Braidwood local and Bulletin columnist Angela Backhouse was crowned 2017 ‘Business Woman of the Year’ in the Canberra Women in Business Awards at a gala ceremony in August.
Angela writes our Property and Legal column and her firm Backhouse Legal has established offices in Bungendore and Braidwood as well as Fyshwick.
Hailing originally from Araluen, Angela says she learned from a young age that it takes hard work and dedication to make a business work. She credits her parents, Stan and Margaret Wiseby, who owned a peach farm and the Araluen Hotel.
The CWB awards are open to business women of all ages. The ‘Business Woman of the Year’ is awarded based on the individual’s ability to show leadership, tenacity, compassion, encouragement, pursuit of excellent, be a role model for other business women, implementing positive new initiatives in the workplace, and employment opportunities. The word ‘visionary’ appears as well.
After practicing law for eight years, Angela felt ready for her own practice so when the opportunity presented itself in 2014 she jumped at it – purchasing what is now Backhouse Legal from Rod J. Barnett & Associates. She has since worked tirelessly to build the business with now 15 staff and the three offices.
Her goal she says is to become the leading commercial and property law firm in Canberra and surrounds. The Bulletin asked her to share a few insights behind her business success.
What advice would you give someone thinking of starting a business?
Angela: Always follow your heart; I live by the quote by Eileen Caddy
Set your sights high, the higher the better.
Expect the most wonderful things to happen,
Not in the future but right now.
You need to expect that it is going to be challenging but you need to look at it, one day and challenge at a time and it’s the little wins that count the most.
[But] without the love and support of my husband and family, helping me juggle two small boys and work commitments nothing would be possible. You do need to have a good support system – surround yourself with people that believe in you and your vision. And love what you do and the work.
What does your success say to others?
Angela: I think what I have done as a role model is to prove to any young business woman that it is possible to be a mother, a wife and be successful in business. If my children can see that I am as dedicated to my work as I am to them then they will learn to appreciate hard work.
It is also important for people to realise that whatever your background anything can be achieved. My home town has about 200 people in it and my parents were farmers and the local publicans, they showed me that if you are willing to work hard anything is possible.
I also want other business women to know that we are all human, we don’t always get things right the first time but as long as you continue trying and continue believing in yourself, the doors are never closed.
How do you manage all this?
Angela: The short answer is by never giving up and never taking ‘No’ for an answer. The long answer involves lots of sleepless nights and travel, living in Braidwood means I travel 2 hours a day.
I am upfront about everything and I involve my staff in all aspects of the business. It is essential that each member of the team know that they play an important role in the organisation. I live by the saying “If you treat your staff like they make a difference, they will”.