START-UP PUTS WELL-BEING BACK IN BUSINESS

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BY Claudio Donisi

 

Small business is often described as the engine room of our economy where discussion tends to focus on financial issues rather than the mental health and well-being of the proprietors who run them. Two Masters of Entrepreneurship students from the Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship at Melbourne University, Rosie Downie, 23, and Susie Sheldrick, 28, intend to change that.

 

Launching ‘Mind My Business’ 8 weeks ago, Rosie and Susie have developed an online start-up that brings together small business owners and skilled retires to facilitate relief for small business owners needing personal or holiday leave.

 

“Small business people work very long hours and make many sacrifices to keep their business going, but it often comes a big price. They often get little opportunity to have leave or take a break which can impact on their health and their business”, said Susie Sheldrick.

 

According to Rosie Downie, “they may have health or personal issues to deal with but lack the support or the time to address these issues. Small business people need real breaks, where they can focus on themselves, their personal lives and recharge. They need to be able to switch off and not carry the burdens of their business with them. They need to know their business is in safe hands”.

 

But Rosie and Susie also want acknowledgement for the many retirees who still desire to contribute to society and are a much underutilised resource.

 

“There are many retired business people with great knowledge and experience who want to still contribute. They may be financially secure or may no longer want to work full time, or prefer short periods of employment to supplement income during retirement or prefer working while they travel. These are the type of people we are hoping to engage as relievers”, Susie said.

 

Mind My Business will focus on hospitality and farming businesses to start with, focusing on regional Victoria as well as tourists districts such as Mornington Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road.

 

“Not only are hospitality and farming industries very challenging to work in, regional business owners can be particularly isolated from accessing the right skills and resources to support them”, Rosie said.

 

My family worked really hard on their farm. Finding time away was really hard without support. I think having these experiences has given us the confidence to start our own business, especially one like this”.

 

While the concept of relief management for business is not new, the difference with Mind My Business is the use of web technology to bring both the business owners and relievers together into one portal.

 

According to Susie, “there is an industry of relief managers already, but they tend to be very fragmented and informal. They may be people who have worked in some businesses already or they were already known to business people through personal or industry networks. The problem with this is at times business people and relievers can miss out on opportunities to find or engage with people with more diverse, up-to-date or higher levels of skill”.

 

“Businesses and relievers have to thrall through many different websites that may only cater for some industries. What is missing is the critical mass of options or choices that an integrated portal like ours can offer. By creating a portal to bring both sides together into one place, we think this would increase the opportunity for business and relievers to find the best match for their business and skills”, Rosie commented.

 

Critical to the success of Mind My Business according to Rosie and Susie is managing the relationship between the business owners and relievers.

 

“We know that trust and letting go will be a big issue for business owners when using a relief manager. It can be a pride thing, having to ask for help. They want to know the relief manager understands their type of business and has the right experience. We will be really focused on screaming and vetting potential relievers. It will be this type of personal service supporting both sides that makes our business stand out”, Susie said.

 

Rosie Downie grew up on a small family farm in the Tasmanian highlands while Susie Sheldrick grew up in a family running hotels. Both learned firsthand about the challenge of running a small business.

 

“Sometimes you can have very good staff who may not have the right skills to manage the business while our family wanted to get away”, Susie said.

 

“My family worked really hard on their farm. Finding time away was really hard without support. I think having these experiences has given us the confidence to start our own business, especially one like this”, Rosie said.

 

Both Rosie and Susie expressed excitement at the feedback they have received for their start-up.

 

“We have spoken to many business owners and relievers. We have gotten great feedback about our business idea. We hope to start with at least 10 relievers on our portal which will then help build the interest from businesses”, Susie said.

 

“We are really excited about our venture. I think we have a really good vision, a platform that provides a community service”, Rosie said.

 

For more information, you can contact Rose and Susie at Mind My Business at mindmyb.au@gmail.com or visit www.mindmyb.com.

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