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The risky path of female entrepreneurship in a pandemic

Starting a business is challenging; creating a profitable radio show is maybe more complex. But, finding success in a radio show during COVID, well, that’s almost impossible.

But not for Candace Sampson, manager of the website, podcast, and radio show What She Said.

On this episode of Ratehub’s Real Money Talk podcast, Candace sits down with Tyler and MoneySense Editor-in-Chief Sandra Martin to tell her story, give advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, and talk about the amazing women who support her.

The Candace Sampson story

“I think my entire motivation is to avoid a 9-5 job.” Candace was not a fan of the downtown work grind. She spent a few years working for TD Private Investment and quickly knew it was not the place for her. The last straw was a performance review when her boss asked where she saw herself in five years, and she responded, “not here.”

After spending some time at home raising her kids, Candace started a school supply business that, she explains, “went really really well until it didn’t.”

She was in the midst of a divorce, raising her kids, and taking care of her family when she felt she needed to take a leap. She started What She Said, a platform designed to raise women’s voices and inspire them to pursue their personal and professional goals.

She didn’t have a roadmap laid out, but she was doing something she was passionate about. She explains, “I’d like to say I have some master plan, but I really don’t. I really just let this media push in different directions, and I love every aspect of it.”

Starting a business

Starting her business was a massive step for Candace. She didn’t have experience in radio or media and knew she was taking a risk. “It’s a little like the stock market, where they do that ‘know your risk tolerance,'” she explains, “It’s the same with entrepreneurship; what’s your risk tolerance? Because there’s no pension, there’s no security.”

Things got difficult during the pandemic, causing her to dip into her savings to keep her business afloat, but her passion for raising women’s voices and the people around her kept her going.

Candace thinks it’s key to any entrepreneur to understand their books and their social media. She admits, “the first time I went to submit (HST), I was practically in tears,” but an investment in a good bookkeeper and later the accounting software Quickbooks made all the difference.

“Now, suddenly accounting is amazing to me. I love it.”

When it comes to social media, Candance believes, “you can’t just expect that you’re going to put something out and it’s going to go off. The whole ‘if you build it, they will come thing,’ that’s not really how it works. You do have to have a fairly robust advertising budget to break through the noise and get in front of people.”

She says the first investment she’ll make when the financial stress of COVID lessons is a social media manager.

The women behind her

“This year has been so difficult, and when I think about how I have got through, it is the women behind me.” Candace believes that the support of her fellow female entrepreneurs has carried her through this challenging time.

“I don’t know what it is, but maybe it’s this innate empathy that women entrepreneurs have. They understand the load you’re carrying, that they help so much. If this pandemic has done anything, it’s made me a very vocal feminist.”

Candace’s last piece of advice for any entrepreneur is “to have a comfort with fear. I am afraid of every decision I make, I have genuine fear, but it’s like jumping off a bridge or jumping out of a plane; you close your eyes and do it.”

To hear the entire conversation with Candace, Sandra, and Tyler, listen to your trusted Canadian personal finance podcast, Real Money Talk. Also, make sure to give her radio show a listen.