This week we talk to Michelle Hargreaves, founder of That Lady Tradie, who offers a range of trade services, from painting to carpentry, to help homeowners prepare their house to go on the market for sale. Following a career in the corporate world, Michelle was looking for a change that would provide greater freedom. When she noticed that people in her neighbourhood didn’t like doing their own handiwork at home, Michelle started doing the odd practical job to help them out…
ISB: What was the inspiration behind launching your entrepreneurial journey by offering tradie services?
MH: I was made redundant from a desk job after 20 years. I had always loved working with my hands and I have a passion for property development, so I approached a local real-estate agent to see if I could help with some repairs and maintenance on their show houses – and the rest is history! Eight years on I run a team of four at That Lady Tradie, and I just love what I do. I still learn every day as my business grows.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the business off the ground, and how did you overcome that?
MH: Working in a male-dominated world is difficult – getting people to give me a chance to prove that I know what I’m doing can be challenging. I would often charge less just to get in and prove myself. Now, with an established business and a good reputation, I now get called in to fix up the mess that others have made.
PG: What was the most important lesson you learned about being an entrepreneur, having come from a corporate career?
MH: You are responsible for everything. You need to take ownership. You own it. You’re going to make mistakes and as long as you rectify them and learn from them that’s okay. There will always be many hours involved when you own your own business, so you must absolutely love what you do.
ISB: What do you consider the highlight for the business thus far?
MH: I would have to say the relationship I have with my clients, who become friends after a while.
Another highlight is seeing the finished product of our hard work. 50 per cent of my business is rejuvenating houses to their former glory prior to sale, and driving past billboards that show our product when the house is ready is incredibly rewarding.
ISB: How do you plan to continue growing the business, in terms of marketing, investment in the business and/or offering more new or more services?
MH: As I learn more, I grow more. I have joined a group of small-business owners and engaged a business coach as it’s important to have someone to help show you the way. I’m learning the nuts and bolts of marketing, for example, which is so important for the growth of my business!
I also use tech tools where I can, they are time-efficient and can eliminate the risk of human error. Apps like Invoice2go take care of admin, tracking my invoices and expenses as well as managing orders and tracking payments.
ISB: Finally, what was the best piece of advice you have received you could pass on to others with an idea they’d like to turn into a business?
MH: I can’t say it enough…you must have an absolute passion for all your endeavours. It’s not easy to turn off when you choose to as the workload can hit after hours and on weekends. But, if you love what you do and it’s a gift, then you get to do what you love every day. Isn’t it better doing what you love to do for yourself, instead of doing what you have to do to fulfill someone else’s dreams?