On Friday February 23, around 25 women in STEM attended a one-day intensive workshop in Sydney designed to equip them with the knowledge to build their business idea from the ground up. Practical tips and tools were supported with insights from successful entrepreneurs on topics such as why to choose the entrepreneurial journey; accounting imperatives when establishing a business; legal speak, contracts, and IP 101; creating a strong online presence; and branding and marketing.
After an inspiring introduction by The Warren Centre’s COO Alex Harrington, Jo Burston from Inspiring Rare Birds, a principal sponsor of the event, was first to address the excited crowd. In her talk, Jo spoke of the importance of truly owning your own journey, that entrepreneurs are innovators not imitators and so each approach will be different, with there being no rights or wrongs.
The one thing that she did highlight as something all successful entrepreneurs have in common was the ear (and shoulder) of a good mentor. Jo credits her business success to her relationship with her mentor, as well as her own hard work, saying that there is no way she could have built a business from scratch 12 years ago, that now turns over $40 million annually, without him.
In the afternoon, Jo participated in the Entrepreneurs in Practice sessions, where smaller groups were able to engage in more in-depth 20-minute conversations with entrepreneurs and finished the masterclass with a talk on maintaining the enthusiasm, something that the Rare Birds community is both active in and very passionate about. Support along every step of the journey, whether it’s being part of an online community, attending events, or finding a mentor, increases an entrepreneur’s chance of success and Rare Birds exists to encourage and inspire that success, with a goal to see 1,000,000 women entrepreneurs by 2020.
Reflecting on the event, Jo says that the information was presented in a clear, relatable and logical way, where jargon was omitted, which resulted in a great basic understanding of the mechanics of business and entrepreneurship.
“I was pleased to see that the demographic of the first cohort of participants was diverse and represented women in engineering, from all aspects, career levels and career aspirations,” she says.
“The room was warm, welcoming, authentic and inclusive: women felt comfortable asking burning questions and felt a level of confidence doing so. I found this was very inclusive and safe for the participants, and this is how women like to learn and network.
“The women had the opportunity to meet successful entrepreneurs face to face and ask anything they wanted. This level of accessibility and candor really helped the participants understand that entrepreneurship can be for anyone.”
Alex Harrington agrees the day was an enormous success, saying “The Inclusion2 program drew from a broad program of engagement to develop the Entrepreneurship 101 program. We thought about the sort of women who might find the course valuable and we were stunned at the diversity of experience in life and work that was in the room. It really validated that we had taken the right approach and now we want to reach as many women as possible to help them on their entrepreneurial endeavours.”