On Leadership, Inspiration and Balance
Me. Stephanie Bourassa, Founder of Bourassa Notaires @bourassanotaires started her firm only a few years after graduating and it has grown tremendously since. Originally from a small town in Quebec called Joliette, from the age of nine she knew she wanted to become a lawyer. “I changed my mind to specialize as a Notary, but knew I wanted to stand up for people and help everyone have a better chance with me on their side” she recalls about her decision.
When speaking about what motivates her, she notes “ever since I was young, I have always had a vision of how I wanted my life to be, I always looked at life differently from the rest of the world. I always believed in my dreams. I am also a very good manager with my own ideas, and these are qualities that have always helped me. For me, being an entrepreneur means knowing how to organize well and how to intervene well with these employees and of course the customers. People forget that without our employees we are nothing in the sense that the company does not run. I value my employees and treat them with the outmost loyalty, which is why they’ve stayed with me since the beginning”. Her full story built on resilience and trust below!
You were originally born in Joliette, QC What brought you to Montreal?
As soon as I finished University, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I needed a mentor, a notary who had the same vision, customer service, value that I wanted to deliver and that practices in the same area of law that I wanted to practice. Before I found the perfect office, I had to say no to seven different notaries because they didn’t have the same vision as me. Finally, I ran into Mr. Brossard, from whom I bought the firm. He was the perfect person to guide me and with whom to build my career as a lawyer. He really guided me not only as an entrepreneur but also as a lawyer. After I bought his firm off him and only three years after school I took it from 2 employees to over 10.
Did you always know you were going to have your own practice?
Yes indeed. I come from a lower-class family. I lived in a neighborhood where I saw a lot of injustice every day especially between families which I experienced. From the age of nine, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I changed my mind to specialize as a notary but knew I wanted to stand up for people and help everyone have a better chance with me on their side.
What motivates and drives you in life?
Ever since I was young, I have always had a vision of how I wanted my life to be, I always looked at life differently from the rest of the world. “I always believed in my dreams”. I am also a very good manager with my own ideas, and these are qualities that have always helped me. For me, being an entrepreneur means knowing how to organize well and how to intervene well with these employees and of course the customers. People forget that without our employees we are nothing in the sense that the company does not run.
My philosophy is that we are a legal family, and one should always take care of one’s family. We spend a lot of time together in the office and if my employees don’t feel at home or are not happy it won’t work effectively, and clients will feel it and let’s not forget that the quality of the work will be lower. I hold everyone to the same standard and everyone is equal in my eyes, that is the way I operate my business and my life in general.
Where did you get the experience to be able to manage a team?
I’m a very honest and direct person. I know how to say things in the best possible way without offending anyone and that helps a lot to manage employees or any team as a matter of fact. I also have a lot of gratitude and I see when someone is doing their best and expanding their capabilities and their knowledge. I always tell them when they are making a difference and congratulate them when it is due. I try and make them feel valued and appreciated throughout the day. It builds an amazing team spirit, and no one feels left out. Taking people who you work with for granted is detrimental to your business and the team. We have a weekly lunch or dinner and the reason I do this is to not always be a family in law but also do things you would normally do with your loved ones. It’s the little things that count and they compound greatly. Like I said before the team dynamic impacts the work ethic and especially the clients and without clients there is no business as is the case with employees who are unhappy. It’s all synergy.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
It would be the best advice I can give employers. “Never take your employees for granted”. Another important advice I would give is always keep a healthy work life balance. I would tell them that there is more to life than work and to really be effective at what you do, you need a good balance. Furthermore, if you have family, never forget that there are waiting for you at home and love you very much; don’t let work take that from you. Life as business is all about finding balance.
What is your 5-year goal?
A: My goal in five years would be to expand and offer more specialties. I currently have two offices and I see more in my future. I’m here to build big and still bring the same core values and quality in each one of my offices. I love the collaboration between professionals like tax advisers, lawyers and accountants, real estate agents just to name a few and by expanding in different areas I can offer my services to a bigger clientele. The driven factor for me is that I want to follow my clients from the day we meet all the way to the end. I want to marry them, notarize their home, write their wills and offer everything in between. By having all these offices and a diversified team this is becoming a reality for me that’s just starting to expand. I apply the same mentality of growth for my business, clients to my employees. I want them to stay with me for as long as possible. Like I said we are a family and I keep this very close to my heart.
What advice would you give yourself from 3 years ago when you just started off?
Sometimes people don’t understand what a job as a notary entail. I would say I would have managed my stress better and had less worries. Because we are entrepreneurs there is no one reminds us of when were doing a good job, so you must be that person for yourself. We are the ones that usually encourage others. So, it would truly be to be more considerate of myself and pat myself on the back when it is needed. We all make mistakes, but it should never stop you from growing, its just another lesson to be learned and if properly applied will make you better in the future. Its all about finding solutions, they are around every corner, but most people spend too much time on the problem. Be kind to yourself, you’re growing. I would also recommend being authentic and real, those values are timeless and are very underrated.
What is one of the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge I always face is with employees, and they decide to leave. It leaves a big gap to be filled. Its always about maintaining a stable team but we are all humans with individual goals so that can become difficult and challenging. Don’t forget I am the only partner, so I must deal with this all by myself.
Another big thing is health. As an entrepreneur when you get sick, well you can’t be at work and that causes more stress. Taking care of your health is a big must. So to be as efficient as possible you must be as healthy as possible and this is where like I said a healthy balance and a healthy lifestyle come in hand in hand. This is a big one for me because I always want to be at work and grow but I know and remind myself of the outcome of such a life. In the end it would harm my business than help it.
What are some tips you would give entrepreneurs?
I would have to say don’t be shy to take that vacation or two, you deserve it. Another big one is to have a partner that supports you in everything that you do, is happy to see you thrive, encourage you and understands your needs. The right partner changes everything. With the right partner you can really have it all, your business, and your family. I would also like to say that friends are also important. Besides that, I love yoga and taking care of my health through various outlets.
Another important tip is to know when to say no. As an entrepreneur people are always going to want more from you whether it be clients’ employees or other professionals and saying no is something every entrepreneur needs to learn and master.
What is your definition of success?
To do what you love plain and simple. To wake up in the morning and to feel good about where you are in life and what you are going. Nothing else can compare to that feeling of fulfilment. I am so grateful to do what I love and to have clients who trust in my vision. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
All Photo Credits – Peter Mac Photography
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