One of the last few things you would expect to hear at a high energy female entrepreneur conference is the repeated acknowledgement of the role a spouse or family played in the ascent to success. But anyone who has attended Run The World will know that this entrepreneurial conference never involves the blowing of individual trumpets.
Organised and hosted by the League of Extraordinary Women, the Melbourne conference for female entrepreneurs entered its third year last weekend with its trademark championing of women entrepreneurs and an unpacking of the plain, honest truth about business reality. Nowhere was this more evident than in its line up of speakers.
From the owner of Australia’s largest beauty and personal care company to a bohemian boutique store in Byron Bay, each featured entrepreneur opened the backstage door to their inner world of business and shared the heart they have poured into it.
Keep It Real
When you read about entrepreneurial success, it’s easy and almost instinctive to assume that these entrepreneurs were the chosen ones. The ones who didn’t have to slog at day jobs while building their business or count pennies when dipping sales couldn’t cover rising costs. And if it’s a female entrepreneur, most either forget that she also has a full time job at home or automatically assume that she has domestic help.
Before meeting Gillian Franklin, you would be forgiven for thinking the same about her too. But the founder of The Heat Group, called a spade a spade when she kicked off Run The World 2015.
“You will always feel guilty,” she said matter-of-fact. “It’s about learning to manage the guilt and keep it in context. You decide what’s important to you, what’s not and who does what between you and your spouse.”
Gillian joked that her husband had reminded her to tell the room how “amazing” he was but through the laughter, it was pretty clear that she thought so too.
“It’s bloody hard to work and being a mother but you give up other things and then it’s ok. Keep focus on what you really want in your life. Have a realistic view and don’t think it’s easy-peasy.”
Tammy May, the founder and director of My Budget, recalled how her first child was one of the best things that happened for her business as she was forced to mentally transition into a managerial role.
“Having my daughter freed me to replace myself in the business. I had to put the right systems and procedures in place so the business could run without me,” she said.
Make favouritism work to your advantage when choosing the family member you want as your co-founder. In Amanda Walker Koronczyk’s case, it was her brother-in-law. The co-founder and owner of the wildly successful, Lord of The Fries, firmly believes that family comes before work. No exceptions. And that means working with someone she really likes in her or her husband’s family.
“It also means accepting each other’s work style and letting each other be the best in their own way. Leave the hard work at the office and be each other’s family at home.”
Elizabeth Briedis, who co-owns Spell Designs with her sister, had this to add, “When things come from your family they tend to come from the heart. And when things come from the heart, they tend to be authentic.”
All the speakers were strong advocates of business resilience in their own right but the one who stole the show was, without a doubt, Daniel Flynn. Standing in for his wife and the other half of the Thank You Group, Daniel had the room hanging on to his every step in his three-year journey to getting Thank You water on the shelves. He also made history at Run The World for being the first male speaker to take the stage.
“During those years, people asked us why we were sticking to the journey. It’s because we had found our why and it’s about making an impact. If everything we went through was to provide clean water to just that one person we met, then it’s worth it. Impossible is only someone else’s option and not a fact.”
Amanda agreed. She said that people would tell you not to bother because your business idea is too difficult or simple, or has been done before. “But just bother! You don’t know where you’ll go!”
Look Even Further Ahead
Gillian has spent the last one and half decades chiseling away at her business and vision in 10-year blocks. She envisions life at milestone decade ahead and works backwards.
“Be clear not about the next step but the one after that,” she said. “Look further forward, and then map your career backwards. You’ll be amazed at how far you can get.”
“Don’t look for the prince to put a shoe on your foot. Think about how to own the shoe store. And network with the boys. They are still in power.”
Visit www.leagueofextraordinarywomen.com.au for more information.