My name is Robyn Leonhardt and I was born and raised in Sydney in a family who loves to give back – my Dad was an Anglican Rector for 60+ years. I have 3 sisters, 1 brother, 17 nephews & nieces, and now 12 great grandchildren and that is just the start – love my family.
I married at the young age of 19, and began my career in finance after leaving year 12 with CBA. I also studied and worked in Human Resource Management and always enjoyed the customer service and people side of my work. I made some major life changes in my early thirties relocating to Denver, Colorado and being a “volunteer” with an international missionary organisation called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). My then husband and I worked full-time, unpaid, for 12 years into total (9 in Denver & 3 in Melbourne), leading teams into third world countries, serving the poor and needy working in orphanages, doing all sorts of “mercy” type work in various nations. It was character changing and taught me humility, thankfulness and we lived a low-income life-style living in a first world nation in USA. It gave me a new way of seeing life and changed me for the ordinary. During our time in Denver, 3 sons were born and this began my next adventures of growth and understanding. My second son showed significant differences in behaviour to his older brother and when he was just 9 months old, thus began my journey into the discover into his needs, yet another humbling experience and certainly not expected. During the first 5 years of my sons’ life, I finally came to understand the many issues and struggles I had experienced in my marriage and that my middle son was “just like his Dad”, this being high functioning Autism (Asperger).
We relocated with the same organisation in late 2001 to Melbourne, not knowing a single person, to begin a new life back in Australia. Sydney was home with family and close friends so it was a very isolating time. We left YWAM at the end of 2004 and I began to work again full-time in “normal” work back in finance. By this time my middle son was finally diagnosed with Aspergers (high functioning Autism) and I came to the understanding this was not going away – a huge impact for me. My youngest then diagnosed with mild Asperger. My ex-husband was on a steep decline in his mental and emotional health and so I was mother and provider to a partner and 3 sons.
As I just held life together and surviving, I began to think about my long-term future and asking myself what I wanted and how to get there. My life did change in 2009, ending my marriage, and officially becoming sole carer and provider for my sons. I had 2 sons with high functioning Autism, running the home, working, and doing it all on my own. I had begun to think about starting my own business and felt locked in and unable to truly achieve within the confines of corporate employment. I took the plunge in 2010, to become a sole trader, and to work for a couple of brokers as their loan processor. I enjoyed it so much I then began to think about becoming a broker or building a business in outsourcing loan processing for brokers. It took a couple of years to review my skill set, hang around small business owners, ask questions, to then decide I would go in the direction of loan processing and building a business in this.
I officially began my business in January 2012, with no backing of cash, no clients, no income, but sheer determination that this was the right direction for my future and would give me the satisfaction and ability to have an actual future for myself and my sons. I look back and have no idea how I did it – 3 sons, paying the bills, building a business, sole carer, and no support locally for me and along with this, 2 sons needing support with Aspergers. I have lived a basic existence and first 3-4 years, working day and night, 7 days a week. One of the blessings was working from home, which enabled me to look after my sons and be there for them and this in itself, was a life-saver to enable me to juggle it all. The stress has been high but knew what I had to achieve for a strong future
I ran the business with myself and hand full of Account Managers for the first 3 years doing everything that was required to keep it moving and working hard in the background to ensure we were building a foundation that would prove we can provide the service to our brokers. I certainly made many mistakes – too many to count. I remember at the end of the first year, sitting on my lounge and thinking will I chuck it in or start again from all I had learnt. I decided to keep going and make the changes necessary to make this service work.
My next challenge like any business owner was how do you grow a business on your own, so I began taking on some admin assistance on my back end. I have been trying to get to the place of working ON the business and to have a successful admin team to support me for some time, and I am finally hoping, the second half of 2017 will be the first time in my business to be fully focussed on sales, client care, networking and building the business with further services.
One of my joys is the opportunity to provide a home-based business for my team so they can have the benefits of a work-life balance. They walk into a business set up for them ready to go. I’ve had some successes and some horrors with team and this is the killer of my business. My desire to give each broker the optimum customer service experience and entrusting this to others can make or break my business, and I have certainly experienced the highs and lows of this, even a few brokers poaching my team, so it has been a learning curve in every way in business. No trail is a difficult way to grow as we need a large volume of new files to keep my capable, hungry team with continual income and we all know how the file numbers fluctuate.
Five and half years on we now have 25 Account Managers nationally, and 3 admin team members (all team are contractors working from home); processes galore, online tracking system and this year we are looking to have much more of our back-office admin, online to streamline what we do.
What I love about my business is giving each broker a dedicated team member with a personalised, flexible, customised approach and becoming part of the team and providing a high level of customer service. My joy is seeing each broker build trust and confidence in their team member, thus enabling them to grow and succeed in their business and this is my driving force and love to see each broker well supported in their business.
My business goals are to continue to grow, ensure each broker has an amazing experience, and have lots of case studies on how their business has grown with our support and achieved their goals. My personal goals are to eventually work less hours, have 3 months on a beach each year (ha-ha), travel to Sydney often to be with family, enjoy more independence as my sons move into their futures (currently 22, 20 and 17), meet a lovely man as a future partner, and have a strong and happy future giving back as much as I can into other’s lives.
For fun I LOVE my Sydney Swans and getting to as many games as possible and cheering on the red and white!
Sorry this is so long however hard to put into few words – thank you for reading this, being a part of F&C and the encouragement this brings to me as a business owner that we are not alone in what we do 😊