Featured in Victoria’s “The Business of Bliss” special section in the January/February 2016 issue, Heather Wiese-Alexander is the owner of the Dallas-based bespoke stationery company, Bell’Invito. Because she founded her business at a young age, she initially struggled to develop the necessary skills for simultaneously managing, inspiring, and retaining employees. Today, Heather enjoys mentoring would-be female entrepreneurs and passing on the information she gained along her path to success.
What advice would you give to women who dream of starting their own businesses?
“Keep your approach to work simple. As women, we complicate things, albeit sometimes unknowingly. We tend to solve problems in the workforce by doing rather than delegating. Empower everyone you work with—including clients—and expect them to deliver the results you both have agreed upon. Follow through with your decisions, but accept the fact that you will make some mistakes. It is important to learn from your past. I promise that no one worth investing your time in cares as much about your oversights as you think they do.”
In the early years of your career, how did you overcome the challenges of managing, inspiring, and retaining employees?
“I love helping entrepreneurs with these aspects of business because I craved this information when I was starting in my own endeavors. The most common issue bosses overlook is self-management. We know our strengths but avoid our shortcomings. Entrepreneurs need to manage themselves, then manage their staff members. My assumptions that money and praise are the best incentives were shattered after I attended a workshop that taught how to hire and manage well. Managing well comes from workers clearly knowing what to expect and what is expected of them.”
How has the ability to keep an open mind helped you in the business world?
“When I look back at how much my business has evolved, I realized how little I knew at the beginning of my career. This recognition has allowed me to accept practices, ideas, and networking connections I otherwise would have passed by. Once, I nearly dismissed a great manufacturing resource while I was on holiday. Before I went on vacation, I already knew how I was going to accomplish my manufacturing needs. I had to remind myself to keep an open mind, so I obliged to meet with this contact. To my surprise, I was not only humbled, but also enamored. Through my receptiveness, I found a new company that offered a better deal.”
What is the No. 1 piece of advice you offer to the young women you mentor?
“First, they should make sure that starting a business is what they really want to do. Typically, they will see the restrictions placed on them in their current situation and think, If I become my own boss, it will all be easier. Before making this decision, young people need to gain corporate exposure and learn the qualities of an efficient employee. At some point in life, you feel pulled in every direction. Being a wife, mom, and boss is difficult. When you add the title of ‘entrepreneur’ to that list, the level of commitment and stress intensifies. Today, I try and give potential entrepreneurs the tools I didn’t have initially so that they can avoid the pitfalls that may cost them an opportunity at self-employment.”
Text Nicole Caston
To learn more about Heather Wiese-Alexander and Bell’Invito, see “The Business of Bliss,” on page 35 of the January/February 2016 issue of Victoria.