I am fortunate to have long been part of the network Ausmumpreneurs and further fortunate to be part of the inside team of Mums in Business.
The people in this group volunteer their time to support this network and champion the cause of mothers who have their own business.
This past weekend was a big one for Ausmumpreneurs, with the annual awards night held in Melbourne. Significant things have happened in the past year for us as a community.
The federal government is taking us seriously. Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson came along.
Having met many politicians who don’t walk the talk, I was very impressed with Bruce. Yes, he turned on the charm, but he was there championing, engaging and getting really involved with these women, their stories and the evening. His in-depth knowledge of his portfolio, his personal experience, and his desire to contribute to our community was impressive. His private secretary was very keen to open their doors to engage women in business, to inform policy for the coming election and importantly get real views of mothers across Australia who run their own businesses.
We are indeed a collective powerhouse of strong capable women who provide for our families and are contributing significant revenues to the Australian economy. We also control a great deal of spend in our economy and Ausmumpreneurs deserve to be taken very seriously by government, by large organisations and by the community as a whole.
Our network’s commercial capital is not just being recognised by substantial support from St George Banking Group, Regus, and a raft of other backers who provided a prize fund of over $100,000 this year.
These large organisations were doing things differentially, no boring logo for sponsorship, but getting in there and participating. St George Banking Group (St George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA), have assigned dedicated personal Ausmum business bankers in every state to this network.
These bankers are all mums themselves and they were networking and enjoying the spirit of collaboration Ausmumpreneurs generates. Regus extended its whole network of virtual assistance and business lounges to the network and there was no sponsor selling or spruking, just building genuine relationships.
It is hard for brands to engage with networks like Ausmums, but if they do it in the same spirit of collaboration that the network is built on, then it is a winning formula that drives mutual and powerful recommendation.
The winner of Ausmumpreneur of the Year was Monica Meldrum from Whole Kids. Monica is a successful businesswoman manufacturing, marketing and supplying the largest retailers in this country with her wide range of healthy kids’ food while juggling two children. Her story was an inspiring tale for many SME business owners.
The biggest aspect of her story and her success that struck me was her understanding the benefit of letting go, and letting her business be run by its people.
So instead of juggling calls at playgroup when she had baby number one, by the time baby two came along, she didn’t need to so constantly multitask and her business is more successful being run by the talent she has surrounded herself by.
It is probably one of the hardest things to do in business, when its your other baby that you have to let go.
The inspiring stories, the collaboration, the support, of the network is amazing. Some of these women have achieved success despite a background of hardship, diversity, domestic violence, and more.
They left some of the hardened commercial executives close to tears with their stories of how women power through to succeed, when many in business far easier paths would just fall over.
There are big plans for Ausmumpreneurs in the coming year, with founders, Peace Mitchell and Katy Garner tackling the next challenge of setting up an Ausmumpreneur Business Academy to help even more mothers get their own business mojo going.
For more information to get involved with Ausmumpreneurs go to the Facebook page and share in the conversation.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.