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Female entrepreneurs leading the charge in upskilling


Female business owners are leading the charge when it comes to upskilling this year with 44% confirming it’s a focus area of investment for them, according to recent research from VistaPrint.

Not only are female business owner’s drivers of growth, but they are also in fact a group of risk-takers with only 34% having had previous business management, ownership experience or skills, compared to 50% of male SMB owners.

As the local female SMB market continues to grow in Australia, there may still be tough times ahead, but the willingness to take risks and succeed in start-up mode is encouraging as SMB’s look ahead with a focus on recovery and growth thanks to an optimistic outlook.

We are shining a light on some of the local female owned small businesses, speaking to them about their successes, struggles and outlook for the new financial year.


Cynthia Harris – Heart Talent

Cynthia started her small business, Heart Talent seven years ago during maternity leave. Heart Talent is a talent attraction, engagement and recruitment marketing company for NFPs and SMEs with heart.

Why did you start your business? What was your inspiration?

My motivation was two-fold: Create the freedom to work how and when I wanted to i.e., designing work around life (not the other way around). Secondly, challenge the norms of the recruitment industry and 'do recruitment right'.

The latter part has seen my business expand to offer services across recruitment marketing and employer brand, a key driver in talent attraction and engagement outcomes (and a true inside-out approach to talent).

How would you describe the last couple of years as a business owner?

Challenging - in an awesome way. I’m living outside my comfort zone daily. I’m learning how to navigate growing a business; constant change in the world, an always changing talent market, shifting client needs and leading and looking after my team as well as my family - and my own health.

I love being challenged and solving problems and I can get bored easily… so it’s definitely the right path for me!

How are you feeling as you approach the middle of 2023 and EOFY?

I’m always optimistic. This is not without sound risk and data analysis. However, I have a fantastic team; solid, long-term client relationships and a newly redesigned, flexible service offering that supports leaders to tackle all sorts of talent challenges. So, I’m excited about the year ahead.

What are you most worried about heading into the new financial year and why?

I’m not worried about too much. I’m fortunate to work with an excellent team and together we can tackle whatever comes our way. On a personal note, working in recruitment for nearly two decades makes you resilient (not to mention being a parent to two feisty kids!).

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for the financial year ahead and why?

Our biggest opportunity is to support leaders and talent/HR teams in more meaningful ways.

We are the only business supporting NFP organisations with flexible services across talent attraction, engagement and recruitment marketing.

There are thousands of recruitment businesses in Australia. But they don’t have expertise in marketing, content and copywriting - as well as broader people and culture. There are also plenty of brand and marketing agencies, but they’re not talent or people and culture specialists.

With decades of experience across all these areas, we can support leaders and help employers get ahead of the curve in the era of talent. Our services include talent attraction, employee experience research, EVP development, interview and onboarding design and employer brand content.



Lauren O’Donnell – ODD Studio / ODD Architects

Lauren founded ODD Studio with her partner Adam Dwyer in 2021, an emerging art and architecture studio based in Melbourne. Creating work inspired by minimalism, ODD Studio uses light and shadow, simple geometry, tones and texture to make bespoke places and pieces that people can enjoy.

Why did you start your business? What was your inspiration?

Our love and continued enthusiasm for art and architecture. A product of being away from home in Covid-19, meant we had extra time curating ideas of a business. Once my partner and I completed our architectural registration, we jumped straight into it.

How would you describe the last couple of years as a business owner?

Positive, difficult, exhausting - starting up a business is always hard, however seeing the small wins and steppingstones keeps up the positivity.

How are you feeling as you approach the middle of 2023 and EOFY?

Positive and optimistic - it’s always great to reflect on the previous year to see how much we have grown and achieved.

What are you most worried about heading into the new financial year and why?

Recession, ongoing skills and talent shortages. Art and architecture can be affected by recessions - it's a commodity that is based on wants rather than needs. We haven’t seen any affects yet, but we are always ensuring we are looking ahead to the market drivers.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for the financial year ahead and why?

Marketing, growth, innovation - we feel we have only just touched the surface with the marketing opportunities out there. Our presence is quite local, and telling our story is quite personal. We feel there is a huge market out there to grow the company two-fold.

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