Before I entered politics, I ran my own micro business from home for ten years.
It was incredibly rewarding, incredibly challenging and, at times, incredibly lonely - particularly when I was navigating my way through user-unfriendly government websites late at night just days before the end of the financial year.
I know a thank you and bit of recognition goes a long way in boosting a business person's confidence, inspiring them to pursue the next innovation and bright idea and generating new customers.
For more than 20 years, I've been a big fan of the Telstra business women's awards. I've sat on nomination panels, cheered on my own nominees and mentored ACT women through the application process.
As the founding co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Small Business, I'm also a fan of Telstra's business awards, and I've met a number of highly successful owners - particularly from the ACT - who have come to Parliament House to talk about their small and medium business journey.
So it was wonderful to hear that 15 ACT businesses have been named finalists in this year's awards. As a vocal supporter of the shop local campaign, it's important to acknowledge the achievements of our home-grown talent.
After all, small businesses account for 47 percent of private sector employment in the ACT and contribute in excess of $330 billion to our GDP each year.
So congratulations to:
Aquatots Swim School
Barmco Mana Partnership
Capital Fibreglass Pools
Paladin Risk Management Services
The Rehabilitation Specialists
4WDrive Training Solutions
Wishing you all the best for the announcement of the 2015 ACT Telstra Business of the Year title on 17 July.
And remember Canberra, shop local to keep ACT businesses like these growing, thriving and employing.