Small businesses play a huge role in shaping our economy, yet entrepreneurs and small business owners—particularly womxn—face unique challenges and barriers when it comes to financing, servicing, and accessing support. On top of this, new research done by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub at Ryerson University shows that these challenges are even further amplified for womxn entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, including racialized and Indigenous women, those living with disabilities, and those identifying as LGBTQ2S+.
Andrea Henry is a Cambridge-educated lawyer based in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and is the Founder of Henry Business Law. Bringing together her many years of experience in business and her passion for entrepreneurship, Andrea and her company aim to help womxn business owners harness the law to protect and grow their organizations. We spoke to Andrea about why she started her firm, and the lessons she’s learned throughout her entrepreneurial journey.
Can you tell us a little about your law firm, Henry Business Law, and why you started it?
I want to live in a world where women have more economic power because we spend our money on improving the world and lifting up other women, not going to space for five minutes. I knew from my experience that it’s almost impossible to build and keep a thriving, profitable business without legal support, and I wanted to ensure that women and other underserved entrepreneurs had a safe, welcoming space to obtain this support.
Being familiar with the law, were you able to handle the legal procedures involved with starting a business on your own?
I am a strong proponent of staying in your own lane. So, I handled the things within my expertise, like incorporation and contracts, but hired an employment lawyer to deal with team concerns and sought specialist tax advice.
What does a typical day look like for you as a small business lawyer?
As the firm has grown, I spend less time actually practicing law and more time training and managing my team, creating systems, and working on business development. My mornings are reserved for deep work and are usually focused on my top three weekly objectives. After lunch, I check for any time-sensitive emails that my assistant has entered as tasks in Asana, and then I may meet with a client, a referral partner, or a team member. Other days, my afternoon may be spent reviewing progress on projects I’ve assigned or recording a podcast interview.
What has been the most rewarding part of starting your company?
It’s hard to choose just one, as I have really enjoyed the entrepreneurial journey. But, I think the most rewarding part of my job has to be the joy, pride and satisfaction I feel when I see clients blossom because they’re getting the legal and strategic advice and support they need, in a way that makes them feel heard, seen and respected.
Looking back, is there anything you would change or do differently in starting your own business?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but they’ve helped me learn and grow so much. So, I don’t have any regrets. However, the number one bit of advice I now give to entrepreneurs starting out is to document everything: how you provide your service or make your product, what you’ve earned and spent, the agreements you’ve made with others…everything!
What advice or tips do you have for young womxn looking to start their own business?
Become obsessed with your client or customer. Know what they love, what they hate, and what they’re afraid of. They should be as real to you as your best friend. That way, you can develop marketing and systems which speak directly to them, which will give you much more traction much more quickly.
Also, get professional help for legal and accounting right from the beginning. Too many entrepreneurs view these as something to invest in when you get bigger, but since there are so many pitfalls in these areas, you want to ensure that you are protected from day one of your entrepreneurial journey.
How can our readers get in touch with you or access your services?