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Mowing Motivation, winner, Small Business StartUp Award

How one woman turned her pain into power to help others

I started this business mainly for women in domestic violence so that I could be the one to go there if they didn’t want a man around and to help employ some of those women,

Lydia Thomson

Living with ADHD and being a mother of four might not seem like the natural start-point for a new business venture, but that’s exactly how Lydia Thomson, Founder of Mowing Motivation, started out on her way to receiving the Small Business Startup Award at the 2024 Asuria Employer Awards, in association with Dynamic Business.

Seeding change

On the face of it, a lawn and gardening services business might not seem like an industry ripe for innovation and disruption, until you consider how many all-female gardening teams you’ve ever seen?

That was the simple but powerful insight that sat at the heart of Lydia’s idea to start a gardening services business by women, for women.

Many women — particularly those from culturally or linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, those with a history of trauma, or many single vulnerable women — feel uncomfortable alone at home in the presence of men.

“I started this business mainly for women in domestic violence so that I could be the one to go there if they didn’t want a man around and to help employ some of those women,” says Lydia.

Like so many successful startups, that mission stemmed from Lydia’s own direct experience with domestic violence, both as a child and later in life, inspiring her to help make a difference in the lives of those from similar backgrounds.

“I come from a background where it felt like my whole life was full of domestic violence. “It’s so hard to get help when you’re in that situation, and I just want to make it easier for someone who wants to get out.”

Growing Together

Fuelled by this powerful motivation, Lydia still needed other factors to fall into place before being able to set out with her new business idea. 

How one woman turned her pain into power to help others

The first was coming to terms with the fact that her career options and her ability to climb the ladder would always be limited in what is still a highly male dominated profession.

The second was realising that she needed help to turn her idea into a reality.

That help came in the form of Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) Business Mentor, Nik Lazarevski from Asuria. SEA is a government program providing free support and assistance for entrepreneurs and small business owners, including workshops, business health checks, advice sessions, and mentoring.

Despite brimming with energy, passion, and determination, an ADHD diagnosis later in life almost convinced Lydia that she wouldn’t have the organisational skills or attention to detail required to oversee a successful business.

Nik helped to convince her otherwise.

Rather than seeing her ADHD as a barrier to starting a new business, Nik helped Lydia to turn her condition to her advantage, channelling it to become the superpower that helped to transform her business idea into a profitable start-up.

And wherever Lydia saw weaknesses, Nik was there to give her the coaching and confidence she needed to keep on top of everything from creating and refining her business plan to bookkeeping. 

Less than a year since launching, Mowing Motivation has grown from an idea and a one-person outfit into a flourishing business with new clients knocking at its door daily. 

“She’s done two years of growth in six months,” says Nik. 

The next phase is all about increasing her client base, building up her equipment, and bringing more women into her team.

However, that single starting purpose to support women has already evolved, with Lydia recognising the opportunity to support men’s mental health every bit as much as women’s.

“Eventually I would like to have a fleet of women from DV situations and a fleet of men getting help with their mental health, driving around their own Mowing Motivation trailer,” says Lydia.

Thriving Against the Odds

Picking up the Small Business Startup Award at the Asuria Employer Awards was the joyous culmination of Lydia’s determination to change her life and make an impact through business.

“It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had,” says Lydia on her award win.

“All I can say is a massive thanks to everyone who’s helped me to get this far, including my bestie, Nik at Asuria.”

Asuria Self-Employment Assistance Business Mentor, Nik Lazarevski, said of his experience working with Lydia: “Lydia has always been bursting with the ideas, energy, and enthusiasm essential to the success of any new start-up, she just needed the business tools and support necessary to get her over those first few hurdles, something that it was my privilege to provide.”

As for the future, Lydia is more passionate than ever about turning gardening into a mental health focussed force for good. 

“I want Mowing Motivation to become a fleet of survivors. That’s the plan.” 

To find out more about Self-Employment Assistance from Asuria, visit asuria.com.au/self-employment

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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