Women in Business Series – Nicole Bucknell

June 4, 2020

 

Tell us about yourself – who you are and what you do?

My name is Nicole Bucknell.  I am a 49-year-old mother of three gorgeous young adults and married to a wonderful, loving kind man.  I own BnB Fresh Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables. We supply fruit and vegetables to Pubs, Sporting Clubs, Restaurants, Cafes, Aged Care, boarding Schools etc.

What was your first job and education?

My first job was at Myer when I was 15 years old and I absolutely loved it! Even though I wore high heel shoes for eight hours straight and could not walk after the shift, I knew I wanted to work in retail. I loved the bright lights, the fast pace (well it was Christmas time) all the different departments with all fantastic things I wanted to buy but most of all I loved  the interaction with customers and the feeling I felt when I was able to help them with their purchase. This continued to give me a great sense of achievement.

What was the pathway to your career or owning a business?

When I was at Myer I completed their Management course.  I then became a store manager at Country Road and completed further management training courses and soon became an in house trainer myself which I thoroughly enjoyed. My passion soon became training and developing team members and managers.  I then got my dream job – working at Harrods London.  I was a Sales Manager and assistant Area Sales Manager.  Again, I was lucky enough to be involved in the training and developing of team members and managers. I decided I needed a University degree to formalise and further my career and I enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration at QUT.

My husband came from a family of small business owners and when we decided to buy a business, as scary and as risky as it was, we both felt we were ready.

How did past recessions impact you personally and in your work?

The closest recession in business for us was the GFC in 2008. These were very scary times as we were only two years into our business and in the back of my mind was the statistics 50% of small businesses fail within their first five years. I did not want this to be our business, not with three small children and the potential to lose our home.  We did not want to fail. The old expression “Work smarter and not harder” in business – well in our business this is ridiculous – both go hand in hand.  During tough times you do have to roll up the sleeves and work hard – often long hours and stressful nights. You spend most waking hours thinking of ways to improve your business, to reduce your costs, to get that little bit more productivity out of your team members.  Yes, these times are tough but in business it is all one big learning curve, we ride the wave, we learn, we adapt and most of all we never forget the lessons learnt.

Being a husband and wife team it also taught us not to both helicopter the business, it taught us that we have our own roles and trust that the other will do the best job in their defined area of the business.

Who/what helped you along the way?

I would say our team at BnB has helped us in our business, we have a team of employees that are hardworking and understand what it takes to keep this business running.  We have always believed our most important asset in our business is our team as they are the ones that make it happen, they are BnBs shop window when they go out to our customers.

Also, I am incredibly lucky to have some of my dearest friends have their own businesses or in business.  Some of our greatest business successes have been from listening and chatting with other women about business.  I do believe that most women enjoy helping other women in business (in fact in all areas of life) You just have to surround yourself with the right people.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given and by whom? 

Earlier on in my career (scary to think 1987)  I had a great Store Manager who greeted us at the door each morning to say good morning and to also remind us that when the doors open each morning it was like the curtain going up and we should be ready to perform. I know it sounds cheesy but I never forgot it and when I talk with customers I remember this is an experience I don’t want them to forget. That same Manager was often at the door at closing time to say thank you.  Again, my husband and I like to do this every working day with our team.  A quick “Thanks for today”.

How do you deal with challenging times?

I like to think I am calm – well at least on the outside as this is imperative in a business that everyone knows they are safe, and that we will do everything to protect each employee and their family. Again, our team is the most important asset.  I am also very methodical, so I like to write everything down.  I like to have an action list of what is to be done, who is accountable and when it needs to be achieved.  This gives me a sense of control in times that I feel are out of my control. I like to explain to everyone in my business and my family exactly what is happening and how we are going to manage during these times.  Knowing everyone knows what is happening and what needs to be done gives control to the situation. Also, team meeting to brainstorm is vital for one to get great ideas, but it helps to keep everyone involved.

What drives you?   

My family and the thought of adventurous holidays.

What are you most proud of?

Sorry to be boring but my family. My husband is the epitome of hard work. My three kids, I shake my head daily and think how blessed I am. Then I would say our business, particularly overcoming the rough times as there has been a few….. I certainly felt 15 years in the business navigating GFC’s, floods, droughts etc. helped us get through this current global pandemic!

What’s your greatest regret?

My mum was a loving, hardworking, successful, corporate women. She was my role model and still is. She died before I had my children and business, I would have loved her wisdom, advice, and most importantly cuddles.

In business there are no regrets, just opportunity to learn and to keep learning.

What have been the biggest lessons you have learnt (in life and/or business)?

That you never stop learning in life and in business. Also admit errors and to say sorry.  We are all human and it will happen and by admitting mistakes or saying sorry it shows you can be trusted.

What advice would you give to young women just starting out who want to succeed in the workplace?

  • Life really is great! Smile and laugh regularly
  • Sometimes luck does have something to do with it, but you create the environment around it.
  • It is always OK to give credit when it is due – it is not a competition.
  • You are a woman, you don’t have to act in any other way that is not you.
  • Remain calm and focused when faced with challenges.
  • Surround yourself with good people that genuinely care for you.
  • God gave you two ears and one mouth – listen twice as much as you speak.
  • And above all….Treat everyone in your life the way you would like to be treated (basic but so many forget)