Merriam-Webster defines entrepreneur as: “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” It’s come to mean someone who’s a go-getter, a visionary, independent and creative, an innovator.
All of these characteristics and qualities can have their appeal. Individually, maybe. But many would-be entrepreneurs get lost at “innovate.” How can you be an entrepreneur if you really don’t think your ideas are all that novel? And maybe you’re a go-getter, but risk? Not a comfortable proposition that everyone can embrace.
There are ways, however, that you can indulge your inner entrepreneur within an established organization, win the rewards your hard work earns you without having to put your assets (and others’) at risk, and enjoy your independence without having to sacrifice the support structures that help you stay on top of your game.
The ability to achieve this kind of balancing act is what draws many to a career as a Children’s Education Funds Inc. (CEFI) Dealing Representative.
CEFI is an organization that provides Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs), an investment through which Canadian families can save, tax-free, for their children’s post-secondary education and benefit by government grants that supplement the amount they put aside.
CEFI Dealing Representatives help families set up RESPs. They walk families through the options on the right plan for their financial situations and needs, acquainting them with the investment aspects of the type of plan they choose, and helping them set up their payment schedules, among other responsibilities.
Dealing Representatives, in short, are running their own businesses under the CEFI umbrella – setting their own goals, working hours that meet their lifestyle demands, developing their own books of business, and achieving earnings commensurate to the effort they put in. It’s the next-best thing to being an entrepreneur, but the established organization behind them has provided a proven product and the tools and resources they need to be successful.
But CEFI Dealing Representatives also are able to flex – and grow – many of the same skills and capabilities they would be using as an entrepreneur.
Here are four that are most important for success.
Business and financial planning.
Growing a business – of any type – takes a certain amount of acumen and the ability to undertake budgeting and financial and strategic planning to figure out where you’re going, how you’ll get there and what goals and financial resources will help you know you’ve arrived. This kind of business grounding also gives you the understanding necessary to most effectively advise families on how to fund their education goals through CEFI’s RESPs.
Sales and marketing.
To grow a business means that you have to sell yourself as much as a product, and there’s a lot that feeds into that. It means growing your network of friends and business acquaintances who trust you and respect you enough to refer you to their friends and relatives. It means getting active in the community so people will know what you stand for.
These are as important as the hard business skills when it comes to success in any kind of business. Communication skills are a great starting point, but one that may be underestimated is the ability to listen to what families are trying to communicate to you and what their goals are when it comes to their children’s education.
Strong work ethic.
Just like starting any other business, it requires hard work to become a successful CEFI Dealing Representative. But, know this: the rewards are incredibly powerful.
As many entrepreneurs and even would-be entrepreneurs know, starting a new business, and entrepreneurship in general, involves risk – sometimes a lot of it. But, starting your own business under the umbrella of a brand like CEFI mitigates some of that risk, while providing plenty of the benefits of successful entrepreneurship. What’s more, you are doing something truly valuable: you are helping families achieve one of their most important goals: saving for their children’s future education!