2540 Kensington Road N.W. Calgary AB accelerator@districtventures.ca

Diana Olsen shares how she grew her company from the ground up

August 9, 2017 — CEO and founder of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, Diana Olsen, joined Arlene on this week’s episode of Venturing Out with Arlene Dickinson.

In this episode, Arlene chats with Diana Olsen, CEO and founder of Balzac Coffee and a winner from CBC’s Dragons’ Den, Season 6. Balzac’s Coffee Roasters is named after the 19th century French novelist and coffee aficionado. They talk about what it’s like to be a successful entrepreneur while being a single mother. They also chat about how hard it can be to grow a business while staying true to your original vision.

Olsen’s entrepreneurial journey is unique – she’s grown Balzac’s to 13 locations across Ontario, all while balancing single motherhood and a healthy lifestyle. Her focus on her company has been on growth and expansion, but she notes that it’s important to know when to step aside:

“It is important to me that the company keeps growing for their [the employees] sakes. That’s a really important reason for growing a company, so that you can take them along for the ride. I’m letting the company lead me, and not me lead the company. And I’m happy to do that.”

When asked for her advice for other entrepreneurs, Olsen reflects on her ability to be a great entrepreneur, but a not-so-great business person:

“Well, I really see my business through the lens of my customer. And that can sometimes be costly to the business, as you know. But in the long run, I think that has served me well. It can be tough, if you’re really focusing on your profits. So it’s maybe slowed down the growth of Balzac’s, but it’s saved the integrity of Balzac’s. I think after 25 years we still have something to be really proud of. We still have a café that’s dynamic. We’re bringing in new products all the time. We’re always looking out there to see what’s happening, not resting on our laurels, not making it like a franchise where it’s cookie-cutter and the less moving parts the better. We’re the opposite.”

To hear more from Diana on Episode 4, click here.

CBC Calgary presents Venturing Out with Arlene Dickinson. It’s a seven-part series of candid conversations between Arlene and some of Canada’s top entrepreneurs. They cover the highs, the lows and everything in between when it comes to starting and running a business in Canada.

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