The latest winner of the BizGiver grant is Ellen Burns, owner of We Bar None. Based in Ballarat, We Bar None promotes better living with its wide array of health-conscious products.
Ellen’s products have built up a fan base for their taste and nutrition value, but more recently Ellen is extremely proud of the fact that We Bar None has become the first Victorian business to have 100% certified home compostable packaging. Ellen wished for a new laptop, a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – to help make her day-to-day operations run more smoothly.
Ellen was inspired to start her business when she was living in Canada back in 2013. “There was a huge range of healthy, delicious, and interesting convenience foods in North America and back in Australia we had nothing. I didn’t want to come home and be disappointed with the lack of choice, so I decided to do something about it and fill the gap in the market myself.”
When asked what prompted her to enter the BizGiver competition, Ellen said it came down to the fact that she “REALLY needed a new laptop.” Her current laptop is over 7 years old and while it would just manage to get the job done, for a business owner running the show on their own, it would make things difficult. Ellen would have invested in one herself if it weren’t for the fact that she had “plenty of other things demanding my cash flow!”
Ellen had spent the lion’s share of her savings on making the transition to using her new home compostable packaging. “Winning the BizGiver grant has taken a massive load of my shoulders and given me something that I desperately need. A new laptop is going to improve my efficiency and make my work day infinitely easier.”
Ellen also cited the fact that entering BizGiver was a no-brainer because “there are very few grants available for micro businesses, a lot of the time you must have over 20 employees or earn a certain amount to be eligible. I’ve never understood that because it’s the micro businesses that need the most help.”
Despite all the trials and tribulations that come with being a small business owner, Ellen says she wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“Being a small business owner is incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding. I think you have to be a certain type of crazy! I love running my own business because I’m totally responsible. Every win happens because I made it happen, every loss is a learning curve. It’s really hard work, but it’s also flexible.”
Ellen also describes the balancing act of coping with her anxiety and depression as playing a role in her decision to go out on her own. “I can take it easy on myself if I’m having a bad day and work really hard when I have the energy. You can be flexible with your energy, work load, and time. I can organise my business around my life, and not the other way around.”
When asked what she believes to be her biggest achievement, she goes back to having recently become the first business in Victoria – and the third in Australia – to have 100% home compostable packaging. “People are starting to take notice of the unbelievable amount of waste that we generate and choosing products that are more sustainable. I’m so happy to be able to offer people a plastic-free option in an industry that’s one of the worst contributors.”
In 5 years, time Ellen hopes We Bar None will have expanded by hiring some staff and working with more distributors all over Australia and potentially overseas. “My goals have never been financial. I’m not looking to make millions. My goal is to provide snacks that fit into people’s lifestyles, whether that be plastic-free, low FODMAP, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, low carb etc. There are so many people that aren’t being catered for by the current food industry and I want them to have choices. If I make it easier for people to make good food choices, and improve their health and wellness, my work is done.”
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Own a small business? BizGiver grants the wish of one lucky business owner to help take their business to the next level. Enter here!