Aussie women entrepreneurs back themselves to find financial freedom

9 min read
Emma Wardill

Australian female entrepreneurs are shunning traditional work for the financial freedom and flexibility of running their own small business, new research shows.

GoDaddy’s Unstoppable Women in Business research found three quarters of Aussie women think there is more opportunity in owning their own business than working for someone else.

The research, conducted to shine a light on women entrepreneurs ahead of International Women’s Day in March, found women also tend to:

The survey of 1,011 Australian aspiring and current women business-owners found five out of six (83%) working women have experienced burnout at some point in their careers. A third of women (37%) juggle primary care-taking responsibilities as well as work.

The survey also gave an insight into the mindset of Australian female entrepreneurs, finding these the highest ranked traits for business success:

These were followed by patience (27%), passion (25%), problem solving/critical thinking and juggling/multitasking (both 24%).

Editor’s note: GoDaddy's 2024 study revealed that 21.5% of the female microbusiness owners surveyed said they ran two or three businesses rather than one. Get all the stats here.

Meet Ellie and Elyssa – unstoppable Australian women in business

Ellie and Elyssa of Sage + Country are two unstoppable Australian women who have turned their passion for gifts with heart into a thriving side hustle creating baby keepsakes.

In 2022, the two schoolfriends saw an opening in the local market in regional Victoria for personalised baby gifts. They took the plunge when a friend had a laser printer for sale.

To begin with, as we were both on maternity leave, we thought it might be a good side-hustle thing.

“But we bought it more for ourselves as we loved making things to give people,” Elyssa said.

“Then we thought, we could make a business out of this … and so it took off from there really. We were expecting a couple of orders every month – nothing too crazy. But it’s taken off.”

Ellie and Elyssa standing at their Sage and Country booth
Ellie and Elyssa standing at their Sage and Country booth.

Financial freedom driving women entrepreneurs 

Like Ellie and Elyssa, many Australian women see the opportunities in owning their own business, the GoDaddy research has revealed.

More than half (55%) said having more financial opportunities was the greatest incentive for starting a business or side hustle.

This was followed by flexibility to work to their own schedule (27%).

Sage and Country logo

Of the women who already owned a business or side hustle, 43% said financial opportunities were the greatest driver to set up their own gig, followed by:

  • Flexibility (25%)
  • The autonomy to be their own boss (12%)

While both Ellie and Elyssa still hold down traditional, full-time jobs, their long-term goal is to turn their side-hustle into their only gig.

“We would just love to go big,” Ellie said.

“Quit our jobs, do this big. Even get a shop. Still do everything we do, customise everything [and] bring in a baby range as well, so clothes, baby goods — that kind of stuff.”

Sage and Country daisy tags
Sage and Country month tags

Launching a business might cost less than you think

While financial freedoms were a big motivator for Aussie women entrepreneurs, the GoDaddy research found the risks of going into business may be smaller than many realise.

The survey found most women wanting to start a business tend to overestimate the likely cost by 37% on average.

62% of women surveyed started their business for under ,000, with 19% reporting no start-up costs at all.

Sage and Country founders Elly and Elyssa at work

Further, many women tended to underestimate the potential earnings of their big business idea by at least 11% according to the survey.

On average, the Aussie women surveyed said they generated just over $77,000 a year through their business.

Amid the incredible rise of ecommerce during the COVID-19 pandemic period, Australian women entrepreneurs are embracing a web presence.

Almost a third said they built their business website on their own, while 25% said they had help to launch their web presence.

Ellie and Elyssa built their own website for Sage + Country and found using GoDaddy’s Website Builder a user-friendly experience.

“Everything is really streamlined, even setting up the [website] pages and stuff at the beginning was really simple,” Elyssa said.

“And it just looks beautiful too, which is what we wanted. It was pretty self-explanatory — which was good for us.”

Related: Starting your own business with next to no cash

So, what’s holding women entrepreneurs back?

Unsurprisingly, set up costs and time were considered by women to be the biggest barriers to starting a business.

I am kind light Sage and Country

These barriers were all too real for Ellie and Elyssa when launching Sage + Country. The two started their business when Elyssa had an eight-week-old baby, and after Ellie had just returned to work from maternity leave.

“Navigating these new chapters of our lives whilst launching a new business, along with the outlay of finances, was definitely a struggle,’’ Ellie said.

“We had a real passion for what we wanted to create, and we continued to remind ourselves of our goals each day.

“Through persistence, and the support of everyone around us, we were able to achieve what we set out to do.”

Even though the friends say they had a fear of failing, Ellie and Elyssa wish they had started their business sooner. They say they would urge other women entrepreneurs to take the plunge.

“If you have a real passion and urge to open your own business, then please take the leap to do so — It will be one of the best decisions you make,’’ Elyssa said.

Write a business plan, ensure you have some funds behind you and support around you. Don’t give up on that dream!”

The work/life juggle is real

The survey also exposed the real juggle for many women in setting up and running a business: family life.

Childcare expectations and costs were a major factor impacting women’s reluctance to start a side hustle or business.

Ellie and Elyssa holding their children
Ellie and Elyssa with Alvie and Henry.

Of the women already in business, 39% said childcare expectations or costs were a main barrier to stopping women from starting up a side hustle.

Perhaps unsurprisingly:

  • One in three women surveyed said they were a primary caregiver
  • 84% of all women surveyed said they were responsible for most household duties

For Ellie and Elyssa, having solid support systems and getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses have been among the tactics they have used to balance Sage + Country with their family and work lives.

Ellie and Elyssa holding some of their products

“Organisation is also key for us. We have our week ahead planned out, and we know the exact number of hours dedicated to the business, our full-time jobs, and also being mums and wives,’’ Elyssa said.

"Sage + Country also doesn’t feel like we are working. We get to spend time together whilst doing something we love."

When times get tough, the duo say they communicate daily and are honest with each other about how they are feeling  — both about their roles in the business and outside of the business.

“If one is struggling, the other will step up and take on any extra work,” Ellie said.

“We have an amazing support system around us, everyone jumps in to help when required. We constantly remind ourselves that it won’t always be easy, but we know those tough days or weeks do pass. We are always learning and growing from those hard times.”

Women entrepreneurs backing themselves to succeed

In spite of the many challenges facing women entrepreneurs, so many have proven to be simply unstoppable, driven by a sense of self-belief and confidence in themselves and their business idea.

Ellie and Elyssa put the ongoing success of Sage + Country down to their confidence in their products and keeping authentically connected with their customers.

“We have always been confident in the quality of products we deliver, and we also make sure we stay connected with our customers to ensure they are happy,’’ Ellie said.

“We portray a lot of our personalities and everyday life through social media, showing our customers that they are dealing with a real ‘everyday’ person. In return we have a lot of mums and business owners connecting and being able to relate to us.”

Ellie and Elyssa laughing

What women in business think about the year ahead

Women in business are likely to have to tap into that confidence and self-belief this year as the economy continues to grapple with inflationary pressures and slowing global growth.

Asked about the biggest challenges they foresaw in the year ahead, the economy was top of mind, with women surveyed nominating:

  • The rising cost of living (47%)
  • Turning a profit (35%)
  • Marketing/retaining new customers (34%)
  • Staying ahead of competitors (23%)
  • Ongoing pandemic impacts (illness, supply chain challenges, new restrictions etc) (15%)
  • Cyber security (12%)

Despite the widespread concerns over the economy, the outlook for the year ahead for women entrepreneurs has a sunny side, with many still expecting to flourish.

A third of women said they were excited to grow their brand and business in 2023, and a quarter anticipated they would grow their skills through professional development.

Example of Sage and Country first year board

Ellie and Elyssa are hopeful they can learn more about email marketing this year to help boost their business.

“Email marketing help would be amazing,’’ Ellie said.

Elyssa added: “Even understanding how to grow our reach. Getting our business beyond Ararat and Geelong and through friends of friends.”

With so many female business owners displaying such passion, persistence and self-belief, it’s no wonder Australian women entrepreneurs are unstoppable.

Research methodology: Antenna, an independent consumer research agency on behalf of GoDaddy, conducted an online survey of n= 1011 female business leaders in Australians. The survey was conducted between 23/12/22 – 09/01/23. The survey data collection was national and respondents were sourced using an accredited online research access panel. Data was weighted for representation against country census data.

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