We're excited to introduce you to Canadian female founder Stefania, the owner of Cocoa40 Inc., based in Richmond Hill, ON. Cocoa40 Inc offers handcrafted chocolates and confections made from fine French Valrhona chocolate and all-natural ingredients.
What would you say is the #1 thing it takes to be successful?
- The #1 thing it takes to be successful is to have lots and lots of patience. In today's world, we're so consumed with instant gratification that we want to start and build a successful business in one day. It simply can't be done - nor should you want it to be done - because good things take time. The quote: "The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit" resonates with me because I think it perfectly represents life as an entrepreneur. Success, growth and business are not built overnight but you will get there eventually. The important thing is to stay patient with your content marketing, strategy and advertising. Give it time, nurture it, and your business will thrive.
What's one thing you do everyday that contributes to your success?
- I set goals to produce a minimum of 2 pieces of content on all social media platforms daily. This means, I create a social media campaign, blog post or article to share on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and through email marketing. The more useful content you can create, the more organic reach you'll get. People need to be reminded constantly that you exist and content is a great way to do that without spending tons of money on advertising. More eyeballs = more potential sales.
What's one book that's contributed to your business success?
- "Crushing It! : How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence - and How You Can, Too" - by Gary Vaynerchuk was one of the first content strategy books I read. After being a huge fan of his work and actively following his podcast for years, I gave this book a read. It's a super easy guide to all the big social media apps out there and outlines the type of content that you should post on each. It's the book that really kick-started the content marketing strategy I use to this day to increase my organic reach.
What is your favourite productivity tip?
- At the end of a work day, I write a to-do list for the things I need to absolutely complete the next day. Sometimes tasks (like chocolate production) are spread over 2-3 days depending on the workload, so I'll schedule those things into my week accordingly. This helps me stay organized and manage work-related stress - a hard thing to do when you're an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to start your business?
- After completing an undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University, I went on to pursue my true passion in Pastry Arts at George Brown College in 2016. In my final semester at GBC I discovered a love for the art and science behind chocolate making. What started off as a love-hate relationship, quickly became a creative outlet for me. I began to practice my chocolate skills at home and develop recipes in my spare time. In the summer of 2018, while working full time in the restaurant industry in Toronto, I decided take those recipes and turn my passion project into a venture, called Cocoa40 Inc.
Do you have a morning routine that you swear by? What is it and why does it contribute to your success?
- The first thing I do in the morning is practice gratitude. I do this by expressing 3 things I am grateful for in my life - usually to myself. I've heard that some people find it helpful to journal these things or say them out loud to affirm their gratitude. However you decide to practice it, it's a great way set the tone for the day and keep a positive outlook on life. I'm a firm believer that you should always start the day with a grateful heart.
Do you have a favourite business podcast? Why do you love it?
- I actually have two favourite business podcasts I listen to often: The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes and The Gary Vee Audio Experience by Gary Vaynerchuk. I love listening to The School of Greatness because Lewis shares inspiring stories on each episode. He really dives into how people overcome adversity and become great. I love this podcast because the people he interviews have such remarkable stories and many of them have experience some sort of challenge in their life. These stories just reinforce how resilient and strong humans are. I also really love listening to The Gary Vee Audio Experience because he offers so much motivational content. His mantra is all about doing what makes you happy, regardless of how much money you make. This mantra really resonates with me because I think it's really important to do what you love each and every day. Gary is a great person to listen to whether you're a struggling entrepreneur, or trying to find your passion - because he's been there. He knows exactly what it's like to build a business from nothing so he's very humble and produces relatable content that's easy to digest.
How do you relax and recharge?
- Learning how to relax and recharge has been a difficult thing for me to implement. I'm so used to be "on" with my mind constantly racing about how to adapt the business and sometimes I find it hard to shut down and recharge. Lately, I've been using yoga, meditation and long walks in nature as a way to decompress and stay grounded. Staying active is a great way to clear your mind and release the stress and worries of the day.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in business?
- I would tell them to start with creating a vision for what they want the company to look like in 5 years time and work backwards. By knowing where you want to be and having a clear vision for the company (and yourself), it's easier to carve out the company values and brand identity. This in turn, helps you create products, services and systems that consistently match the brand. Vision is also essential growth - without it, you'll struggle to scale up.
How do you maintain a positive mindset in business and life when those inevitable challenges arise?
- Life is always going to throw curve balls at you. The most important thing to remember during these times is that there is opportunity in every challenge. I find it really helpful to take a step back and decompress - either with meditation or exercise. This helps clear my mind so I can think objectively and figure out a solution or plan.
Thank you so much to Stefania for sharing some of her greatest success tips and general business advice. What an inspiration for us all!
To learn more about her business and her incredible chocolate creations, check out her website.
If you'd like to discover more Canadian female founders, view the full blog series here.