Michelle Watterson is an Elite+ member based out of Arkell, Ontario, and is the proud owner of CatNap Cottages, where she offers a calming cottage getaway for your cat, giving you the complete peace of mind that kitty is being well-treated in a relaxing and playful atmosphere. We are thrilled to share Michelle’s Success Story!
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I’m not certain, I ever aspired to be an entrepreneur. I wasn’t one of those people who knew they were going to go into business for themselves. I just knew that I had a love for animals. Working in Veterinary Clinics, I loved being the kennel attendant. I loved working before the clinic opened and talking to the cats. I knew I wanted to run a kennel. Then I became kind of fixated on achieving it. I knocked on a lot of doors to make it happen. I disregarded a lot of negative comments and a ton of “no’s” to make it happen.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The Cats!! I love what I do. I enjoy getting head bumps and snuggles. I go in and I am greeted by boys in Tuxedos and kittens. What is better than that. On a business level, it’s that I get to decide! I put the work in it for me. It’s my vision, my dream and I make the final decisions. I am very proud of that. I am proud that I took the leap into business ownership. It can be a bit scary at times. I’m not going to lie, I thought I was hitting rocks at some points, but then you end up leveling out and even soar.
Can you describe a typical day?
Mornings are a mix of work and family. I need to juggle those two things in the morning. Once the cats are fed and the girls are off to school, I take a few minutes for me. Listen to music, read the news, read a book, and enjoy some COFFEE!! I then return to CatNap and clean up my guests. Until midafternoon, I play with cats, greet new guests, interact with clients. I’m working in the business. I try and get a walk in the afternoon. I am a fair weather walker though, so no rain or ice. It really helps with clearing my mind. Once my girls are home again, I juggle work and home life. I have recently, scheduled staff to work the evenings, so I can be devoted to my family. That being said, I am never to far and I get my emails on my phone, so I do spend time answering texts and emails.
Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family that answer the call?
I have a few part time staff, that help out in the business. My mother has also been a great help in the business. She has been seen cleaning cottages and dumping cat litter! She is also the maker of all our Catnip pillows for our guests. My daughters have also been known to help in their own special ways. Then of course my husband, who is my greatest cheerleader, confidant and best friend. He is the one who sets me on course, when I feel like I am hitting the rocks.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
Absolutely! I think that comes with being an entrepreneur and a mother. I have had to leave work and pick up a sick child. I have had to tell a client no, because of family commitments. I have also had to tell my family no, because of work commitments. I can’t travel when everyone else is travelling because that’s my peak time. I work PD days, Statutory holidays, Christmas. It’s tough when your child says “Mommy, you are always working.” I try and give them a trade though. I need to make it up to them. We’ve surprised them with an overnight stay in Toronto. When I was done work for the day, I told them to get a change of clothes, a bathing suit and toothbrush and meet us in the car. It was so much fun. The next evening, I was back at work. We took what little time we had and made memories.
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
Days off are with family. Although, I am always connected. I don’t think I have had a day where I have not been connected. I try not to come in on my days off, that is starting to become easier. At this time, it’s too stressful to disconnect completely.
Are you active in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
Yes, I think it’s important to be a part of your community. It’s a good life lesson for my children. I can’t teach them to be giving and kind, without living it. My husband and I both volunteer for different community organizations. We also volunteer our time at their schools and sports teams.
Name another entrepreneur who inspires you.
I have a few. Amanda Drexler (Drexler Travel) because of her volunteerism and giving back. Angela Kafadar and Scott Clevely (Video Power Up), who I look up to from a business perspective. They are generally interested in others doing well. Tessa Kampen, for getting me out of my comfort zone and her always encouraging and positive mindset. Paula Alblas (Stella & Dot), for being my person, and accountability partner. They all bring me joy, they all wish success for others and they all work hard at what they do. That is one thing Mompreneurs has taught me is to find your tribe. The people with a positive mindset, who you look up to and those that drive you to do better.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
I am looking forward to continuing. I love what I do. I’m going to keep on keeping on! I would hope to get more out of my comfort zone and share with others. About Cats, what they have taught me and what being an entrepreneur has taught me. I would love to do more videos, aka CatNap Live! I really enjoyed speaking at the Business Expo in the summer. I am looking forward to gaining more confidence.
Any tips for moms thinking of starting a business?
Do it!! I guarantee, you will not regret it. I also think it is wonderful for my daughters to see. These are teachable moments for our younger generation. Live your dreams. You can be an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife and be successful at all of them. Will you make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. Dust yourself off and learn from them. While you are going about your days, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. You can do it while going through the ups and downs of life. You only get so many trips around the sun. Make sure your life is bringing you joy.