Interview transcript with Micah Rakoff Bellman, Startup Canada
In partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation’s 10,000 Women Entrepreneurs Initiative, Startup Canada is celebrating and spotlighting leading Canadian Women Entrepreneurs. Startup Canada was pleased to sit down with Joy A. Adams, Founder & CEO of Covenant Wealth Financial Services to learn about their journey and the impact of their work.
Joy is a seasoned entrepreneur, a speaker and a recognized community builder and leader. Since 2012, Covenant Wealth has been providing holistic financial planning solutions for families, business owners, and entrepreneurs—and was recently awarded the prestigious Barrie Readers’ Choice Award for Financial Planning. She’s also the Community Director of South Simcoe Community Startup, a registered non-profit social enterprise that provides support to entrepreneurs by connecting them to resources, peer-to-peer mentorship, and inspiration. Through Joy’s leadership, there is a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in rural Simcoe County.
SC: In one sentence, what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
JA: Really having a drive and a passion to bring your ideas to life in a way that will positively impact everything and everyone around you.
SC: Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial ventures and what role they play and have played in your life?
JA: Well, I have two ventures. Covenant Wealth Financial Services was my first taste of entrepreneurship, and it started as a love-hate relationship. I loved the freedom it gave me while I was raising my boys, but I hated the inconsistent income and the lack of support and access to resources.
The South Simcoe Community Startup was created in response to the challenges that I had as an entrepreneur when I was starting Covenant Wealth Financial Services.
SC: What motivated or propelled you to become an entrepreneur?
JA: When I started this journey, I wasn’t able to articulate what it meant or what entrepreneurship looked like. I just knew that I wanted to create; I wanted to leave a legacy for my children—and I knew that having a nine to five job was not going to get me there.
SC: What are you most proud of related to your ventures?
JA: 2019 was a year where everything came together for both Covenant Wealth Financial Services and South Simcoe Community Startup.
Covenant Wealth won the very prestigious Barrie Readers’ Choice Award. For me, it represented years of working and serving my clients and seeing everything come together. Getting that award as a recognition of being the best financial planning firm—to me, that was a highlight.
For South Simcoe Community Startup, last year was also a very pivotal year. We saw our community come together in terms of the impact that we were having. Our Facebook community grew by over 400%, the town of Innisfil came alongside us to provide support, and it was just amazing to see the impact that we were having.
Our events just got more popular. In 2017, when this community was started, our events were attracting anywhere between eight and ten people. Last year, our attendance grew to over 70 per event. That was another highlight of 2019; just seeing how the community came together.
SC: What has been your biggest learning along the way?
JA: I think it was really learning to be a better leader; understanding the importance of teamwork, collaboration, leaving my ego at the door before every meeting. Every decision that we make for South Simcoe Community Startup, for example, has been based on teamwork, collaboration; it’s been us coming together as one.
And I’ve seen the impact of being a better leader, developing my leadership skills, and knowing how to work with our volunteers. There’s a fine line where you really have to recognize that these people are giving their time and their energy and effort to come alongside you to help you push your vision and your dreams along. So in response, you really have to make sure that there’s something in it for them.
SC: Have you identified or confronted any systemic barriers through your journey? If so, how have you persevered through them?
JA: Having access to funding—that seems to be the biggest challenge. Even right now, in terms of scaling, I’m not able to access the financial resources that I need. I have learned to just bootstrap all my ventures, to be nimble with my expenses. Bootstrapping and just continuing to make sure you’re able to move forward.
SC: What advice do you have for those just beginning to embark on their entrepreneurial journey?
JA: I’ve seen many entrepreneurs who are starting companies and ventures because they have a passion for something. But having a passion for a particular product or service doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a need in the marketplace for it. My advice would be to make sure that you have a viable product or service and that you are serving a need in the market.
The other would be to find a mentor or an entrepreneurial community that can connect you to the resources that you need. There’s no need for you to try to do it on your own. It’s too hard and there are people who have already done it and have built successful businesses. Reach out to these individuals, learn from them, allow them to mentor you—and that way you can increase your success rate by building really solid companies.
SC: Where can people go to learn more about your journey and organization?
JA: For Covenant Wealth, you can go to our website. You can also follow the company on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. South Simcoe Community Startup also has a website. You can also find us on social media and join our Facebook group.
SC: What is your big vision for Canada and the World over the next 20 years?
JA: I hope that Canada really continues to be at the forefront of technological innovation; to be able to improve the quality of life and standard of living for everyone, on a global scale.
SC: What do you think today’s entrepreneurs should be focused on for a better, brighter future?
JA: I definitely think that entrepreneurs should be thinking of ways to build scalable businesses; profitable businesses; ones that can really impact the world and be able to address some of the social issues such as world hunger, homelessness, and human rights issues for women and children.
Entrepreneurs have that drive. We have that sense of making impossible situations a possibility. We’re able to really create a level playing field and a better world for everyone.