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Life-saving career change

Starting a business with just an idea and without any knowledge of how to turn that idea into a successful enterprise is the challenge facing many entrepreneurs. We talk with one woman who changed her life and the life of others when she took an idea and stepped outside of her career comfort zone.

Even though Heidi Jonsson loved her job as a heavy equipment driver, the long 12-hour shifts were taking her away from her son and husband. She wanted to change that and spend more time with her family, which was how Norsafe evolved.

Norsafe provides a safer working environment for all types of businesses by identifying faulty equipment and removing them from service. Its services include test and tag, RCD testing, repair work and thermal imaging.

“In 2009 I had a dream of being home more with my family, and when I came across this service, I realised it could be a fabulous business model because typically electricians don’t want to do it because it’s a monotonous, boring job,” she says. “So, after undergoing TAFE training and learning how to start a company, which was a huge learning curve and quite daunting, the business eventually took off. Now, here we are celebrating 10 years in business.”

Not only has Heidi created a successful business, she employs up to eight staff, she recently won the Queensland Regional Business Excellence Award in the National AusMumpreneur Awards and is one of the first females on the board of National Electrical Contractors Association Qld. In addition, in the past two years Norsafe has achieved an average of 30 per cent growth.

“I have had a passion for safety since I was young,” Heidi says. “When I was 13, my five-year-old step-brother Simon was run over and killed on the family farm. It was a real tragedy that affected our family terribly and still does 34 years on.”

I know, without doubt, that we have saved someone’s life

“I’ve seen the devastating effect Simon’s death had on our family, and I have a real passion to make sure nobody else has to go through that grief. My purpose is to protect. I get a real kick out of finding equipment that could potentially kill someone and helping our clients fix the problem. I tell my staff all the time, we get the opportunity every day to be angels and save someone’s life.”

Her business covers from Bowen in the south up to the Cape and west to Mount Isa, and her clients are involved in just about every industry. Heidi’s job has taken her to the farthest reaches of remote Far North Queensland, where she has had her share of adventures.

“I’ve crossed swollen croc-infested creeks, driven on bulldust back roads, raced cyclones across the Cape and slept in my car,” she says. “But I’m very well prepared. I take heaps of food, the sat phone and make sure my vehicle is well serviced beforehand. I’m thankful that my potato farming childhood taught me resilience, endurance and how to change a tyre!”

Heidi works mostly in the office these days although she still does remote work. Most of her staff are mums who can’t leave home whereas she can, now that her son is older.

Her advice to other entrepreneurs is to choose an occupation you are passionate about and thoroughly research their market and their audience.

“Doing something you love makes it much easier to get out of bed every day, and everything is subject to supply and demand,” she says. “People buy a feeling, so you’ve got to think about how you can solve their problems and then do your research. Surround yourself with like-minded people, have some self-belief and a bit of a dream and go for it!”

Networks like Ausmumpreneur offer generous support from like-minded people and Heidi’s story will also be featured in a book which is being released in December.

Heidi’s greatest feeling is going to bed every night knowing the Norsafe team have helped prevent unnecessary heartache.

“I’m proud to have educated our clients on the dangers of electricity,” she says. “Norsafe has removed around 4000 unsafe electrical items from service. I know, without doubt, that we have saved someone’s life.”

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