Kendall Morton is one very driven woman. The Caloundra woman began her career as a primary school teacher, then did a second degree and became an accountant.
In her latest career incarnation, she is the owner and director of Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast and in two years has taken it from zero clients and no staff to a thriving business that employs 52 people.
Last month, she was named Outstanding Business Woman of the Year at the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Awards. “It was just amazing,” she says.
“I still can’t believe it. It was totally unexpected.”
Originally from Tasmania, she moved to the Coast with husband Shane 12 years ago and says it’s the perfect place to raise their four children, aged three, five, seven and nine.
“I will never leave Caloundra,” she says. “I love it. It’s a beautiful community and it has a really strong business network and there are a lot of opportunities here. It’s easy to take it for granted. When you talk to people in other areas, there’s not such a strong community.”
Mrs Morton joined the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network 18 months ago and credits it with helping her network and bolster her business skills.
“I was just blown away by that network,” she says. “I didn’t know anyone and I was pretty new to the whole business world. I had never owned a business before and it was very warm and welcoming.
“They have fantastic speakers and some of the events are really special. There are some really dynamic women and a lot of them have been role models for me. I have been on this intense learning curve.
“The whole awards process is a great opportunity to reflect on where you’ve come from and what you’re proud of. When you’re caught up in the day-to-day running of a business, you don’t often do that.”
While Mrs Morton says she enjoyed her jobs in teaching and accounting, she found her true vocation when she became involved with home care.
“I’ve always been looking for that thing people talk about, where you love going to work,” she says.
“I started Home Care Assistance and I wasn’t sure if we’d make it because it’s such an ultra-competitive industry.
“There are 170 providers on the Sunshine Coast and we compete against big names. We operate 24 hours a day, because people don’t just need help during business hours. We don’t have any call centres of message banks.
“Someone will answer the phone 24 hours a day. We also value consistent care. If you’re an older person living at home, it’s a really big relationship of trust to let someone in your door. If you have a revolving door of carers turning up, you feel quite vulnerable.
“If you get the same person, you can build a relationship with them. On top of that, if it’s a consistent worker or couple of workers, they have a benchmark of your normal level of health. If you decline day to day, they’ll pick up on that.
“The third thing we do really well is our care plan is holistic. We have a real focus in our care planning around a sense of purpose. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you don’t feel you have a purpose, there’s a high instance of depression and anxiety. How do we give you a reason to get out of bed every day and have something to look forward to?”
Even now the business has taken off, supporting more than 1200 clients from Redcliffe to Bundaberg, Mrs Morton continues to see her own clients.
“I do whatever it takes,” she says. “If I have a client who needs me, it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, I’ll be there. I love my clients and I don’t want to give them up. Every single one of them has a way to inspire me.”
Mrs Morton says it’s easier to work long hours because she loves what she does, but she’s also conscious of her children. “Any spare second I’m not working, I’m spending with the kids,” she says.
“The older they get, the more active their social lives are and they have their sports.
“I’m lucky I have a very good network of incredible girlfriends. They’re really good kids and it makes it easier. I love coming to work every day and I love coming home. It’s the best way to live your life.
“People talk a lot about the juggle of women in business or working mums. We don’t really talk about that in our family. We see ourselves as incredibly lucky, so we don’t sweat the small stuff.
“I’m really driven and I’ve got a very supportive husband. I do have a lot of energy and I’m not sure where it comes from. I really love having the chance to make a difference.
“All women struggle with what’s called imposter syndrome, where they doubt themselves. But I am inherently positive. I don’t take anything for granted and I always look for the positive in people and I look on the bright side.
“There are basic human needs and mine is contribution. I’m driven to contribute to the greater good and being in business gives you the opportunity to do that.”