I was recently honoured to be on of the finalists at this year's Telstra SA Business Women of the Year awards. It was a thrill to be one of 3 finalists in the Marie Claire Young Business Women's category, along with the winner Carmel Siciliano of Stile Interiors, and finalist Amy Van Dyk of ABT Advance Behavioural Training.
Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to deliver the speech I had prepared - Carmel had that honour on the day! However, one of the other amazing finalists (a winner in fact, and one of our clients!) suggested I share my speech anyway. Although I was a bit apprehensive about this, I realise there are people I would still like to thank publicly, and parts of my journey I would like to share with you.
I have cut and paste the speech below, exactly as I would have delivered it on the day.
Abbie Allen – Marie Claire Young Business Women’s Award
I am thrilled and honoured to receive the Marie Claire Young Business Women's Award. This has been one of my top personal goals for the last 10 years, as I was so inspired by the many business women who have gone before me. To have actually achieved it, and be standing on this stage today, is quite overwhelming.
Thank you to Telstra, Marie Claire, and the many other sponsors of this wonderful event.
When I started Lifestyle Elements over 8 years ago, at the age of 23, I particularly identified with the term "young business woman". I felt very young, quite unsure, but also enthused and excited. Even though every step was daunting, I discovered that I was able to use my youth to my advantage. I had nothing to lose and no one expected me to know what I was doing. I could ask as many questions as I liked, and if perhaps I worried my questions were a little naive, well it didn't matter. I was young. I wasn't expected to know. And of course, I could always go and get a “real” job if I needed to.
I was inspired to start Lifestyle Elements by a passing comment - it really was one of those light bulb moments. It wasn't until later that I found out that this business idea actually had an industry, the personal concierge industry. Lifestyle Elements is a personal and corporate concierge service. We help busy people who never have enough time, tick of their to do list. I wonder how many of you out there feel like this? On any given day our team could be grocery shopping, meeting a plumber, walking a dog, or wrapping Christmas presents. We are helping people who are going through major life changes, and people who simply feel there must be a better way to manage their daily juggle.
It has been eight years since I started Lifestyle Elements and I get more excited about what we are achieving every day. The majority of our clients have been with us for many years, some have stuck with us right from the start. Every time I tell people what Lifestyle Elements is all about they get excited, they love the idea, and often list off two or three jobs they could get me to do right there and then!
Although I am still fortunate enough to be in the Young Business Women’s category, I now know that the real benefit isn't just being a young business woman, but in simply being a business woman, and thus a part of this amazing community of women. Women naturally share; knowledge, ideas, tips and referrals. In this room is a network of business women who are making real differences in their own areas of expertise. Plus, whether they know it or not, they are making a real difference, to the lives of others, in particular young business women, who look to them for inspiration, motivation, and the confidence to take a chance. When I started Lifestyle Elements, I was eager to read and learn from other women who had strode ahead of me. At that time I looked to Naomi Simson of Red Balloon and Janine Allis of Boost Juice, both award Alumni. Now I seek women less far afield, right here in South Australia. Without Awards such as these wonderful Telstra Business Women's Awards, many women from South Australia would not be recognised for their amazing work - we are often very quiet when it comes to promoting ourselves and our successes.
However, if the achievements of this state's women were not recognised, then young women like myself and my fellow finalists Carmel and Amy, would miss out on the wisdom and encouragement needed to help us get started and pursue our business dreams.
I have many people to thank as I have pursued my own business dreams. The guidance from my mentors and supporters, including Allison Ashby, Nicola Milne and Nicole Underwood has been invaluable. Our many clients who have believed in what we are doing and fully embraced the service we are providing, mean we can get up daily and make a difference in their lives. My wonderful team, my husband Tim, Emma, Ashleigh, and past employee Mathilda have embraced what Lifestyle Elements stands for and are committed to delivering a quality, unique service.
I would especially like to thank my family, Mum, Dad and Tim who have always trusted and supported me even when I'm sure they didn't quite understand my vision or what a personal concierge even was! I also need to thank my nearly two year old daughter Harper, who has attended many a business meeting with me, has been loaded into the car while Tim and I run errands for clients, or is happy to watch Play School on her.... I mean, my iPad, while I tap away at the laptop. I hope that she, as a future young business woman, will be able to recognise and appreciate why I'm doing what I'm doing. Maybe, one day, she'll even seek me out for business advice!