WHEATBELT Business Network recently held a professional business development day, We Shine, to connect and inspire women entrepreneurs throughout the Wheatbelt at the Pingelly Recreation and Cultural Centre.
The event is in its third year and this year about 90 women travelled from all over Western Australia to listen to keynote speakers Helen Marshall, founder of Primal Alternative and Jo Palmer, founder of Pointer Remote Roles, New South Wales.
Both women, who have been extremely successful in their own rights, impressed the crowd with their passion for their businesses and innovative practices.
Ms Marshall, who is a certified Primal Health coach, founded the grain-free food range Primal Alternative.
Having previously worked as a fitness instructor, personal trainer and then business manager for a recruitment company, Ms Marshall spoke about how she grew her grain-free baking business from her own kitchen into a franchise model, so that other women with the same passion for health could also make a living out of it.
Ms Palmer, who was the 2019 National AgriFuture Rural Woman of the Year, founded Pointer Remote Roles, which connects highly-qualified professionals who live remotely with roles with big businesses and corporations in the city.
The idea for her business was sparked when she looked at her close network of professional friends who were finding it hard to find work in their chosen fields due to them living in regional areas.
Chief executive and founder of Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN) Caroline Robinson said the focus of this year's event, was working on and improving people's businesses.
The event included seven workshops focused on topics including staffing, value propositions, social media content, strategic planning and finance.
"Our event is the only event that is targeted at business women in the Wheatbelt and that makes us quite unique," Ms Robinson said.
"We had a great turn out and ladies travelled all the way from Moora, Katanning, Narrogin and Merredin to attend."
In a networking activity, attendees were asked to rank the level of importance of business issues that were of most significance to them.
"What came back was amazing," Ms Robinson said.
"The top four things were a focus on customer satisfaction, understanding their finances, staff retention and the ability of the business to pay the business owner at industry rates."
Chloe Tienhoven, who has been on the We Shine sub-committee for the past two years and attended all three We Shine events, said the program seemed to get better every year.
"We've always had amazing speakers, but I don't know whether it's because we have bigger budgets or because the name is getting out there, but every year the event seems to step up another level," Ms Tienhoven said.
"Jo Palmer was amazing, she's done a lot in her life with raising her children and her start-up businesses.
"What she's providing to regional professional women that live out in the middle of nowhere and can't find a job in their chosen field is really incredible."
Ms Tienhoven, who is the co-owner of Wave Rock Country Cottage and the Silos accommodation in Hyden, attended Liz Jack's workshop on tourism in the afternoon to see how she could further improve her businesses.
"We had a lot of open discussion in the workshop, with women talking about the challenges they were facing in their own businesses and we worked together to find solutions," Ms Tienhoven said.
"My husband and I are really fortunate because we're based in Hyden, and therefore have the draw card of Wave Rock, so what I discussed was not becoming complacent that tourists were going to come regardless.
"I wanted to be able to see how we can maybe extend people's stay from one night to two, or from two nights to three."
WBN is in the process of designing a men's business networking event for early next year.
"The focus will again be on networking and working on your business and I think men tend to attend those types of events at the start of the year when they're fresh and have a bit of a break over January," Ms Robinson said.
WBN is also offering three business programs - WBN Seed, WBN Grow and WBN Surge, aimed at helping entrepreneurs at different stages of the business lifecycle.
"In these programs we mentor you and put you through some collaborative learning and it's all done in the Wheatbelt so you don't have to travel to Perth," Ms Robinson said.
More information: visit wheatbeltbusinessnetwork.com.au