International Women's Day: Meet Megan Thomas

GRATEFUL: Megan Thomas has benefited from the support of family, an education, many opportunities and some good luck - all factors which supported her success.
GRATEFUL: Megan Thomas has benefited from the support of family, an education, many opportunities and some good luck - all factors which supported her success.

ADVERTISING FEATURE

Mum of three, small business operator and breast cancer survivor. Megan Thomas has tackled a lot in her life thus far, and with International Women's Day approaching, she is keen to encourage other women to strive to reach their goals.

"One of the purposes of International Women's Day, I believe, is to inspire and celebrate women's success," she said. "And to increase the visibility of women in business, particularly those who run their own business."

Self Storage Plus began as the brainchild of Ms Thomas' parents-in-law before her husband Simon Ebbeling joined the family business and then, a decade ago, Ms Thomas also came on board.

Previously a director in the NSW Attorney General's department, Ms Thomas had "three children in very quick succession" and the long daily commute to work meant  a reevaluation for the husband and wife team.

"At that time, Simon and I needed to find a better way to manage the lifestyle we wanted," the 45-year-old said. "One which enabled me to be the mum I wanted to be and still have a really interesting career. We were also talking about expanding the business and Simon needed my expertise to do that.

This advertising feature is sponsored by the following business. Click the link to learn more: 

"One of the interesting things about being married to someone who's in small business, you are part of that business, even if you don't go into work everyday.

"So, as we sorted through how Simon was going to manage an expansion of the business and take it to where he wanted it to go, it was fairly obvious he needed someone with the skills I had."

Growing the business meant the couple would need to employ more staff, develop systems, and document policies and procedures.

Ms Thomas had extensive experience in both those areas, so it  was a "good match".

Switching from one career path to another was a change of pace for Ms Thomas, who moved from a huge corporate entity which was the NSW Government, to being one of a team of four.

"When you work in a small business, you work in the front line up to the executive decision making. I'd go from negotiating with the bank for a loan to expand and build new facilities to be out cleaning storage units."

While the rewards of operating your own business are many - "working in the community where you live, meeting interesting, genuinely nice people, being supported by other businesses and having the most incredible staff" -  the responsibilities can not be discounted.

I'd go from negotiating with the bank for a loan to expand and build new facilities to be out cleaning units.

Megan Thomas

"Running our business gives us control over our own future, but we do feel a great responsibility to our staff and customers," she said. "We have six staff and their livelihoods are  in our hands."

Ms Thomas's advice to other women looking to embark upon a small business career is to go into it with your eyes wide open.

"You have to be clear about the benefits and drawbacks," she said, explaining that she was diagnosed with breast cancer two days shy of her fortieth birthday.

"For example, running your own business there's no such thing as sick leave. Undergoing chemotherapy and still having to turn up for work is not something I would have confronted when I was working for the Attorney General's department."