Heather Polivka’s timing is impeccable, but then again, there’s no perfect time to start your own business.
The NAWBO Minnesota member—whose mom and grandfather were entrepreneurs and whose mom was a NAWBO member—opened HeatherP Solutions in March just as the country was shutting down. “It’s in my DNA,” she says.
Heather had a successful career in human resources and marketing for major retailers and a global health care company before venturing out on her own. “I had the paycheck and status and loved the ride, but when I stopped and looked around, I thought, ‘Is this all there is?’ I wasn’t able to make the impact I wanted anymore.”
Heather’s business is built around her belief that a brand cannot be successful unless it has the buy-in of employees, because they drive the brand experience. When employees experience the brand first-hand and are empowered to deliver that experience to customers, it creates a multiplier effect for better business outcomes, or as Heather calls it, “1+1=3.”
“What sets me apart is there are HR consultants who work on culture, engagement and employer branding and marketing consultants who work on culture or internal activation campaigns, but there really isn’t anyone else who brings these together as part of the business strategy,” Heather says.
Still, it hasn’t been easy. Heather’s business plan went out the window when everything shut down. The worst-case scenario she planned for from a revenue perspective quickly became reality, forcing her to have some serious conversations with her husband and board of directors.
With their support and insights, she focused on what she could control. At first, that meant shifting her mindset from selling to being of service to her community and other businesses. She began researching how companies were walking the talk when it came to connecting employee success with business success. “This guided me on how I’d focus my time and leadership going forward,” she says.
Heather has since shifted her focus to employee engagement in this new norm, and recently launched a unique service offering at two clients’ request. It supports brand identity, workplace culture and a company’s vision of the culture they want to create through monthly plans that include content and activities. It also leverages neuroscience to help create the desired outcome. “I’m so proud of the work and honored clients thought I was the person to do this,” she says.
Heather is also proud to have other women business owners by her side through this journey. As a new entrepreneur, she was searching online for resources and came across NAWBO. “I mentioned it to my mom, who is one of my board members, and she said, ‘Oh yes, NAWBO!’” says Heather. “I was seeking out other people on this journey who have been through the ups and downs and could tell me how much of this roller coaster is COVID-related versus first-year WBO issues. I needed support and a sanity check.”
Heather found just that in NAWBO’s weekly Community Connects video chats where members network and share experiences and insights. “These were what my soul needed that I didn’t know it needed,” she says. “These were my first NAWBO interactions where I felt like I found my people.”
Indeed, NAWBO’s timing is impeccable too.
Cash Flow in a Crisis
When Heather’s new business plan went out the window, she did several things:
- She accepted her new reality and that anything above her plan’s worst-case scenario was excellent.
- She spoke to her husband to make sure he was still up for her new business, since her financial success impacted their family.
- They looked at where they were spending money, where they could tighten up (and did) and where they could access capitol if needed (but haven’t).
- Once she realized she had a better safety net than she initially thought, she invested for growth—hiring college students to help, investing in important technology and exhibiting at the virtual NAWBO Women’s Business Conference.