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The Australian Business Women’s Network conducted some research recently to gather some insights into ‘why did you start your business?’ According to Suzy Dafnis who heads the group:
“What I have noticed is that many women leave the corporate world, working for someone else, and start their own business for similar reasons. These reasons include:

  •     Freedom to choose work hours and work location
  •     Working around raising children
  •     Being your own boss
  •     Setting your own salary
  •     Utilising your creativity to create something new
  •     And of course – financial freedom

Recently I was challenged by a male entrepreneur (it was just after our listing in BRW Fast 100; only three women made the list – we were one) he said “Let’s face it women don’t set out to create an organization – they tend to work in ‘cottage’ businesses to give them more lifestyle choices  – Women don’t start real businesses!”

Needless to say, that created some lively discussion with me. But looking at the results of this survey he does, in fact, appear to have a point – and is there anything wrong with that.

What would men’s reasons for starting their businesses be, perhaps:

  • Making a fortune,
  • Being an industry luminary’
  • Creating an institution,
  • Creating a legacy for family heirs
  • Bossing other people around…

As a speaker, I get to meet very many and various groups of people – many of which are women’s groups. I consistently am asked ‘how do I create a bigger business’. Many have designed their businesses to suit their lifestyles – or are turning a hobby into a business. Simply they were never meant to be scaled.

We have some amazing female entrepreneurs in Australia (many I have had the privilege to get to know) Suzy Dafnis being one, Diana Willams of Fernwood, Janine Allis of Boost Juice, Kristina Karlsson of Kikki K. But as I did a straw poll around the office spontaneously they struggled to name much more… though there are many – as evidenced by the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

So I pose the question – does the size of the game matter? If we play a small game – and deliver upon it, fantastic. But what if we dared to create a big game – a massive game and it drove us relentlessly, what difference could we make. We can influence our communities – the next generation of young women will have more role models?

I’m driven to change the gifting experience in Australia forever… and I will know I have achieved this if by 2015 2 million people have had a RedBalloon experience.  To deliver on this I must have a significant organisation to achieve, it people who all share the purpose.

I encourage you to dare to dream big – and then to relentlessly, with a never ever give up attitude – implement.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this one.

Reader Interactions


  1. Hi Naomi! I have always wanted to start my own business and seeing your work/life balance in person definitely made me realized that I can go as big as I like! And still have beautiful kids like yours 🙂

    Probably wouldn’t mind being an industry luminary though 😉

  2. Dear Naomi,

    I am often challenged by playing a big game. But – that is ALL that I want to do and to encourage others to do. I truly believe we all have a big game in us – the ability to make a huge difference, to share our brilliance, knowledge, skills and to live magnificent lives. Do I sound overly optimistic?

    I am personally (as you know) passionate about supporting women. My work right now is to support women in small business to grow their business. I do work tirelessly at this… because I’m very passionate about it and because I started my business with no qualifications – but a desire to do something worthwhile with my life.

    I have had the great fortune to have had great success in business, as you have Naomi… and I feel that there really is nothing special about either of us or the other women that you mentioned OTHER THAN THAT WE ARE WILLING TO DESIGN A BIG GAME AND THEN TO PLAY IT 150%.

    Every day I want to feel alive and challenged and to know that I’m growing and learning. Thanks for your willingness to be a role model and to raise other women around you.

    Best wishes, Suzi Dafnis – National General Manager, Australian Businesswomen’s Network and author of

  3. I started my business (for the second time) due to frustration of wanting to express myself. I found challenge after challenge scary, intimidating but also a hurdle I wasn’t going to let beat me. I find I am a better person in so many ways by having my own business. I meet the most amazing people who inspire me, stimulate me and yes, I find the dream just gets bigger and bigger. The most important thing is surrounding myself with good people. Without them the big dream can’t happen.
    Here are a couple of women who are inspiring me and hope you find them inspiring too!

  4. Another one to add to your list: Yvette Adams of Creative Collective, QLD ICT women of the year 2013. I believe that micro creative enterprises help make us more confident. I’m happy to create books that people can learn some golden kernels from. Not everything in this life is destined to be big, but each of us in our way can put their card into the pot of ideas.

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