Today is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day – a day to celebrate and talk about. I love a good story and I guess now after 10 years of running my own business ventures, I feel like I am in a position to share the story of my own entrepreneurial journey in the hope to inspire others.
Although I have never really looked back since starting my own business, I often experience the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship and regularly ask – why? Why am I doing this? Why I have chosen this path or why has this path chosen me?
I started Manning & Co after experiencing adversity in my corporate career. At the time I was working for a management consulting firm and had gone on maternity leave to have my first baby. When I returned shortly after giving birth, I found my boss had left the company. In the blink of an eye, I had lost my main supporter and my world changed. His successor unfortunately wasn’t supportive of career women. He couldn’t quite understand the concept of women juggling careers and motherhood. He made it very difficult for me to stay and I was forced out which was so devastating and something that I struggled to comprehend for a long time.
But this is how my first business Manning & Co. came to be and is effectively the start of my entrepreneurial journey. At the time of starting Manning & Co. Charlotte was only 12 months old. I took a one person desk in a photography studio in the inner suburb of Balmain in Sydney. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would grow my small consulting business to a full-service strategic marketing firm with a team across Sydney and Singapore. I now live in Singapore with my daughters and have chosen Singapore as my base to drive Manning & Co in Asia.
During this time, I have also launched my second company Gemstar Technology – a market access partner and landing pad for Australian companies wanting to access ASEAN as well as a partner for Asian companies wanting to do business in Australia. This year Gemstar launched our own entrepreneurship course YoungGems which is getting great traction and which will continue to drive the evolution of Gemstar into the education sector in 2018.
My journey to date has been an exciting one and has delivered some amazing opportunities. From travelling to Antarctica to take part in a think tank to spending a week on Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson pitching a social impact venture to him, my journey has had some amazing highs.
But it isn’t always glamorous. While I might make it look easy, it takes a lot of grit, resilience, determination, ambition, get up and go and a trusted support network. And it definitely is not made any easier by being a woman in business. Even after all this time, I am still often mistaken to be the event manager at my companies’ own events. And the other day someone made mention that they thought Manning & Co was my husband’s business and that I worked for him (Ha! If only they had done their homework they would realise that I am not married and my ex-husband didn’t start my business!). The misconceptions are plentiful.
So why am I sharing some of my story?
I am a believer of empowering women through creating their own employment and opportunities. There is nothing like being the creator of your own destiny and being able to make your own choices.
I believe women entrepreneurs make some of the best business owners on this planet. We are not afraid of work, we have that extra bit of grit, we can juggle and we bring a different perspective – a much needed perspective in business.
I believe we need morewomen entrepreneurs. We need to invest more in women starting out in business and invest in women who are growing their businesses.
I also believe that to have more women entrepreneurs, we need to have an equal playing field. I am not suggesting to make it easier – to just make it fair.
So if you know a woman entrepreneur, today is the day to acknowledge and celebrate them. In my opinion, the world needs more of us!
This article was first published on my LinkedIn page here.