An entrepreneur is more than just a business person; they have the unique ability of turning their ideas and passions into business opportunities. Our 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year, Carla Foley epitomizes just that.
A woman with a lot of natural energy, were positive Carla doesn’t need additional caffeine. From meetings to marketing, sales to financials, Carla is the driving force behind Advanced Massage Therapy’s two locations in Winnipeg and The Paternity Centers of Canada’s 80 affiliates across the country. We’re honoured that Carla took time from her busy schedule to let us get to know her a little better.
What was your first job?
“I grew up in Dominion City, a very small border town. My dad was a farmer and he had his own business in town. My first job was working for him. I would wax cars and mow grass. I bet on some Saturdays I would wax the same car 10 times until every streak was off that car.”
What did you learn from all that?
“My dad taught me to do everything with pride, and with care. He taught me that to have nice things you have to treat them well so that you have them for a very long time. I learned that things were not disposable and he taught me the value of money. He would say, “If you don’t have cash to buy it, then you can’t afford it.”
“I took care of both my parents in their end years. That was what led me to wanting to help people. My parents didn’t get to see my success, and that makes me sad. But everything I have today is because of them. They were really hard on me growing up, and I live everyday to make them proud.”
What is your management style today?
“My management style is professional, confident and firm. I don’t do things half assed. I want my team to respect me so I show them how to work hard. I practice what I preach. I also mentor them and help them to grow and to learn new things. We are always learning. It has taken many years to understand how to run my company and how to treat employees to get the best from them. I am hands on, everyday. People respond, when they are heard, and they respond to someone who truly has their best interest at heart. I care about each one of my team, and want them to be happy in work/home life. I want them to come to work and work hard for me because we have built that respect for each other. “
What lessons have you learned since opening your first business?
“So many. But importantly, I have learned to always listen first before interrupting, to think about my responses before speaking.”
“I’ve leaned to make sure that what I say is true and fair.”
“I have learned to be proud of myself and to trust my own judgment and to go into everything with passion and determination. You I have also learned not to beat myself up over the little things. Some things are truly beyond my control, and that’s okay. really do reap what you sow in life.”
What strengths do you bring to the business?
“I would say that I am a great leader and mentor to my team. But as the front of my business, I have a love for people and making them feel welcome, wanted, and heard. I truly care about my customers and I want them to know how much I appreciate them. I greet everyone I meet with open arms, with positivity. I want them to walk away from me and think what a nice person. She really does care about me.”
“I have had Advanced for 12 years and I am thankful every single day for the people of Winnipeg who are supportive and kind. So I wear my heart on my sleeve.”
“Winnipeg has been so supportive I want everyone to know that I will support them too. And I really do back this up. I buy local, support local and refer to everyone I know. I live it and breathe it. Its not a marketing gimmick, what you see is what you get. I think people see that and I think people respect that. It helps my business.”
“Yes. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I am very trusting. Sometimes you get burned. I should know this by now, but it doesn’t get any easier. It still hurts. I’m actually pretty sensitive. I don’t brush things off very easily. I have a hard time saying no and that can affect my work/home balance.”
“I feel guilty sometimes for not giving my family the best of me. Sometime they get the stressed, broken me and I feel bad for that.”
“My daughter is lucky in so many ways, but she has paid the price for having a workaholic mother. That guilt will always be there, because I won’t stop. I guess some would say I am selfish and I have a hard time making other female friends. I am a good friend, I’m nice. I’m fun, but other woman my own age I notice, have a hard time accepting me. That’s hard for me. So it’s lonely sometimes.”
Being a small business owner can be stressful. What motives you?
“It is stressful, but what can erase stress is actually empowering someone else. I get the most satisfaction from hearing someone say that I have made a difference in their life. I save all the cards and letters and little notes that my employees have written to me. The words are so kind, and I really see how much I meant to them. When I am feeling down and out and stressed, I pull out that box and read all those kind words. It fires me up again.”
What has been your biggest challenge?
“The biggest challenge that I have taken on this last couple of years has been expanding. I went from only having 1 location and 13 or 14 of us to now having over 30. It has been tough. I have so many people that I am dealing with on a daily basis with so many wide ranges of issues. My cell phone is blowing up non stop from sun up until sundown. I am also a teacher at Robertson College, I teach Business and Ethics and Pharmacology. I run another company that is also expanding. I truly wish that I could add more to my plate and that’s what gets me down. I feel that time is going so fast and there is so much more to pursue and to learn. I wish I had the time to do it all.”
What do you do like to do for fun?
“I like being with my family. I like to dance with my Stiletto squad. I like to be doing something always. As much as I like the idea of doing nothing, I need to be doing something. I understand that life is short and that tomorrow is not promised. So I promised myself to make everyday count. I try to have as much fun as I can until one day I can no longer. THEN and only then will I rest. I accept the invite I dance to that song. I eat the meal that was made for me. I like to have a beer and laugh. I am also raising my daughter to appreciate life so I live it with her and for her.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone starting their own business?
“Exude confidence! It’s what your passionate about. Attract people who know more than you. That way you will always be driven to learn more and push harder everyday.”