Mercy’s Story (and 10 Business and Financial Tips for Canadians)
Moving to a new country at 19 years of age is a formidable feat in itself. But that is only the start of Mercy’s inspiring immigration story.
Mercy came to Canada from the Philippines with bright hopes of creating a rosy future. However, life sent her on a tortuous path toward her dream life.
A month after landing in Canada, she found out that she was pregnant. As a pregnant teenager who was new to the country, she badly needed support. Unfortunately, she barely got any because her relationship with her baby’s father ended shortly after they learned about the pregnancy and her conservative family frowned upon her teenage pregnancy.
She felt like giving up, but she did not. Less than a year after giving birth to her son, Mercy went back to school while juggling three part-time jobs. After she completed her course, she landed a job as an office administrator.
Just when her path started to look bright and smooth, her son was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at the age of three. Through persistence and rigorous research, she was able to tap government and not-for-profit resources to help her get through her situation.
Mercy eventually met the love of her life and had a happy marriage. But like all couples, their union also had its share of challenges. They experienced financial difficulties because of her husband’s injury. Again, through research, grit, and courage, she was able to get past the situation hand in hand with her husband.
After a series of bleak twists and turns, Mercy’s path has become truly bright and rosy. She now enjoys a comfortable life with her husband and her son. She has also found success in her career and businesses as she works as an Accounting Manager while managing her clothing store and real estate business.
Mercy gained a lot of lessons from her life experiences. She shares her learning, time, and talents through her leadership and volunteer work at the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, Dress for Success Vancouver, Gibsons Family Network, and Sunshine Coast Filipino Canadian Association.
Fortunately, she also shares her business and financial tips for Canadian immigrants in this article.
Love what you do
Mercy knows that her clothing store will not make her a rich person. But, her clothing business allows her to fulfill her passion for making people look and feel good.
She says, “Shopping and making people look good is my passion. Some people come to the store and tell me they are going to a wedding but don’t know what to wear. I style them and find joy when their faces light up at their transformation. That makes me feel proud.”
Loving what you do is on top of Mercy’s business and financial tips. This fuels her drive to succeed despite challenges such as the global pandemic that hit retail businesses.
Don’t be afraid to take risks
Mercy has always thought of owning a clothing store. In fact, she already had her firm ideas written as a business proposal. However, an opportunity knocked in a different form and she grabbed it.
The original clothing store owner decided to retire and sell the business. Though the concept was not exactly as she pictured it to be, Mercy grabbed the opportunity to continue the business for a fraction of the cost of starting from scratch.
Find a partner to minimize the burden
Businesses are associated with great rewards… and great risks. So, Mercy advises future business owners to find a partner.
This is not an easy task as you have to find someone who will put their trust in you and give you support. When Mercy approaches a prospective partner, she tells them, “You don’t have to do most of the administration work. I will do all the bookkeeping. All I need is your financial and physical support.”
However, keep in mind that the business is your brainchild and you are the one asking for support. This means you need to be prepared to sell yourself as a trustworthy person first. In the long run, though the financial investment may be split at 50-50, your efforts may be more than your partner’s – and that is okay.
Mercy says, “If you think that the efforts should always be equal all the time, the partnership won’t work.”
Have an explicit partnership agreement
Before setting up the business, make sure that the partner that you’re signing with has a sense of comfort and trust in the partnership. Mercy advises potential entrepreneurs to create a signed partnership agreement. Then, each partner must get a copy of the agreement as well as relevant documents such as PST and GST registrations.
Always keep your clients in mind
Though creating a secure financial future was Mercy’s drive in setting-up her businesses, she ensures that her clients are at the center of her decisions.
For her real estate business, Mercy states that “My rental properties are not ridiculously priced because I want people to still afford to rent. I’m doing it because I’ve been in a situation where it’s so hard to find rentals. I set a rental price range that will cover almost all of my expenses. On a yearly basis, I am always on a negative but the tenants are building my equity.”
For her clothing store, Mercy says,” I have to monitor myself and think if my purchases will fit into the community that we have right now. We have a variety of sizes and styles because our clients are diverse. At the same time, we want to stay unique. We offer different styles and shapes to make it work for our customers.”
Differentiate your wants from your needs
Financial gurus always want their learners to differentiate between wants and needs. Mercy also has interesting definitions for these two words. She says, “Want means you can afford it. Need means you are just hoping for it. That’s totally different. When you say you want something, you have more confidence in getting it.”
Confidence, along with grit and foresight, were indeed Mercy’s tools in achieving the amount of success that she has today.
Create a budget
Creating a budget is also on top of Mercy’s top business and financial tips.
Everyone has some form of guilty pleasure or vice. That is fine, as long as you practice self-control and spend within your budget. In fact, this is needed to allow yourself some sort of mental health break. But, you need to incorporate entertainment or self-care into your budget. This way, you can spend money without guilt.
Mercy likes to shop and sometimes play card games with friends for fun. But these de-stressing activities are considered in her budget. She says, “ If I spent that budget already, then I’ll have to wait until the next month to do it. That’s how self-control comes into place.”
Set a goal around your priorities
Setting a goal is one of Mercy’s tried and tested business and financial tips.
We often find ourselves with a long list of wants that lead to competing priorities. Thus, Mercy emphasizes the need to know your priorities and set realistic goals around them. For example, if you want to buy a house in 2-3 years, you would have to know how you are going to do it and then make a budget to achieve it.
Don’t give up when facing financial difficulties
At present, Mercy has rental properties, a clothing business, a house, and cars. But, everything didn’t come easy.
Just a little over 10 years ago, her husband had an injury that negatively affected their finances. They found a solution in the form of a consumer proposal.
A consumer proposal is a legally binding process where a Licensed Insolvency Trustee helps the debtor create a proposal to offer to pay creditors a percentage of the debt, extend the time to pay off debts, or both.
If you need help, get help
There are non-profit organizations that can help you find resources. Through persistence, Mercy got free milk for her baby, grocery vouchers, social assistance, student loan, and many more from non-profit organizations and the government.
So, be like Mercy. Don’t be shy. Do your research. Ask people.
Problems are part of life. However, Mercy believes that hurdles are learning tools that strengthen us and make us live life better.
Mercy and I hope that these business and financial tips will help you create your own rosy future.
Read my article about Mercy’s inspiring story in Immigrant Muse Magazine.
Were you inspired by this story? Please help spread the word about this blog as a way of helping newcomers in Canada find inspiration as well. Thank you!