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I met Maria-Louise at a yoga retreat. Since I started this interview series it seems like interesting lady entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere! I love it!
Maria-Louise is a partner in the company Medical Solution. Medical Solution works in the area of Occupational Health and Safety, helping companies create systems for a safe working environment and environmental responsibility. The company employees thirteen staff.
Tell us about your ‘previous’ life before becoming a business owner…
Previously I was working as a Science Teacher. I graduated in the middle of a major restructuring of the education system and I was only able to work on a term-by-term contract so that there was no holiday pay. I loved teaching but it didn’t matter how good I was, I had no control over whether I had a job or not. It was stressful and unstable.
I felt very frustrated with the situation. When I didn’t get a position I had my heart set on, due to lack of experience, I decided to go on a three-month holiday with no idea of what I would be doing when I came back. I felt very open about what might happen. I just believed that something would come up.
I was talking to a parent at parent-teacher interviews before I left and he mentioned that he had an environmental business. He sold a product for cleaning oil and chemical spills. I was always interested in the environment so we agreed I would give it a go and work for him.
Once I began working for him and I discovered I was really good at sales! I hit my targets out of the ballpark. I enjoyed it so much and when I worked harder I was rewarded more. This was something that I hadn’t experienced in teaching.
When did all this turn into a business opportunity?
After I had been in the industry a while I found an opportunity to buy into a system, a more holistic approach, it involved auditing companies, looking at the environmental risks and pollution prevention. I said to my boss that we needed to look into this system. I basically said if you don’t want to invest I will! So we went into the venture together as business partners.
After some time my partner decided he wanted to retire. We sold the company. I worked from home and did some consulting but it was limiting, as I couldn’t supply any of the product side of the business.
My business partner also got bored and then we found a small First Aid business. I knew OH&S and the environment and I knew if we moved into the medical industry there would be a lot of similarities.
We bought that business and took on a third partner who helped with the logistics of warehousing. I learned the medical industry and we moved from there. We did an acquisition within a year and the business is still growing.
One of the great parts is I’m still teaching as I provide environmental awareness training to organisations. I am so happy my teaching degree didn’t go to waste. I love sharing and the exchange of knowledge. I’m still doing what I love but not where I thought I’d be doing it.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Being a family person, people on the outside think you chose your own hours. It is that way but it also isn’t. Sometimes I feel like I’m never in the right place with work or family. My mind is not always 100% on what I’m doing. That is why I love yoga so much, as it helps me focus and stay present.
What have been your highlights as a business owner?
I love it when I make a relationship with a customer and it helps their business as a whole. This is a major highlight for me.
We became a registered training organisation this year, which was a big achievement that I was very proud of. We are young and fresh and I think we stand aside from our competition.
What would you say to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Definitely do it. The harder you work the more successful you’ll be. You have control over your destiny. You control all aspects – how hard you work and the rewards. If you want enough money for your next meal you can do that, if you want more you financial freedom you can choose that too. If you want a long holiday you don’t have to ask permission. It can be whatever you want it to be.
Find out more about Maria-Louise and Medical Solution here
Key take aways from Maria-Louise’s experience
Being open to trying something different could lead in an exciting new direction. Maria-Louise didn’t initially plan to become a business owner, the interest developed after she discovered something new that she enjoyed.
It’s important to be on the look out for opportunities. Maria-Louise found a system that she believed would be successful, she bought into it and grew a business from there.
In business, as Maria-Louise says, you control your effort and your rewards. Exciting stuff!
Now I’d like to hear from you…
Have you ever followed a completely unexpected path and found new opportunity there?
Have you been thinking of starting a business?
Let me know in the comments below…