Enterprising women: supporting women at work
For many people, starting their own business is a dream.
Whether to gain creative control, financial freedom or lifestyle flexibility, the reasons for wanting to go it alone are as plenty as they are personal.
And when it comes to Australian women, the numbers show they are an entrepreneurial lot.
Research from Connecting Australia, AlphaBeta’s first national economic and social study into the impact of the nbn™ broadband access network (commissioned by NBN Co), shows female entrepreneurs are 20 times more likely to emerge in nbn™-connected regions compared to non-nbn™-connected regions.*
By 2021, the number of self-employed women is expected to soar to more than 52,000.
Becky Eaves and Mikala Grosse are two enterprising women already taking advantage of connectivity to help them live and work on their own terms.
Meet Eaves and Grosse
Head to Australia’s most southerly state and you’ll find Eaves and Grosse located in Legana (to the north) and Kingston (down south), respectively.
Tasmania was the first state to be connected to the nbn™ access network and, recently, the first to have its rollout completed.
Yet, these days, where you’re based is becoming less important than being connected to fast broadband.
Both women have built businesses that reach far beyond their local areas with the help of services over the nbn™ access network.
Says Eaves, “My business wouldn’t have grown as it has without my online presence, where you can reach the right audience for your product or service.”
Teacher Carry All
A bag that fits all of the typical bits and pieces that teachers are expected (or need) to carry with them for work, Eaves’ inspiration for Teacher Carry All came from close to home.
“When my sister, who is a teacher, needed a bag that could hold a lot while remaining stylish, I made her one. With that, Teacher Carry All was born.”
That was more than a decade ago.
After building up a strong local following, Eaves had plans for something bigger: “We sold them locally for 12 years, quietly dreaming of one day creating our own empire.”
Today, the range – and its audience – has expanded.
“My business has always grown organically through word of mouth, but now that’s online through social media, teaching groups and my website,” says Eaves. “It has created a much larger audience for my business, and now 90 per cent of my sales are online.”
With the arrival of fast broadband in her area, Eaves was able to take her business to the next level.
For Mikala Grosse, like many entrepreneurs, her start-up journey sprang from personal need.
When her son encountered a difficult time in primary school, Grosse – a qualified project manager – decided to try home schooling.
“I had to completely rearrange my work life as a result, and had to let go of a lot of beloved project work,” says Grosse.
From that came the inspiration to work from home and for herself.
“I started my business to provide the opportunity to continue doing work I enjoy, while still having the flexibility to support my son and spend more time with my daughter.”
Today, Inspired Office supports its clients through project management, virtual assistance, as well as coaching and consulting services.
And it’s all with a particular kind of client in mind: mums in business.
“I’m a small-business integrator,” explains Grosse. “I work with mums in business to help them simplify, integrate and automate systems and processes to help them to grow and scale successfully.”
If the Connecting Australia research is anything to go by, many more entrepreneurial mothers may soon be on their way to self-employment.
Almost half of Australia’s working women in senior positions want greater flexibility in their working lives; for 40 per cent of them, this desire relates to their role as a parent.
Enterprising women, happy mums
Mums as well as businesswomen, Eaves and Grosse believe connectivity is helping them to be successful in both roles.
Says Eaves, “With fast broadband, I’ve been able to run my online business and continue to study from home with my small children^, making the most of when they are sleeping or at school. I can work around our home schedule without losing time with my children.”
Grosse agrees with Eaves’ points about fast broadband, which she describes as being “absolutely essential” to her business, as well as to her family.
“When my son was doing eSchool, it was important he was able to log in and participate in his online classes (live video lessons) without impacting my live video meetings with clients in another room.^
“I am forever uploading, downloading and live streaming videos. Plus, during school holidays, I can continue working when everyone else is playing games, surfing the web and watching Netflix.”^
Full steam ahead
With fast broadband on their side, Eaves and Grosse show no signs of slowing down their businesses.
Says Eaves, “I’ll be increasing my support network and continuing my business studies. My goal is to scale Teacher Carry All so it’s well-known Australia wide, then worldwide, by all those looking for quality accessories.”
And Grosse will be relying on connectivity to retain clear communication channels with a crew of remote workers.
“I intend on building a team of virtual assistants to support me with the implementation of our systems and processes into clients’ businesses. This will also allow me to service more women in business, most of whom work from home.”
On the subject of working from home, Eaves adds: “The internet opens up a world of possibilities to women who are housewives, mums or even people who are stuck at home due to ill health or unable to find work in their location.
“You can reach key services, training and business support that isn’t found locally.”
For Grosse, there’s no real mystery why women in Australia – especially mums – are diving enthusiastically into entrepreneurship.
“It allows us to work from home while our children are young. Previously, when you had children who you wanted to stay at home with, you had to leave your job.
“Now you can either shift your job to your home office and work remotely, or start up your own business pursuing your passion.”
*‘nbn™-connected regions’ are those areas where the rollout of the nbn™ access network is more than 90 per cent complete. ‘non-nbn™-connected regions’ are those areas where the nbn™ access network rollout is less than 10 per cent complete.
^nbn provides services to our wholesale customers (phone and internet providers). nbn™ wholesale speed tiers available to your phone and internet provider vary depending on the access technology in your area. Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ access network, depends on the nbn™ access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to your premises, whether you are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside our control (like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network). Speeds may be impacted by the number of concurrent users on nbn’s Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Satellite users may experience latency.