Whilst the reason to go into business is different for each woman, we still crave that connection and opportunity to work with others, even if we’ve made that big decision to go solo.
If you’re a woman living in the country, you’re either a farmer’s wife, an imprisoned lady shacked up having a million kids or a failed career woman sitting idle in your career…right? WRONG! Regional women are making a name for themselves in the corporate and business world and Soar Collective’s helping them. Soar is a business network focused on regional women and the founder; Jess Jones took some time to share a few insights with me.
Jess founded Soar Collective in 2014, as she was frustrated at the lack of networking events she had previously encountered.
“I’d had enough of attending events where guests seemed to be competing for a prize for who was the busiest. I saw the need to create a comfortable, open environment allowing the women attending to be brutally honest with each other as well as identifying collaborative opportunities,” Jess says.
With a steady rise (46% percent) of women business operators over the past two decades, Jess says it’s important for women to know they’re not alone in their ventures.
“Whilst the reason to go into business is different for each woman, we still crave that connection and opportunity to work with others, even if we’ve made that big decision to go solo. It’s a fantastic time to be a female entrepreneur. However, there are still some challenges women in non-metropolitan areas face, so that’s why we’re doing what we do,” Jess says.
Soar Collective has now grown to three locations with six more to launch in 2017. The goal is to be in 20 regional locations Australia-wide with 10,000 members by the end of 2020.
Jess, like many of us, is a regional returner. She grew up in the East Gippsland area in a small town called Maffra. After having spent most of her 20s in Melbourne, plus a year in New York City, she moved to the Mornington Peninsula with her partner and 9-month-old son in 2013. He’s now nearly 4 and Jess has a 1 year old daughter as well.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to buy where we were at the time and we loved the beachy, relaxed lifestyle of the Peninsula, so it just made sense. There’s a real sense of community in areas like that, something that’s hard to find in inner city suburbs,” Jess says.
That sense of community is an aspect of regional life that Jess believes is advantageous for women starting businesses in country areas.
“I really believe people want to see other business owners succeed and I think there’s greater opportunities for collaborations to occur too, once they start working tougher and utilising their immediate networks. I think networking is easier, less competitive and more authentic. It’s generally cheaper to live and cheaper for those wanting an office or retail space. Plus you still get great resources like co-working spaces in many regional areas now,” Jess says.
Creating an organisation like Soar means Jess meets amazing regional businesswomen every day.
“It’s so inspiring watching the women themselves grow in confidence, in self-belief and really coming into their strengths and power. It’s amazing to watch. I feel pretty luck that I get to experience that and call it ‘work.’ I’ve seen women go through some pretty tough times whether it be financial, personal relationships or losing a loved one and still have the courage to keep going. That in itself says so much about them. Their resilience and determination; it makes them pretty unstoppable!” Jess says.
2017 is proving to be an exciting year for Soar. Jess will embark on a ‘Rise for Regional’ road trip in late May. In one car, three businesswomen and two babies will travel across five regional locations in five days holding events and interviewing successful regional businesswomen. Phew!!! The whole journey will be filmed for a documentary out later this year. You can check it out at http://soarcollective.com/roadtrip
Soar is always looking to grow their community and connect more regional businesswomen. To join head to http://soarcollective.com/join or use the hashtag #riseforregional to join in the conversation on social media!