Published BayBuzz January/February 2022
Hawke’s Bay is home to around 18,000 businesses, a fair few of them owned or managed by women. Meet four incredible women entrepreneurs all with a tale to tell, and hard-won, practical experience to share.
For inspiration, read on.
Just do it
Sharon Chapman, ABC Software
What market and customers do you serve?
We have software products for the horticulture industry, namely packhouses and orchards. We have clients in NZ, Australia, US and Denmark. In the last four years, we have transitioned from a custom software development company to a company with software products for sale. We still do tailor-made software, but our primary focus is on our product sales.
What’s unique about it?
Our software goal is to make the hard, easy; the complex, simple; the time-consuming, fast. Obviously, this is not always possible but when we get even halfway to that goal, it can be a game changer for our clients. And we back all that up with outstanding customer support!
What impact has the Covid-19 period had on your business?
Initially COVID had little to no impact. We easily worked from home and all our clients were essential services (growers and packers) so work continued uninterrupted. Now, 20 months on, not being able to travel to Australia is having an effect on new sales. I also get the feeling of general jadedness in the markets that is slowing adoption of change and innovation.
If you could offer one piece of advice to a woman entrepreneur what would it be?
Nike say it best: ‘Just do it’. It is understandable to be afraid to think of all the things that can go wrong. But when you move from thinking about it, to talking about it, to action, all those doubts take a back seat because now you are in action.
What you think about regarding your business, is what you will get. So, bring joy, delight, adventure, ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, and it will be.
And if it isn’t, don’t worry (it’s bad for your health), just adjust, segue, reinvent, U-turn. Life is meant to be fun. If it isn’t, change your thinking.
Who or what inspires you?
People who get out of their comfort zone, shake up the tree. People who are passionate and inspire others with their words and actions (as opposed to brow-beat or intimidate). Greta Thunberg and the innumerable climate warriors making a difference, like the HB-grown Project Do Less (www.projectdoless.nz) and Action Station Aotearoa.
How do you balance business and personal life?
I’m at the point where I am working around 40 hours a week. That gives me time for family, friends, fitness and personal space. Because I am single and no children at home, I have the privilege of really being at no one’s behest. Personal time is mine and for me to use or squander. I ditched TV long ago, which is a great giver-back of time. I would like to work less hours but with our product development we are really a start-up company (which cracks me up) and it needs all the nurturing and attention any toddler would require. Personal and work life kind of blend. I’ve got it pretty sweet. And I’m having fun.