July 15, 2024

Advancing Business Excellence

Pioneering Corporate Success

Esterhazy local earns award from Women Entrepreneurs of Sask.

House of Hearing clinic a welcoming place for clients.

ESTERHAZY — It’s been just over two years since Chelsea Stewart opened House of Hearing in Esterhazy, realizing the dream of entrepreneurship. An audiologist in the public health sector for most of her career, Stewart initially had no plans of opening a clinic.

“I loved my job and was passionate about helping people and assessing, diagnosing, and treating hearing concerns in a medical setting,” she explained. “When my husband relocated for work, it posed challenges for our family. As a mother to three young kids, and with a husband on shift work, a long commute was not an option.”

Starting her own business provided Stewart with the balance of doing something she loves while having the flexibility to spend time with her family. Armed with the idea and the expertise to begin offering audiology services, Stewart was faced with the question of “how”?

“I had no background in business,” said Stewart. “I really had no idea where to start or how to start.”

Enter Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan. WESK had the answers Stewart was looking for, plus a membership base of 800-strong for support.

“It was a risk in the sense that you really don’t have a lot of information to go on as far as ‘is this feasible,’ or ‘is there an opportunity to have a business of this sort in rural Saskatchewan’?” Stewart said. “That’s where WESK really played a huge role, spending several months with me going through completing a business plan. Then I was able to do the research and connect with people in organizations in the area, just to determine if there was a need for the services and then I was able to build a business plan around that care focus model that I wanted.

“That is one of the main focuses of the WESK organization as well—providing that advising, funding, and training, networking resources, and just to allow for women to start and grow businesses in Saskatchewan,” Stewart continued. “There are several barriers as far as women having access to funding to start their business. That’s one of the things that WESK does—providing that funding opportunity to get these businesses started and off the ground.”

WESK recently held their annual gala on May 15 in Saskatoon, celebrating the success stories of Saskatchewan women, and Stewart found herself in the spotlight. The gala is WESK’s opportunity to present its entrepreneurship awards through five categories. Stewart won the Innovation Award, utilizing the strategies garnered through her experience with WESK.

“Being in a room with so many really inspiring women in business and just seeing all of the amazing things that women have done in Saskatchewan and businesses, it was definitely a really humbling experience to be recognized in a room full of very inspiring and successful women,” Stewart said of the gala.

What set her business apart was embracing the small-town atmosphere and providing a space where people feel welcome.

“This began with the space I chose for my business,” she said. “I renovated a small home on main street in Esterhazy, into ‘House of Hearing’ because I wanted to ensure patients felt at home and comfortable while receiving hearing services.”

Trust-building and creating the ‘word of mouth’ buzz weighed heavily in Stewart’s success—equal components to providing a professional service with small-town values.

“Of course, the technology of the hearing devices is important, but the education, the support, the counselling, the accuracy of the hearing assessment, the fitting and programming of the hearing device is a significantly larger contributor in a patient’s success,” Stewart noted. “Almost all hearing clinics have similar products, but people choose House of Hearing because it is accessible or because they are choosing to work with me. They have seen first-hand, heard from a friend, or sense from my marketing materials that House of Hearing is focused on providing high quality and honest hearing care.”

Stewart’s model of care-based versus sales-motivated focus seems to have been a winning strategy.

“I created a service delivery based on simplifying the hearing care experience and creating positive relationships with my patients and their families,” she explained. “This includes allowing time for appointments, providing clear explanations and education, listening to the patient’s needs and working with them to generate the appropriate treatment plan and recommendations, long-term support. I innovated a business that addressed the specific needs in the community and differentiated my business from other businesses offering similar services and products.”

Reflecting once again on the gala and the spirit of WESK, Stewart underlined how crucial forming relationships can be in the entrepreneurial world. 

“It is really important to network and make those connections, celebrate and learn from each other and most definitely the women that were at the gala, we’re definitely celebrating, and not just the finalists and the recipients of the awards, but really just celebrating how far we’ve come in women entrepreneurship in Saskatchewan. What an impact it has on the global economy as a whole. Just getting more women into the workforce. There’s so many exciting things to celebrate.”