This is the second in a series of interviews with alumni from the School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia which runs learning programs across Australia for people from all backgrounds that have an idea or business with a community benefit.
Photo credit – Antony Tibbs.
Elle is an award-winning sportswoman and experienced NLP coach and motivational speaker. She was also recently became an Ambassador for Access All Abilities. During a 13-year swimming career, Elle represented Australia internationally and was captain of a number of Australian swimming teams. Elle represented Australia at the 2000 Paralympics and held a Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship for eight years. After swimming, Elle took up the sport of wheelchair rugby. She was the only woman to be selected to play for Victoria at a national level.
Elle’s motivation to play sport at the highest level was overwhelmed by constant injury associated with her physical limitations.
Elle learnt to change people’s perceptions about disability, and how she also felt about growing up feeling different, when she learnt to love herself fully. Through motivational speaking engagements, Elle tells her life story to inspire people to live their lives with passion, persistence and perseverance.
createbelieveachieve.com.au @createachieve facebook
After many years of setbacks and injuries through my sport, I became very good at bouncing back and continuing on with my sporting and life dreams. I want to show people that with resilience, strength of character and belief we can all achieve our dreams, our ultimate goals!
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
The Wheels of Power project provides coaching and support groups to people with disabilities, empowering them to live fulfilling lives in any way they want.
The Wheels of Power Project is working towards providing equipment to children with disabilities that are unable to access it due to it not being available in their country – e.g. in Asia. This is also a continuing program for children living in Australia that have to wait for approximately 9 months to ‘maybe’ get funding from the government for something that they need to use everyday. The program also provides coaching programs for individuals and their families in Australia who have been affected by disability later in their life, such as a through traffic accidents.
Our mission is simple: to create a socially aware community where people with disabilities feel fulfilled, accepted and empowered as human beings who can make a unique contribution to the world.
I took the plunge after speaking with former wheelchair rugby team mates about their lives after their accidents. They told me about how when they were discharged from rehab that they felt underprepared to take on their new lives. I want to show people with disabilities and their families that they can do whatever they want in their lives, and their disabilities don’t define them.
The project has also evolved to educating people without disabilities on how to better communicate to us and treat us like equal members of society.
Please explain your business model
I am currently a sole trader, but looking to move to a company in the next few months. I make my money through motivational speaking engagements to schools and businesses as well as individual coaching clients. I’m looking to expand this and move into coaching workshops and groups for businesses that are wanting to educate their staff on how to create a better working environment – understanding how people work, how to work better as a team and to enhance staff engagement.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
I am currently working on restructuring my business, which is Create Believe Achieve, with the Wheels of Power Project as a main focus. It has been a huge learning curve for me to structure the business in a way where I don’t become overwhelmed because there is so much to think about.
I am also an Ambassador for Access For All Abilities, which is a government run program that promotes sport to people with disabilities. This program gives me the opportunity to give back to the community that helped me to become who I am today. I’m really excited about this great new relationship. I am also researching where I can send my first wheelchair and who would benefit from it the most.
How do you make ideas happen?
By backing myself and allowing stuff to unfold. I believe that nothing will change or happen unless you do something about it. I love being creative about my ideas and I use a lot of art when brainstorming my ideas.
What does your typical day look like?
I see different clients for coaching, and I may visit a school and tell my story followed by a workshop with the kids working on different things like goal setting and body image. I will then spend some time on the business working out how to get my message out into the community. I also work part time at a bank as my business grows, where I work in customer experience and team coaching.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
There has been moments of burnout, where I felt overwhelmed and wasn’t sure if I could keep it all going. There has also been moments when I listened to lots of opinions and thought that they were better that what I had already set out for myself, but in the end it actually took me away from my goal and the purpose of what I can had created in the first place.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Everything you need to know is within you right now – you know what is best for you, what you need to do and how to do it. It comes down to trusting your own abilities. You are amazing!
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
I am in awe of Thank you. I think what Daniel Flynn and his team have done is inspiring and I hope that the Wheels of Power Project can have that type of reach and impact one day. Also Kids like Us, who offer comprehensive support programs for kids that are twice-exceptional (gifted and with a learning difference).
Access for all Abilities – is a government run initiative that promotes sports programs for children with disabilities.
What about internationally?
An old swimming friend Jessica Smith is doing amazing things with her #jointherevolution where she tells her story about living with a disability and how that affected, amongst other things, her body image.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
I think that it gives social change structure and influence; it shows everyone that we mean business and that’s not all fluff and feel-good.
Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you’d like our readers to support?
I would like to support Beyond Words, which celebrates, honours and affirms the unique and rich lives of older people in our community.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Cheryl Richardson – an amazing life coach that inspired me to start it all.
Hannah Macdougall has a great blog where she writes about her experience of living with one leg and her journey to the Rio Paralympics.
DiVine – a website where people with disabilities are free to express themselves in different ways and information on all things disability.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Always. I am looking for assistance in getting my marketing ideas out there, I’m a very good ideas person, but sometimes time gets away from me and I’ve struggled to make things happen as quickly as I would have liked. Create Believe Achieve is a for profit business, but the Wheels of Power Project will only run when the business grows, so funding is a essential for all the parts of the project to happen.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc., what would it be?
How can I get leads from social media that actually follow through and get involved in the project?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Tibas -Lebanese grilled delights is what I call it. Sydney Road, Brunswick.
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
I would be happy to give way 1 hour coaching session with me (valued at $250). This session could include working through something that has been holding you back, a goal setting session or assisting you to restructure your life so that you can achieve what you’ve been wanting to for a long time.