business woman of the month
Grace is the owner of e-presence Consultants Inc, founder of OSBN® and HUDDLESPACE by OSBN®. Grace holds a Bachelor degree in Communication Arts with emphasis on Radio, TV and Film and an Honours Diploma in Business Administration and Accounting. She has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer since 2009 and is a member of Microsoft Partners Network. Grace originally comes from Lebanon, a small country in the Middle East, and has for the past 28 years been establishing her career path in the greater Toronto area. She worked in the Canadian non-profit and corporate world for over 24 years where she equipped herself with invaluable experience that prepared her to start her own business in 2005. She founded Ontario Small Business Network (OSBN®) as an e-presence Consultants Inc. project in 2010. OSBN®, the virtual community of over 1500 Ontario small businesses has become the #1 marketing vehicle for small businesses in the Halton and Peel regions of Ontario, Canada.
In 2017, OSBN® expanded to move into a new premises (HUDDLESPACE by OSBN®) and turn it into a business hub whose mandate is to equip small business for growth.
Grace is married to Mak Nasralla with two adult children – Natalie & Krystina.
What are your recent achievements which you’d like to share with us?
My most recent achievement is owning, designing, implementing and operating a workplace facility that is being rented out to small businesses. A similar concept to the virtual office with some tweaks to meet the current needs of small business owners.
What are the benefits of a co-working area over personal workplaces?
At our facility, we provide both co-working space and personal workspace and sometimes I find clients with personal workspace wanting to use the co-workspace area. It’s more casual and provides a relaxed environment for the client.
What are the core elements that have helped you in becoming what you are today?
Daring to dream and follow my dream with confidence and perseverance that it will come true. During each milestone, the dream gets bigger and I embark on a new journey to set objectives and goals to make it happen. The core elements are: Have a dream, set a vision, set objectives and goals, stay focused, persevere and don’t give up.
How has virtual communication enhanced business opportunities?
Virtual communication has made it easy for us to connect. I can connect with my clients over social media. I can reach my segmented audience without even having to be there! I found building mailing lists as a good approach for reaching leads and potential clients. Social media and the tools that come with it is another approach for reaching the business target market.
What do you think entrepreneurs must take care of, but it usually goes unnoticed?
They should realize that they are running a small business, they should plan accordingly, strategize accordingly, spend accordingly and price their products/services accordingly.
What inspired you to launch your own business?
When I started the business the drive was time flexibility and with time it developed into a dream then it turned into a vision and mission statements… after that I started experiencing business growth.
Do you think digital media has more harms than benefits?
Well, every tool we use can be used to either harm or benefit. Its how we use it and what we use it for that makes the difference. Digital media can be a time waster or a money maker, it can be used to degrade others or treat others with dignity and respect; its how we decide to use it and what we decide to use it for that determine its benefits or harms.
What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
Each stage of the business has its own challenges, but the common challenge among all businesses is to meet monthly revenue targets. Sales is the biggest challenge, once that challenge is met it will help resolve other challenges that come along the way.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you/your Company?
Growth. All companies plan for growth but it is exciting to see it happen and bring with it a bigger dream and a bigger challenge.
You have always shared your experiences with people without any profit. Do you think more business experts should come forward to do it?
My business tagline is “equipping small businesses for growth” and I came up with this tagline because I truly and honestly mean it. It gives me pleasure to share my experiences and see that they benefit and inspire others as they start and grow their business. Do I think that more business experts should come forward to do it? Well, each business expert has their own approach and if they see value in doing that they will do it.
What is the difference that you see in the spirits of kids and college students about being innovative and creative?
I believe that every person, it doesn’t matter what stage in life they’re in, has that spirit of being creative and innovative in their own way. It can be people doing the dullest routine job but they come up with creative ways to break that routine and be successful at what they are doing, or a painter that creates a beautiful painting as he/she gets inspired to paint it. It can also be a little child that demonstrates creativity in drawing and doing crafts or another little child that demonstrates creativity in building sand castles and collecting unique shaped shells and rocks from nature. Or it can be some young college student that is encouraged to invent and come up with new apps or mechanisms. Or another college student that writes an essay that touches the hearts of millions. The difference in all that is the uniqueness of the creative idea or the implemented innovation.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
To entrepreneurs and business owners I say do not seek after becoming rich. Don’t make it your aim. Instead put all your efforts in building your dream to make it a business reality and the rest will come. I will also say, stay focused and avoid distractions as you grow your business.
What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is the fulfillment of a vision, the accomplishment of a dream, the prosperous ending of a project.
What is your take on competition and competitors?
Competitors can either be opponents or good leads. I prefer to deal with my competitors as leads. I send them referrals and I do appreciate it if then send me some.
Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Thank you for featuring me as Business Woman of The Month. And thank you for giving me this opportunity to meet your audience and allow them to know me as an entrepreneur. I would like to invite entrepreneurs and business owners to come out and visit us at HUDDLESPACE by OSBN® where we can provide them with workspace and help them equip their business for growth.
Advice for Entrepreneurs:My advice for entrepreneurs is to dare to dream. Have a vision of your big dream for your business and head for it with perseverance. Remember success does not come quickly. You may fail a few times before you succeed. Perseverance and staying focused on the big vision will eventually lead to success.