25 May 2016
While managing a small debt collection company for a solicitors firm, it became evident to me just how many people struggle with money. The debtors I spoke with were, on the whole, well-intentioned people who wanted nothing more than to get on top of their finances and back to living their lives. But many lacked basic money skills and nearly all of them were so stressed they found it difficult to make sound financial decisions. With nowhere to send these people for help, I decided to help them myself.
MyBudget was conceived from the simple but audacious idea of eliminating financial stress in the community. I started meeting with clients at my kitchen table. I showed them how to create a budget and manage their cash flow. They trusted me with their income and I paid their bills for them. When a budget wouldn’t balance, I helped them talk with their creditors about payment arrangements. For some of my clients, it was the first time in their life that their bills were paid on time.
Meanwhile, a gallery of naysayers gathered on the sidelines to share their million-and-one reasons why MyBudget would fail. “People can create a budget for themselves”, “Nobody’s going to trust you with their income”—I heard them all. On reflection, it was pretty outrageous that a 22-year-old woman would dare to create a new category in the financial services sector, a space traditionally dominated by men with greying temples and pinstripe suits. Only later did I realise that my gender and youth was an advantage.
5 lessons I’ve learned along the way
These days, I’m still a very hands-on manager, but I see myself primarily as a storyteller who communicates our vision and values to staff, clients and the wider community. It is no surprise that MyBudget’s values and my values are the same: caring, making a difference and financial responsibility. My job is to ensure that these values inform every decision we make in the business.
MyBudget’s plans, strategies, policies and procedures will constantly change, but our core values will always be the same—they are the spirit of MyBudget, the reason we get out of bed in the morning. This, I believe, is what sets great companies apart: the courage to be different and an ability to bring values to life.
What opportunities do you have to differentiate yourself or your business/services/products? What differences already exist and how do you leverage them as strengths?
Tammy Barton (formerly May) is the Founder and Director of MyBudget (www.mybudget.com.au). Follow her on Twitter: @budgeting_guru
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