We are delighted to introduce you to one of our Women’s Business School graduates Karen Dennett, founder of Engaging Education.
When did you start your business?
In 2017 as a part-time education events business while teaching high-school business and enterprise.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
I was frustrated by how the school curriculum was focused, or rather, crammed with learning for assessment. This left limited time to invest meaningfully into building life skills. I witnessed the impact of grade comparison and focus on performance in school subjects especially compulsory subjects that do not relate to interests or strengths, and how this led to a lack of confidence and feelings of inferiority and failure.
When young people can learn from industry professionals, see the world beyond school, and achieve success through projects that harness strengths, encourage collaboration, and focus on purpose, the impact is significant.
What are you most excited about in your business?
I am most excited that I have the freedom and the ability to make a difference to young people. I am excited that I get to collaborate with a growing tribe of professionals who are just as excited as I am about creating opportunities.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
I naively thought that as a teacher, reaching schools would be easy. As a profit for purpose, so many opportunities to communicate with and reach school decision makers are withheld. Purchasing and intensive procurement processes greatly restrict reach through networks, and communication is limited.
The job of schools is to achieve qualifications, and teachers work very hard in this endeavour. Future skills, enterprise, STEAM, mindset, are often tick the box activities that are squeezed into the intensive school curriculum. Or an extra load taken on by a passionate teacher.
What this means is progress is very slow and therefore our programs have been adjusted to enable young people and parents to access content directly without the need to rely on schools getting on board for it to happen.
Sometimes I am without any income for months at a time and there is a constant need for problem solving, fresh angles, creativity and return to purpose.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
Spend a little time on yourself and explore your own value and inner expert. Then work through a simple design thinking process to create a possibilities canvas. Often, we start with a product or service idea, but neglect our why, knowledge, abilities, lived experiences and stories that enrich and add value.
Sometimes we get consumed by imposter syndrome, and comparison, when really, we simply need to consider how we can be of service and solve problems for others and make a difference.
Why did you choose to do the Women’s Business School Programs?
I chose the Accelerate Program because I was at a crossroads in my business and life. I realised that for my business to grow, I needed to invest in me. When you work alone in your business, head down, busy, it’s easy to lose sight of what is around you. I was inspired hearing from the amazing women at the Ausmumpreneur Conference and I knew I had to learn, collaborate, and expand my mind and my network as well as my business.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the program?
The amazing women on my course and the women who shared their expertise. I felt as a business and enterprise teacher, I knew a lot, but there is so much more to learn. Like pricing structures, social, media, creative partnerships and associations, overcoming imposter syndrome, and more.
I loved the learning sessions, and that they took place when the kids were at school.
What surprised you most about the program?
Discovering the importance of finding your tribe. The women who really get-it and are living the same challenges. Realising that I had so much value to give as well as to receive from the women on the program with me.
Which module was the most helpful and why?
I gained so much from all the modules but the most important for me was the Finance and partnerships units. I had restricted myself and my scarcity mindset was holding me back. Discovering that abundance is a good thing that can lead to a greater capacity to make a difference was the shift I needed.
How did the program help you in your business?
It helped me by expanding my network across Australia and seeing the potential to make a difference without relying on schools. The fact that I can reach women, parents, and young people directly and still enrich learning and make an impact was a game-changer for me.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
Feeling more empowered, flexible, and not constrained to one workplace. Working to achieve my vision has not been without its challenges – you still must pay the bills! However, I love to see the impact that the programs have, when I hear the presentations about their learnings, engage in and share the experiences.
Would you recommend the Women’s Business School to other women
starting a business? Why?
I would recommend the Accelerate Program as a fantastic way to build the growth mindset, network, and skills to set goals and start building your enterprise.
What’s happening next in your business?
The Be the Difference Parent and Teen Challenge; creating connection and starting conversations by investigating life challenges and using tools and strategies to contemplate and deliver their perspective. The Challenge includes training from a TEDx Speaker Coach and life challenges are presented by specialists in purpose-created videos.
Achieving my goal of empowering over 1000 women to go from uncertainty to possibility. Guiding them to find their Inner Expert and harness this value by undertaking a simple design and enterprise planning process to create a Possibilities Canvas. Once they see the possibilities, they can then build upon this with courses like the Ignition Program or learning from the many women in the network to build their idea.
The Future Female Leaders Program was a huge success and Co-Founder Claire Seeber and I are expanding in 2022 with more investors and more high school girls participating in this lifechanging experience.
What are your big plans for the future?
Work alongside Co-Founder, Claire Seeber, to expand the Future Female Leaders Program across Australia and the world, to create a global talent pipeline of skilled, courageous, socially conscious female leaders ready to make an impact in any business or organisation they choose to join or create.
Where industry invests in and values the importance of creating gender equity from the get-go.
To empower women across the world to find and share their value and create their own side-hustles.
To create a video anthology from parent and teen combos that shares real and raw what it means to Be the Difference in the face of life challenges, both as a teen and as a parent of teens.
PS Scholarship applications for The Women’s Business School 2022 programs are now open for a limited time. Apply today!