I’m the daughter of Italian immigrants who settled in Wangaratta in the 50s and had a range of farming businesses. With a feminist Italian mother I was told I could do anything I wanted with a good education and hard work. After uni, I moved to Sydney and fell into destination marketing and sales. When I met my now husband, I moved back to Melbourne and started Fusion in 2003 with my previous employer as my first client.
Started in 2003, Fusion offers two services: 1) business events sales agency specialising in representing boutique collection of hotels, resorts and suppliers to business events. I also work with clients to create sales and marketing plans for their business.
Starting my business. There is never a good time to start. Start part-time if you can so you're not under financial pressure initially. I found everything took longer than I thought.
What are your three favourite business tools and why?
When I had early success with my second and third clients, I realised the value in what I offer to clients. I learnt that how I articulate that value in proposals and marketing material is crucial as you only have one opportunity at making a good impression.
In the early stages of my business, I didn’t price my time and expertise correctly. I gave it away too cheaply because I was so happy to have a client. It never ends well as you resent the client, when in fact it is your responsibility to price jobs correctly and communicate your value to clients. I have learnt to say no to clients which are not financially viable.
Females being supported by other females in business. It can be very isolating starting your business and it is crucial you have a network of other business owners to share your experiences, highs and lows as well as get advice. Find a local network or start your own business mastermind group. Females balancing childcare and businesses is challenging and I don’t believe there any such thing as balance - it is a matter of trying to keep all the balls in the air and being OK when some drop.
Red wine! When I’m busy I can easy become overwhelmed with all the different parts of running the business for clients, then running my own business ie. finance, sales, marketing, etc. I try to block out time to ‘work on’ my business and I outsource what I'm not good at ie. I have a bookkeeper and social media person as recognising your strengths in business is crucial. I also meditate and take time out for myself.
My past employer who was also my first client. She supported my business by not only trusting me with her business but also by becoming my biggest promoter. She has retired now and we still speak quarterly to discuss areas when I get stuck. It is important that you find a mentor who you admire and who is where you wish to be in five years' to assist you with the next steps of your business. Be respectful of their time and appreciative of their shared expertise, I will often send a card thanking her for her time and what her advice means to me.
Oprah Winfrey – among the many things I admire about Oprah as a business entrepreneur, she was determined, focused and connects authentically with people. Also, she asks what is the intention before anything or meeting - ‘what is our intention for this …..? ' Asking ‘why’ is simple but powerful. At the height of her production business, Harpo, she still signed every cheque so she knew the expenses in her business - a crucial lesson.
Also: 'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel' - Maya Angelou
Looks 10, Chat 3 is a great podcast about two professional women who are also mums but also are refreshingly honest, intelligent, love baking and reading – what’s not to love?!
... are business entrepreneurs, full stop. I don’t like this sentence at all as it is a crutch – we are business owners. The fact we are mums as is part of our story but irrelevant to our business as we don’t call male business owners, “Business dads….”