Mission Accomplished!

Last month, AWE accompanied four Alberta-based, women-led businesses to the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair in Las Vegas. They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but I am too proud of our delegates and what they accomplished not to share!

The BWIT trade mission to Las Vegas offered the chance for women business owners from across Canada, including our Alberta delegation, to explore the opportunities of expanding their businesses into the international supply chains with supplier diversity programs.

To prepare for the conference, we helped our delegates prepare a strong, impactful business pitch and capability statement to connect effectively into this network. On the ground, they had the opportunity to get to know Fortune 500 companies, other Canadian businesses, as well as businesses from China, India, Mexico, and the UK.

Our delegates made the most of this opportunity and initiated new business relationships or learned quickly that their targeted connection was in fact not the right fit for their business and they could pivot their focus elsewhere. Some of the best connections were made through informal conversations with new contacts and resulted in the potential for both sides to expand their business through strategic collaboration.

I was so impressed with this group of business owners who had really done their homework and were laser focused on identifying the right opportunities for them to grow their business. We will continue to work with each of these women to conduct follow up with their targets. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish!

If you’re interested in exploring a new market opportunity in a supported and organized environment, join us on our next Trade Mission, Go for the Greens, in September in Florida.

Happy sunny summer everyone!


How to Know When to Fire a Customer

The customer is always right. We hear this business cliché time and time again, but do we ever stop to think if it’s actually true? We’re here to tell you that it’s not! The customer is most definitely not always right, and it’s important to be able to fire a customer in the same way that you would fire an employee who is causing the company grief.

Some customers are simply not profitable, or cause more of a headache than they’re worth. You shouldn’t be trying to please everyone because this is ultimately a waste of time, energy, and resources. You’re better off understanding who your profitable customers are, and how to attract more of them. When you are attracting the right customers who are in line with your brand and what it stands for, you will be providing better service and fostering loyalty with these customers. The more loyal your customers are, the more frequently they will come back, and the more positive word-of-mouth they will spread.

So how do you know when to fire a customer?

  1. The customer abuses company policies and drains resources. Every business has experienced the customer who takes advantages of warranties, return policies, or sampling. These policies have been put in place to ensure great service for customers who will in turn be loyal and come back. If a customer is continually taking from a business and it is apparent that they will not be converted into a satisfied customer, they need to be politely turned away.
  2. The customer delivers a much lower return on income than others. This situation is more difficult to spot because the customer is not intentionally causing any issues. However, in the long-run your employees are utilizing more resources to serve this customer than the customer is contributing back in return. They can usually be phased out by reducing the amount of effort employees invest into them over time, which will guide the customer out the door without any hurt feelings.
  3. The customer abuses employees. Some customers can be real jerks, and it doesn’t matter how much they are spending with your business if they are draining employee morale while doing so. The toll this takes on employees will decrease productivity and leave them wanting to quit. You may suffer a short-term loss in revenue but in the long-run you will have created a more sustainable, profit-generating environment.

Now you’ve decided to fire, but how?

First and foremost you want to ensure you aren’t going to generate negative word-of-mouth by firing a customer unfairly or unprofessionally. Follow the next three steps to settle things amicably with the ex-customer.

  1. Try to clarify disagreements. Take the customer aside and communicate to understand both sides of the story. The customer may be acting out because they feel they have been wronged by the company. Don’t mistakenly fire a customer because they are upset with your service, and if there was a service mistake on your end, it’s important to rectify it. If you were not in the wrong and they are still upset, empathize with them, but explain rationally why you cannot help them.
  2. Be professional. Use a polite tone of voice and calmly explain why the business will not be a good fit for them in the future.
  3. Suggest alternatives. Guide them to a business who may be a better fit for them so they leave feeling like they have another option.

Most importantly, learn from the experience and define why the customer was a bad fit so that you can avoid getting into similar relationships in the future.

Client Feature: Alex Favret

Alex Favret LowRes.jpg

We sat down with Alex Favret, Founder of Powerhouse Print and former PeerSpark™ participant to learn more about her business, her adventure in growing a business and raising a family, and her experience with AWE.

Q: Tell us how you got started with your business?

A: I’m a serial entrepreneur! I started out in the event industry back in 2001 and those connections eventually led me into opportunities in the print world. I’m now also expanding my reach with my latest venture, Powerhouse CMO.

Q: What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?

A: The people and the flexibility. Each day I get to interact with interesting and inspiring people who I challenge me and help me grow. I also love the flexibility of my schedule which allows me to be nimble for my clients, while also not missing out on important moments in my children’s lives.

Q: Speaking of families, tell us how you balance raising a family and running a business?

A: The most important thing for me is staying diligent. Even though I often work from my home office, I am conscious of setting regular work hours and limiting distractions. My kids are officially on summer holidays now, but that doesn’t mean that I get to hang at the pool with them every day...at least not all day!

Q: How did you get involved with Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE)?

A: My relationship with AWE started back in 2007 when they purchased a conference for women that I produced (which is now their Learning Day). From there, I have continued to work with AWE on their printing needs and I also became a member of PeerSpark™ in 2013. I am currently in the PeerSpark™ alumni program. AWE has also hired our Powerhouse CMO team to be their outsourced marketing department.

Q: What would you say was the most valuable takeaway from the PeerSpark Program for you?

A: Most definitely the insights from other entrepreneurs within the program. Everyone has taken a different path and is able to offer sage advice for situations you might currently be facing. I also loved the facilitated discussions, particularly the Colours Workshop from Juna Consulting. That session gave me great insights on working as a leader and collaborating with others.

Be sure to follow Powerhouse Print on Facebook and Twitter and check out their website www.powerhouseprint.ca

Interested in learning more about the PeerSpark™ program and how it can help your business? Get in touch with us today! 



Client Feature: Tracy Fortin

We sat down with Tracy Fortin, Founder of Flawless Interiors and current PeerSpark™ participant to learn more about her business, what she has gained from the program and what it takes to work with your spouse every day.

tracy fortin.jpg

Q: Tracy, tell us more about your business.

A: I once heard my job described as a conductor of a highly aesthetic orchestra.  I love that – and it’s so true.  Really what we do, is take people’s needs and wants as they relate to their home or office spaces and turn them into plans that can be implemented.  Our clients are super busy and don’t have time to be running around from supplier to supplier to determine what will function and look the best in their space.  So whether they are renovating an entire home, building a brand new home or remodeling an office – we take that stress off of them right from the start all the way to the finish.  From permit ready architectural drawings to the last placed accessory – we make sure their design projects are done right.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced as you started to grow?

A: By far, knowing when the right time to hire has been the biggest challenge, and still is.  Getting comfortable with making mistakes helps.

Q: What advice do you have for those looking to run a business with their spouse?  

A: Get really clear on each of your roles right from the start.  Define expectations and be sure to hold to each other accountable.

Q: How did you find out about AWE? 

I attended a Learning Day event and met an AWE staff person who was promoting the PeerSpark™ program.  I knew it was exactly what I needed at that time for my businesss.

Q: What is your biggest take away from PeerSpark

A: Being the architect of your own life takes fearlessness and a vision for your life plan.  You have to believe you can achieve and on the days that you don’t, have people in your corner who can believe for you.  That’s what PeerSpark™ is.  We were all in similar places emotional even though our businesses varied so greatly.  We are constantly lifted each other up and motivating each other to keep going.

Q: Who do you go to for advice? 

A: Well aside from my PeerSpark™ ladies, I read a lot.  There are so many inspiring books that have kept me excited about both running a business and the design industry.  My most recent favorite book is called “In the Company of Women” by Grace BonneyIt’s filled with inspirational advice from  female entrepreneurs around the globe.  I also have other friends who run their own businesses – so it’s a hazard of being an entrepreneur that we are constantly taking to each other about ways to do business better.

Be sure to follow Flawless Interiors on Facebook and check out their website www.flawlessinteriors.ca

Interested in learning more about the PeerSpark™ program and how it can help your business? Get in touch with us today! 

Celebration of Achievement Reception Re-Cap

We were thrilled to celebrate with some amazing women entrepreneurs, community partners, sponsors, friends and family on May 18, 2017 at our Celebration of Achievement Reception. 

This year we hosted the event at the beautiful Oasis Centre in Edmonton. The room was filled with joy, excitement and buzz. With over 200 people in the room, we were honoured to receive greetings from the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, The Honuorable Navdeep Bains and hear MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark Jon Carson share his welcome from the Government of Alberta.

The event was dedicated to not only celebrating our 2017 Celebration of Achievement recipient, Jeanette DeBruin, but also announcing the recipients of our Emerging Entrepreneur Award, Emerging Innovator Award and Upsurge Award.

The anticipation built as a video of the finalists in each category appeared on the screen (to view these videos, please click here). We also had a surge of social media which had #AWECelebrates trending on Twitter. Check out our favourite tweets here.

We were thrilled to announce the following as our 2017 Award Recipients:

Jeanette DeBruin, AltaPro Electric, 2017 Celebration of Achievement Award Recipient

Kristi Stuart and Jill Belland, Barre Belle YYC, 2017 AWE Emerging Entrepreneur Award Recipient

Lane Edwards, Pura Botanicals, 2017 AWE Emerging Innovator Award Recipient

Nancy Klensch, Summit Kids, 2017 AWE Upsurge Award Recipient

  From Left to Right: Jeannette DeBruin, Lane Edwards, Nancy Klensch, Kristi Stuart

From Left to Right: Jeannette DeBruin, Lane Edwards, Nancy Klensch, Kristi Stuart

We were very excited to celebrate with these amazing women. We would also like to extend a huge congratulations to all of our nominees and finalists. You are all doing amazing things for our communities and local economies.

A special thanks goes out to our presenting sponsor, ATB Business. We could not do this event without you! Thank you for recognizing the importance of entrepreneurship and making it a focus for your business. We would also like to thank Grant Thornton for your help with our nominee selection process. Thank you to Hillberg and Berk for the beautiful gifts for our recipients and generous gifts for all attendees of the awards program. And last, but certainly not least we would like to thank Quinn Ohler from Global Edmonton for volunteering her time to emcee this year's program.

Our awards program will open again in 2018. If you know someone who would be deserving of one of our four awards, let us know! We can't wait to celebrate with you all next year.



2017 Celebration of Achievement Recipient Announced

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is pleased to announce Jeanette DeBruin as the recipient of this year’s Celebration of Achievement Award, which recognizes an exceptional woman entrepreneur who has built a business in Alberta with a significant impact on the economy and the community.

The Edmonton-based co-founder of AltaPro Electric will be recognized at the 2017 Celebration of Achievement award reception on May 18th at the Oasis Centre in Edmonton.

Read the full release here.

We're Hiring!

Are you interested in joining a dynamic team passionate about helping growing businesses that are shaping Alberta? Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), an organization dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses, is searching for a Program Coordinator to join our team. We provide unique programs and services to women in business through mentoring, advising, financing and skills and network development. Our ideal candidate is a is an organizer extraordinaire who loves to create great client experiences by implementing excellent programs.

Interested in learning more? Click here.


Client Feature: Deidra Helmig

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! 

What You Need to Know About E-Commerce

We sat down with Ashley Janssen, CEO of Code and Effect and Former PeerSpark member to ask her about everything e-commerce and what you need to know as a business owner.

Ashley is facilitating Building Your E-Commerce Business on August 30 in Calgary. You can register here.

Q: What does a successful e-commerce website need to include?

That is a really big question with a number of different answers. The short answer is that you need to actually set up and be a business, you need a strategic plan including financial management, you need to pick the appropriate platform for selling your products, and then implement a detailed marketing plan. (Whew!)

The long answer is that, as you will see in my workshop, there are many strategic planning and business administration steps that need to happen behind the scenes before an e-commerce platform is selected and items are sold. These steps are the building blocks to setting up a successful e-commerce website. They include building a cashflow spreadsheet to make sure the numbers work, setting up the business properly through incorporating and getting everything all your business numbers, GST, licences, etc.

Then you can confidently go through the process of selecting the right e-commerce platform, payment platform, and template for your business.

Once your e-commerce platform is setup, you can’t just hope people with come to it. It is at least as much work as a traditional brick and mortar business. You need to have a marketing plan, social media and social validation, email newsletter marketing, Adwords and online marketing with landing pages, blogs for organic search results….I could go on.

Q: How do Google Analytics and Keywords impact your website overall?

Google analytics and keywords are vital to the success of an e-commerce website. Your analytics, if properly set-up, are an important decision making tool that you should be checking regularly. Your analytics are what tell you what parts of your website and marketing campaigns are effective and when you need to make changes/updates to your website.

Adwords with effective landing pages can be instrumental in educating and raising awareness to potential customers and, in turn, driving sales.

Q: What systems (tools) do you recommend to someone just starting out with their website?

This is also a hard question to answer because there are so many variables. You needs tools/systems for: productivity, email, accounting, e-commerce platform, payment platform, newsletter management, analytics, landing pages, social media management, etc. The answer to which one in each category, is, “it depends”. In my workshop I will go into more detail about some of these and give more clarity on how to make educated decisions about which tools are right for you.

Q: How has your website evolved since you first started your business?

Well, it has been a decade so that is a long answer. The short version is that we have redone our website 4 times, recently rebranded from AgileStyle to Code and Effect, and each time we get a bit better at communicating who we are and what we do.

We started out mostly building brochure type websites and evolved to custom development and web applications.

Q: Tell us more about Code and Effect.

Our tagline is: “Need software but don’t know where to start? Let us help”.

We do custom software development. Customers come to us when they can’t find an off-the-shelf solution for a business problem. We work with them to find their pain points and develop software that solves that pain.

Rather than specializing in particular industries, we serve any small or medium-sized business that has unique processes requiring unique software. Some examples would be custom e-commerce, membership portals or customer management systems.

Q: Any other advice you would like to share with a website newbie?

A website is just a small part of your overall business strategy, even when you are an online business. It is a just one of many tools at your disposal. Your website is not your business but rather a platform for serving your customers. Just building a website is not enough, there are many other things, as I will go over in the workshop, that must be done in order to make your website effective.

Join Ashley and AWE for Building Your E-Commerce Business on August 30, 2017 in Calgary.

Spring Greetings from Marcela Mandeville

  Marcela and her beloved companion, Callie.

Marcela and her beloved companion, Callie.

Spring has officially sprung and it’s such an exciting time of year! I love those first few warm days when the sun is shining and people start to emerge from their winter hibernation. Patios start to fill up, the dog parks are abuzz (my personal happy place) and the anticipation for fun days ahead is almost palpable.

For me, spring represents a time of hope – hope for the opportunities the future holds. This spring our team is working with some incredible entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses to turn opportunities into growth. Here in Alberta, our PeerSpark accelerator program spring cohort is kicking off soon (space is limited!) and will provide support and resources for women who are ready to take their business to the next level.

But, we’re also on the move! Our team is hitting The Strip in June for a Canadian Trade Mission at The 2017 WBENC National Conference and Business Fair with Business Women in International Trade and an enthusiastic group of women who are looking to expand into new markets. Though the saying is, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” we’ll make an exception for all of you and will be sharing success stories and learnings from both of these programs over the next few months.

As much as there is to look forward to, we can’t forget to reflect on how far we’ve come, which is why we’re celebrating some exceptional female business owners who have made significant achievements in the last year. We hope to see you all at this year’s AWE Awards on May 18th where we’ll recognize four outstanding women for their contributions to the business community.

So, as we help women entrepreneurs in Alberta “spring ahead” – so to speak – we want to thank our funders, sponsors and partners for your support and look forward to seeing you at all the Awards ceremony next month!

Client Feature: Stacy Nehring

We sat down with Stacy Nehring, Operations Manager of UTV Canada and current PeerSpark™  participant to ask her more about her business and the value she has seen from mentorship.


Q: How did you get involved in UTV Canada?

A: My Dad started UTV Canada 10 years ago. I joined him as a part-time employee seven years ago, which quickly turned into a full-time role after only a year as we reached new levels of growth! My job included everything from sales calls to shipping to sweeping the floor. I am now the Operations Manager.

Q: If you could give advice to anyone coming into a family business, what would it be?

A: My advice would be to keep the business in the business! It's not easy to work with family at all times. At the end of the day, you want to be able to have family dinners together. Put your family first, business second.

Q: When you started out at UTV Canada, did you see a gap in the mentorship you had from a business standpoint?

A: Absolutely. None of us within the family have any business background whatsoever. My Dad had other businesses he operated but none were like UTV Canada. To make the company what we wanted it to be, we definitely needed some formal mentorship to help it grow.

Q: Where did you look for business mentorship when you were first starting out?

A: The only help we had in the beginning was a family-friend who has a similar business in the RV industry, so we spoke with him a few times.  That's really the only mentorship we had except from people like our accountant or lawyer. In terms of business strategy and mentorship related to that, I didn't find that until I joined PeerSpark™ .

Q: How did you find out about the PeerSpark™  program?

A: Through an event with the Leduc Chamber of Commerce. A representative from AWE was there and my sister and I were able to learn more about the program. It wasn't until an in-depth conversations afterwards that I realized that this was the program I needed!

Q: What would you say is the biggest takeaway you have had from the program?

A: My biggest takeaway is the network of women I am now apart of. Even though we are all in totally different industries, we share the same struggles and are able to help each other through it and provide feedback and advice.

Q: What PeerSpark™  session would you say has been the most valuable to your business?

A: Definitely the Strategic Planning for Growth session. Our business was affected by the downturn and this session and mentorship helped me realize how we can move forward. We are adding a new retail line to our business this year and we are so excited!

Q: Would you recommend the PeerSpark™  program to others?

A: Absolutely. I talk about it to every woman business owner I know! The program provides great value and has helped our business tremendously. 

Be sure to follow UTV Canada on Facebook and check out their website www.utvcanada.com 

Interested in learning more about the PeerSpark™ program and how it can help your business? Get in touch with us today! 

Guest Blog: How Can Being a "Jill of All Trades” Relate to Financing?

Do you know that women account for 40% of all tool sales? Well, a good number of us get tired of waiting for someone else to do the work for us, according to Ann-Marie Campbell, a Home Depot Executive. "As women become more empowered," she said, "they come into Home Depot and say, Hey, I can do this. I don't need my husband or partner to do it for me…"

While moderating the lunchtime panel at the AWE Learning Day on February 22nd, I brought my home toolkit onto the stage to impress upon the 150+ business owners in attendance that just like the toolkit a contractor brings to your home to do their job, a financial toolkit is similarly required when it’s time to scale up your business.

Just like the multi-head screwdriver, measuring tape, hammer, nails and cordless electric drill that you keep in your basement or garage, what are the most-often requested components of a financial toolkit?

The application is the starting point and creates an overview of your business. At this stage funders want to know what product or service you provide, who owns the business, who you bank with, current financing in place, the amount you are requesting to finance and why.

Next, depending on whether you are seeking funds from a traditional source such as the bank, or from alternatives including angel investors, venture capital groups, grant providers or asset based lending/factoring organizations; the required document list will vary. Financial Statements are key and provide a picture of past performance; some financiers will request a business plan, cash flow projections and maybe your bank statements for the last 4 months.

Your accounts receivable aging, list of customers, inventory and equipment summary, as well as GST and payroll deductions status are possible ‘asks’. Market size, competitors, exit strategy, management team resumes, website address, social media accounts and a personal financial statement round out the list of possible requirements.

Phew! Are you exhausted just reading the list?!

Applying for financing may seem daunting and never-ending but in most cases it’s not. If your documents are up to date and you supply everything requested at the time you complete the application, most financiers will provide you with an answer quickly – e.g. equipment lease financing may take as little as 24 hours, factoring line 3-5 days, simple bank loan 5-10 days …

Financing involving grants, more complex debt and equity partners will take longer – be sure to ask how long the process is expected to take so that you don’t panic. Also, begin the process sooner rather than later and lastly, ask for help!

You know, I was thrilled with the number of women who raised their hands to let me know that ‘YES’ they own power tools! Ladies, it’s not that big of a stretch from power tools to financials – follow the instructions and you’ll be well on your way!

About the Author


  Judy Perdomo  President, Liquid Capital Rockyview Inc.

Judy Perdomo
President, Liquid Capital Rockyview Inc.

New Support for Alberta’s Women Entrepreneurs

The Alberta government is helping Alberta’s women entrepreneurs expand and grow their businesses through the Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) will receive $101,863 in funding through the CARES program for PeerSpark – a program that brings together like-minded women entrepreneurs to explore opportunities for accelerated business growth in a peer group setting. With programs starting in April and November of this year, PeerSpark will encourage leadership and business skill development while introducing participants to key resources, networks, grant programs and trade experts.

AWE’s PeerSpark program has shown tremendous potential for business and community success with graduates reporting average year-over-year revenue growth of approximately 20 per cent and an average of one to two new jobs created, with some businesses doubling in size within two years.

Read the full press release here.

Learning Day Re-Cap

It's hard to believe Learning Day has already come and gone for another year. We had an amazing time hosting some new and familiar faces for a day of networking, education and fun. Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be lonely, but it doesn't have to be.

At AWE one of our mandates is to bring women together. Whether it is through events such as this, workshops throughout the year or business advising. We believe our communities and economies are stronger when women are full participants in entrepreneurship!

We would like to extend a special thank-you to our presenting sponsor, ATB Business. This event would have not been possible without you! We would also like to thank all of our partners, speakers, and experts for carving time out of their busy lives to share their knowledge with our event attendees. Last, but certainly not least we want to thank the entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs for taking time away from their business and spending it with us! 

While there were many highlights of the day, here are some takeaways that we want to share!

1. Know Your Customer Base! Wean Green CEO, Melissa Gunning did an amazing job explaining why customer relationship management tools (CRMs) are vital to relationship building with not only current, but prospective clients! Melissa emphasized the importance of finding the right buyers and utilizing LinkedIn to play a roll in your sales cycle.

2. Your Financial Toolkit Should Be Stocked With Resources! Judy Perdomo of Liquid Capital Corporation lead an amazing panel during the lunch hour that discussed the variety of resources available to entrepreneurs. Whether it is venture capital or a traditional bank loan, know your options to help grow your business to the next level. Cash flow is key!

3. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail. Linda Hoang from Calder Bateman facilitated an amazing session on the basics of social media for business. Linda emphasized the importance of creating regular content calendars that tie into key business initiatives. Staying organized and on-top of your social media will breed success.

These are just some of the amazing takeaways from Learning Day. Did you attend the event? What was your favourite part? Let us know in the comment section below!

Stay tuned for upcoming AWE events and workshops by subscribing to our newsletter. You can do so by clicking here.






Community Roundup: Entrepreneurs We Love!

It's Valentines Day! What better way to celebrate than by featuring some exciting pieces from entrepreneurs we love. Many members of the AWE community share useful and interesting things online, and we like to draw your attention to these posts from time to time on the blog. Enjoy!

Watch this space for more news from friends of AWE in the coming months.

Want to stay in touch with AWE programs and events? Sign-up for our newsletter today! 

Business Growth in Supply Chain

Supply Chains are important within every business and every person’s life.  A supply chain is the network of all the individuals, organizations, resources, activities and technologies involved in the creation and sale of a product, from the delivery of source materials from the supplier to the manufacturer, through to its eventual delivery to the end user.

Everything we do, everywhere we go, every business and person uses a supply chain at some point in their daily activity.  Eating, drinking, living, moving, commuting, these are all daily activities supported by supply chains.  When you consider business growth, volume, velocity, and distance are the three most important supply chain factors.

Volume is a primary driver of the type of supply chain you use.  When we first start out, our volume of service or product is usually low, and as we grow it begins to build.  A low volume supply chain has a higher cost than a high volume supply chain on a per unit basis.  As your volume increases, your supply chain should also shift.  The supply chain becomes less expensive per unit because your costs are spread out across more units.

The second key factor is velocity.  Are you in a hurry?  If yes, it will cost more (FedEx overnight is a lot more expensive than FedEx 2-day service).  The question to ask is – how long can someone wait for what they need?  If the answer is “a while” then pick the slowest delivery method – it will always be lower cost than faster.

Finally, the farther you go to deliver, the more it will cost.  If you are buying and selling product in your own city delivery costs are low.  If you are buying or selling product overseas, your costs will be higher. So if you are a small business that is just starting out, try to deliver and sell locally first and then to other cities, provinces, and countries after you have built up more volume.

As your business grows, the type of supply chain that you use and how much it costs shifts.   The important thing to know is that as your business grows the type of delivery system and supply chain that you need will change.  If you go from shipping a few cases to thousands of cases, but you are using the expensive courier model, then you will have a declining rate of return and your profitability could be negatively affected.  Understanding how your services and products are delivered and how much it costs is an important part of containing operating expenses to ensure maximum possible profit.

About the Author


Corrie Banks is a supply chain costing and solution design expert with 20 years of experience implementing technology and supply chain efficiency projects. Corrie has worked for Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Logistics Solutions and Parmalat Canada with a progressive career starting as administrative assistant progressing to Senior Management to President of Triskele Logistics.

Corrie has managed $25M transportation budget including fleet, warehouse, and 3 rd party freight carriers. While at Canadian Pacific Corrie created statistical analysis systems for Mechanical Services, managed IT projects for Customer Service, and managed many aspects of Canadian Pacific Logistics Solutions including 3rd party logistics for a large CPG company, a large alcohol producer and steel pipe manufacturer. Her technical, analytical and operations management experience has resulted in ~7% - 10% annual cost reductions year over year for the organizations that she has worked with.

Corrie has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Athabasca, a white belt in Lean Manufacturing and a green belt in Six Sigma. Corrie is the Chair of the Calgary Logistics Council, a member of the Van Horne Institute Women In Supply Chain steering committee, a past project advisor the Van Horne Youth In Supply Chain project, a working group member for the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council - Supply Chain Links Part II: Connector project, and the Chair of the Supply Chain Management program advisory committee for SAIT. She is passionate about people, getting involved in helping others and supporting them in their career development.

Hear Corrie and many other great speakers at this year's Learning Day! Get your tickets today!


Building A Resilient Business

Now more than ever resilience is the key to surviving challenging and changing times in business.


Resilient businesses (and business owners) are better able to manage change, deal with crisis, collaborate and manage the challenges that get in the way of success.  Resilience is like a bank account, you have to keep depositing into the account for wealth to accumulate.  If you take withdrawals without making deposits, the account will run dry. The same is true for resilience.

Charmaine Hammond, expert in leadership, and business success will be sharing strategies for resilience in business at the upcoming AWE conference. 

When businesses are not resilient there are a number of difficulties that can (and likely will) occur, many that can be catastrophic for business success.  Businesses lacking resilience are likely to:

·       Experience high degrees of wasted time and energy, duplicated efforts and inefficiencies.

·       Jeopardize relationships and communication with clients, and customers.

·       Make costly mistakes.

·       Experience more conflict, turnover and personnel issues, and,

·       Make reactive or emotionally based decisions instead of well-planned decisions.

There’s good news!

These results are avoidable and resilience is teachable.

As a leader, these 3 consistent actions can boost the resilience in your life and business.

1.     Take at least 30 minutes each day to refill your resilience bank account. That could be simple activities like a walk outside, a hobby, reading a good (not work related) book.  This “ME” time goes a long way in re-energizing you.

2.     Bookend your day. Frame your day in the morning. Decide how you want to show up. Set one goal you must achieve.  End your day in a meaningful way (not checking email or doing work minutes before bed). 

3.     Watch your language. Are you saying things like “I am too busy”, “I can’t keep up”, “I’m exhausted.” The words we say and think frame how we show up and ultimately the results we experience. Instead consider statements like “I have energy to get my most important priorities done”, “I can ask for help when the list gets too big” and “the pace I am choosing allows me maximum efficiency.”

At the Conference Charmaine will share what it takes to supercharge your results and business success without stress. 

Learning Day is less than a month away. Have you got your tickets yet?


5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Employee

 5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Employee

Whether you are making your first hire, or are looking to hire additional employees as your business grows, you want to make sure you are moving forward with the employees who will help your business to thrive. 69% of employers said their companies were adversely affected by a bad hire last year, according to a recent study by CareerBuilder. 41% of those businesses estimated the cost of a bad hire was over $25,000! So how do you know if the person you’ve hired is really your next star employee, or just charming in an interview chair?

Holiday Greetings from Marcela Mandeville

What a year! 2016 was certainly filled with change, challenge, and opportunity. As winter solstice arrives and we prepare to bring 2016 to a close, it seems like the perfect time to look back on our year and to look forward to the longer days and adventure that awaits in 2017. 

As you will see, we already have great things planned to kick off the new year.

Of course, I could not look back on 2016 without mentioning taking on the CEO role, which has been a great opportunity to lead a dedicated team who model purpose every day in our efforts to help women entrepreneurs build successful businesses. 

Trying to determine highlights for the year has been quite a challenge - there were so many moments, stories and experiences. When I pulled together these pieces, what emerged was a picture of why we proudly saw Alberta lead Canada in exceeding parity in participation rates of women as early stage business owners and why we are so committed to helping women in our province reach their entrepreneurial dreams.

As we move into 2017, we aim to connect more entrepreneurs into our ever-growing, amazing community of women business owners who contribute so much to Alberta by taking risks, building strong local businesses, innovating new products and processes, role modeling business savviness, supporting other entrepreneurs, moving into new markets, and overall making the world a better place.

We are so thankful to our clients, funders, sponsors, partners, families (pets included, of course), and friends for your valuable support. From our AWE family to yours, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season. 

We are excited to continue our journey with you in 2017!

Community Roundup

Many members of the AWE community share useful and interesting things online, and we like to draw your attention to these posts from time to time on the blog. Enjoy!


  • Boreal Services Group, founded by Deidra Helmig shares the five products that saved their business. From Quickbooks to Basecamp, we're sure many entrepreneurs can agree that these tools are more than helpful to any small business.
  • Knowing yourself is an important part of being an entrepreneur. In her latest blog post, Ashley Janssen (Principal at Agile Style) shares tips on how to manage your time, your relationship and your work.
  • Michelle Hordal, Founder and Executive Director of Adaptabilities recently hosted their third annual Respite N' Rejuvenate event. This organization is doing amazing things for so many families in our city. 
  • Making Calgary and area homes beautiful is what Shannon Lenstra, President of Kon-strux Developments specializes in. Shannon and her army of interior designers made the 30 Best Interior Designer Companies in Calgary list with Point 2 Homes. 
  • Michelle Cotton, President of Solstice Canada has the perfect place for business owners to rent a small office or desk (and we hear it's close to Duchess Bakery..)

Do you have exciting things happening in your business that you would like us to feature? Be sure to share them with us on social media or send us a note to external.relations@awebusiness.com.