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Meet Our Award Finalists: Top 5 Tips from Dana Shortt

Dana Shortt is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out Waterloo, Ontario. She is a finalist for The 2017 Mompreneur Award of Excellence, representing her retail business, Dana Shortt Gourmet + Gifts!

Mompreneur Dana Shortt of Dana Shortt Gourmet and Gifts, finalist for 2017 mompreneur award of excellence

The ‘Why’ Behind Dana Shortt Gourmet + Gifts

“I loved Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk on “Starting with Why” – immediately after watching the video, I ran out and purchased his book, Start with Why. It made perfect sense to me that customers will only become a “raving fan” and loyal customer when they understand the “why” behind the brand. At Dana Shortt Gourmet and Gifts, our “why” is TASTE. We are passionate about taste above everything else.

Dana Shortt Gourmet and Gifts is a boutique-style gourmet food shop in the heart of Uptown Waterloo. I opened my first storefront location in ’04 after several years of catering in the K-W area. I went to Chef school in Toronto and was blown away by all of the wonderful prepared food stores in the area. My gut instincts told me that Waterloo was in desperate need of a shop where people could pick up freshly made appetizers, entrees and more. My catering customers confirmed my instincts and encouraged me to open a store where they could pick up dinner or elements of a dinner party when they didn’t require a caterer. Since 2004, we’ve been in steady growth mode and always strive to be better. In 2008, I purchased the gift shop adjacent to my store, and added gift baskets and quality chocolates to our line-up. In 2011, I added an olive oil and vinegar tasting bar  – becoming the 2nd tasting bar to open in Canada. In 2015, we underwent a complete re-brand including a floor to ceiling renovation.

Having the opportunity to create innovative solutions lies at the heart of my entrepreneurial spirit. Identifying an opportunity and filling the gap in a manner that meets customers’ needs is a passion of mine. I’m always focused on what’s next – being an entrepreneur is the only avenue for me to pursue my visionary talent.”

Dana’s Top 5 Tips for Other Women Thinking of Starting a Business:

  1. Look at your numbers regularly, and understand what your numbers mean (even if you’re “not a numbers” person!).
  2. Don’t be friends with your staff, but be friendly with them.
  3. If you have a negative and/or underperforming employee, remove them from your business as quickly as possible. Do it for the health of your business, for the benefit of the rest of your team, for the suppliers who are counting on you. Be as humane as possible when doing it, and hold your head high knowing that you terminated their employment in a respectful and professional manner.
  4. Keep your sense of humour; don’t be afraid to be silly sometimes. A team that laughs together works better.
  5. Never rest on your laurels – always strive to make yourself and your business the best “version” it can be. I chose to include the bay leaf (“Laurus Nobilis”) in our logo because it is a constant reminder for me to always push harder and not accept mediocrity.

Dana Shortt Gourmet and Gifts logo

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