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Inside Industry Minds: A Candid Conversation With Blondie Basket

Sure, we do HR. And we love breaking down tips, tricks and myths about the HR world. But the business world is far more complex than just HR. That's why we're running our series "Inside Industry Minds", where we interview business professionals and give you a glimpse into their journey - their struggles, and successes. If you're currently in the business world, or hoping to be in the future, solid business advice from a mentor can make all the difference in your journey.


This week we connected with Nancy Hoeght, the owner of Blondie Basket, located in Calgary, AB.

"Blondie Basket is a luxury gift basket company that sources locally made products and services to create our baskets"
 

Can you tell us about the journey of starting your own business? What inspired you to become a small business owner?

I am a single mother and for years I was constantly living paycheque to paycheque. I was tired of living that way and decided that I needed to create additional income for my family, but also something that was creative and brought great joy into my life. Now I am so grateful for the opportunity to live comfortably, and I make it a point to give back to the community as much as possible through donations and sponsorships.


What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in running your own business, and how have you overcome them?

When running a small business, you are responsible for all aspect of the business, even the things that you do not like.

I tend to source a lot those things out if I can or find ways to more easily manage them (apps etc). You learn that no one loves your business as much as you do so you really need to be intentional about the people that you hire to work for you and set the expectations early on. There will always be times of adversity, and it is difficult to not take them personally. In these times you must continue to be resilient and creative; to produce new ideas and marketing. In my business, I am using locally made products, I am constantly having to source new products and create new relationships because as this small business close or the owners go on to do something else, I still need to continue to sustain my own business. It is so important to support local small businesses but that also comes with a cost to my profit potential. I am paying more for these products and so my profit margins will be less. You must decide what is most important to you as a business owner and for me, supporting others in the success of their small business is something that I aspire to maintain.


How do you approach human resources within your small business? Can you share any strategies or initiatives you've implemented to support your employees and foster a positive work culture?

I try to employ people from my community. The great thing about being a business owner is that you get to choose who you work with and who you hire. You learn very quickly that not everyone is meant to be your client or meant to work for you. You must set clear expectations and be consistent in your approach to business.


As a small business owner, what do you consider to be the most important lessons you've learned along the way?

Keep going. I feel like I am learning new things all the time. There are always unexpected surprises and many disappointments, but you have those wonderful moments where you think... this is why I am doing this business; this is how I am making an impact.


Can you discuss a particularly memorable success story or milestone that stands out in your business journey?

When I surpassed and in fact doubled my full-time employment income. I continue to work a full-time job and still manage to run what feels like a full-time business. Sometimes, many times, I think about the growth that could potentially happen if I were to invest all my time into my business, but it difficult to remove that sense of security that full time regular employment brings.


How do you stay competitive in your industry and differentiate yourself from larger competitors?

I almost never look at what other people are doing. I focus on what feels right for me intuitively for my business and when I feel like an idea has become stale and needs to change up, I do it.


How do you prioritize work-life balance as a small business owner? What do you do to recharge outside of work?

I honestly do not always do this well, I could improve. I am working all the time, truly. It is hard to step away from your business, but you just must recognize when the slower times in your business are and take time off then. It is also important that you have staff that you can trust to take over when you are away and know that the quality of your product will not be compromised. I am very lucky to have someone like that, but it took me a very long time to feel comfortable passing over that responsibility to someone else.


What role do you believe community involvement and engagement play in the success of a small business?

Massive. It is a core tenant of my business. I would not have been able to build such a successful business if it were not for the support of my community, friends and family.


Finally, if you could offer one piece of advice to other small business owners or inspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?

If you have a dream, a vision or idea... just go for it. Take action! You do not necessarily have to have a plan or know what you are doing. Trust your intuition and your heart. When you lead with those two things, you will be successful.
 

If you want to learn more about Blondie Basket, you can find them on socials @blondiebaskets or visit them online at www.blondiebasket.ca



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