When Adam Wooding, a proud Yorta Yorta man, and his wife Carmel reached out to IBA, they were ready to bring their new business idea to life. After participating in the Accelerate with IBA program, they decided to take a completely different road and created something better than they first imagined.
Accelerate with IBA is designed for Indigenous entrepreneurs to take their business to next level. It combines formal training and practical skills development with highly respected advisors and connected mentors to transform businesses into the most effective version it can be.
Adam and Carmel are the owners of Empower Digital, a business specialising in e-commerce on the Shopify platform. Adam & Carmel's key focus is empowering small and micro businesses to take control of their digital presence by giving them the skills to build and manage their online stores.
When they signed up for the program in 2019, they were in the early stages of planning their first business venture. They came into the program planning to build an app, but after the first week of workshops, they discovered there might be a better direction to go in.
All participants were faced with some challenging questions that got them thinking about what was at the core of what they wanted their business to be and what they wanted to achieve.
Challenged to think about the bigger picture, Adam and Carmel realised that their business idea wasn’t aligning with their end goal and their values, so they took this as an opportunity to pivot in a different direction.
“We went into this thinking ‘we know this is the right business, this is what we’re doing’ and but it turns out it wasn’t, and that was a challenge.”
“We thought that changing our business idea to something completely different might be a problem, but our mentors were really supportive. They said, ‘if this is what is right for your business, then go for it.’”
“So, we put in the extra hours to get back on track with the program and created a business idea that was true to our hearts,” said Adam.
“But adding to that, even though we’re now doing what we love, and it all worked out, I think it’s important for future participants to know that the process was confronting. It’s uncomfortable to question your business idea, but in doing so, you’ll create something more aligned with your values,” Carmel added.
Adam and Carmel say that Accelerate with IBA gave them the confidence they needed and that their business is thriving since finishing the program.
“IBA customised the program to each participant, so we were able to focus our individual needs, which was really valuable.”
“One of the most valuable things we took away from the program was the networks that we made. We became really close with everyone else in the program. We still all catch up regularly to yarn about our businesses and share ideas.”
“That also gave us the confidence to network beyond that. One of the reasons our business has done so well is that now, we are confident enough to go to networking events and talk about our business. We’re not doubting ourselves, or who are or what we do.”
Since the program, Empower Digital have continued their relationship with IBA. They’ve accessed a busines start-up loan, participated in several business skills workshops and grown their network with other IBA customers.
Empower Digital has now moved on to a new phase of their business after experiencing substantial growth over the past year.
“We’re now able to be selective in the work that we take on, we’ve found that balance of having enough work that we can only take on jobs that are true to the service that we offer. We’re doing things that really excite us.”
When asked if they’d recommend Accelerate with IBA to other Indigenous entrepreneurs considering it, Carmel had no hesitation saying, “do it! We are huge advocates of the program. Don’t question whether you are good enough. If you want your business to happen… it’s just worth doing.”
Are you tuning in to the Black Magic Woman Podcast Series?
Adam and Carmel recently had a yarn with Mundanara Bayles on the Black Magic Woman podcast as part of our partnership series based on a variety of topics including housing, business, youth, women, investing, financial literacy, economic development and COVID-19 recovery.