Meet Elle Likopoulos, from Absolute Business Brokers

Elle Likopoulos, renowned as one of the highest achieving business brokers in the Southern Hemisphere, is the Director of Absolute Business Brokers, a premier agency in Australia. Notably, it stands as the only brokerage firm in the industry with more women than men on staff, a testament to Elle's trailblazing efforts. Breaking into the field as one of its few female representatives, Elle has shattered barriers in what was once a "boy's club" industry, paving the way for others to follow. Beyond her professional success, Elle is a bestselling author, her recent work "I Want to Be ME When I Grow Up" empowers young girls to embrace their worth and pursue diverse career paths alongside motherhood aspirations. As a mother of four, Elle champions equality in leadership and business, advocating for the recognition and appreciation of mothers' contributions in the workplace.

"My advice would be to not second guess yourself because as women, we tend to do that a lot and we need to break that stigma of being quiet, being humble and being small."

When did you start your business?
Absolute was a family business my father started and I came into the business just over 16 years ago. When I entered the industry, there was hardly any women at all in the role of business brokers, especially not one’s in their early twenties. It took a long time and a lot of hard work to be recognized for my worth, I remember it was years of consecutive top sale scores and I would still be given coffee orders when I entered a board room!

What was the inspiration behind your work/business?
My biggest inspiration when I first started was people around me telling me I couldn’t do it. I was always being told that business broking had very long hours and a lot of one-on-one meetings with strangers, making it an “inappropriate” career choice for a woman considering having a family and “unsafe” given the hours and requirement to meet with so many strangers, one on one. I took this as a challenge and I was determined to prove that I could do it and above that, I could be the best in the industry. I worked very hard and achieved that, I earned the respect of my peers and recognition on an international platform. I continue to use my platform to support women and mother’s by ensuring my company is a reflection on the value and contribution mothers can add to business for employers to take note.

What are you most excited about in your work/business?
I love being able to represent women in business and help get them a price they deserve for their work, ensuring financial independence. It is so empowering to be able to sell that first business to a mum, who is so nervous and filled with so many doubts and then later down the track, sell her business for millions and help her move on to bigger developments and platforms- being a part of that journey is truly what gets me jumping out of bed every morning and excited about what I do.

What has been the most challenging thing about starting your work/business?
The hardest part if actually getting out of my own head. As a mum of four young children, I am always trying to block out the “mum guilt”. We are constantly being told and sold about “the juggle” and the reality is, we put way too much pressure on ourselves. I am not perfect, some days I forget to pack my kids’ sports uniform, or I pick them up late- it happens. I don’t believe you can act like a full time stay at home mum and full-time career woman, all at the same time- there are not enough hours in the day, its simple math’s, yet there is an entire market and industry profiting on trying to sell this to women and it’s all rubbish. You can “have it all”, if you identify what “all” means to you and set your boundaries. It took me a very long time to set boundaries with work and balance my work and still allow myself to have an identity outside of my phone and laptop. Definitely setting boundaries and giving time for myself between the roles of motherhood and career has been the biggest challenge but also one of the most important to work on.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a work/business?
Identify your boundaries from the very start. There is no point throwing yourself into the business to just find yourself burning out. Business is not a 100m sprint, it is a marathon and you need to go into it understanding that and reserving your energy and setting your boundaries. If you answer your emails at 1am, your client will expect that and when you don’t one night- they will complain. You need to have defined working hour boundaries that are appropriate for your goals, so that you can also train your clients and staff expectations from the very beginning. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you are going to be able to grow a successful business with 2 hours a day work but it does mean you should have a certain time in the evening where you put your work emails and phone away to recharge yourself.

Why did you enter the Women Changing the World Awards?
"Change cannot be achieved unless it is seen. It is through visibility and acknowledgment that transformation finds its roots and blossoms into reality." Through international platforms such as Women Changing the World Awards, I am able to spread my message and my story to inspire more women. It’s the butterfly effect and it’s important that we continue to use our stories and voices to resonate the message of courage and strength through our sisterhood. If you think about it, we are all here today, having a platform, having a voice because of the individual women that worked hard and fought, generations before us.

What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
I loved the energy I felt being in the room. Being in business and being a mother can sometimes feel very isolating. You can feel as though you are own your own with your thoughts and your struggles, no matter who you have around you. Being in a room with so many women who come from different walks of life but share many of those deep core inner thoughts, fears and dreams, is a profound feeling. It’s the sense of “belonging”, the sense of being back in one’s tribe. The sisterhood energy and power are electrifying.

What surprised you most about the awards?
The overwhelming feeling and sense of belonging. Meeting complete strangers and within minutes feeling a deep connection and sense of knowing each other forever. It was a spiritual experience that I was not expecting. I have been to many award ceremonies throughout my career but Women Changing the World is a movement, it’s a sense of knowing that we are part of history, like the Suffragette’s before us.

How did the awards help you in your work/business?
It has amplified my message and my goal to ensure my daughter and future generations do not find themselves facing the same challenges I did. It has helped me expand my network, creating more public speaking opportunities to open up to me as well as connect me with powerful women, who I have had the honor to collaborate and work with since meeting them through the awards.

What advice would you give to other women thinking about entering the awards?
“Women Changing the World”- it sounds like such a daunting title and it’s easy to let impostor syndrome kick in but the reality is, by being yourself, by standing in a space that you created for yourself, you are leading by example and paving an easier road for the women after you to follow. My advice would be to not second guess yourself because as women, we tend to do that a lot and we need to break that stigma of being quiet, being humble and being small. Every woman that enters the awards, regardless of whether they win or not, are changing the world, one small action at a time. So, every step, every action counts towards the bigger picture at the end of the day. Back yourself, you are here when most people said or thought you wouldn’t be- now is the time to show them what you’ve been doing.

What has been the best thing about starting your own work/business?
By far the best part has been having the power to employ and support mothers to have their own financial independence and sense of worth restored. I am fortunate as an employer that I can change the 9am-5pm rule and allow more flexibility for my staff, allowing mother’s to be able to re-enter the work force. I remember when I had my first, I was really struggling to get back into the office after my son was born and my mum made a comment, to say “don’t worry, it’s your own business and you can go in when you can. As long as the work is done and the quality is the same, it doesn’t matter if you come in at 10am instead of 9am”. That resonated with me and was a light bulb moment. I wanted to make sure that my privileged was passed onto my staff. The reality was, I was still the best performing broker, my value and my worth had not changed. The only change was that I now had a baby in my hands, which made it harder to get into the office at 9am due to his feeding schedule and my sleep deprivation. It didn’t matter what hours I worked- the results were still exactly the same, so I wanted to really try and incorporate that across my company as much as I could. I think mothers have so much value to contribute within a business but in most instances, they do need to work outside of the 9am to 5pm. I have seen my business sales and success soar, just by putting in the initial work to arrange rosters around my individual staff needs, allowing everyone to feel valued and able to work at their optimum state.

What’s happening next in your work/business?
Absolute continues to grow, we are doing a lot more interstate and international work, which has been very exciting. I am also working on more work and focus around educating our future generation of women. Starting with my children’s book, I Want To Be ME When I Grow Up, I plan to work closer with girls, to ensure they have the correct education and resources, to ensure they are independent and know their worth. I want to share my knowledge of business from my experience and career and use it to help more girls become entrepreneurs. I think we will begin to see rapid change, once we have more women in leadership positions, more women who have the power to create flexible work arrangements, the way I have. If we really want to see changes happen- we have to go straight to the top, where the decision makers sit, so my goal is to focus on getting more women in those seats through entrepreneurships and business.

What are your big plans for the future?
Smashing every single glass ceiling and getting to a place where women don’t feel nervous to mention they have children in a job interview, for fear they won’t be considered “reliable”.

How can we connect with you?

Absolute Business Brokers-

2024 Women Changing The World Awards

Nominations are open now for the 2024 Women Changing The World Awards