Business Success – An Interview with Belinda Waggoner


There are a lot of ways to define business success – ultimately it comes down to the business owner’s definition. However by anyone’s definition, what Belinda Waggoner has done with her business, HR-Haven, is an outstanding success. She’s been nominated and won numerous awards, including the 2013 25 under 25 award from Thinking Bigger. And to put that into even more perspective…she officially founded the firm at the beginning of 2010 – so she’s only been up and running for just over 3 years!!!

I recently had a chance to interview Belinda as my first guest for Aspiring Entrepreneurs – a Blog Talk Radio podcast that I’ll be doing once a month or so – featuring entrepreneurs who have something interesting they’d like to share.

What’s it take to grow and succeed?

The first key to success for business growth is having a really clear idea of what you want to be, the problem that you’re solving and what makes you different. It helps when the problem that you’re solving is a big challenge for your potential clients and they are willing to pay good money to have it solved…!

As Belinda explains in the interview – HR-Haven was founded because she saw something missing…or even broken in the Human Resources industry. Most of us would agree that Human Resources is generally a bad word, with a lot of negative connotations – bureaucracy,  restrictions, things not to do, less fun than dental work, etc. More importantly, Human Resources typically isn’t seen as a strategic enabler for businesses…despite the fact that your business runs on people and as Belinda points out – your single largest expense is likely your payroll.

Most small businesses need HR help – the legal side of things has become very complex and changes often, so you’re at risk if you don’t know what you’re doing. Most businesses also need to leverage their employees as a strength in their business rather than a weakness…and that’s really what HR-Haven is all about. Strategically if you want to successfully grow your business, you need the right employees – you need to have The Right People On the Bus, which means they need to match your culture, they need to want to work with you and they need ‘get’ what it is that you do. That’s the real advantage that HR-Haven brings to their clients – helping them identify the right people and then making it possible for you, as the business owner, to focus on your core business rather than the HR ‘stuff’.

Hr-Haven was built to be ‘A totally different approach to HR‘ – which is what it says right on their tagline…but more importantly it’s how they operate. One of their key core values (driven by Belinda) is having a sense of humor and finding ways to make the work fun. When you couple that with their focus towards helping you be strategic, they really have a unique approach within the industry.

And in case you’re wondering, the model is working. HR-Haven has gone from just Belinda when she started the business to currently having 7 full time employees, a great office space and a lot more on the way…again in only 3 years!!!

What Lessons Can You Learn from Belinda?

Obviously you’ll need to listen to the podcast to really get all of the wisdom from Belinda (my words by the way, not hers). But here are a few of the lessons learned that we talked about:

  • Starting and growing your business is really hard work. Probably not a surprise to any business owners, but it is often a surprise to people who are considering starting a business.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Although Belinda has done a marvelous job of moving HR-Haven forward, she does feel like she’s had a few false steps along the way, which happens to everyone, but the key is to recognize the mistake, learn from it and move on.
  • Stay focused on your strengths. As an entrepreneur it’s easy to see everything as an opportunity…and there’s a lot of things you COULD do to make money, especially once you start making some headway and working with great clients. However as Belinda points out, if you don’t stay focused on your strengths, you’ll soon find yourself struggling to figure out what you really do.

We also talk about Belinda’s marketing and sales approach – she’s a big fan of an education based approach (check out her blog – a lot of great stuff there) along with a few other tactics. The interview is just over 40 minutes and I guarantee it will be a great investment of your time – Belinda has an amazing story and if you’re at all interested in growing your business or becoming more successful, she’s a great example that you could learn from.

Here’s the link to the hosted podcast – you can listen from there or download at your convenience:

Aspiring Entrepreneurs #1 with Belinda Waggoner and HR-Haven

I’d love to get your feedback and thoughts on the interview – what stood out to you? What lesson did you walk away with? Do you like the podcast format? Suggestions for future podcasts? I’d like to hear it all – share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach