Keeping Small Businesses Competitive through Sharing Best Practices of Global Leaders

 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

 

http://linkedin.com/in/nancy-boucher-32697874

 

 

BSO:  Tell us about the inception of your business, Elegant Impressions Gifts.

NB:
When I started my gift basket business (15 years ago), I had twin toddlers at home.
I left a successful career in Merchandising for an apparel company to take care of my infant twins.  That was a full-time job in itself, but I yearned for something to satisfy my creative and analytical instincts at the same time.  I considered various ideas that would allow me to run a business from home on my own schedule, so I could balance the needs of the business and those of my children.  A gift basket business was the perfect solution.
BSO: What was your typical day when you ran your business while your twins (now teenagers !) were toddlers ? 
NB:
When I ran my business while raising my twins, no two days were the same
Some days I would create new designs, order inventory, work on my website, fulfill orders, and a myriad of other things, typically while the children napped or after they went to bed at night.  I was fortunate to have my parents nearby, and they would often help with the kids if I had a lot of work to do on a particular day.
BSO: What are your ‘can’t live without’ apps?
NB:
I used MS Excel for countless purposes in my business.
 In my current role as Purchasing Director for the Carpionato Group, I use Optimum Control to manage our inventory.
I’ve used several other inventory management systems in restaurant settings, and I find this program is the best of the bunch.  It is very flexible, allowing me to analyze data in numerous ways, and it is set up very logically.  It was easy to learn and is efficient to manage the database.
BSO: What’s the best advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?
NB:
The best advice I’ve received in my business life, not necessarily when I ran my business, is to not give away my power.
There are several books written on this topic, but all have essentially the same message: do not allow others to get into your head and affect your thinking in a negative way.
By doing so, you are giving away your power.
BSO: What was your strategy for building awareness of your business ?
NB:
The best thing I did to build awareness of my business was to form a chapter of Business Network International (BNI).  It took a couple of years of hard work to get the new chapter off the ground, but it paid off.  We built a coalition of like-minded business owners who helped each other grow their businesses through networking and referrals.
 I got a lot of business through this group, and I gave a lot as well.
Additionally, I built friendships that will last a lifetime.
BSO: What are your proudest achievements ?
NB:
Professionally, I’m proud to have been promoted to Director of Merchandising and Planning at the age of 26.  I ran a successful department of talented individuals, and we accomplished great things with limited tools available.  For example, we had no enterprise planning system, so I built a system from scratch in Excel, modeling a planning and allocation system I had used at a prior company.  We used this custom solution for years, very successfully.
Personally, I’m most proud of my children, who have grown into smart, caring, successful teenagers.
I’m also proud of the things I achieved while I was raising my children: I ran a successful business, started a chapter of BNI, returned to college to earn a second degree,   and ran a large school fundraiser for 7 consecutive years.
BSO: What are you currently reading ?
NB:
Getting Past No: Negotiating with Difficult People by William Ury
BSO: What are your most rewarding charitable involvements ?
NB:
My father-in-law died from ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
For five years after he passed, our family ran annual golf tournaments to raise money for ALS research.  It was a lot of work to put together a successful tournament year after year, but we always did, and we raised over $60,000.
BSO: Who has influenced you the most ?
NB:
I had a female boss many years ago when I first got into the apparel industry.  She was brilliant – she had such a mathematical mind, and she was really strong with computer systems.  She recognized my potential and took me under her wing. I learned so much from her, and she promoted me through the ranks as she progressed as well.  I have kept her in mind all these years, and use her example in whatever role I may be in at the time.
BSO: What’s your advice for starting a business ?
NB:
▪️Do you research.
▪️Have a plan.
▪️What are the realistic costs to get started?
▪️What is a realistic sales forecast?
▪️Assume your expenses will be higher than you think, and income lower than you think.
If you are prepared for that scenario, you will buy yourself time to get your business cranking.

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