WEC 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
This spotlight is part of a new series in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Women’s Enterprise Centre! Our impact would not be possible without our volunteers, partners and clients so we’re sharing the stories of some of the women who have played a part in our success. Sign up for our eNews to receive the featured story of the month.
The WEC Connection
Cathy first connected with Women’s Enterprise Centre in 2010, when she volunteered as a Mentor for the first time.
Since then, Cathy has volunteered over 160 hours for WEC, written over 40 blogs and has shared her expertise as a storyteller and facilitator. Ten years later, she’s still an active mentor with us!
The WEC team is proud to have Cathy as one of our champions and friends.
In one of her blogs, Cathy wrote, “Don’t be afraid to let your uniqueness and personality shine through.” Her personality and positive attitude have made a difference to women entrepreneurs in our community—thank you, Cathy!
About Cathy Kuzel – The Connected Woman
An award-winning Leader, Entrepreneur and Business Development Consultant, Cathy Kuzel finds great personal fulfillment in helping others succeed.
Combining proven tools with focused coaching and “no excuses” accountability, she guides entrepreneurs how to let go of limiting beliefs and “Stand Up, Stand Out & Step Forward” to have the business success they dream of.
A dynamic speaker, author and business expert with a deep knowledge of the art of human connections, she has been networking and building successful business relationships for more than 30 years and is increasingly sought after as an expert on “All Things Small Biz.”
According to Cathy, “I am a firm believer that ‘Knowledge Shared is Success Magnified” and that belief is reflected in her creation of The Connected Woman Association, an organization supporting entrepreneurial women that encompasses many industries, levels of experience and diverse backgrounds.
Named one of the Top Ten Mentors in Canada, Women of Worth Leader of the Year, she is also the Author of “Are You a Collector or a Connector?”; “I’m on the Phone!”; and the internationally known “Daily Espressos – Caffeine for the Mind”.
As the Connected Woman, Cathy has developed and implemented strategic sales and marketing programs with proven success rates for small to mid-size companies and organizations of 150+ members.
Q&A: Cathy’s Journey
Q. How different is your business today from when you started it?
A. It started so long ago that it’s challenging to find that tipping point. I know that I found my niche when I built a large sales team across Canada for a clothing company over 35 years ago. I helped hundreds of women create a foundation for their own business and it was very fulfilling.
I sort of ‘fell into’ my consulting role when enquiries came in as to what my fee was to work with me. I realized that as much as I loved building my own companies, I loved the challenge of helping others more.
It offered me insights into different markets; operating procedures; opened doors that I never knew existed; I’ve met so many wonderful people and the amount of knowledge that I gained was phenomenal.
Q. Why did you first connect with WEC?
A. I honestly don’t remember how I connected with WEC. It was probably when I was sourcing resources for my coaching clients and ‘discovered’ the organization.
I’m not one to sit on the sidelines and when WEC asked for business women to become mentors, I volunteered.
Q. Why do you feel it’s important to mentor other women?
A. As I built my business(es) over the past years, being a woman business owner was challenging. If I wanted a loan at the bank, I needed my husband to co-sign – didn’t matter that I could prove I was already generating revenue.
Same with having a mentor. There weren’t many female role models and it definitely was an ‘old boys club’ back then.
I am so glad things have changed. While we still have work to do when it comes to gender equality, it is important that the knowledge we possess is shared. If I can help other women skip some of the challenges I had to figure out on my own by sharing experience and knowledge, it’s a big win!
Q. How has mentoring and volunteering helped you?
Mentoring and volunteering has been a great sense of personal fulfillment. I am thrilled when someone else can benefit from what’s been shared.
It’s also provided me with new perspectives, insights and of course, new connections that have expanded my circle of influence and given me new life-long friends.
Q. What is your greatest business-related accomplishment?
A. My biggest business-related accomplishment was working with one of my clients and succeeding not only getting on Dragon’s Den but receiving an offer from two Dragons! The hardest part was keeping everything a secret until they aired the episode!
Q. What is your greatest business-related failure and what did you learn from it?
A. I don’t know if I would call it a failure … I started a business in my sewing room making hair scrunchies. Business was great and I had a number of stores selling them faster than I could make them.
What I didn’t calculate was someone else would have them mass produced at a much cheaper price per unit and completely undermine my market.
I learned then that if you can’t satisfy market demand, they’ll look elsewhere; depending on your product, price is king and always have a backup plan in case circumstances that you can’t control arise.
Q. Who inspires you?
A. Women who are carving their own path in business against outdated axioms inspire me.
Q. If you could do it all over again, what would you tell yourself when you were just starting your business?
A. If I could do it all over again with the knowledge I already have (wouldn’t that be awesome?!) I tell myself to think bigger and not to worry about the ‘other guys’. And should it fail? Learn from it and start again.
Q. What do you think the BC business community will be like in 10 years?
A. A strong entrepreneurial community is essential to develop a thriving economy. New businesses create more new jobs than any other sector of the Canadian economy and women lead the way in creating new business.
I believe digital/online will be dominant and the next generation will be born into it so it will be second nature, not like us having to learn new technology.
I believe the pace of business will be even faster than it is now. This is the world of next day delivery and immense data at your fingertips.
I would love to say that any gender bias we experience now would have disappeared but… so we need to support women more than ever as I still believe we are the “untapped economic driver for BC and the country.”