From Corporal in the Canadian Forces to helping people immigrate to Canada, meet Gabrielle Fortin, owner of Avis Immigration – a Vancouver based immigration consulting firm offering immigration advice and services for new-comers to Canada. We're excited to hear her thoughts on starting her own business, what motivates her, and future plans for her business.
K - Prior to starting Avis Immigration, what was your life like?
GF - I was a corporal in the Canadian Armed Forces and I graduated from Laval University in Québec with a degree in Public Affairs and International Relations. I did my practicum in Yellowknife, where I worked for a settlement organization and then got a job in Vancouver.
For two years I was a settlement worker and a Network Coordinator with the Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique. At one point, I wanted to do more than just welcome newcomers to Canada. I wanted to know the entire immigration system and become a leader in this field, so I decided to take a course to become a regulated Immigration Consultant.
In May 2015, I participated in a program of Prince’s Charities Canada (PCC) called the Prince's Operation Entrepreneur (POE), which delivers education, mentoring, and financing to military personnel who are budding entrepreneurs. People like me!
This opportunity set my sights on establishing my own business and combining my military experience and education background with my passion for immigration issues. Thus, Avis Immigration was created in June 2015.
K - That's a perfect segue into our next question. What was your motivation to go out on your own and start your own business?
GF - To be completely honest, after two years at the same place, I was bored. I needed a big project, but more important, I needed to be challenged everyday. I was ready to jump into a new adventure and felt I had all the tools needed to do just that.
I also feel like I have really strong character traits, so I'm more comfortable working for myself. It's very fitting for my personality. I like to do something how I want to do it! I'm a very strategic person so I like to just lead my projects, and working for yourself gives you a lot of liberty and flexibility. I always planned to be an entrepreneur, it's definitely one of my passions, for sure.
K - You mentioned being an entrenpreur is one of your passions. What other passions do you have, and does your business fall in line with said passions?
GF - I love travelling to discover other cultures, and helping others through my job as an immigration consultant involves interacting with many different cultures, so yeah, it definitely falls in line with my passion for other cultures.
K - What would you say is the biggest obstacle to your success that you’ve faced thus far?
GF - Working with clients all around the globe is not always easy, but it’s a great challenge and I learn something from each client. And when you succeed it's because of you, but if you fail you don't have anyone to blame but yourself! I think that's part of the challenge, but it's also very rewarding when you succeed.
K - What inspires you to keep going?
GF - Helping someone with their immigration file and getting legal status in our beautiful country is very rewarding for me. Sometimes, I am litterally changing someone's life and contributing to a better education for their kids. This is my source of energy, this is why I keep going.
K - It sounds quite fulfilling. Do you ever struggle to maintain a work-life balance?
GF - I make sure I take (and enjoy) my days off. I also do a lot of networking with my peers and other entrepreneurs. And my family is supporting me 100%. That means a lot to me.
K - What's a “normal" work day like for you, meaning, what’s your morning routine before you start work?
GF - I stretch, eat breakfast, then go through all my social media accounts. I answer one or two questions related to immigration for free, check my emails, and then I'm ready to start my day!
K - If there was one thing you find the most helpful with Kashoo's accounting app, what would that be?
GF - Customizing invoices. I think my customers like it too because sometimes they don't think we're an official business. They're happy to just confirm that we send invoices and then they are more confident about our services. I'm also able to put my Facebook link and my website on invoices, so customers can follow me after that. And it's really easy. I tap a button and it's done.
K - Simple is important! So what's in store for Avis Immigration in 2017?
GF - We will continue to help good people to come live, work, and make Canada their home. I'm also working on a big project targeting settlement workers and non-profit organizations working in immigration.
Do you have a story to tell? If you’d like to share your story and have your business featured on Kashoo.com, drop us a line @KashooOnline, click on the little "smiling" chat icon in the bottom right of this window, or call us at 1-888-520-5274 and we’d be happy to chat.