Doing your homework before you chose to register your business is sound advice for new enterprises according to business owner Sharon Todd, the founder of a funeral company specialising in traditional Aboriginal funeral services.

Towards the Dreaming is a 100 per cent Indigenous owned and managed funeral service founded by Sharon in 2021 to fill an important void of bringing culture and tradition back to funerals for Indigenous people, and others who wish to practice and pass on their funeral traditions.

Sharon said that she was motivated to commence the business from listening to her community, as they were asking for their own funeral service company that was empathetic and immersed in Indigenous culture.

Community need provides opportunity to grow

“The business started in Perth as this was where the first request came from even though I have directed family funerals since 2001,” Sharon said.

It has now grown to the point where in the last financial year it employed 39 people on a casual basis and also appointed its first two full-time employees.

“We are doing well here on Noongar Boodjar (Perth), as well as in the Pilbara where I have a connection from my dad’s side of the family.

“It is natural to want to work in the areas where you have connection.”

Sharon said that her businesses mantra of ‘Our Culture, Our Funerals, Our Way’ captures the essence of what she is trying to provide.

“While we specialise in traditional Aboriginal funeral services, we are ready to work with you to find the best funeral service that suits you and your family,” she said.

The SBDC website is a first stop for business information

Coming from a professional background in procurement and project management, Sharon wanted to become as informed as possible before making that daunting decision of leaving a full-time job to go into business for herself.

“Having knowledge of how to be successful in small business was really important to me,” she said.

“I started reading a lot of the information on the SBDC website and ringing and talking to staff when I needed to.”

“It was all very helpful as there is so just much information that the SBDC provides.”

Upon reflection she said that learning about what type of business structure you want is a key to navigating the registration process.

“Just knowing whether or not to be a sole trader, trust, or proprietary limited etc. and learning more about that process is so important as it affects everything,” Sharon said.

Job satisfaction the best reward

Sharon said that knowing that the service honours the loved ones and their families, in her words, is “bigger than big”.

While most of Towards the Dreaming’s funeral services include common elements, the business can tailor each service to accommodate the cultural practices of different groups. They also offer outdoor services so that large groups of mourners can pay their respects, and memorial pages on their website to commemorate loved ones.

Empowerment as part of future business growth

With her business still being in the early stages, Sharon said that she plans to continue working hard and growing it as much as she can with a vision of employing more part time and full-time employees and purchasing some new hearses.

“We plan to support Indigenous communities to do their own funerals within their cultural context and protocols.”

More information

For more information on support available that assisted Sharon’s business, and other WA businesses to get started, read through our useful information on:

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Small business stories
10 November 2023