Having Her Chocolate Bar And Eating It Too
Written By Jennifer Niskanen, May 2015
Stephanie Brennan, owner of Step Loans, faced a pivotal moment when she was five years old, having earned her first fifty cents of pocket-money from her Mom. Looking down at the chocolate bar she was about to purchase, she realized that if she could make another fifty cents, she could have both the chocolate bar and the money. Brennan names that moment as what gave her a life-long passion and drive to make more money and in turn more options, which has led her to become the business woman she is today, “For any entrepreneur or business person, there is always one moment in their life that challenged them to want to more out of it.”
Step Loans is one of a kind, mortgage and finance broking company and the only one in Australia that offers the services they do, “I started the business based on my own experiences with investing to ensure that no-one felt as lost as what I did when I first started.” Step Loans coaches people through the investing process, along with managing all aspects of their client’s financial needs, including business advice through the consulting arm of the business.
They help clients manage the after purchase expenses that come with buying a home, investments or a car and also offer workshops and seminars across a range of topics. They are always sharing their knowledge and experience with others, They have also partnered with 32 lenders and 19 service partners, from which they receive no financial benefit when referring clients to ensure clients have access to independent advice and guidance.”
“We specialize in retirement strategies, but often, when you say that, people think that we are working solely with the older generation, when what we are trying to do is to encourage the younger generation to start thinking about their investments and their retirement sooner, rather than later. Whether that’s property, shares, cash or a business, Step Loans is about customizing each strategy to each individual and ensuring we fine-tune any existing ideas our clients have. Our motto at Step Loans is that, ‘We know knowledge is power, but to us the implementation of knowledge is even more powerful.’ And so, we don’t just provide financial information, we are here to help you implement it through to fruition,” Stephanie Brennan.
Brennan continues to hold growth and further development as a constant goal, both for her business and herself, personally. In the next five years, she will grow the consulting and educational arm of her business and open an office in every Australian state,with the view to expand the business into the US and UK. She also plans to increase her charity work and develop a work placement program where street youths could develop their business skills and either grow within the company or utilize these skills in the career paths of their choosing.
She also plans to continue investing in properties with the view to purchase two to three properties each year to reach a total of 21 properties within the next 5 years. “My passion is for retirement strategies, and for me, starting in my own life, gives me a greater ability to help others that may also wish to have a large property portfolio.”
We asked Brennan to share with us more detail about herself and her vision:
What’s your proudest achievement in the last 5 years and why?
My proudest achievement is my ability to inspire others, to me, that epitomizes success. There is no feeling to describe how rewarding and touching it is that I get up every day loving what I do, excited to start what others deem work and that this love and this passion inspires others to not only pursue their own passion but to strive for more, in any and all aspects of their own lives. I find myself very lucky and fortunate that I am able to share in others’ journey and watch them grow and succeed with confidence.
How do you approach challenges in your business?
I approach challenges with the view that leadership is simply learning in front of more people and that every challenge is an opportunity for growth, not just for myself and my team but also for the business as a whole. It is so true that you learn more from your failures than you do your successes, and there are times when timelines aren’t met. You overspend because your budget constantly needs refining. You struggle to meet enough clients, and it is hard — so hard, that there are times you are so overwhelmed by the pressure you’ve placed on yourself to succeed. But, somehow that same pressure is what ultimately ends up motivating you and driving you further forward. I will never forget the most valuable lesson I have learned and that is, failure precedes success, and often, as entrepreneurs and business owners, we set goals for ourselves that we couldn’t possibly achieve until we first grow into the person capable, competent and confident enough to achieve them.
How are you leveraging technologies to transform your business?
With social media you can now reach 100 million people in the space of 4 months, and yet with radio or TV, back in the day, to reach half this amount of people it took between 12–38 years. It is incredible, so we utilize this as much as possible, and we combine other aspects of media, such as radio and print because we can then share it across our social media platforms. We also utilize new systems, virtual businesses and apps to make our day-to-day operations easier and more streamlined. Technology has also helped us to reach clients across Australia and globally, without having to relocate or start with an office presence in each state or country.
What’s the most significant change you’ve brought to the business?
Systematizing the business — by systematizing the business, it ensures that everything runs like a well oiled machined. It is exactly why McDonald’s has been so successful. Everything in your business should follow a process, even down to how you make coffee so that every client receives the same experience from you. I’ve also started to implement job descriptions when hiring to explain why the role is important to the business and the potential growth in the role, as well as what qualities we are looking for. I believe it empowers staff and shows how vital their part and their role is within our company. Too often I see businesses take their team for granted, especially their receptionist and office cleaner., never under estimate how important a first impression is.
What risks have you identified for your business, and how do you plan to manage them?
There are plenty of risks: risks with managing staff, with growing too quickly, with working out how to franchise the business, both domestically and internationally. There is always the fear that you will either not have the money to cope with how quickly you grow, or not have the manpower, so learning how to get that balance right is important. To cope with those risks, and I am sure the many more I will find along the way, I am able to consult a number of mentors who support me through this journey. This allows me to gauge their perspectives and to break down my overall goal into smaller, more manageable pieces.
What is your daily routine?
My daily routine consists of waking each morning at 5:00 a.m., reading for 45 minutes, then going to the gym for an hour, and after having breakfast, my green tea and, of course, showering, I get into the office around 7:30–8:00 a.m. My days are structured so I can maximize my time with meetings, business planning, networking, workshop preparation, book writing, researching legislative changes, reviewing KPIs, just to name a few. I try to finish up around 6:00 p.m., and usually, I am out to dinner or off to a function. Hopefully, I am home and in bed by 10:00 p.m.
For any more information, visit their website: www.steploans.com.au or connect with them through social media. You can also visit one of their workshops or check out the books they will be releasing throughout this year.