Diana Holwerda was a stay-at-home mum looking after her one-year-old son and doing a few odd jobs for her old employer when she decided to team up with Banika Smee to launch a site that helps mothers start their own business called Mumentrepreneurs.com.au.
How did the idea for the business come about?
I found working from home was quite isolating, plus I really was looking for a group of women that had like-minded interests and who could also bounce ideas off. So I put the idea out there on Facebook and Banika suggested we start up a casual meet-up at the local coffee shop that we promoted on Facebook. We created an event and offered free coffees to the people attending and this very quickly escalated from a free network to people paying to attend the events, to now almost three years down the track having our own venue on the Northern Beaches. We also have guest speakers booked for the rest of 2013 and we just launched our new website including memberships and sponsorships.
What was the most difficult challenge you faced while starting out?
Initially, it was to get the numbers, this is no longer an issue but now the management of running the event, ticket registration, website updates, writing blogs, creating newsletters, finding advertisers and members to join up and talking with local businesses to become sponsors.
What has been the most effective form of advertising for your site?
Definitely social media. It is a free platform for advertising and networking and women are naturally great networkers so we also have many women come to our events by word-of-mouth.
How important is social media to your business?
It is how we promote our events, stay in touch with our members, provide online support and assistance through our Facebook page and Facebook private group.
What do you think the federal and state governments could do to make things a little easier for small business owners?
Both Banika and I attended a government-subsidized program for Women in Business on the Northern Beaches which gave us the opportunity to work closely with a mentor that was matched to our particular challenge. If the program wasn’t subsidized I would not have been able to attend. Unfortunately, the government pulled the funding and so the organization that was running it had to close it down. I strongly believe that if the government supported the small businesses out there, our economy would not be surviving but thriving.