Elle Likopoulos, founder of Absolute Business Brokers, is a multi-award winning entrepreneur for the following categories in our 2020 AusMumpreneur VIC-TAS Awards
- Gold winner – AusMumpreneur of The Year
- Silver winner – Business 2 Business Service
- Silver winner – Multicultural Business
Elle is a mother of 4 young children, including toddler twins who runs one of Melbourne’s top business brokerage firms. Her company is a heavily male-dominated industry and the only brokerage company to have more women employed than men in the country! Elle has worked hard to be the best amongst her peers and proves she deserves a seat at the table. Elle is proud to have created an organisation that supports women, especially mothers to achieve their career goals without having to constantly prove they even deserve to be there.
When did you start your business?
My father founded Absolute Business Brokers when he realised their was a gap in the market to provide honest representation to small business owners in a simplified manner that provided informative guidance and representation. I have been privileged to be guided by someone so dedicated in helping people in business whether it be in expansion support, retirement and start ups. My mission has been to take the company to new heights by focusing on the support of mothers in business and allowing representation to women that is respectful and understanding of their struggles in running/owning a business.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
I found it very hard to prove to my peers that I deserved a seat at the table with them. I would walk into a boardroom and get asked to make latte’s, assuming I was an assistant due to my age and gender. I had to work twice as hard as everybody else and spent years at the top of my industry in sales, simply to get noticed and acknowledged for my abilities. I hope the struggles and sacrifices I’ve had to make means I can now make it easier for another mother or women to join, having paved a path for them to be guided through.
What are you most excited about in your business?
I am so excited to see how many more women are backing themselves by starting up a business. The ideas and services that are coming through as a result is just spectacular to watch, women have so much to offer and it’s encouraging to see that the boundaries society have placed on mothers being able to work are slowly coming down. We have a long way to go though because there is such a big issue with working families and childcare- it is very difficult for parents who work to both commit to a 9-5:30pm work schedule and very few companies are allowing flexibilty needed. I am really proud of offering positions that are flexible as well as an office that welcomes children to allow mums to be able to work without having to choose between career or family.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
The hardest part was proving I could do it, especially when I was pregnant to the twins a few years ago, it felt like I was going backwards in terms of proving my capability to everyone around me. I couldn’t enter a boardroom without people cooing at me, rubbing my belly or looking at me in shock- sometimes even saying “WOW, what are you still doing here, you’re about pop!” I find that even to this day, I’m still having to defy society expectations or odds that I actually am capable despite being a women and a mother. When lockdowns occurred and we had homeschooling it happened again, this assumption that I would drop the ball or give up my career because of my role as a mother- yes, it was harder to juggle with all four children at home but why didn’t my husband ever get those comments or questioning about whether he’d be able to cope? The biggest hurdle for any woman in business is defying stereotypes, you can be the one who hasn’t taken a sick day in three years, yet the minute you have to stay home because your child is sick- the “I thought so” looks coming raining in and judgement is passed down along with this invisible sticker plastered on your forehead saying “UNRELIABLE”.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
My only advice would be to know your worth, this isn’t just a saying- it’s about actually really knowing who you are and what your worth is. When you begin the process of starting your own business you will be met with a lot of challenges and decisions you never expected to make, some of them are big and then others are just little choices you make everyday that eventually shape who you become and what your business stands for. Don’t get caught up in the tide and allow yourself to get swept up and lose your values. It’s important you begin the journey with a solid relationship and trust with yourself otherwise you can easily find yourself 5 years down the track having made decisions you regret and not even recognising who you are anymore.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
My assistant, Tina entered me into the awards- I didn’t even realise until I received an email notifying me that I was nominated. It’s always a great feeling being recognised for your hard work, especially as a working mum, it feels sometimes like your daily sacrifices and challenges go unseen. We spend everyday taking out fires all around us and juggling so many balls to keep every cog moving, that we rarely take a moment to sit back and actually take in what we’ve achieved. and actually celebrate our achievements.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
Awards like AusMumpreneur Award shines a spotlight on working mothers and celebrates them in a way we simply just don’t do enough of ourselves. It also brings a community of women together which I think is so important, especially because working mothers can often struggle the most with networking and building new relationships- we’re always feeling guilty about the balance between work and family so we rarely allow ourselves the time to socialise and celebrate ourselves.
What surprised you most about the awards?
The comradery amongst the women was the most surprising element of the awards. I have never before been amongst a group of strangers in a professional context that were so supportive, genuine and eager to connect without having ulterior motives and without judgement. I think as women in business we can sometimes become a little jagged by our environment and experiences and that can sometimes leave us a little reserved or pessimistic about making connections with other women within our circle- especially with other working mums, there’s always been a very strong stigma and level of judgement against working mums from other mothers, so to be thrown into a group of women and see none of the expected behaviour was really refreshing.
How did the awards help you in your business?
I won Ausmumpreneur in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic and whilst in lockdowns. The awards allowed a level of exposure and networking that I would never have been able to achieve whilst in lockdown alone. It connected me to amazing women all like-minded and eager to take on any new challenges to grow. Through winning Ausmumpreneur I received a lot of media attention with articles written in local newspapers, magazines and The Age. It also connected with Katy, Peace and 27 amazing business women to all collaborate in producing Back Yourself, which I can’t believe made it to top seller in Amazon and is stocked across major bookstores now. I had a pinch myself moment the other day when I saw our book in Dymocks, to have been able to write a book in a year of lockdown with 4 kids at home and deal with all the challenges Covid brought is a massive testament on the doors Ausmumpreneur awards can open.
What advice would you give to others mums thinking about entering the awards?
Don’t ever doubt yourself or your worth. I never in a million years thought I would win Ausmumpreneur and there were many times I had imposter syndrome through the nomination process as well as the night of the awards. When my name was read out I actually thought they made a mistake or perhaps I heard incorrectly! The reality is we don’t tend to give ourselves credit, we may acknowledge achievements here or there but we don’t really sit down and take it all in to really thank ourselves and celebrate our own achievements. Entering an award can put you out of your comfort zone because it forces you to look at all of this and really see yourself in a way you don’t but it’s such an important process and one I think really helps highlight just how amazing you are.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
The most amazing thing about it is the freedom. I am able to make my own mistakes and learn my own lessons whilst always being true to myself. As a mother, having my own business has meant that I am able to be flexible and mould my business around my family and my life- I don’t have to choose between career or family. It has also meant that I am able to make a change for my staff’s lives by allowing them flexibility to work and support their families, which is such an amazing responsibility and honor.
What’s happening next in your business?
Absolute Business Broker’s is the only brokerage to have more women employed then men and with so many women starting up businesses or being in business due to the flexibility of hours etc, it’s very special that we are able to represent them in selling and buying business too. We have undergone a revamp in branding, refresh the Head Office and launch a new website all to celebrate our position in supporting women in business and come out of the lockdowns and stresses of 2020 pandemic as a bright new butterfly. I think it’s really important a business is always growing and evolving and the saying “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” can sometimes really be damaging to a business in this society where we really do expect growth, change and have shorter attention spans..
What are your big plans for the future?
My plans for the future is do more community work and support women further in starting up a business and expanding their business. I want to do whatever I can to make my daughter’s life easier than mine as my mother did for me and her mother did before that. Each generation we fight to make improvements for our future women but we’ve still got such a long way to go and I look forward to Absolute Business Brokers playing whatever part it can in shaping that path for Olga and all our daughters in the future.
SAVE THE DATE – 2021 AUSMUMPRENEUR AWARDS!
Nominations open Monday 3 May 2021.
AusMumpreneur Awards Nights 8-10 September 2021
Conference and Awards Presentation 14-16 September 2021.