The challenges of starting and growing a business

Entrepreneurship was a natural evolution for Valérie Fontaine. "I had plenty of clients and income, but I wasn't feeling challenged. It can be scary to start a business, but I felt it would be more fulfilling to start my own practice."

Relying on her strong instincts, a fair amount of determination and a large network of contacts, in January 2019 the young entrepreneur opened VÄXA centre ressources, a multidisciplinary group of almost 10 healthcare professionals in St-Hyacinthe.

Fontaine faced many challenges as she embarked on her venture. Read on to find out how she overcame them.

Finding her place in the market

“I started my career in the family business, and stayed there for 15 years,” says Fontaine, a kinesiotherapist and orthotherapist. With her extensive experience and solid network, she was able to develop the multidisciplinary approach that VÄXA offers.

Bringing together various specialists all in the same place simplifies information sharing and continuity of care. It also makes life easier for many parents, since VÄXA can treat any member of the family, from newborns to seniors to expectant moms.

Getting financing

Before starting her own business, Fontaine had never had to apply for a business loan, do advertising or hire an accountant.

She was fortunate to have access to local entrepreneurial support programs and organizations like Créavenir - This link will open in a new window., a program supported by Desjardins that helps young entrepreneurs who don’t have access to traditional financing. “From the moment I submitted my application, I felt really comfortable with Marianne, my Desjardins advisor.”

Now that she had a “little cushion” and didn’t have to worry as much about her finances, Valérie forged ahead. “I did a bit of advertising and attended a couple of tradeshows to promote myself. I was also able to raise more money to support my business growth.”

Managing growth

“You have to be realistic and not aim too high, too fast. You have to know when to stop and realize that you can’t achieve all your ambitions at once. It takes time.” Just like a new mother, you shouldn’t be afraid to solicit advice from different people, but you have to give yourself time to step back and decide which advice is right for you.

VÄXA was a finalist at the 2019 Gala régional Constellation in the “new business” category, as well as the local winner in the “services to individuals” category of the most recent OSEntrendre Quebec entrepreneurship contest. “We’d barely been in business 6 months, so I wasn’t expecting it! What I’m most proud of is that so many specialists want to join our team, but I’ve had to turn some away. We just don’t have enough room, which is a good problem to have!”

VÄXA is a Swedish word that means “to grow.” “And that’s perfect, since we have a diverse clientele, including babies, kids and adults. I also see it in a more personal way; through the many challenges I face every day in running my business, I’ve grown so much, both personally and professionally,” says Fontaine.

In the face of new challenges, Valérie will keep following her instincts, as she’s been doing from the very start. Clearly, it’s served her well, and she’s eager to pay it forward.