Angela Backhouse used to joke that she’d never own her own business, because she saw just how much hard work her parents, owners of the Araluen Hotel, put in.
Now Mrs Backhouse has been named “Business Women of the Year” in the Canberra Women in Business Awards, as Principle of the firm Backhouse Legal.
“I think I always knew I was going to own my own practice at some point” Mrs Backhouse said.
“I suppose growing up with my parents owning their own business, it was destined for me.”
Watching her parents run the hotel as she grew up taught Mrs Backhouse the importance of hard work, she says.
She bought the Fyshwick practice that is now Backhouse Legal in 2014, eight years after being admitted as a lawyer.
“I just always followed my heart, it was that time of my life when I knew I needed something different, another challenge” Mrs Backhouse said.
With an owner who was looking to retire, she could see the potential the business had.
The practice began small with four to five staff. Three years later it has 15, now housed in a larger office. The business has an office in Bungendore, and Mrs Backhouse meets with clients in Braidwood on a Tuesday.
A focus on technology, and efficient effective legal service has allowed her to grow the small practice.
Mrs Backhouse is always open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, to improve the business. Starting with a clean slate has meant she could embrace a changing industry.
“I think the main thing for me and my ability to grow has been I don’t have anything holding me back” Mrs Backhouse said.
“The legal industry itself has changed a lot over the past 10 years and technology has been a key player.”
“My focus has always been on with providing my clients with a cost effective legal solution.”
New technology allows her to run her business as effectively as competitors, but with increased efficiency reducing costs.
It has also meant Mrs Backhouse can balance the demands of a young family with her work. Living with her husband and two sons on the edge of Braidwood, she took just one week off after the birth of her second son, now 18 months.
“I set things up from the beginning so I can work from home if I need to” Mrs Backhouse said.
“It’s always challenging, particularly when you’ve got children who don’t sleep, or they get sick.”
“We’re lucky that we’ve got good family support, my parents and Daniel’s parents both live in Braidwood.”
“To me, I kind of look of it like, I’m showing them a work ethic that I saw growing up.”
Growing up in a small town like Braidwood needn’t limit young people’s opportunities, Mrs Backhouse says.
“I think it’s important that I grew up in Braidwood, I went to Central School, and I received an excellent education there” she said.
“The fact that you live in a country town shouldn't ever be a reason that you miss out on anything.”
“Having such a close community in Braidwood has made a real difference there.”