Allow me to introduce you to Heather Nelson. She’s the owner and principal consultant of her own corporate partnership and sponsorship consultancy – BridgeRaise. I first met Heather in September 2019 at a 2-day business training retreat for women in downtown Toronto hosted by Shelagh Cummins our shared business coach. Together, and with other amazing female entrepreneurs, we have learned a lot.
Since that time, we have started to do business together and I’ve enjoyed getting to know Heather and her business better. In addition to feeling that many of my friends and previous co-workers in the non-profit sector could benefit from knowing about the services offered by BridgeRaise, I want to give you an opportunity to get up close and personal with her too. Perhaps what Heather has to share in this blog post will help you, your business or work in some way.
What is the name of your business and explain briefly what it is that you do (i.e. what problems do you solve for your clients or customers)?
BridgeRaise is a corporate fundraising consultancy. I work with fundraisers and executive directors to help them raise more money from companies and have fun doing it! I believe that most charities can raise money from companies and businesses but, to do so efficiently, they need to understand the different types of corporate revenue that’s available to them, and what they need to do to get it. I also focus a lot on building relationships with companies and businesses as a core strategy, as I think people, even business people, give money to people who they like to work with.
Why did you choose to become an entrepreneur or to be self-employed?
I’d been at Food Banks Canada for over 7 years, and was really proud of what I accomplished. It felt like it was time to move on, but I didn’t feel comfortable getting a new job, while I was at my job. So, I decided to take a couple of months off and enjoy a Canadian summer work-free. And then I started having conversations about starting my own business, freelancing, and taking on the next thing. Gradually I gained clarity about the specific gap in the market that I could fill. Once I had decided, I recognized that I had made many decisions along the way, including taking my MBA and building my network, that lined up with being an entrepreneur. I also acknowledged a lot of fear around not being sure if I was “ready.” But I was as ready as I would, or could, ever be.
Has this always been what you wanted to do or did you grow up dreaming of another career (what was that dream)?
I always wanted a job that involved making the world a better place, and I always knew that wasn’t going to be in a 1 to 1 sort of way like a doctor, or social worker. I definitely didn’t have the specifics in mind because what kid has heard of being a fundraiser!
What motivates you each day?
The fundraisers and executive directors that I support are awesome! They want to learn. They want to raise more money so they can advance the causes they feel passionate about. They give me so much energy!
What have been your more difficult challenges or obstacles, and what have you learned from them?
Balancing my commitment to client work being top-notch and over-delivering whenever I can, with the importance of business development is a tough juggle. This is especially true when combined with all the other tasks that have to be done to keep things running smoothly. Learning how to prioritize, and how to get help before it is desperate have been important lessons.
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Decide what is most important to you and decide what you don’t care about. Based on these build out your criteria for what you are willing, and not willing, to do and there’s your business plan. Not kidding, this is how I got started. I tested things based on this and refined from there.
What does work/life balance mean to you?
Being an entrepreneur is less about balance and more about control for me. I have more control over how I spend my time and when I work and when I don’t. This affords me the opportunity to be at activities, or participate in things, at times that are convenient for me. This has been important to me as I navigate being a mom, and a daughter, and a person who has health needs to respond to. It also means that I work sometimes when it would traditionally not be considered “work time” because I feel like it.
Share a little about you, your work or volunteer background, your family, hobbies, etc.
I love the outdoors and trees. When I was first married I lived in the heart of Toronto, and my husband and I would drive out to the escarpment on weekends to hike. As I would see it coming I would feel calm. One day we were hiking and we decided we’d live here and if I wanted to I could keep working in the city. Shortly after that I became a business owner, and entrepreneur, and now we live surrounded by green space, and hiking trails, and the escarpment. Passing on my love of hiking and trees to my son is one of the most important things to me, and we make regular hiking part of what our family does together.
To learn more about Heather and her work, you can find her at:
If you are a female entrepreneur/business owner and would like to be featured as part of the Up Close & Inspirational blog series feel free to get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!