Before Anne was whisked away into the world of tech start-ups and entrepreneurship she was busily working away in a “man’s world”.
Anne left her home country of France to study in Australia, completing a Masters of Electrical Engineering and Diploma of Project Management. It was not long before Anne made the decision to move to Australia long term, choosing to call Newcastle home. Initially, Anne started at a large engineering firm where she was the only female engineer until a colleague approached her about a business idea. Together they worked on this idea which ultimately led to the launch of smart parking company NewieVentures.
Anne’s unique background has given her valuable insight which has led to her to success involving invitations to speak on panels, starting her own Meet Up group and most recently nominations for three awards including Best Tech Start-Up at the Lunatick Society’s NEWi Awards.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
It is all about structure.
Be structured and specific in the hours you choose to allocate to your work and personal life. Of course there are times your work life will spill into your personal life but maintaining a structured approach creates self-imposed boundaries (that are non-existent when you run your own business). In addition to this, have a separate work space (if possible). By not separating these spaces, the line between work and your personal life easily becomes blurred.
Do something completely unrelated to your business. For Anne, this is teaching yoga. When you are teaching yoga, it requires 100% of your attention. It forces you to take your mind off other things and “switch off”.
What advice would you give other aspiring business owners based on your journey?
Two things; one understand the financial realities of running a business and two; create and invest in a community/network to surround yourself.
The financial realities of running a business aren’t always obvious. It is important to understand that it is very likely you will NOT make money straight away. You need to have a financial back-up for when things are slow but to also give you the time to do things properly. When you don’t have the stress of money, you can make smart decisions for the long term rather than just quick fixes to make short term money. For Anne and the team, this meant that before starting the business, they saved themselves a back-up that they could rely on while they got the business started. With their back-up ready and some government grants, they were able to make wise decisions such as splitting the business into two focused “sections”. The sections are consulting and research, as you can appreciate, the “fun stuff” aka the research isn’t the biggest generator of income and they couldn’t rely on their savings or the grants forever. By splitting the business into two focus sections, they are able to generate regular and reliable income from their consulting which they can use to fund the “fun stuff” aka research.
Co-working spaces and workshops, especially those that attract start-up businesses, are great for creating a community of like-minded people to share ideas and collaborate to find solutions. From within these communities you can then leverage and share with your contacts to learn and broaden your perspective. These communities are especially important when starting a business, when you are an employee your workplace is a community. When you work for yourself, everything depends on you and your decisions are limited to your knowledge and perspective – the more you can expand both of these the better your decision making will be. And as you all know, Newcastle is a small place so it is often all about “who you know”.
Where do you see your industry heading in Newcastle and how have you positioned yourself to benefit from these changes?
Anne is in the industry of “Smart cities and internet of things” (everyday objects that have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data).
This is a very new industry to Newcastle. There has been a significant amount of initiatives and investment in Newcastle which has created a lot of activity. As a result, there is a lot in the pipeline with many of these due (albeit relatively slowly) to come to fruition.
In Newcastle, we are lucky to be small enough to be a testing ground but big enough for the results to be a fair representation of a larger city. It is an exciting time for Newcastle.
What motivates and drives you?
The freedom of running your own business. It is empowering to run your own business, to be able to create something for yourself and ultimately define your future. You are in the driver’s seat, you choose when, what and your direction. This freedom is my motivation.
In addition to this, being a part of change and creating that change is motivating. It is exciting to be a part of that community/industry driving innovation.
What characteristics do you think an individual needs to be successful in your profession?
The most important characteristic you need is to have a willingness to take a risk (a calculated one) and possibly fail. Not saying you need to be a “huge” risk taker or that you will fail every time but you do have to be willing to get outside of your comfort zone.
Another important characteristic is adaptability. You need to be able to let go of your plans and respond to whatever comes your way.
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
Based on my experience in running my own business, I do not see myself going back to the corporate world. Even if this start-up doesn’t succeed, I am willing to try again.
I definitely expect to have BOTH yoga and a business – having different activities, this is just how I operate – it drives me!