Entrepreneur of the Year
Explain how you identified a new business opportunity.
The industry I’m in can be noisy, demanding constant innovation to unearth fresh opportunities. Over recent years, my focus has been on specific niches within this sector, namely the emergency services community, first-time home buyers, and the self-employed. My objective was to demonstrate to people in these circumstances that with the right knowledge and guidance, even the most daunting goals are attainable. As a mortgage broker, my strategy revolves around transforming challenges into triumphs. I’m dedicated to aiding clients in making optimal financial strides by fostering genuine relationships and collaboration.
Given that the emergency services, first home buyers, and self-employed segments have become integral to my business, I recognised the necessity to explore alternate avenues for opportunities. This endeavour led me to establish a supplementary business named Girls Just Want To Have Fun. After attending numerous women-centric business events, I often left with a sense of untapped potential. This sentiment motivated me to launch the Girls Just Want To Have Fun brand, with the core intention of motivating, enlightening, empowering, and nurturing professional women and female entrepreneurs to incorporate enjoyment into their lives.
In both my roles at Cherry Lending & Finance and Girls Just Want To Have Fun, I aspire to cultivate inclusivity by providing financial education and empowering women to seize their financial independence. Through Girls Just Want To Have Fun, I orchestrated an event attended by 60 wonderful women. This not only introduced a fresh stream of opportunities but also broadened the scope of my business significantly.
Outline the tactics used to grow your firm from start-up, win new business, gain market share and overcome competition.
To foster growth, find new business ideas, and rise above the competitive fray, it’s important to embrace unconventional thinking and perpetual self-innovation. I’ve successfully established my presence in distinct market niches while dedicating time to nurturing the more compassionate aspect of my enterprise. This involves helping women to break into the industry or achieve property ownership. In contrast to the industry’s prevalent emphasis on ceaseless hustle, I place a premium on education. In my view, knowledge serves as the ultimate source of empowerment.
What sets me apart from the competition is that I haven’t confined my business solely to my own interests. I’m not content with merely being a run-of-the-mill mortgage broker. My ambition is to demonstrate that property ownership is an attainable goal, and the more educated they are on the process, the better their chances. While I collaborate with a diverse clientele, my focal point remains on women who might have previously lacked a platform. I firmly believe that this outlook has positioned me ahead of the curve and given me a much-needed voice within the community.
- Vigilant engagement: I’ve consistently remained at the forefront of my industry, and have avoided complacency by closely monitoring trends and industry shifts.
- Approachable branding: Right from the start, I’ve focused on cultivating a more approachable brand image, distinct from traditional banking and brokerage perceptions.
- Niche market targeting: I’ve strategically concentrated on niche markets like First Home Buyers, Emergency Service Workers, and the Self-Employed to foster business growth.
- Empowerment initiative: Through my second venture, “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” I’ve empowered women in the industry, providing them a platform to voice their experiences and challenges, resulting in a strong support network.
- Educational resources: I’ve developed informative materials to educate people about mortgage acquisition. My objective is not solely to facilitate home financing but also to empower people with the knowledge to make informed decisions.
Describe your point of difference/unique selling points and how these influenced your success.
Cherry Lending & Finance is a constantly evolving business. I don’t believe in sitting still. When it comes to business you cannot become complacent. I am always looking at ways to innovate and improve and I believe this is what sets me apart. My biggest point of difference is that I have taken on a softer approach to business in this incredibly male-dominated industry. My branding is light and welcoming, and I offer high customer service in everything I do. I always try to add a sense of warmth to the customer’s journey that they weren’t necessarily receiving from the big banks.
With only 10% of mortgage brokers being women, I prefer nurturing over pushing, and this unique customer service experience has proved to be a breath of fresh air when compared to how my competitors do business. I take enormous pride in breaking down barriers when it comes to perceptions of the finance industry.
Today I still see some of my earliest clients, and they continue to return to me for refinancing, investment property purchases, and even refer their friends and family to me. In turn, there are now even second and third generation Cherry clients.
By capitalising on these opportunities while steadfastly maintaining Cherry’s hallmark world-class experience, the business has achieved an impressive annual doubling of its volume. This accomplishment holds true even in the face of competition from major banks armed with considerably greater resources.
Demonstrate a structured approach to your entrepreneurship, with clear objectives and associated results. In addition, highlight how you have engaged best practice and innovation to achieve success.
My primary driving force is a steadfast commitment to never become complacent. Along with my business strategies, I consistently allocate time to inspire individuals, particularly women. Through my other venture, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, I’m spearheading greater female involvement in the mortgage industry. This methodical approach to entrepreneurship has unlocked numerous opportunities and played a pivotal role in my accomplishments.
I have also always had a clear objective to be different to your typical bank, and another priority was to deliver exceptional customer service. Instead of focusing on clients that were able to borrow and were ready to do so, I also ensured that nobody was left behind, and that those who instead needed guidance and education were taken care of as well. While some people might not be ready right now to get into the property market, I take time to educate them to achieve these goals soon.
Investing substantially in marketing has been integral to achieving these goals. The educational content featured on the brand’s website has proven versatile, finding new life across various social media platforms. This strategy serves to both attract and educate potential clients, while also nurturing existing ones. I’ve participated in numerous talks and podcasts, leveraging these platforms to amplify my reach and impact.
Detail one major obstacle you faced in the pursuit of innovation and how you overcame it?
A pressing concern echoes throughout the broking industry – the absence of women in leadership roles, and I am pleased to be a catalyst for the change I wish to see. Within the industry’s prevalent male-dominated landscape, I am proactively involved in initiatives aimed at amplifying female representation.
To address this inequality, my approach revolves around providing continuous encouragement and unwavering support, setting an example as a role model for aspiring women professionals. My commitment extends to nurturing inclusivity across both Cherry Lending & Finance and Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Through these platforms, my mission is to equip a multitude of women with education and empowerment, steering them towards financial autonomy and personal fulfilment.
This has also paved the way for increased client engagement. By incorporating a nurturing perspective into my business practices, I deliver exceptional customer support, and kindness, and inject an element of fun into an industry that is often perceived as monotonous and uninspiring.
I had two choices with my business: I could sit back and allow this male-dominated industry to push me into a corner, or I could speak up and have a voice. Of course, I chose the latter. To do this I had to use innovation. I had to be different from everyone else. Which is why I created a softer and happier brand image, and why I opted for a nurturing approach with a strong focus on good customer service. I decided that I would do something different with my business by inspiring women who never felt heard before. And through Girls Just Want To Have Fun, I merged my business with my personal aspirations to stand out from the crowd.