Sarah Britz is the Founder of Spend With Us, an online marketplace supporting rural and regional Australian small businesses impacted by bushfire, drought and COVID-19.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m the founder of Spend With Us, a website marketplace supporting rural and regional Australian small businesses impacted by bushfire, drought and COVID-19.
Spend With Us is a platform that connects the city and the bush. It provides rural businesses with the opportunity to create a free website store to sell their products or services online to consumers.
I’m also a freelance web designer and developer and have worked in the technology industry for more than 20 years. During the recent bushfire crisis, I wanted to give back to the community and help small businesses using my web skills.
I realised that many of them had no online presence or ways to receive donations or continue to sell their products when their bricks and mortar stores were closed. There was a vital need for them to keep trading, selling their products and earn an income.
Then along came COVID-19, which impacted even more small businesses. The Spend With Us platform is helping to bring money back into these communities that have had no tourism come through for months now.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I generally get up around 6.30am around the time my 2 children tend to come through and wake me. We shower, eat breakfast, get organised and are out of the house by 8am doing the pre-school and school run.
I work from my home office, so I usually grab a coffee and head back home ready to commence work around 9 in the morning. Due to COVID-19, my workload has been manic. I’ve had multiple clients suddenly need to get their websites updated as well as an influx of new clients needing to move their businesses online.
On a usual afternoon, pre-COVID, I would take my children to after school activities, and once home, we would do the dinner and bedtime routine. These days I have been working most nights until late, splitting the load between my web design work and managing the administration of Spend With Us.
In the evening, I will deal with any unanswered customer or vendor queries and provide help vendors to set up their online stores. I’ve also been creating and promoting social media and marketing campaigns to help get the word out about the platform.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely. Running my own business allows me to be flexible both with where I work and the hours I work. I can work from home or at a cafe – all I need is my laptop and an internet connection.
I can also work my hours around my children and arrange my work schedule to fit in with any activities or needs they have.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Having an even work-life balance is a massive challenge for me at the moment. Running two businesses at the same time has been very overwhelming. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to be more organised and plan out my days.
I am aware that there are days when I don’t give enough time and attention to my family or to my own self-care, and I need to better manage priorities. I am mindful that I need to make changes and decisions to ensure that my own health and my family don’t suffer.
6 months ago, I would have never imagined that I would be running a marketplace website, and it’s been a big adjustment, but also one that has brought immense rewards and satisfaction.
Knowing that I’m playing a part in helping people in need has been a great motivation, and makes the challenging times worth the effort. We have some exciting plans to announce for Spend With Us soon.
Hopefully, they will make my goal of achieving a more even work-life balance a reality.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In the past 12 months, I have started a new business and had to upskill myself in multiple areas I had no previous knowledge about. Social media marketing was entirely new to me.
I didn’t even have an Instagram account before creating the marketplace, and now I am using and learning about it every day!
I’ve also made a conscious effort to be mindful and present, whether that is during work or at home, playing with my children. Making sure I get time away from my phone and computer so I can enjoy the moment in real life has made a big difference.
It’s so easy to be engrossed with technology and forget to enjoy what is happening around you. I’ve found it essential to be optimistic and surround myself with people with similar values who inspire and challenge me.
Being surrounded by positivity makes a massive difference to my productivity.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’ve only recently got into listening to podcasts. I have found the podcasts through Business Australia to be both inspiring and useful. It’s great to listen to other business owners and the journey they have gone through. I’m also loving listening to the Small Business Made Simple social media & marketing podcasts to build up my knowledge in marketing.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
WhatsApp and Zoom. They have both enabled me to stay connected and have face to face video calls with both clients and family. It’s been especially useful throughout COVID-19 when we’ve all been confined to our homes.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to read an interview with Jacinda Arden, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She has been absolutely incredible in balancing the juggle of her political career, along with the challenges of being a mother. She is inspirational.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
The past few months have been so unpredictable – sometimes we have to do whatever we can to make things work. We may have an idea in our head about how life is meant to be, but in reality, things can change in a heartbeat and go in a completely different direction.
Creating the perfect work/life balance is something you may need to continuously work at. It’s so important to be mindful and present in both respects. If you don’t work towards achieving the right balance and take time to look after yourself, everything else will suffer too.
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