Surviving the Slump: layoff pushes Calgarian to start her own business

Click to play video: '‘It’s something that is desperately needed in Alberta’: Many laidoff workers turning to entrepreneurship'
‘It’s something that is desperately needed in Alberta’: Many laidoff workers turning to entrepreneurship
WATCH ABOVE: After what she calls a ‘devastating’ layoff, Tracy Blunt took her employment prospects into her own hands. Mia Sosiak reports on how many people are Surviving the Slump – May 18, 2016

A Calgary woman has leveraged her layoff into a new career as an entrepreneur, to survive the Alberta energy slump.

Last summer, Tracy Brunt lost her job as a manager at a downtown recruitment firm because of slumping oil prices.

“It was devastating, it was devastating,” she said. “I was very invested in my career, and what can you do?”

Since no one was hiring, Brunt decided to buy a franchise that offers frozen meal delivery to seniors; she’s now the owner of Heart to Home Meals Calgary.

Many business development programs are noticing a big increase in registrations.

“This economy is in recession right now, and a lot of people are turning to self-employment,” said Carolyn Davis, Community Relations director at Momentum.

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The not-for-profit organization is a community-based group that offers business development training and micro-loans for aspiring entrepreneurs facing barriers, including disabilities, poverty or a layoff.

Momentum saw a 22 per cent increase in demand over last year, which means the self-employment marketplace is getting more crowded.

“They really need to have done some homework and check is there anybody else out there doing what my idea sounds like, and have I got something where there is likely a market niche that I can get a go of it,” said Davis.

It’s something Brunt carefully considered before buying the franchise.

“[Senior meal delivery is] something that is desperately needed in Alberta,” Brunt said.

Before launching last week, Brunt took a SAIT entrepreneurship course, which gave her the confidence to find her own investor when the banks turned her down.

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Now it’s all paying off; she landed 30 clients in her first week.

“The phones are ringing off the hook,” she said. “People are so excited about this service and I can hardly keep up with the brochure requests.”

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