Leanne Faulkner - combining small business experience with mental health & wellbeing research and understanding
About Leanne: Pink, grey and white conversation icon with "About Leanne" text and white dot graphic

A small business wellbeing advocate

Many people in the business community might know me as “the soap lady” or the “goat lady”. Our youngest son had suffered with eczema from birth and in an effort to ease his discomfort I learned how to make goat’s milk soap as a gentle protective skin care alternative. In 2004, Billie Goat Soap began. It was a humble affair initially and started in my kitchen. By 2010 we had grown to employ over 20 people and sold the products in over 2000 outlets around the country. Billie Goat Soap was the NSW Business Chamber Business of the Year in 2010 and the Myer Supplier of the Year (general cosmetics) at around the same time. I sold Billie Goat in 2012. The challenges that came with growing a small business came at a cost to my mental health. Needing support, I was shocked to learn that there was nothing available specifically for me – a small business owner. There were resources available for employees and the general public, but nothing for entrepreneurs and business owners. That put me on a path to lobby for change...

Today, I work at the intersection of small business ownership and mental health. It’s quite a unique position. It means I know the realities that come with small business ownership and I am able to link that to our understanding of workplace mental health support strategies. I think it’s fair to say I am obsessed with supporting the mental health and wellbeing of small business owners.

Since 2012 I have consulted on numerous initiatives to support the mental health of small business owners. You name it and I have probably worked on it! I am proud of the resources now available to the small business sector. However, I always felt there was something missing. If we have these wonderful websites and services, why are small business owners still stressed at work?

There was more research to be done, and so I started my PhD in 2019 to learn more about mental health in small business. Did you hear someone shouting with glee on the 12th March 2024? That was me finally submitting my PhD. It was a big day indeed.

I was very grateful to have received a research grant from the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) in 2022 and this helped me to gather quality data from over 30 fantastic micro-business owners and sole- traders. I am so grateful for their honesty and insights. It’s this research that I now share at speaking events and I can honestly say, it is a new and exciting way to think about optimising your mental health at work.

My full findings will be available on completion of my PhD however I did produce two industry reports for SIRA as part of the funding agreement. You can access these reports below.

Click here to access and download my micro-business research findings for SIRA.

Click here to access and download my micro-business mental health review of current practices.

I am an engaging and authentic keynote speaker and webinar presenter.

I have presented to groups of all sizes sharing stories of my business journey and making the need to consider personal wellness a relevant and motivating topic to think about. I’ve been told that people think differently about the mental health of small business owners after working with me. I’m often booked to speak at corporate events where there may be many small business owners present (like a franchise conference event for example) or where employees work closely with the small business community and want to learn how to better support their clients. Nowadays I have also been engaged to facilitate and present online webinars, something I have the IT capability and joy to do.

When I am not absorbed in my work passion I am enjoying my other passion – home life. You’ll find me out walking around the beautiful Central Coast most mornings with my husband and three very yappy dogs, or spending time with family and friends.

Here’s a sample of my media profile:

Foxtel News – Entrepreneur Show – March 2018

Tuesday 27th March

Smart Company – March 2017

Complaints over ASIC late fees prompt calls for government bodies to consider mental health of SME owners

Smart Company – July 2016

ATO makes mental health resources available for small business owners – but it’s time others did the same

Inside Small Business – June 2016

It’s time to prioritise the mental health of SME owners

Sydney Morning Herald – March 2016

Australia's nine most influential female entrepreneurs 2016