From Entrepreneur to Advisor: WEOC Spotlight Series features Lori Jestin-Knaus
For Lori Jestin-Knaus, entrepreneurship has been part of her life for as long as she can remember.
For almost eight years, Lori has been working as an advisor at the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. (WESK). Along with business advising, she is also a regional manager and leads a team of advisors while overseeing programming within the organization.
Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Lori was always talking about business. Prior to becoming an advisor, Lori and her husband owned a medical transport company for five years. After selling the business, Lori decided to go back to school and complete her Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Community Economic Development from Cape Breton University.
During my MBA, I did a research project on why women entrepreneurs don’t grow to the same extent as male entrepreneurs. While conducting research, I saw a job posting at WESK for a business advisor. I thought it would be a perfect fit as I was wrapping up my MBA and writing a research project on women entrepreneurs. I fell in love with the idea of helping women and making the entrepreneurship environment inclusive and a level playing field for everyone no matter your gender, race, or age.
With years of entrepreneurial experience, Lori has a good understanding of what entrepreneurs are going through.
“As an advisor, I can provide that additional insight and understanding,” says Jestin-Knaus. “Having seen my parents own businesses and then having owned a business with my husband, I have a lot of experiences to share with my clients.”
Lori says the most rewarding part of advising female entrepreneurs is seeing them succeed and knowing she helped guide them along the way.
“Women are doing a lot of amazing work in all kinds of industries,” says Jestin-Knaus. “Seeing the potential in my clients is so exciting — they just need a little guidance.”
According to Lori, all female entrepreneurs need an advisor who is analytical and has critical thinking skills, but also someone who is personable, empathetic, and has emotional intelligence.
“I am honoured that my clients feel comfortable talking to me about something so important to them,” says Jestin-Knaus. “It is fulfilling that my clients are willing to take my advice and want to work together to achieve their goals.”
One of Lori’s clients, Alauna Whelan, has been working with Lori for just over four years. Alauna is an artist and has worked with Jestin-Knaus to build a foundation for her business that sets her up for growth.
“Lori encourages me to dream bigger and wants the best for me,” says Whelan. “She values a collaborative approach that is built upon innovation and thinking outside the box.”
For Whelan, Jestin-Knaus provides steady support throughout the countless ups, downs, and inevitable shifts as she navigates her business. The advisor’s encouragement and faith in her abilities have helped her through some very challenging times.
“Lori continues to be a sounding board and provides a clear perspective whenever I ask,” says Whelan. “She continues to help me focus on my strengths, double down on what works, and not get bogged down with what doesn’t.”
Lori’s book recommendation for a fellow advisor: Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.
We are all leaders. As advisors, we see the potential in people and ideas, and we must have the courage to develop that potential in ourselves and others. I have read it several times, and as I pick it off the bookshelf, it looks like I will re-read it again this summer.