We sat down with Deidra Helmig, Founder and Senior Consultant of Boreal Services Group and current PeerSpark™ participant to learn more about her business and the advice she has gained since joining the program.
Q: Deidra, can you tell us more about your business and how it all got started?
A: It all started when I was working for my family business. They needed help writing a safety program for the business. I knew nothing about safety. They ended up putting me through the courses that started from very basic to advanced. From there I ended up working as a Safety Officer within my family's company.
During that time, I was picking up my daughter from school one day and was chatting with another Dad about what I did for work. I told him I was a Safety Officer and as it turns out, he said he was looking for someone to help build a safety program for his company.
I ended up taking the contract and continued to work a combination of freelance and full-time in my role for my family's business. Eventually referrals continued to come in and four years ago I decided to leave the family business and run Boreal Services Group full-time.
Q: What would you say were some of the key challenges when starting your business?
A: There are always challenges I am facing as a business owner! There is always so much more work to do on-top of the work you are getting paid for. It's okay to learn and make mistakes- I still make mistakes some days.
Marketing was a large challenge for me when I first started. I have always been shy about talking about myself and selling what I do. At first I relied solely on word of mouth, which is great but not always sustainable if you are not getting out there and marketing yourself.
Another challenge has been cash flow. At times clients will take 30 to 60 days to pay, but the bills keep on coming and they need to be paid right away. I have spent a significant amount of time figuring out how to manage money, especially with the nature of the industrial construction industry!
Q: How did you first find out about AWE?
A: My first experience with AWE was at the 2015 Learning Day. I attended with a friend and fellow entrepreneur. At Learning Day I found out about PeerSpark™. I realized then that this program was going to be a great opportunity to help connect me with other women entrepreneurs and gain formal training from a business standpoint.
Q: In the PeerSpark™ program there are a variety of workshops to help you as a business owner. Which one would you say has stuck with you the most?
A: I would say the Leadership and Human Resource sessions. In the last year we made our first hires. We hired three people! I don't think I would have had any idea of how to do that if it hadn't have been for the HR session.
The Leadership session was more about me. To be a leader, you have to have people to lead. It was a good eye opener about how I work, what my strengths are, what my weaknesses are and if I want to get better at them or accept that they are my weaknesses and hire help where I need it.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is looking at expanding their own entrepreneurial journey?
I would highly encourage others to get involved with some sort of a group. Whether it’s formal like PeerSpark or whether you can gather your own group in more of an informal setting. Running a business can be lonely and frustrating. It's good to have a network to lean on who really understands. Sometimes friends and family members don't always get it because they don't have their own businesses.
AWE has provided me with so much information, resources and guidance. I am currently considering expanding globally and would have never thought I could really do it if it wasn't for my network in AWE and seeing other women take the leap and do it! Everyone has been so generous with knowledge and experiences.
Another important piece of advice I would give is to take care of yourself! I dedicate time every day to go outside, walk and spend time with nature. When I find myself getting too busy to do that, everything seems to fall apart. Self-care is critical.
I also encourage entrepreneurs to read everything! Even if it's not business related. Once again, you may say, "I'm too busy!", but I definitely recommend it. Right now I am reading Chris Hadfield's book and have been able to take away so many lessons about life, leadership and more.
Be sure to follow Boreal Services Group on Facebook and check out their website www.borealservicesgroup.com
Interested in learning more about the PeerSpark™ program and how it can help your business? Get in touch with us today!