Enterprise could net award

Blame it on GST.

Jenny Scott's business career began on October 1, 1986, with the introduction of the goods and services tax.

She and her husband Bill, then farming at Otikerama, just north of Gore, attended GST information evenings held by their farm accountant.

They bought a computer to maintain a farm cashbook and calculate and fulfil their GST obligations.

At that stage, Mrs Scott knew nothing about computers, but her knowledge grew quickly.

She has now been involved in the development and support of software for the livestock brokering industry for more than 20 years.

LivestockOffice is the only specialised livestock brokering software developed in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions.

A university student, who worked on the Scott farm during the 1987-88 summer holidays, showed Mrs Scott how spreadsheets worked and she was "hooked".

Over the next few years, she did a computer hardware course with the Open Polytechnic, followed by night classes at Southland Polytechnic, specialising in spreadsheets and DOS (operating system). She also completed a correspondence course in farm and station book-keeping.

In 1990, the Otikerama farm was sold and Mr and Mrs Scott bought a smaller property, at Waikoikoi, in West Otago.

She opened a computer sales and accessory store in Gore, having been writing software programmes mainly for local dairy farmers, and the business grew to employ five staff.

In 1995, Mr and Mrs Scott sold their farm at Waikoikoi and moved to Central Otago.

In 2007, Mrs Scott and her youngest daughter Jacqui formed a new company called SHEBIZ Ltd.

That encompassed LivestockOffice, Payshr - a software package for shearing contractors payroll and invoicing; Auction Services - for clearing sales and auctions; and Jacqui's own secretarial business Contract Office.

Second daughter Lisa joined the team in 2010 anda North Island woman was recently employed for sales and marketing.

Mrs Scott and her daughters work from an office at Mr and Mrs Scott's Bannockburn home, where the "office doesn't face the view", she joked.

The trio worked well together and it was "extremely special" to have family members involved in the business. Mrs Scott said that she tended to end up as the "tea lady".

Describing herself as a "townie who married a farmer - I've been a bit converted, I'm afraid" - Mrs Scott said she often had to pinch herself, as it was an "amazing story".

The mother of four said the business had evolved and gone through different phases over the years.

"I think it's the different phases that have kept it refreshed, as we take on new things and do more things."

Technology was also "forever growing" and the business needed to keep up with that "because everybody wants to use new technology".

The plan for the next two to five years was to take the software offshore, heading to the likes of the Chilean, Argentinian and Australian markets.

Mrs Scott is an entrant in the South Island category of the Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Award 2012.

After seeing the award advertised in a CRT shareholders' magazine, her daughters encouraged her to enter. It was good for the company to raise its profile, she said.

Sixteen innovative businesses were in the line-up for the award. Three category winners - North Island, South Island and online business - will compete for the supreme title.

It was the fourth year the award has been run and it was encouraging to see the diversity of businesses being run by women in rural areas, RWNZ national president Liz Evans said.

"Celebrating their success and raising awareness of women's entrepreneurship is an important way in which we can help grow dynamic communities," Mrs Evans said.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on the opening night of the RWNZ national conference, in Hawera on May 21.


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