Berringa's Sarah Walkerden knows all too well the hardships involved with balancing being a mother to her two children, operating three businesses from home and managing her property and horses.
Mrs Walkerden has been doing this for the past three years when she decided to stop commuting the two-and-a-half to three-hour trip to Melbourne each way.
She spent many years managing websites for large corporate companies in Melbourne. Now she's settled on her rural property in regional Victoria with her young family, her horses and her thriving business.
A country girl at heart, Mrs Walkerden said she would not have it any other way.
"Working from here (Berringa) gives me the freedom and flexibility to pick the kids up from school and be there when they need me. I can slot my work in around them, so it's very handy," Mrs Walkerden said.
Mrs Walkerden and her husband Toby Billing live on a 28.3 hectare property at Berringa, which is 40 kilometres from Ballarat. They run three businesses between them.
"We have good friends next door and good people we know in the community, but no one else really runs any major business so we are a little bit isolated," Mrs Walkerden said.
"The things we do to combat that is to stay really connected online."Sarah Walkerden
Mrs Walkerden's, The Rural Copywriter, is a digital marketing messaging and strategy business. She helps rural and regional businesses gain customers and boost their online rankings.
She said she had experienced another tricky year due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.
"Balancing two young kids with home-schooling, with my husband, while running three businesses between us and managing our property and horses, has not been easy this year. It's been a real juggling act and a bit of a hard slog, to be honest," Mrs Walkerden said.
While Mrs Walkerden and her husband can still continue operating their businesses from home, regardless of lockdowns, it still has its affects.
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"Yes, we can operate our businesses remotely from home, but we've still lost clients who have had to close. It's not always easy to remain positive, but my husband and I put a real emphasis on making the most of what we can do, rather than dwelling on what we can't," Mrs Walkerden said.
"Our young kids have also been struggling emotionally of late with the lockdowns, which puts an extra strain on things."
Mrs Walkerden has been listed as a finalist across multiple national awards in multiple categories, including the Australian Small Business Champion Awards, Ausmumpreneur Awards and Roar Awards.
Mr Billing is a finalist in the ecommerce business of the year category of the Roar Awards with his business Billing Metals and Manufacturing.
Mrs Walkerden said the recognition helped to provide a welcome boost, enabling her to maintain a connection with the wider business community online.
"Being recognised as a finalist across all these different awards has certainly helped to brighten up a tough year and encouraged us to keep on going, no matter what. It's nice to have the connection to other business owners and feel like we're still a part of something bigger," she said.
While she is grateful for the recognition, Mrs Walkerden did not seek the accolades for herself.
She said it was more about stepping up as a leader in the regional and rural business space, to show other regional business owners that there's always hope and a way forward, no matter how difficult the circumstances.
"We do our best to support our small business clients with enthusiasm and understanding and are always here to help with not just their online marketing strategies and ideas to pivot their business models but also a friendly and encouraging ear."
Along with their individual businesses, Mrs Walkerden and Mr Billing run the newly formed The Rural Marketing Company.
Mrs Walkerden studied programming and web development at university but she fell into the corporate side of things and ended up in a website content role.
"I discovered I really loved writing and I could combine my technical knowledge with my creative writing passions and write for websites."
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