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  • Fiona Carter

2020 – Not for the Faint Hearted

2020 started normally enough. Our usual holiday in the sun and planning the year ahead for the business and the family.

COVID-19, of course, had well and truly arrived but for Fresh as a Daisy things were humming along well.

That all changed on 9th March when the Willoughby Girls High School was closed due to the unwelcome visitor… COVID-19. I watched out my window as the girls all filed out of the school and onto the local buses.

Business changed that day… within the next month 50% of my wonderful business had gone on hold. Home schooling, working from home, Zoom chats and social distancing meant that in most homes having a cleaning service was no longer practical or possible. Understandably.

To tell the truth, the first week was unsettling, to say the least. Something I am passionate about had halved and there was absolutely nothing I could do but reassure people we would be here when they felt comfortable having my cleaning fairies back in their homes.

Like the duck that glides gracefully on the surface, I was paddling madly underneath. I made it my mission to ensure that my contractors who fell through the cracks for government assistance had enough work to keep them going. And it did.

We are fortunate that Australia, and NSW in particular, has done a spectacular job ‘living with COVID’, as my husband likes to call it. Business is slowly increasing. Right now, my business is in its second phase out of COVID. I am able to fill existing rosters and build new ones to the extent that in the last few months I have been able to put on more teams.

I love my clients. I really do! They have been so supportive, kind and encouraging. My teams have been spectacular and I am thankful every day.

The ladies that help me run the business have put up with my million-miles-an-hour mind, that goes from 0 to 100 faster than Usain Bolt running the 100m.

My husband Terrence, who may I add, works in aged care and has not missed a day of work, and both my daughters, are safe and sound. My little dog Vegas Henry has been in the office with me every day making sure I am OK.

I like to think the point of difference between Fresh as a Daisy and the big names is that we are small, we are a family… perhaps not all related but a family none the less.

We used to appear in Google organically… now I find my lovely little company buried behind pages and pages of paid Google ads. I tried dipping my toe into that world, but after being buried under a ton of ads – literally – and realising the exorbitant costs that would be involved in even appearing at the bottom of the first page, I decided to go back to grassroots. Most of our work comes from word of mouth, local Facebook pages and our wonderful community. That for me is the best recommendation.

One thing that this difficult year has taught me is that some things are too precious to compromise. It doesn’t matter if I am not front and centre. I am here in the same space. Fresh as a Daisy was born in 2004 and I am now a teenager!

Fresh as a Daisy is to me what a small business should be. Personal, approachable, open to feedback, continually growing and adapting to the world we live in.

If I was to give advice to someone struggling with or starting a small business, it would be to gather your emotional and business tools around you. Build a strong support network, ask for help when you need it and follow your moral compass.

As I am now in the process of rebuilding, I am doing it with a lot of help in the office, from my family and my contractors. My lovely friends who put up with me always having a mobile phone at the ready and usually a laptop not too far away, thank you for also helping me navigate all this.

This is the single most challenging time in my working life.

Small business is the fabric that weaves a community together. It keeps us safe, builds trust and assures us that when the chips are down, we can always rely on our local coffee shop, hairdresser or cleaner for a smile.

I look forward to the coming months when the sun is shining, a vaccine is available and we can visit our loved ones both near and far. Until then it’s business and life as usual. Well perhaps at 1.5m apart and with a mask!


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