Meet the Students: Lisa Thompson founder of The Farm Wholefoods
Lisa is a Mum of two girls (4 months and 3 years) with a background in corporate IT. After 10 years working in IT operations in a Senior Management role, she stepped out to have her first daughter and found she had completely lost her passion for the corporate world and thought it was time to start her own business!
The business she started (with her husband) is a wholefoods café, The Farm Wholefoods. They are Australia’s first wholefoods cafe franchise, and are on a mission to make healthy a habit without being fanatical.
The philosophy is that great food should be affordable, accessible and should be consumed in inspirational spaces!
Lisa tells us about her journey below
When did you start your business?
Planning started January 2015, with the first store opening May 2015.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
A combination of lifestyle choice and having the courage to start my own business. My old corporate life comprised of lots of travel, long days, weekend work, 24/7 on my phone and always answering to someone else’s expectations.
I wanted to spend time with my daughter but also take the chance to create something of my own that I loved and was able to choose my daily schedule.
What are you most excited about in your business?
Seeing the evolution. Our original business plan compared to what the business looks like today is a very different landscape. I’ve always had a big desire from day 1 to be a big, recognizable brand. That is what excites me but also keeps me up at night!
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
Making some hard decisions and not always getting them right.
Also having my second daughter at the end of last year when we were about to open another store, launch a new menu and building a commercial kitchen. I have never been so sleep deprived, exhausted and confused as to which day of the week it was in my life. It was a really hard balance and I learnt the art of seeking help (paid or family).
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
Think big! It’s amazing how women tend to have small and somewhat safe business plans. Women are just as capable to be great leaders in business as men, don’t under estimate how amazing you actually are!
Why did you choose to do the Women’s Business School Ignite Program?
I was really lacking a business network. I’m from Melbourne and since relocating I have been working as a Mum. I was feeling quite isolated having all my business network in Melbourne and wanted to get out and challenge myself to meet and interact with like-minded women.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the program?
I love hearing the stories of other successful women. I get really motivated by hearing people’s stories and absolutely loved the panel of women that spoke at the Masterclass.
What surprised you most about the program?
The amount of women out there about to, or already started their own business. Having worked in corporate for so long you can become very insular in your own little bubble. I never realized until I started my own business, just how many other women are out there starting up small business. It is so great to see.
Which module was the most helpful and why?
Module 2, Time Management. This took me by surprise as I pride myself on how organized I am. However, getting down to the detail we did in this module made me take action into a task that I constantly complain about (grocery shopping) yet didn’t do anything about. Since doing that module, I stopped complaining and took action and now get our groceries delivered weekly and have ordered a food box. The arguments in our house have disappeared over who’s turn it is to organize dinner and I have saved myself around 5 hours a week!
How did the program help you in your business?
Hearing the stories and watching the videos of all the women who were currently running their own businesses helped to cement confidence in myself and my business goals. It’s very easy when running your own business to feel isolated and overwhelmed but hearing both the ups and downs these women faced in their businesses was reassuring to know that everyone has their good and bad days in business.
What has been the best thing about starting your own
Seeing something that you started out of an idea blossom and grow. I also really like that we have created jobs for so many other people and are helping to grow the economy in our own little way.
Would you recommend the Women’s Business School to other women starting a business? Why?
Absolutely. Starting a business can be really confronting so to be able to be a part of a program that surrounds you with like-minded people who are in similar situations makes that leap a lot less daunting. The course also breaks down all the components to starting a business really well so hopefully that gives a lot of women the courage to make the start for their business or help propel it further.
What’s happening next in your business?
We have a couple more stores opening in Sydney in the next couple of months and are also opening our first interstate store in Brisbane.
What are your big plans for the future?
From a professional front the growth of The Farm Wholefoods is number 1. We are looking into different areas we can take the business and constantly challenging ourselves on the model and our offering.
From a personal perspective this year was supposed to be the year I finally did my marathon. However, I have a child related injury and am yet to take a single step back to training, so now I am eyeing off the 2018 New York Marathon as my debut!
To visit Lisa’s gorgeous cafe visit www.thefarmwholefoods.com/
If you are looking for support to get your business of the ground 2018 Women’s Business School Program is open now www.thewomensbusinessschool.com/scholarship2018