I set the business up five years ago and that was just me and a couple of little helping hands here and there and now we're a team of 12 in Melbourne and 10 to 20 contractors that we pull in at different times.
Integrity is all about thinking for the future for our clients to help clients grow in their own capabilities rather than to make a profit or make a buck quickly.
A typical day always starts with my daughter getting her set up for the day. If I'm not behind the computer I'm talking to someone and helping them work through a problem whether that be an executive or one of our team members. (…all programmers want people to know about community development…)
Looking after your mental health is sooo central to running a small business because so much lands on your shoulders.
The most important part is taking care of myself and having good balance in my life. I personally, you know, work strictly between 8 & 6 p.m. It's rare that I would work a weekend or nights and that should be rare for my team as well.
We also encourage taking breaks, we have standup desks, going for a walk, having a swim, like getting away from work. Ultimately we want our staff to have a full life that they are challenged at work but that they also have the energy and the capability to enjoy their time outside of work.
You know we are a small agency now but we have huge ambitions and with that takes a lot of energy to motivate and encourage a team to grow.
It’s just a lot of responsibility and that's hard. You want to make the right decisions at the right times - the buck stops with you. (… we see that you need to grow, like where do you see that?) What's been vital for me: prioritization.
So being able to see that my time is focused on the big picture. Unless your team know where you're headed and how they're part of that vision you have to do it all on your own. I often say that integrity only grew because I didn't want to work by myself! The number one is having a business coach; someone that understands you, understands your business and is actively helping you become better.
I'm definitely a founder and CEO that rolls their sleeves up. I'm not a CEO that kind of cheers people on from the sidelines and I see my staff as co leaders and they assume responsibility then for our growth.
Having a good culture starts with the tone that you set. If you're kind of the head down stressed out business owner you're going to have a head down stressed out team.
There have been two times that I've struggled with mental health at work and both are because of huge workload, huge pressures and also fast growth of a company, and I felt depressed, it was the first time I've ever felt depressed.
I had to go and speak to a counsellor or speak to my coach, but I thought it was really important thereafter to share with the team what I was going through so that they are able to go through the same process if they're having struggles, so I guess I felt more empowered after sharing and not more vulnerable.
Things just don't rattle me in the way that they used to so I'm less emotional. It's okay to care about the people that you work with, and if you know them and you know their lives, then you know when they're having a hard time.
But sometimes it does mean having them be honest and point out that you're concerned, that you think that maybe speaking to a counsellor will help. Often we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget the why; why did you get into having this business in the first place, and what does success mean to you?
Like does it mean being able to take a holiday, does it mean hiring a staff member, does it mean, you know, building a huge business? And that why is the thing that gives you your energy to keep going.
I absolutely need help but with a little bit of help I'm pretty awesome so, you know, if they can get that little bit of help and feel as great and as confident as I do, like it would be wrong of me not to share that.