Phaiede Lafleur had a dream to turn a hobby into a career, and she did it. Balancing multiple odd jobs, with a career in child and youth work, two years ago she sought to start her business as an event planner.
After completing her diploma in child and youth and Algonquin College, she set out to find a job in her field. Six months in, she realized she had the skills for the job, but not the passion. It was then that her friends and family recommended turning her hobby of event planning, into a career.
“I loved event planning for family and friends, but it wasn’t something I took seriously” says Lafleur.
Still, she took an event planning course at Algonquin College and started her company PL Event Designs on Dec. 18, 2015.
“I wanted to make sure my launch was well prepared, so I did my research” says Lafleur. “I needed to know how to manage a business, handle money and stay branded.”
Lafleur bypassed financial challenges by maintaining a strict budget, and launching only after she was financially prepared. “I worked odd jobs and saved up $8000. I didn’t want financial burdens.” she says.
Lafleur says difficult clients have been her biggest challenge, thus far.
“People are trusting me to make their dreams come to life, so they call all the shots,” she says. “The difficulty is in the personalities. Everyone is different, but you’ve got to tolerate them”
“You have to remain professional at all times to maintain your reputation” she says. “One wrong move will ruin you.”
Lafleur says word of mouth is the key to an entrepreneur’s success. “Your next client is based off your last client’s experience,” she says. “Personalize the experience to have the client leave the happiest.”
She described personalizing the client experience as getting to know each client. Through surveys and “Would You Rather’s”, she gets to know the client better. For Lafleur, personalizing each experience has worked extremely well. In her first year, she planned 13 events. “It may seem like a small number to most, but for me, it’s a big deal.”
Lafleur’s best friend and co worker Djenane Najmanovich spoke on Lafleur’s determination. “She’s been my best friend for years. I’ve watched and helped her plan events. She inspired me to start my own business as well”
Najamanovich has since opened a bookstore, which doubles as Lafleur’s workspace.
Lafleur says young people looking to be entrepreneurs shouldn’t wait. “Build rapport with anyone and everyone” she says. “They have friends and family, who may need you one day.”
Lafleur also offers the following advice for young entrepreneurs:
1. Be active in the community
“Be already expected,” she says. “Have a strong media presence.”
2. Research, Research, Research
“You need to network. Talk to veterans” she says.
3. Have a game plan
“Determine a strategy. Determine your values”
4. Know Your Goal
“(Know) where you want to be, and when you want to be there.”
“Be strict with your spending.”
Lafleur says staying positive is essential. “There are ups and downs, you’ve got to want it,” she says. “You have to have the passion, or it won’t grow.”