Interview with an entrepreneur: Sharon Philp

Sharon spoke as our case study guest speaker at the Introductory Ideas2Market workshop in Gympie earlier this year. Sharon’s story about setting up and managing her own business was so inspiring and motivating that we thought we’d share it on the blog for those who weren’t at the workshop. Enjoy!

Tell us about your business – what’s it all about?

Sharon Philp, owner of secretary.com.au

Secretary.com.au provides Admin at a Profit©. We talk to business owners and managers about how they can increase their profitability through outsourcing their administration and bookkeeping.

Most business owners are really good at what they do, but some don’t know how to delegate their business administration properly to ensure that it operates cost effectively. This leads to business owners, managers or staff wasting time on administrative functions or bookkeeping that they are simply not trained to do.  Some business owners even think that by doing it themselves they will save money. This might work in the short term, if there is only one person in the business, but if you intend on growing your business the administrative function must be handled by someone trained to do so.

 How did you come up with the idea?

After spending many years as an Executive Assistant I discovered that although I had outstanding skills I was unable to get a job when I chose to have a family. I did not want to wait until my children had gone back to school before I found a job, so I created my own company to do work from home. After 14 years in business, I continue to help businesses create money and also provide working opportunities for women who are experienced but require the flexibility that temporary work offers.

And how did you fund your fledgling business, especially as you were starting a family at the same time?

I simply re-invested excess money back into the business. After paying the bills, I would then invest in growing the business little by little. I have never once borrowed money to grow the business over the past 14 years of my operation.

That’s impressive! But that can’t always be easy. What has been the most challenging moment in your business so far… and how did you overcome it?

 Deciding when to grow and how to do it has been a challenge. For me, it was a question of the ‘chicken or the egg’. Do I go out and get the work and then recruit a workforce? Or do I get the workforce and then go out and get the work? In the end I chose to have the workforce on standby because I wanted be sure I could deliver to the client what I had promised.

I also struggled with trusting others with my business’ reputation. I simply had to learn to let go and trust that the staff I had engaged understood the philosophy of the company and the expectations when dealing with my clients.

 What has been one of your memorable high points?

 The day I became a Franchisor and granted my first franchise licence.

 Congratulations! That is a big achievement and a great path to future growth. Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs out there?

 The best advice I could give is to ensure you love what you do and trust your gut instinct. Being in business is really tough, especially when you have to go through the bad times – which you will.

Loving what you do and being passionate about your business will get you through those tough times. There are also too many people that will try and cut you down and tell you that ‘you can’t do it’ (and these could be friends/family or even total strangers). My advice is this: listen to what they have to say and just respond by saying ‘that is an interesting view point’. This is my favourite saying at the moment!

If you believe in your business and you can accept the worst case scenario if it doesn’t succeed, just go for it – then you will know!

But do seek help when you need it. Don’t let the things you’re not good at slip under the carpet; address them and get the right advice from the right people. Network and talk to people in a similar business to see how they did it – most people love to share their experiences.

 
Thank you Sharon for sharing your insights and your story with us! If you would like to know more about secretary.com.au, you can visit the website at www.secretary.com.au

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