Buying an established business can represent a huge challenge – and a huge opportunity. Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito bought a long-standing health business eight years ago and has discovered there is always more to learn.

While many business stories begin as an idea that sparks a start-up, small business success stories can take other forms too. In Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito’s case, she bought the Cottesloe-based Women’s & Breast Imaging when it was already firmly established.

Here are some highs, lows and lessons from Vanessa’s journey buying a business and turning it into her own.

Be open to new opportunities

“The business has been operating for 42 years – and I have owned it for eight,” says Vanessa.

“Taking over a well-established business was a challenge. At the time, I was a breast radiologist with no business background. It has taken a lot of effort and a long learning curve to operate this long-standing business.”

Vanessa first learned about our SBDC services through Facebook. “I was just browsing and saw SBDC was looking for someone who was available to represent a small business in the health industry. So I connected and we had a photo shoot.”

Learn how to pivot

Vanessa says her business was thriving until the pandemic hit. Having to navigate so many changes was challenging but Vanessa used it as a turning point for herself and her business.

“During the pandemic when we were not busy, I had a lightbulb moment: Maybe I need to start fresh. How do I pivot my business?”

Vanessa’s pivot involved learning more about various aspects of her business through a series of our SBDC workshops.

“The first online workshop I attended was about how to set up a new business. We were and still are in the process of expanding, so I felt that I needed to know more about how to start a business from scratch. “

“The Canva workshop was really helpful. I didn’t even know that Canva existed and I learned how to use it for my social media, marketing and website.”

“With the inventory workshop, I sat down with my admin team and we’ve used the templates from that workshop and implemented these in the business. These workshops were all online – they were very helpful.”

Photo of Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito. She is standing next to a mammography machine in her business, Women’s & Breast Imaging.
Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, owner of Women’s & Breast Imaging.

Be proud of your story

In 2021, Vanessa received a gold Ausmumpreneur People’s Choice award in the Making a Difference (Local Community) category and a silver award in the Health and Wellbeing category.

“I’m very grateful and very honoured to have received these awards. Helping the women of Western Australia is an honour,” she says.

“Through Ausmumpreneur, I was also able to collaborate with 24 women – female founders – to write our stories from where we were to where we’re at now. The book, Courage and Confidence, is an anthology about what it takes to succeed in business.”

Vanessa has also been interviewed as a guest on podcasts, Facebook live and local radio. She has enjoyed these opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs locally and globally.

Cultivate a growth mindset

“My favourite part of running the business is doing what I do best and doing what I love and am passionate about,” says Vanessa.

“My top tip for women in business is to have a growth mindset. Never stop learning and take a different perspective on the challenges and obstacles you encounter in your daily life and business. Use every tool available, such as SBDC services, to support you and to grow your business.”

Find out more

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Small business stories
26 October 2022