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"It's not about resting on your laurels!" - Marie-Chantal Houde

Adèle Manseau | Desjardins Group

For Marie-Chantal Houde, a cheesemaker and co-owner of Fromagerie Nouvelle France, nothing should be taken for granted. It's not about resting on your laurels! 

This is Marie-Chantal's mantra every day--and it works. In fact, the cheese factory now operates 3 locations and has just received the 2016 Caseus Argent award for the La Madelaine cheese factory.

How does she do it? Marie-Chantal shares some of her winning methods. 

1. What financial advice or tool helped you as an entrepreneur?
I had a great business opportunity one day, but I didn't get the financing I needed right away. So my mentor told me to not give up, and to keep pushing forward and consider another solution. When an opportunity arises, you need to seize it. I fought a little harder and even further, and I got the money I needed. This advice has stayed with me ever since. 

2. What would you say is your go-to tech tool to get everything done?
My cellphone, no doubt! I have to manage 3 different locations, so it keeps me connected with employees and I can follow up on my emails and answer customers' questions. I'm committed to being proactive so that our customers feel like we're taking care of them. I can quickly process the comments that we receive right from my cellphone so that we can do a proper follow-up. 

3. How do you deal with stress?
Mountain biking is my outlet. It helps me escape the day-to-day and unwind. I can step back and take in the present moment. It gives me a great workout and allows me to recharge mentally. I can be very intense at times and I need that to keep me grounded.

4. What was the turning point for your business?
I had a business plan but never really stuck to it. It kept changing as things evolved. I'd planned on buying a place, but I finally decided to rent somewhere where I could use existing materials. Sometimes, we want to have everything right away. But we had to swallow our pride if there was a more profitable option. It's important to stay open and creative in the financial process.

5. What's the best advice you have for someone thinking about going into business for themselves?
Be ready to invest and make a lot of sacrifices. When you become an entrepreneur, your life changes dramatically. You need to persevere and not give up. You get scratched and hurt along the way, but it's worth the pain to hold onto your dream. You need to believe in it. Everything has to be done and you shouldn't take anything for granted.

6. What is your guilty pleasure?
I love scuba diving. It's so beautiful and the weightlessness makes me feel relaxed. It makes me forget about everything else. I feel at peace when I'm diving. If only I could be an underwater cheesemaker!

Entrepreneurs: Marie-Chantal and Jean-Paul Houde
City: Racine
In business: Since 2010
Niche market: Cheeses

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