In a recent episode of the Finance Cafe Podcast, Shannon sat down with Anita Pawluk, President at RaceRocks, to explore her inspiring journey as an Indigenous business owner and her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Anita, a proud Métis woman from St. Louis, Saskatchewan, shares her experiences in various industries and highlights the significance of financial acumen in her entrepreneurial endeavors. As the leader of RaceRocks, Anita discusses the power of vulnerability, her relationship with money, and the challenges she faced along the way.
As women entrepreneurs, it’s crucial to celebrate the remarkable achievements and inspiring journeys of our peers. Anita Pawluk, the President of RaceRocks, is one such individual who has made a significant impact in her field. In this podcast episode, Anita reveals her insights and experiences, shedding light on her remarkable path to success.
Embracing Autonomy and Finding Balance
Anita shares her motivation for venturing into entrepreneurship, which was sparked by her experience working for a local tech startup. Witnessing the autonomy and control entrepreneurs possess over their careers, she decided to take a leap of faith. Balancing motherhood, education, and her career, Anita and her husband started two businesses—an inspiring example of how family and business can coexist harmoniously.
“Entrepreneurship provides an avenue for individuals to take control of their own financial future, and create their own economic opportunities.” – Anita Pawluk
Overcoming Challenges with Vulnerability
Anita’s journey hasn’t been without hardships. She recalls moments when bankruptcy and high-interest debt loomed over her. During these trying times, Anita learned the power of vulnerability. Seeking help, surrounding herself with trusted individuals, and fostering transparent communication with her team were crucial in overcoming these challenges. She emphasizes the importance of building a support network and creating a safe space for collaboration and problem-solving.
The Perfectionism Trap
Both Anita and Shannon discuss the dangers of perfectionism. Anita admits to being an overachiever and discovering that living a perfect life merely masks underlying issues. In the Western business world, vulnerability is often discouraged. However, Anita realized that building strong relationships, based on trust and honesty, is essential for success. By adopting a people-first approach, she created a culture where her team felt safe, supported, and valued.
Anita’s journey towards self-love was integral to breaking free from the shackles of perfectionism. Acknowledging her own flaws and publicly sharing her failures inspired others to explore their vulnerabilities. By embracing her authentic self, Anita was able to foster deeper connections with her team and achieve remarkable outcomes. She encourages entrepreneurs to let go of the fear of not being good enough and embrace their true selves.
Access to Capital and the Funding Journey
As a technology services company, RaceRocks faced obstacles in obtaining conventional financing. Anita explains that in the early years, they took on private high-interest debt based on the advice they received. However, she emphasizes the importance of due diligence when working with advisors, highlighting the need for clear performance metrics and regular performance reviews. Anita and her team successfully grew their business through bootstrapping, both within the company and in their personal lives. She underlines the significance of including close family members in the entrepreneurial journey, as they provide not only financial support but also emotional backing during challenging times.
Anita introduces the concept of a Series A Round, which involves giving up equity in the business to bring in a strategic partner. Unlike private debt, which requires repayment within a limited time frame, equity financing offers the opportunity to collaborate with experienced partners who can contribute their expertise to propel the company forward. She cautions entrepreneurs to exercise caution when taking on debt and stresses the importance of selecting trustworthy partners who align with the company’s values.
Aligning Values with Investors
Anita highlights the significance of finding investors who share the same values. As an indigenous woman-led business, RaceRocks prioritizes engaging with indigenous portfolios and women-led funds during their Series A Round. By seeking partners who align with their people-first approach, Anita ensures the sustainability of her company’s mission and values. This emphasizes the need for investors to consider factors beyond financial gains, such as long-term sustainability and social impact.
Creating a Culture of Equal Opportunities
Anita believes in aligning the company’s core values—honesty, collaboration, creativity, and learning—with a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens. By bringing together individuals from different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, RaceRocks encourages diversity of thought, leading to enhanced creativity and innovation. Anita’s commitment to promoting women in leadership positions and fostering a diverse workforce has set off a positive domino effect within the organization, resulting in the promotion of talented female professionals.
Reclaiming Indigenous Roots
Anita and RaceRocks are on a journey to reclaim and embrace indigenous heritage. They enrolled in the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business’s Progressive Aboriginal Relations Program to learn how to incorporate indigenous values and beliefs into their culture and establish sustainable relationships with indigenous peoples, businesses, and communities. RaceRocks’ initiatives include creating opportunities for indigenous training and employment in STEM fields and promoting indigenous businesses in defense procurement.
The conversation between Shannon and Anita Pawluk provides invaluable insights for women entrepreneurs navigating the world of finance. Anita’s experiences shed light on accessing capital, the funding journey, aligning values with investors, and developing a positive money mindset. By understanding these key aspects and embracing financial discipline, women entrepreneurs can build thriving businesses that create a lasting impact on society. The journey may not be easy, but with the right mindset and strategic choices, the path to success becomes clearer for women in the entrepreneurial landscape.