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How TAFE NSW helped Dapto marriage celebrant 'altar' her business fortunes

How TAFE NSW helped Dapto marriage celebrant 'altar' her business fortunes

A Dapto woman whose marriage celebrant business was upended by COVID lockdowns has credited a TAFE NSW program supporting the state’s businesswomen with helping her successfully relaunch.

Sharon Bridges, 56, had a long career in business administration before deciding in March 2020 to parlay her part-time passion for officiating weddings into a full-time business.

Within weeks, the state had been forced into a snap lockdown and the rules around weddings tightened significantly.

“It was such a difficult, uncertain period and I was forced to quickly try and understand all the health guidelines and allay the fears of the couples,” Ms Bridges said.

“It dramatically reduced my business and I realised I would benefit from training that would expand my skill set and help me to reevaluate my business model.”

Ms Bridges enrolled in the TAFE NSW Women in Business program, which offers fee-free online tuition for women who have an existing small business or are looking to establish one.

Participants can choose from a range of tailored short courses to suit their needs, ranging from social media and wellbeing to business planning and sourcing grants.

For Ms Bridges, the ability to network with like-minded businesswomen was also valuable.

“I liked the idea of being able to exchange ideas with other small businesswomen and support each other,” she said. “The IT and social media units were also something I was keen to focus on.

“It was just great to able to choose short bursts of topics and not have to study a whole qualification.”

She said what she had learned had helped ensure her business, Ceremonies with Sharon, was now back up and running successfully.

TAFE Digital general manager Lyn Rickard said thousands of NSW businesswomen had turned to the Women in Business program since the start of the pandemic to help kick-start their business.

“With a third of Australian small businesses now headed up by women, the Women in Business program is designed to provide women in every corner of NSW with access to fee-free online training on how to start or build a business,” Ms Rickard said. 

“TAFE NSW research tells us that women starting a new business face a number of common challenges, such as not knowing how to get started, finding funding sources, and managing their work-life balance.

“Depending on what point women are at with their business, they can cherry pick topics from the Women in Business program to suit their needs and get the practical, in-demand skills to succeed.”

Media contact: Paul Terry, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0419 618 599.