who are connected to your mission and your vision. People who are willing embark on a journey of self-growth alongside you and those who aren’t afraid to challenge you and your leadership. These are the people who commit themselves to their growth within your organization and for whom, when you invest in them, you’re also investing in your business’s success.
It’s also important to understand that you cannot do it all yourself and nor are you expected to. I’ve been so fortunate to work with many talented consultants and subcontractors who are experts in their craft. Knowing where your strengths lie - and where they don’t - is gold; it allows you to understand when you need outside help to accomplish your goals.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of your support network - those people outside your business, like mentors, champions, coaches, brand ambassadors, clients, influencers, and network allies. All of them play a unique role in supporting you throughout your entrepreneurial journey whether in the weeds or on the sidelines.
Cherish your people. Build meaningful relationships and nurture them.
Focus on Building Intentional Relationships With Clients
As EnPoint’s business is all about relationships, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of intentionally cultivating and building relationships with your best clients. In the startup world, it’s obvious that not everyone will be a great candidate for your product and/or service. That can be a hard lesson to learn - particularly in the beginning. It often takes trial and error as well as responding to shifts in the markets you serve.
For EnPoint, it’s paramount that we work with organizations and leaders who align with our passion and purpose. I often say we are best equipped to help those who already believe in the power of mentorship as a career development tool. As CEO and the head of sales, I seek out relationships with organizations that are excited to work with us and see the potential in working and growing together. I’ve learnt a lot in these 60 months about who we can best support and am so grateful for the clients who continue to show us they value our work, efforts to continue to be better, passion, and commitment to their results.
While every entrepreneurial journey is different, there are lessons to be learnt along the way if only you give yourself time to pause, reflect, and then apply.
P.S. Bonus Lesson: You cannot be all things to all people nor will everyone get behind you. To paraphrase Brené Brown ‘if not you’re in the arena with me, your opinion doesn’t matter’. Not everyone is in your arena and that’s ok. Focus your energy and time on those that are.