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Caterina Sullivan


Business: Strategic Sustainability Consultants
What? Consultancy working with small businesses to assist in the development of their sustainability strategy and reporting

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How did the idea for your business first come about?
I was working in sustainability with the UN and federal government when I was approached by small business owners who were confused about sustainability in business and time-poor (as all of us small business owners are). That's when I decided to start a consultancy.

When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all-in and start your business?
I don't actually remember having a ‘f*ck-it moment’. My dad was a small businessperson, so starting my own business was very natural to me. I started my first 'business' selling handmade jewellery and knitted items at a marketplace when I was 7. So this was just the next step really.

What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them?
What do you mean 'were' some major challenges! I'm still facing them! Finding clients is always one of my weak points. I think the first step to overcoming any challenge in business is working out if this challenge is caused by a particular weakness and working on that. It's important to have a team around to support you, guide you and give advice.

What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
I was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly when I received the phone call from Australia telling me that I had made it as a finalist in the Young Australian of the Year Awards. I thought my phone had a bad connection.

Starting a business can be gruelling - what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
The fear of the 9-5 grind motivates me. I couldn't imagine working for someone else, feeling like my creativity was being stifled. That and I totally love what I do. I wouldn't rather be doing anything else in the whole world.

How do you create a work-life balance?
It actually took me becoming incredibly ill to understand I needed a work / life balance. Then it took my partner coming into my life to help me establish that. Before him, I didn't have anyone or anything I loved more than my business. He distracts me (in a good way) as well as supports me and grounds me when need be.