Architect Emily McGuire knows a thing or two about small business ownership, having previously run her own small business a few years ago that led to her feeling burnt out. Emily returned to corporate work, but her desire to work for herself and express her creativity remained.

With help from Business Foundations and the self employment NEIS program, Emily started a new business in 2016 offering consulting services that enable her to focus on her art as well as running workshops to help women connect with their creativity.

Check out Emily’s honest reflection of her first year in business below.

Year 1. Hang On. Ride it Hard.
– A reflection on small business ownership by Emily McGuire

Starting my own business has been like getting on my surfboard, wetsuit on, leg rope on, and out I go.

I paddle out well beyond the break with persistence and a vision in mind to catch my own wave, bit scary but keen. I’ve always been wildly independent, something of a lone wolf albeit I love collaboration. I’ve worked for others but my mind and heart has always been determined to find my own creative and entrepreneurial path, and connect my skills to the marketplace. For me having my own business is more than just a job or money, it’s a way I can tap into my own potential.

I’ve been in business before and learnt tough things, contracts pulled when I was geared up, struggling with my own lack of confidence, not charging clients for variations, not charging properly for my time, not marketing enough – which all lead to burnout and some tough times in my life.

So returning to my own business was a powerful challenge for me, but one I am hungry and determined for. This time, from the outset, rather than forge on alone, I’ve allowed myself to open up to a community – my friends and family and also Business Foundations and the extraordinary team who’ve helped me: Diana (Dee), Natalie, Brian and Andrew my mentors, whose training and support have helped me with practical business strategies and also genuine personal support. So I’ve been able to have a second shot at business and this time, thrive.

2016 was a tough but amazing ride. My business this time working to build a creative online platform /ecommerce business (at present mix of creative meditation workshops for women and self published Ebooks, pursuing my art and sound sphere dream), backed up with using my professional skills for consulting work (geopolymer concretes; business document writing; architectural advice).

I’ve opened the door, stepped through, and with a lot of hard work I’m on my way to having my own successful enduring business. For me, I believe starting a business requires tenacity, sacrifice, courage, hard physical and emotional work, facing past fears and struggles head on. I’ve had to learn not to over give, to set clear boundaries, to find my voice, to value myself, to stop being so hard on myself about the past, to honour my talents, hard work, integrity and to give myself the chance to fly.

Eight months in I’m generating my own business income but I’m still on the bones of my ass. But it’s easy to budget hard when fuelled by my dreams and business vision. So it’s not smooth surfing yet, but the power of the waves and my courage to ride them, no matter what I’ve been through, has me recalibrating on an exciting and powerful path. My advice would be – be sure it’s for you, because it’s not the easiest path. If you don’t like hard work, forget it. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you’re up – go for it, it’s so rewarding. Seek support where you face obstacles, listen to feedback, respond to the market.

I’m on the path to reach my potential and I feel inspired and excited about what lies ahead. To the Business Foundations crew Dee, Nat, Brian, Andrew, Vanesa, George and Christine. Gracias Amici. FFL.

For more information visit emilymcguire.com.au

Emily McGuire's artwork featured at the ZERO Exhibition in Fremantle in December 2016.

Emily McGuire’s artwork featured at the ZERO Exhibition in Fremantle in December 2016. The launch event on 1 December 2016 supported World AIDS Day.


At Business Foundations, we know starting a small business is very challenging but also immensely rewarding. It’s why we’re passionate about helping people overcome the obstacles and find the confidence to pursue their dreams.

Through the self employment NEIS program, we provide free training in small business management, business skills and business plan development as well as ongoing mentoring and business advice. That’s free support to help you take the first steps to navigate your path to small business ownership.

To find out more about self employment NEIS, click here.