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7 Questions with Elli Gregory
7 Questions with Elli Gregory
Name: Elli Gregory
Current title: Director
Current organisation: Poppy Rose
Hi, my name is Elli and I'm a 31 year old from Brisbane.
I started Poppy Rose back in 2015 after working in various corporate roles and I haven't looked back since.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
The growth! It's a great challenge to be dealt, but one, nonetheless. Poppy Rose has grown quickly over the years and I've always found myself trying to keep up. Whether it's with changes with systems and processes, communication between a team that continues to get larger or just adapting to what is happening in the outside world. I love change so I am always keen to improve how we do things but as the business grows these changes become more and more challenging to implement!
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was about 25 years old when I started Poppy Rose. I was working in a job that I wasn't very happy in and I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. I loved to travel and wasn't really interested in studying so I felt really stuck and confused. I'd recently got home from living overseas and was pretty convinced I would leave again, but I'd run out of money. I decided it was time to think about my future and put a plan in place so that I had the financial independence I wanted. I was accepted into University but deferred so that I could pursue this crazy idea I had about starting a flower delivery business!
I started slowly while working full time and only delivered on Saturday's while I promoted the business. It was so well received by friends, family and over time the general public too! In May 2015 I left my job and started Poppy Rose as a full-time business. I remember being so terrified. I didn’t have much money behind me, but I also didn’t have much to lose, so I just went for it. Originally, we were just an online business, but we have since grown and we now have a retail store in Norman Park, and we service a large area of Brisbane for flower deliveries.
Fast forward to now and this little business has a team of over 20 amazing people and we're a really well established and well-known florist in Brisbane. I'm so grateful to everyone who has been a part of my journey so far!
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I usually like to start my workdays with a morning coffee while I check over my day with a quick look at the work emails and calendar. I then plan out how I'll structure my day from there.
Every day is so different, I really do take it day by day. Some days I work from home and others from the office which is located in our retail store. One of my main focuses while growing the business has been to create a lifestyle that permits me to work when and where I want to. While some days this doesn't go as planned, for the most part my days are very flexible.
I have committed to making sure that I give myself time to breathe. In the early days of business, I would work 16+ hour days every single day and I became so burnt out. It's really important to take a step back and realise that you'll never finish everything in one day. Calendars and Project/Task Lists have become my new best friend!
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
You need to look after yourself!
As I mentioned before, I became really burnt out after pushing myself too hard, for too many years. This had a huge effect on my mental health, and it affected my leadership in a big way. I was always tense which in turn made my team tense and created an unpleasant work environment for everyone. For a long time, I would feel guilty when I took time off or delegated tasks that I felt that were my responsibility. I managed to let go of those feelings and beliefs and took more time for myself. This undoubtedly made me a better leader.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I can't say I've read one that has impacted my leadership, is that bad!? If anyone has any suggestions please do let me know!
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
I didn’t come from a leadership background, so this is an area that has always challenged me. I am constantly learning from experiences and developing new skills as situations unfold.
For me, a huge part of building my own leadership capacity is reflection. I often think back to past experiences and ask myself how I would handle the same situation now. More often than not, there is something I would have done differently.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
It's not quite one story but one of an entire situation. We’re all familiar with Covid?
As I’m sure so many of you can relate, it’s been one of the most trying times for pretty much everyone in the world right now. Some of those days in those early days of 2020 were the most stressful of my life so far! I know that it was a terrifying time for my team as well. None of us knew what would happen, if we would have to close, if they would still have their jobs.
This was one of the biggest challenges I faced as a leader to date. While I was worried about how it would affect my business, I was also so worried about each of them and how it might affect their lives. We really stuck together, and we took it one day at a time. I reassured my team that I would do everything I could to support them. Luckily for us, Covid sent our deliveries into a frenzy and we were very busy for months on end! I am so proud and so incredibly grateful team Poppy!