When Ella Fence stepped onto the stage of the Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards, she was surrounded by a crowd of people she had never met before.
And though she wouldn't necessarily describe herself as such, her journey with music and the creative industries is remarkably similar to the business journeys of those in the room.
Much like the leap of faith it takes to see a business concept materialise into a thriving company, carving out a creative career requires a lot of guts.
As an independent singer-songwriter, Ella Fence has faced her fair share of hurdles, but has also revelled in a number of highlights.
One of her biggest shows to date was at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast where Ella performed alongside iconic Australians Kate Miller-Heidke and Regurgitator to a crowd of thousands.
"I have a picture that I drew from when I was four or five that basically was just a picture of me and a microphone that said 'When I grow up I want to be a singer and I want to sing in front of 1000 people'," says Ella.
"I actually achieved that this year at the Commonwealth Games, and it was very special to have such a big experience on the Gold Coast where I grew up."
Recently, Ella received a grant to record an album, proving that hard word and serious determination gets you places.
Circling back to her involvement with the Young Entrepreneur Awards, Ella acknowledges how her journey is similar to those nominated and receiving awards.
"As an independent musician it is really challenging because you have to have your own brand and you're the one driving it with your own ideas," says Ella.
"You have your own idea, you have the passion, and you have the vision and you have to move forward with that."
Her song "Unknown Waters" might be about diving headfirst into love and the anxiety that comes with embracing the unknown, but Ella also points to universal themes she believes entrepreneurs especially can connect with.
"The theme of the song might relate to someone in a certain way wanting to explore something that they're really afraid of. That applies to love, it applies to so many different parts of life," says Ella.
"We often hold ourselves back through fear of whatever it is and that's really where the song sort of came from."
"It's really scary to put yourself out there and do your own thing and be open to any possibility, challenge, opportunity. It's scary. Even the good things can be overwhelming."
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