At BizON, we believe in the power of small business and entrepreneurship and that every one should wake up in the morning loving what they do. We come across many terrific entrepreneurs daily and want to give them the recognition they deserve by putting the spotlight on them via BizON’s BizSPOTLIGHT!

It’s an honour to give the first spotlight to Dana Abou Shackra, Innovation Manager at Zara Baladi Food Products and founder at Spice of Zara located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Dana joined the family business at age 13 doing small tasks around the office. Upon University graduation, Dana had the idea to create a sister company to the family business, one that serves the growing online shopping community and horizontally integrates the family business. launched in the fall of 2015 and sells ethnic spices, herbs and seasonings, some of which can be hard to find in store.

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Here’s our Q&A with Dana:

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Why did you decide to be a business founder?

When I was 13 my dad opened up a business and reminded us regularly, this is a  “family business” and with that, a sense of duty to add value to the business has been with me since. I knew that the challenge of establishing my own customer base was something I needed to accomplish, independently, to be able to take a step from family business member to entrepreneur.

 In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of being a business founder?

There is multitude of variables that a founder must be aware of at all times during customer acquisition. This is by far the greatest challenge. You will require a high degree of tolerance for ambiguity and persistence is key. This keeps you on your toes almost every minute of the day. If you don’t have a way to relax and unwind, it could bring on a lot of stress to your life. Nonetheless, the pros far outweigh any con I can think of. I think creation is at the center of societal progress, it is rewarding to be a part of that.

What are some hurdles you had to overcome while being a business founder?

Being in constant flow towards your goal. The success of my business comes from the accumulated experience of the team. Everyday we experience something new in our market and our customers, these accumulated experiences, over time, form knowledge bases – the secret sauce to any business. To remain competitive you must be growing your knowledge base daily, this is constant flow. Managing that flow on a daily is a hurdle because distractions, Murphy’s Law and above all, just never enough time.

What is your vision and exit strategy for the business?

In business, it can be important to start with the end in mind. This is a great question. I keep many options abound for the exit strategy; some options include contracted management, succession, selling and also, maintaining connections & networks with BizON. I recommend not having all of the eggs of a sale in one basket because the sale of a business could take many years to be initiated and finalized. Keeping your options open and being a part of a business buy & sell community limits risks and importantly, opens you up to more possibility.

Thanks Dana for participating in our Spotlight! We wish you nothing but the best!

If you are interested in featuring your business in BizON’s BizSPOTLIGHT, please send an email to with the Subject: [Company Name] – BizSPOTLIGHT.

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