Celebrating success through a difficult year, the Mornington Peninsula Shire team caught up with four local women who have successfully carved out a niche for their small business. We asked them to share any learnings that have helped them to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. Reflecting on almost eighteen months, they shared their experiences as women in business juggling the rest life has thrown at us.

Stina's Style

Linda George, Stina’s Style

Linda George founded Stina’s Style, a brand working to create moments of play through natural, unique and handmade children’s play accessories. Linda reflected, “Running a small business as a woman in 2021, I think that we have all had to become more flexible.”

“For me it was that I became extremely busy, with more and more people going online to purchase their products. In saying this, I may have had record sales during some months, I’ve also had other months, where the sales were extremely low and very unpredictable.”

Like many working women Linda has home schooled her children, “Honestly, it has proven a challenge to keep finding the motivation to head to work in the afternoon some days. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride and I am very grateful we have been able to continue to trade.”

Reflecting on the need for women to support women in business Linda explained, “I feel that I get support from fellow women in business, there is a shared understanding. I think this is fantastic and so important.”

Janine Harrison Real Estate

Janine Harrison, Janine Harrison Real Estate

Having grown up on the Peninsula, Janine has a deep connection to the area.  As founder of her own boutique real estate agent, it made it easier to share something she loves.

Inspired by interior decoration and being able to find clients their new dream home, Janine loves connecting with people. As a woman in business, Janine believes her success has come from forming strong business relationships and knowing when to ask for help. COVID has shown her that in business, you need an “ability to know when need expert advice – means able to concentrate on what you do really well.”

No stranger to a home office, she has embraced the time at home and worked to introduce new people to the Mornington Peninsula. The real estate market has flourished through COVID, despite the challenges. Managing rentals for female clients has enabled a deeper understanding for Janine. She explains she has found, “Women over a certain age often have less support and this makes affordable housing harder to find. I try to employ a heightened sense of empathy and work hard to help them find their new home.”

TwoAcre

Amanda Hardy, Two Acre Finance

Managing Director of Two Acre Finance, meet Amanda Hardy. Two Acre Finance offers a mortgage broking service specialising in home loans, financial planning, and insurances. A male dominated industry, Amanda shared only 26.9% of mortgage brokers are females, in part due to women often being the primary carer of children.  Amanda does both.

“As a mum with two young children, being a business owner allows me the flexibility to work my hours around my kid’s needs. However, I’m aware that balancing these responsibilities can also be a roadblock for many women in our industry.”

Hardy explained, “When COVID hit, like many women shouldering the burden of home schooling while also running a small business, I found it particularly challenging in the finance sector. At its peak last year, it became apparent quite quickly that COVID was equally a financial crisis as well as a health care crisis which increased our workload tenfold.”

“With this continuing into 2021 I’ve had to adapt not only my reliance on technology, but my hours of operation to ensure I’m meeting my children’s needs as well as those of my valued clients.  An evening Zoom meeting is not uncommon these days once myself and clients alike have finished ‘teaching’ for the day.”

“A silver lining to COVID has been the heightened sense of gratitude I have. I’m grateful that I chose a career that can really make a difference in people’s lives. I’m also thankful that I have a fantastic team who are technologically savvy to ensure it’s a seamless transition from office to working from home every time.”

Bev Dinsdale

Bev Dinsdale, Rosebud Packaging

Meet Bev Dinsdale, owner and driving force behind Rosebud Packaging, a local wholesale and retail business that is very focused on environmentally friendly and Australian made packaging products. She spends a lot of time researching sourcing and working with suppliers to develop packaging and cleaning materials that are reusable, recyclable, compostable, biodegradable and better for the planet.

COVID has made it hard to source supplies, yet Bev has prided herself on her commitment to customers and pivot the business to respond to their changing demands - takeaway products have been a critical new area of demand in this new COVID landscape. Working with her customers she responded to their needs for different sizes, shapes, colours and materials for all sorts of products - sourcing and inspiring, keeping costs down but making sure the products were fit for purpose.

"For me it's more than about making a living. It's all about the whole package – I believe you need to be well rounded in your approach to succeed in business. You want to do the very best that you can to make the world a better place. The products, the staff, the values of the business are all important.

Bev reflects on the strengths of her business, she is focussed on her staff, “We are all one team; very hands on and empathetic, all focussed on customer service.”

The key is to help customers to leave smiling. Compassion is important. You don’t know how hard people are doing it, so being empathetic to customers is important.”

Small business has been particularly hard hit by the impacts of the pandemic. A recent survey of local women business owners showed that 63% were either worried, or extremely worried about future economic prospects, and 89% had experienced negative effects on their mental health*. If you or someone you know needs support, connect with covid support resources.

*Women in Business 2021.

If you are looking to connect and collaborate with other like minded women in business, read more about local support organisations like ‘Women in Business’ here in part two of Supporting Local women in business.

Stay, play and explore local to support local– you might be surprised what you rediscover in your own backyard.

Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Support Local campaign urges community to support local. Connect with local businesses on our Support Local Business Directory

SUPPORT LOCAL. Think. Spend. Recommend.

Find other ways to support local businesses at mpbusiness.com.au/supportlocal