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Sara Koonar, founder of Platform Media, started her company as a way of sharing her love of tech with the world. Maintaining a sleek, up-to-date website has been crucial to her success.

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Sara Koonar was one month shy of her 30th birthday when she started her own influencer management and marketing company, Platform Media & Management. A journalism graduate and savvy marketer based in Toronto, she had always loved technology. So, when the opportunity arose to harness that passion and help others do the same, she hopped on it.

“I had this idea: how can you use your own platform for good?” she recalls.

Koonar’s love for technology runs deep: Her older brother introduced her to computers at age three, and she started out by copying books onto the device. By grade eight, she had taught herself to code and design web pages, so she began freelancing with those skills throughout high school and undergrad, helping others create their own websites.

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Years later, she went into her first big interview armed with a website redesign to show her prospective employers. She got that job, as Editor-in-Chief of pop culture and lifestyle blog 29Secrets.com, at the age of 26. By age 29, she was ready to spread her wings and start her own business venture.

But as a young woman entrepreneur, Koonar faced her share of challenges along the way. She typically doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt, especially from people who aren’t familiar with her work; she’s been mistaken for an assistant instead of the boss more than once. Remembering the advice other entrepreneurs gave her when she was looking for her first line of credit now makes her laugh.

They would tell me not to go to the bank meetings. I was told to have my accountant—an older man—go instead, or my then-business partner, because banks will trust men more with money.

— Sara Koonar, founder of Platform Media

With her characteristic determination, Koonar would insist on going to the meetings herself. She’s determined to show the world what successful young women entrepreneurs can accomplish.

“I love when I’m sitting in front of a banker and they’re looking up and down at my financials and say, ‘You own this?’ and I quickly say, ‘I do.’”

For many Canadian women, running a small business can still be an uphill battle

Koonar is far from the only woman in business encountering challenges along the way. A recent GoDaddy Canada study by Logit Group found that almost one third of Canadian women have faced barriers in their career because of their gender. The survey found that many have to work overtime just to keep up with their male counterparts; almost forty per cent of women small business owners surveyed reported that between part time and full time jobs they work eight or more hours each day. This is coupled by the additional “double burden” women often face for unpaid labour in household and caring work. A 2015 Statistics Canada report found that women were spending nearly four hours per day on unpaid work, 1.5 hours more than men. For many, the pandemic has only heightened this reality.

“I’ve had a front row seat, seeing the devastating impacts the current global pandemic has had on small businesses across Canada,” Koonar says. “I’ve watched my entrepreneur friends struggle to keep the hope alive. Any entrepreneur will tell you: all we want to do is work! I don’t want to be told to stop.”

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Koonar decided early-on in the pandemic to make the best of a tough situation. As the word rapidly shifted online, she decided to redesign her website with the help of GoDaddy.

As a small business owner with a full schedule, Koonar needs a hosting provider that makes her life easier, not more complicated. She says she’s always loved the intuitive nature of the GoDaddy platform, the seamless design options and the stellar customer service.

“I had so much fun using their tools,” Koonar says. “We’re launching an e-commerce shop on our website with GoDaddy’s WooCommerce extension, which is going to be really exciting. It’s given me new life.”

Web technology makes the difference for women entrepreneurs

Anne De Aragon, GoDaddy vice president and country manager for Canada, says that the pandemic has led countless Canadian entrepreneurs to rethink their online presence to meet the needs of an almost all-virtual world. Reliable online hosting and seamless website design is essential to success in this new environment.

“If you’re in business to do something you’re passionate about, that’s what you want to be doing; you don’t want to be figuring out the technology,” De Aragon says.

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That’s where the GoDaddy team comes in. With comprehensive customer service staff on speed dial, the platform makes the process of creating a digital presence simple and streamlined. For customers like Koonar, who already faces disproportionate challenges at work, finding fast and easy-to-use online tools that GoDaddy offers is that much more important.

“This is our ‘secret sauce’,” De Aragon says. “Our GoDaddy Guides are really helpful, empathetic people; there’s no rushing you off the phone or trying to push a sale. It’s very consultative, showing some best practices or advising the ideal version of the website to use for your business.”

GoDaddy is now in its sixth year of partnership with RevolutionHER (formerly Mompreneur), an organization which amplifies the voices of women entrepreneurs. De Aragon says that partnership has helped GoDaddy better understand these clients’ journeys.

“We’re listening to what women entrepreneurs are saying, and then trying to bring back value into the channel, helping women by showcasing other successful women and sharing their stories,” De Aragon says. “We’re committed to providing the tools and resources to make starting an online presence less intimidating.”

“It’s a two-way street,” she says.

Websites can be essential to growing your business and customer base. GoDaddy is proud to support and empower women-owned businesses today and every day. Visit GoDaddy.ca to check out all the tools available to help get your business online.

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Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with GoDaddy. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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