Cool Clutch

Suzanne Carroll sells Cool Clutch women’s handbags, cool by name and cool by nature!

Suzanne Carroll sells Cool Clutch women’s handbags, cool by name and cool by nature!

Ever dreamed of starting a business? Suzanne Carroll of Gisborne in central Victoria woke up on the morning of 30 October 2015 and told her husband that she was going to start a business called Cool Clutch selling ‘cool by nature and cool by name’ handbags for women. And she did. True story!

One of the fastest growing sectors of entrepreneurs is that of middle-aged women and you can’t go past Suzanne of Cool Clutch for inspiration. Having stepped away from her previous marketing work in the corporate sector for health reasons, Suzanne had been searching for an idea.

‘I was too young to retire and too old to be employable. I wanted to sell something online so I could stay home in my PJ’s’ she laughs.

Nothing could be further from that vision. Instead of languishing at home in her PJ’s she has found herself totally out of her comfort zone, drawing down on her house mortgage to fund the start-up, travelling overseas to negotiate with manufacturers, diving into the alien and expensive world of patents, entering and winning a Pitchfest, and becoming the very visible public face of her unique product.

It has been a steep learning curve since waking up with her Cool Clutch dream and Suzanne understands the benefit of sharing her journey to help others. She attends as many business conferences and networking events as possible. ‘I’m always learning by listening to others,’ she explains, ‘everybody I listen to generates an idea.’

Not one to sit around, Suzanne registered the domain name ‘Cool Clutch’ that very first day. While it may seem impulsive, having previously seen a cooler bag that stored wine on its side instead of in the usual upright position, Suzanne had noted that there wasn’t one available in Australia and this idea had been bubbling away subconsciously for some time. Her idea was to create stylish handbags that could also discretely store and keep cool wine, lunches and even medications that deteriorate in hot temperatures. The patented distinction is a removable pocket that sits within the handbag.

‘I knew what I wanted to do but not how to do it.’

She contacted thirty-two manufacturers via China’s Alibaba website. Those that spoke good English were followed up. Three were short listed before Suzanne met with them in Hong Kong. After selecting one they worked together on the design. Suzanne paid thirty percent upon placing the order, and a further seventy percent when the first 2,500 handbags were ready to be shipped.

It should have been an exciting day when the container arrived in Melbourne, but it turns out that some manufacturers like to cut corners and a great proportion of the initial order were faulty.

With the benefit of hindsight, Suzanne would advise others to do it differently.

‘Yes, good English and being contactable by skype is crucial, but I would personally tour the factory before committing to a contract and would not allow the products to be shipped out of China without first being checked by a quality agent.’

With a sample of what she wanted to achieve and a list of questions to ask, Suzanne returned to China in August 2016 to negotiate with a new manufacturer and personally tour their factory plus engage a quality agent. Thankfully it was a much better outcome this time round.

Another valuable lesson has been to scale back the designs and colour choices.

‘At one point I had 83 different handbag designs and colours,’ Suzanne admits, ‘but I’m scaling back to just three styles with a total of about 25 handbags in total. I’ve learned not to listen to everybody because some ideas just don’t sell.’

Obviously a website is crucial for an online business. It took Suzanne three attempts and over a year to get a site that she is happy with using Wordpress and WooCommerce.

‘Your biggest investment is your shop front. Don’t go with the first “special offer” on a website design you see advertised on social media’ she advises. Once again she learned a valuable lesson and researched who had the skills to do the work to her satisfaction. Once established she was able to look after the website herself.

A Facebook community of 4,500 people has become a useful marketing tool for Cool Clutch’s direct sales. ‘I’m self-taught in social media,’ Suzanne admits but loves the fact that she can drill down into demographics when boosting posts for as little as $20.

She has also learnt the distinctions between different platforms. ‘When I’m on Facebook I talk like I do to my girlfriends, but when on Linked In, it is more business.’ But at the end of the day it is word of mouth that generates the most sales.

‘My biggest marketing is customers talking to their friends.’

Finding wholesalers for Cool Clutch has been another trial and error process. She began by attending the major gift and homeware expos but, having such a unique product, has realised that it is more effective to research the demographics and go into the stores personally.

While Suzanne looks after the sales in Victoria, she also has an agent in New South Wales, and is currently seeking agents for Queensland and South Australia. A recent visit to the Barossa Valley revealed that wineries are a great fit for her products.

Patenting the Cool Clutch concept world-wide is another significant investment that started within weeks of the new business being created. ‘Looking at my initial decisions, they were more about convenience,’ Suzanne reflects. ‘I googled Patent Attorneys and found one in a location that I was familiar with. I liked him but he turned out to be very expensive.’

More recently Suzanne has benefited from working with a business mentor who has helped her to understand her weaknesses and improve her business decision making. ‘Useful tips like learning to allocate a codeword to specific marketing campaigns allows you to monitor the return on investment,’ says Suzanne. Like every seasonal business she is also looking to overseas markets to ‘follow the sun.’

Entering and winning a Bendigo Pitchfest in November 2016 gave Suzanne a great confidence boost, as did being named in the Australian Top 50 People in eCommerce in early 2019. ‘It’s nice to be recognised,’ she admits.

Working from home has probably turned out a little differently than Suzanne initially imagined. Fortunately, with grown-up children who have left home, it has been easier to reallocate rooms to the business. The dining room is now the Board Room, the study is an office for Suzanne and a part time employee, and the garage is now used for picking and packing

‘We don’t have anyone come to dinner anymore,’ she smiles, ‘we go out.’

If Suzanne has one more dream, it is to grow the business up to a level where she can build a new office and warehouse with a child care centre so more women are empowered to work.

Now that’s a cool dream!

Suzanne’s top tips:

  • Engage a quality agent if you are manufacturing overseas

  • Get a business mentor to get you started

  • Network with other business people

www.coolclutch.net


KERRY ANDERSON: Founder of the Operation Next Gen program and author of Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. In 2018 she was named as one of Australia’s Top 50 Regional Agents of Change. READ MORE

Ground Breaking Technology

Grizzly Engineering’s directors, Kurt and Skye Poltrock with Wendy McAllister (centre)

Grizzly Engineering’s directors, Kurt and Skye Poltrock with Wendy McAllister (centre)

Who said manufacturing is dead in Australia? While it can be challenging in a global marketplace and extended dry seasons, Grizzly Engineering is living proof that long term success is possible. Their ground-breaking technology is made in Swan Hill from start to finish and they survived the 2002-2010 drought years with a bold initiative.

It’s an exciting day when I catch up with Grizzly’s three company directors in Swan Hill. This innovative business established in 1983 has such a great reputation and I’m very grateful to spend some time with Wendy McAllister and her two sons, Kurt and Skye Poltrock.

With Australia’s wages much higher than our agricultural competitors in Canada and the United States it has become difficult for some Australian companies to compete in a global market. But when it comes to competing with cheaper imports in the domestic marketplace, Skye who oversees sales and marketing, has no qualms about the reason for their continued success.

‘It’s all about quality manufacturing and backing it up with service. We listen to our customers.’

Kurt, who has stepped into the role of General Manager since the retirement of Wendy from day to day operations, adds that they have invested heavily in technology and design to meet customer needs and grow their sales. Their growing list of equipment meets a wide range of needs including no-till cropping and vineyard maintenance.

Getting the right employees is also crucial according to Kurt. Ninety percent of Grizzly’s employees are sourced locally, and adult apprenticeships are becoming more prevalent.

‘Inhouse training works well for us. We are prepared to put on unskilled people with the right attitude.’

When I suggest we get a photograph of all three directors together, Kurt leads us out on to the factory floor where a startled young man pauses from his welding to pose with the group.

‘I wanted you to see that we build our machinery from start to finish,’ he explains.

The factory floor is also where Kurt started his working life with the company in 2000. He started working in various roles on the assembly line, earning his welding certificate, and spending some time in the stores to get a good overview of the company.

When Wendy started to transition out of the day to day operations of the company, Kurt took a desk upstairs and the title of Acting General Manager until Wendy’s growing absence forced him to drop the “Acting”. At the same time employee numbers have grown from 27 to the current 42 indicating that he is doing well in the leading role.

Kurt is strong on process. ‘Everything needs a procedure,’ he explains. ‘Get it on paper and it makes it easier for everyone.’ He is a great fan of a Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) system that controls their production and inventory as well as integrating accounts and payroll. ‘It’s a very powerful product and I can’t understand why other manufacturing companies don’t use these tools. We have full control of our costings.’

He also believes that procedures keep all the team members accountable. ‘We have good processes in place, so my job is really just to help everyone else do their job,’ he explains.

Skye recognises that he has very different strengths to Kurt.

‘I’m quite good at talking to customers,’ Skye says. ‘I love my job. There are so many variables. No two farmers want the same outcome and I get great satisfaction from selling quality machinery to meet their needs.’

Skye credits Kurt’s strong management that continues to keep the company on an even keel when everyone expects it to falter in such a tough marketplace.

I ask about the eight-year drought that saw many Victorian farms and businesses falter.

‘We noticed a gradual decline in sales 2002 onwards,’ Kurt explains, acknowledging the irony of the drought officially ending with extended flooding across the region in 2010. Clearly, they had to do something different to survive in the years between. Looking for a new market turned out to be a saviour.

Through Wendy’s involvement as Grizzly’s representative on the Australian Tractor & Machinery Association, she developed a contact in Russia, which ultimately sold 50 units of their Field Boss and helped them through this difficult period.

Skye joined the company in 2008, the last two years of the drought, and came to quickly came to appreciate the hard work that Wendy and the senior managers had put in to ensure that Grizzly could survive and retain their employees. He also got to travel to Russia. Despite the challenges of doing business in a foreign country, three sales became fifty and Grizzly Engineering staff were kept busy fulfilling the orders.

‘Russia was high risk, but the turnover got us through the drought,’ Kurt acknowledges.

Like all good businesses, success hinges on meeting your customer’s needs, adapting during tough times, and constantly looking towards the future.

https://grizzlyag.com.au/


KERRY ANDERSON: Founder of the Operation Next Gen program and author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. In 2018 she was named as one of Australia’s Top 50 Regional Agents of Change. READ MORE

Share Shop

As home-based businesses gather traction with their online retailing, another need emerges when customers start to seek access to a physical store front. Solving a problem for one such rural online business has resulted in a great outcome for the small town of Quambatook in the southern Mallee of Victoria.

Only a handful of businesses have survived in Quambatook with its small population of 249 (Census 2016) and surrounding agricultural communities. So it was with great celebration that the Quambatook & Districts Share Shop Inc. officially opened its doors on the 11th January 2019.

Barely a month later, and eleven separate home-based businesses now share a retail space showing and selling their wares. If not for the Share Shop, they would otherwise find it difficult to get exposure in a physical environment for their products.

It is a momentous day when I visit in early February. There is a small but steady stream of customers thanks to the Quamby Silo Cinema screening of The Merger later in the day. The Shop has also got its EFTPOs facilities up and running for the first time using a Square credit card reader. Now, this may not seem like much until you understand where the Share Shop has come from and how far it still has to go. For starters, there is NO power or running water to the building!

President of the Share Shop, Jodie Russ, recalls how she used to walk past the old store, the interior of which was hidden by black plastic across the windows. Previously it had been home to Ellis’s Hardware and Plumbing Supplies and Tom Hogan’s Grocery Store.

‘I moved to Quambatook ten years ago and never knew what lay behind those blacked out windows,’ Jodie admits. ‘It’s always a shame to see old buildings unused.’ So, it was logical when requests came from local and visiting customers to view Jodie’s products from her online retail business, Retro Vintage Period, that she started thinking of accessing a vacant store front.

‘I didn’t really want people coming to my home,’ she explains, ‘but there was no way I could afford to open a store all by myself. I started thinking that perhaps there were others in similar circumstances. Or they had a hobby business that would benefit from more exposure.’

While the Share Shop has only opened very recently, Jodie points out that a lot of research and preparation went on beforehand.

A group of local people expressed their interest in the joint enterprise including the owner of The Quambatook Stores who saw an opportunity to have her wares on sale over the weekend when she was closed for a much-needed rest.

Accessing a physical store front turned out to be the easiest of all their tasks. Owner Graeme Elliott, who had inherited the old building, was only too willing to agree to a peppercorn lease to help the group get on their feet.

‘I knocked on Graeme’s door and he was marvellous,’ Jodie recalls. ‘He is so generous in supporting us for the first year to let us accumulate some funds. The only stipulation was that we had to deal with what was behind the black plastic which turned out to be lots of old engines and car parts.’ A clearance sale was organised by a local auctioneer, and the majority of items were sold clearing the way for the new occupants.

The lack of power and water could be perceived as a barrier by most people I point out.

‘We weren’t going to let that stop us!’ Jodie exclaims. ‘We bring our own tank water in from home in buckets and have a gas ring to make a cuppa. And, on one of the hot days, the building owner hooked a car battery up to an inverter to run a fan for us.’ As backup Jodie also purchased a second-hand Generator from a Facebook Buy Swap Sell Site for $50. ‘Of course, we’d love to have power,’ Jodie admits, ‘but it will cost us $25,000 to get all the wiring upgraded so that is a battle for another day.’

Settling on a legal and financial model for the group required some further research but they realised that there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Assistance from the Gannawarra Shire and a mini bus trip to speak with existing cooperative groups in the nearby towns of Sea Lake and Wycheproof enabled them to make the decision to become an incorporated entity.

‘We have a yearly fee of $260 made up of $5 per week per business paid up front from the 1st of January or pro rata on entry to 31 December,’ explains Jodie moving into business mode. ‘Commission on goods sold is ten percent if you volunteer your time to serve in the shop or twenty percent if you can’t.’

While the overheads are minimal with no utilities connected, there is the peppercorn rent and insurance to be paid. ‘The enterprise is committed to generating funds to enable it to effectively market the shop, pay rent and improve facilities in its second year of operation, and keep it rolling for years to come,’ explains Jodie. For this reason, they have two fundraising coordinators as well as a treasurer to keep on top of their finances. ‘We need to build up our kitty and make this sustainable.’

Chatting with the team on duty, it becomes clear that there are many benefits far beyond the opportunity to generate income for local businesses.

I’m particularly interested in Zoe who is a year 12 student. ‘I’m just a floater,’ she tells me. It turns out that Sue, her mother, is one of the Share Shop members and Zoe is fulfilling the volunteering component. Her current task is to write out the EFTPOS instructions for all the volunteers which I’m sure will be gratefully received.

In fact, their very first EFTPOS sale takes place during our conversation to a couple from Portland in New South Wales who have been staying at the caravan park for the past week in eager anticipation of the silo cinema that evening.

Another of their volunteer members, Fiona Williams, operates the EFTPOs under the guidance of Jodie to complete the sale. ‘This is a wonderful opportunity to develop our technological skills,’ Jodie points out as Fiona nervously watches the transaction go through their newly purchased credit card reader.

By default, the Share Shop has also become an important social hub to this small community and their Secretary, Kathryn Robson, is a classic example.

‘Fiona and I were wondering what we were doing in the early days,’ Jodie admits, ‘then Kathryn just came in and asked how she could help.’ A district nurse by profession, Kathryn is a constant visitor to the store on her days off bringing her own unique enthusiasm, and what suspiciously appears to be a fetish for dressing up in the vintage clothing for their social media posts. During my visit she performs two super-fast clothing changes to model for the photographs.

‘The flow on effect of the Share Shop is immense,’ Jodie says. ‘It is so important for the town to have a drawcard and we can refer them to other businesses and places of interest. We took a gamble and it’s paying off,’ she concludes looking around with a very satisfied smile.

The Quambatook District Share Shop Inc is open
Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 3pm or by appointment at other times
Call Jodie on 0417 306 214.

https://www.facebook.com/quambatookdistrictshareshopinc/

https://www.instagram.com/quambatookdistrictshareshopinc/

And for those of you wondering what is on offer here is a brief outline:

  • Jodie Russ – Retro Vintage Period Homewares & Props For Sale, Various Vintage Homewares, Collectibles  and Clothing

  • Angela Mazur – Bear and the Bees – Local Honey and Beeswax Products, such as Beeswax wraps, lip Balm, Foot Balm

  • Gen Trice – Mincha Munchies, Preserves, Jams, Pickles Relishes

  • Jim Treacy and Jan Gemmel – Natural Soaps, Children’s Clothing, Plants 

  • Fiona Williams – Homewares, Vintage and New, Craft, Handmade items, Succulent Wreaths

  • Zoe and Sue Bremner – Rustic Farm and Garden Wares, Craft, Books, Art, Plants

  • Jo Nalder – Soy Candles and Diffusers

  • Annie Tomlinson – Vintage Homewares

  • Toni- Maree Hoogendorn – Vintage Homewares, Fabric, Wallpaper, Toys, Recycled Handmade Items including Children’s Clothing 

  • Chelle Espagne – Handprinted Mugs, Coasters, Stubbie Holders, Metal Art, Reusable Printed Tote Bags, Cushions


You might also enjoy reading other stories from Quambatook: QUAMBY SILO CINEMA and TOWN CHANGERS

KERRY ANDERSON: Founder of the Operation Next Gen program and author of Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. In 2018 she was named as one of Australia’s Top 50 Regional Agents of Change. READ MORE

Retro Respection

Not many businesses can claim to have been instigated by a triple cake stacking canister, but this happens to be the case when it comes to Retro Respection, a quirky homeware, giftware and vintage lovers’ shop in Collie, Western Australia. Its two equally quirky business partners are an inspiration to all those young mums who may feel trapped at home.

With the newly opened Retro Respection store creating a buzz in Collie, I popped in to catch up with its two enterprising business partners, Storm Todhunter and Joleen Brown. As young mums, it was rare for them to both be present in the store at the same time. Straight away it became evident that both are passionate about their products, in the way they dress and what they stock in the store, sometimes purely for conversational purposes.

It also proved to be my most challenging and fun interview of 2018. Challenging because they tend to bounce off each other like rubber balls when it comes to conversation, and fun because they just are so determined to enjoy life to its fullest.

Yes, it is true that a triple cake stacking cannister caught Storm’s attention at playgroup way back in 2012. ‘A mother asked if anyone wanted one and I said “I’ll have that!”,’ recalls Storm. At the very start of her business journey she started selling vintage items on eBay as a hobby.

Joleen, another local young mother also interested in vintage goods and writing a blog – they laugh as they recall a particularly hideous tea set she had collected - soon caught Storm’s attention.

‘We had kids the same age and just hit it off,’ says Joleen, ‘and I had the blog,’ she adds knowingly.

‘Joleen kept buying stuff at garage sales putting us in direct competition, so it made perfect sense for us to team up,’ explains Storm pointedly ignoring the blog reference. ‘I love the history and do the research.’

‘Whereas I just jump in with random ideas,’ smiles Joleen.

‘Yes, Joleen likes to try new things,’ confirms Storm, ‘whereas I think things through. She relies on me to pull her back in. We make a great team.’

‘We never expected it to be an overnight success,’ admits Joleen.

‘We’re brought up to think that we can do anything but once you have kids the reality is that you don’t leave the house,’ adds Storm. ‘This business has been built all around family. We have set it up so we are always available for our kids.’

In 2012 Storm started selling online from her family home in Collie and took up lots of space for stock. When she joined forces with Joleen in 2014 they came up with the quirky name of Retro Respection. ‘It’s a wicked name,’ Joleen grins.

‘An important learning starting off the business was to leverage our circumstances,’ recalls Storm. ‘As a mum without a paid job, I couldn’t even get a credit card!’ Fortunately, a supportive aunt lent her money to get started and has been one of her biggest fans.

In a conscious choice, Storm and Joleen have worked without wages and poured their earnings directly back into the business which originally focussed on sales through eBay and ultimately their own website.

In September 2018 they took the unusual step of expanding their online business to a physical shop front in their home town of Collie. With a tight budget they asked around and got a six-month trial of a vacant shop at a reduced rent. In a brave step they also decided to open 7 days a week, one of very few businesses to do so in this working town but perhaps a forerunner to positive change.

Their calculated gamble paid off. With increased visibility and their range of stock expanded, sales immediately increased. ‘It’s been good for the locals,’ confirms Storm. ‘Sometimes people just come in for a chat and now there is something for visitors passing through town to browse on weekends.’

‘Our reputation is everything and we’ve been professional right from the beginning,’ says Storm, or maybe it was Joleen? (my head is spinning with these two dynamos!) ‘No shortcuts,’ it was agreed unanimously.

Without a budget for marketing they have relied on organic growth through Facebook and Instagram and paid careful attention to the statistics. ‘Every time we post “SALE” it goes crazy,’ Joleen happily shares.

Getting a point of sale system was a priority with the opening of their shop front. After much trial and error, they settled on neto which provides a basic do-it-yourself website template and, most importantly, synchronises their inventory and sales in the shop, and across the website and eBay platforms. ‘Once you learn a new system you get better each time and more adaptable,’ says Storm.

On the few occasions they are physically together in the same space, this dynamic duo spend time thinking strategically about what new lines to introduce. With a strong following of online collectors, brooches were quite successful when introduced. ‘Consumables such as lollies and dog treats also invite repeat buyers,’ says Storm. ‘And we’d love to get more sustainable products in.’

‘While we haven’t made any serious money yet, at least we enjoy what we’re doing,’ admits Storm. ‘Joleen and I are best buddies and each other’s biggest supporter.’

‘We’re taking it day by day and enjoying ourselves’ Joleen confirms.

At the end of a whirl wind interview, Storm announces that this is only the start of their grand plan. ‘We’re going to bed down this shop and make it a destination; refine the website, expand the shop space, expand the product lines, and maybe open a whole bunch of shops.’

Somehow, I think they just might!

Storm and Joleen have expanded their online business to include a shop front in Collie W.A.

Storm and Joleen have expanded their online business to include a shop front in Collie W.A.

Storm and Joleen’s top tips:

  • Be passionate about your products.

  • Be stubborn.

  • Don’t be afraid to take that leap.

  • Be a nimble bull.

www.retrorespection.com.au


KERRY ANDERSON: Founder of the Operation Next Gen program and author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. In 2018 she was named as one of Australia’s Top 50 Change-Makers. READ MORE

Forging Ahead

1-20180120_155606.jpg

There is something about a corrugated iron shed that attracts the eye. Iconic markers on our rural landscape, they serve so many purposes, everything from shearing to hay storage and mechanical works. Regardless of searing heat and bitter cold they are places of shelter and productivity. But what takes place within those spaces is changing as indicated by The Old Workshop Café at Anakie between Geelong and Ballan. When my eyes were drawn to an old shed with a vibrant new look about it, I couldn’t help but stop off to find out more.

Good coffee and a social gathering place are an essential ingredient of any rural town and Anakie (population 690) is no exception. Local businesswoman Debbie Walker has put her accounting skills, chef daughter, and an old engineering shed to good use creating a quality café featuring organic produce for locals and travellers along the Geelong Ballan Road.

That’s the short version. In reality, it has been a much longer journey and, like every small business, fraught with its challenges. But at the end of the day Debbie is justifiably proud of her achievement and the opportunities it has brought to her small community.

For 25 years Debbie and husband Bob operated their engineering works on this site. As more equipment was acquired and they reached full capacity for electricity, it was time for a move. Adjacent land was purchased, new larger premises were purpose built for the engineering works, and suddenly, the old workshop was vacant.

Two years previously Debbie had already established a small café on the opposite side of the road. ‘I’ve always been passionate about producing my own food and cooking,’ explains Debbie. ‘When Krystal, our chef daughter and mother of four, started looking for some part time work it was perfect timing.’

The vacant old workshop promised more floor space, off-road parking and an opportunity to showcase organic vegetable beds and fruit trees as part of the café landscaping. With their existing café experience, Debbie’s planning skills, and Bob’s engineering expertise to fit it out, it should have been a simple transition. Like many small business owners caught in that time warp of investing large amounts of money and keen to get trading as soon as possible, Debbie discovered otherwise.

‘Dealing with council without a doubt,’ Debbie says when asked what their biggest challenge has been. ‘We expected help because we were encouraging employment and attracting tourists,’ says Debbie, ‘but couldn’t get a straight answer when setting up the disabled toilet. It took 12 weeks to find out where a handrail should go.’ She soon discovered that it was quicker to get information from other sources. ‘After two years of fighting and having spent too much time, effort, and money, I just couldn’t back down.’

Debbie’s analytical mind found the Health Department much easier to deal with. Proudly she shows me behind the scenes in their spotless kitchen and cool room. ‘The department has stringent health and safety guidelines which we gladly adhere to. We have one of the cleanest commercial kitchens, a fully trained chef, and all of our staff undertake a food handling course. When things go quiet with customers everyone knows without asking to scrub under the benches and check behind the doors.’

Ten casual staff are employed by the café which opens Friday to Sunday. ‘They (staff members) come from near and far,’ Debbie says. She translates that to ‘some live just up the road while others travel up to 15 kilometres away.’

Working in hospitality is not for everyone she cautions. ‘I have to be careful to maintain relationships in a small town and encourage potential employees to come and talk first.’ For those who do have people skills it is a great training opportunity.

It goes without saying that customer service is paramount in hospitality and Debbie is constantly thinking of ways to make to make customers feel more comfortable in an open shed environment. ‘We get the fire going when it’s cold, and on hot days use lots of ice, cool the glasses in the fridge, and bring out the big fans. People realise that we’re trying to make them as comfortable as possible.’

‘It’s a tough industry,’ she admits. It can go from no customers to ten cars pulling up simultaneously. ‘One day it was so hot and we were absolutely dead business wise but still had to have full staff. We cleaned out the storeroom, tried out some new recipes and made a big batch of beetroot relish. Even though we had few customers we got so much done.’

Being a part of a small community brings many benefits. While the café provides an important space for locals to gather and socialise, it also provides an outlet for local producers of flowers, honey, olive oil, and even handmade glass necklaces. ‘It enhances our business, so we don’t charge them anything to display and sell their goods. My only stipulation is that they have to make it themselves,’ explains Debbie.

With an accounting background and 30 years of experience in the family engineering business, Debbie has no illusions when it comes to investment. ‘You have to spend money to make money,’ she advises, ‘and you can’t expect to retrieve your investment in the first year.’ As is often the case, the best of budgets and time schedules can blow out, but the Walkers keep forging ahead regardless. In one extreme example a sewerage plant was budgeted at $5,000 but cost $28,000. ‘It means that our decking has to wait a bit longer,’ she shrugs philosophically.

As The Old Workshop Cafe enters its second year of trading, Debbie is feeling very satisfied with their achievements. Their customer base has grown requiring an overflow car park to be introduced. ‘Not a bad problem to have,’ she smiles. Likewise, the garden has grown significantly. ‘It’s a great pleasure to give the menu a twist on a regular basis to incorporate the seasonal produce from the garden.’ Recently they have applied for a liquor license and are patiently waiting on council to respond.

‘We always have plans for more to be done but the staff, service and food are exactly where I’m happy with,’ says Debbie. ‘We’re not big business, we are very much part of the community.’

Debbie’s top business tips:

  • Don’t borrow.

  • Be brave. Don’t be scared to make a decision.

  • Enjoy what you do. If you love it, it’s not work.

  • Be a part of your community.

GOOGLE MAPS The Old Workshop, Ballan Road, Anakie (open Friday to Sunday)

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/dashfoodstore/


KERRY ANDERSON: Founder of the Operation Next Gen program and author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. In 2018 she was named as one of Australia’s Top 50 Change-Makers. READ MORE

Small Towns

BY KERRY ANDERSON

Grit, determination, and innovation to problem solve issues common to small towns came through loud and strong at the inaugural Small Town Show and Tell mini conference held in Cohuna on Friday 13 July, 2018.

So what did I hear in the room?

Small towns are important

1.8 million people live in small towns (under 5,000 population) across Australia which is the equivalent of the city of Perth. ‘Small towns are important,’ Jack Archer, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute stressed. He encouraged us to use the INsight data and research generated by RAI to assist with evidence in our submissions.

Encourage the entrepreneurs

It comes as no surprise that this was the thrust of my presentation and it was backed up by Jack Archer. For this reason we need to fight for improved technology so that more people can live and work in small towns. With a growing ‘gig’ economy where more people are self employed and contracted to perform services for the big corporations, there is a great opportunity for small towns to attract people away from the cities. I also shared some recent research from the Kauffman Foundation in the U.S.A. that has discovered that for every one percent increase in new business, there is a two percent decrease in poverty.  Business is important!

Be inclusive and form partnerships

Small towns don’t have to do it alone. Jan Smith spoke about how the small community of Girgarre has achieved so much because they have shared both the work and the benefits with all their local groups. They’ve also welcomed visitors into their town inspiring them to help out with various events and activities. I shared a project currently unfolding in Warracknabeal at the court house which is managed by the Working Heritage board on which I serve. A partnership with the local community and Monash University has eventuated in grand plans to establish an artistic hub. Bakery on Broadway revealed that they had received assistance from the Rotary Club of Keilor in sourcing equipment for their bakery. City people love to help a rural community to succeed.

Young people like growing up in a small town 

Secondary college student Taitum Mason took some time out of her school holidays to come and share her thoughts on being a young person growing up in a small town. She listed a whole range of events that young people love to attend including The Big Cohuna Festival, an initiative of Operation Next Gen. ‘I don’t feel like I miss out event though Cohuna is a small town,’ she said. ‘I’m proud to be a part of this community.’ This supports the findings of research undertaken by Operation Next Gen through a survey of over 2,000 students.

Migrants are a life line

This message came through repeatedly through Tom Smith from Kia-Ora Piggery near Pyramid Hill, Ann Durie from Bakery on Broadway in Wycheproof, and Jack Archer, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute.  The benefits are undeniable and Tom is lobbying hard for better conditions to assist migrants to gain stability when moving to rural areas. This includes extended visas as a pathway to citizenship including for extended family members; recognition of prior qualifications and fast tracking assessment and skills upgrades; and understanding that we need hands on people to migrate, not just academics.

An abundant resource

Gen Barlow from Newstead talked about opportunities for small towns to take advantage of the sun and create renewable energy. During Newstead's community consultations they discovered that not everyone was interested in renewable energy but they were interested in reducing their energy costs.  Discussions have been ongoing and persistent to get across the various regulation and service provider barriers that have presented along the way. ‘The big corporates find it hard to understand that small communities can do this,’ said Gen.

Housing is important

Cohuna’s Emily Wood presented the findings of a research project that highlighted some important points. Professionals attracted to a small town like to rent before buying to ensure that they are a good fit for that community, however, there is a lack of suitable accommodation available for rent to meet their needs. Investment opportunities to be explored for Cohuna in particular included building two four bedroom homes to be rented to professionals for 3-6 month periods, and two to four small units suitable for retirees coming in from the farms. Financial incentives for young people to purchase and renovate old homes was another recommendation.

Learn to ask

Jan Smith shared the story of how Girgarre turned a negative into a positive. When the Heinz Factory was being closed they refused a cash offer and asked instead for land which came with water rights. In effect this turned out to be far higher value that the initial $50,000 offered and is enabling them to build a $12 million botanical gardens. ‘Learn to ask,’ Jan advised.

Build a ‘war chest’

Jan’s other piece of valuable advice was to ‘build a war chest.’ She acknowledged a canny treasurer who kept putting money aside from each of their markets for when it was needed. It helped the community to save its kindergarten.  As someone who has served on both philanthropic and government bodies administering grants, I reiterated that it is important to demonstrate what your community is prepared to contribute, or already has. If you are not prepared to invest in yourself, why should anyone else?

Measure your local spend

Kathryn Lanyon explained how Boort’s Shop Local campaign has had a positive outcome for their business community over the past five years.  Coupons enable the committee to measure what is spent locally over an 8 week period - $350,000 - $400,000 through 25 businesses alone. ‘Each year the participating business owners are inspired by the results and it is good for the community to understand how much money can be spent in our town,’ Kathryn said. ‘We need to embed a culture of shopping local in every business, club and organisation all year round.’

Arts and Culture connect people

Tanya Black from Cohuna Neighbourhood House spoke about the newly formed Gannawarra Arts Culture and Entertainment Club (the ACE Club) where members come together to attend various arts and cultural events being rotated around the small towns helping to connect people. 'Many Melbourne based performances are being presented and supported by small rural communities, bringing life back into their community halls,' Tanya explained. 'It's a great way to meet new people, and you can be assured of a lovely country spread for supper.'


Congratulations to the Cohuna Neighbourhood House for this great initiative, funded by Regional Development Victoria as part of a larger project, 'This is Cohuna - Celebrating Our Heritage & Unique Neighbourhood Assets.'

Will it be a one off? Given how well it was received I think that another town may well take up the challenge to host this event in the future. Which town will it be I wonder?

WATCH RECORDINGS OF ALL THE PRESENTATIONS (coming soon)

And some more reading that may interest you:

Bakery on Broadway: Wycheproof

Rural Towns Fighting Back: COHUNA

Rural Towns Fighting Back: GIRGARRE

 

RAI How to end regional population decline

Tom Smith - Kia-Ora Piggery


KERRY ANDERSON: Founder of the Operation Next Gen program and author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

An artful business

Sobrane in her Broome WA studio

Sobrane in her Broome WA studio

Rural Australia is increasingly becoming home to artists that are bringing a vibrancy to rural towns. They are bravely forging a lifestyle that encompasses their passion, but how do they successfully make a living Kerry Anderson ponders?

All too often we hear that artists are struggling and having to supplement their incomes elsewhere. Regardless of what genre, how can they make a reasonable living from what is often perceived as a hobby? Most creative minded people are not renowned for their business acumen and yet there are many examples of successful artists operating at a high level.  If artists want to be seriously considered and earn a reasonable income, they do need to apply some business rigour. There are some difficult questions that should be asked and conscious decisions made if they want to financially survive and thrive. How do they value an item? How do they value their time? How do they value their brand?

Apart from the serious collectors who go by a whole different set of criteria; when it comes to valuing an item that old saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ rings true. To whomever this piece speaks, it is considered the most valuable. I have never bought a piece of art without considering two things first. Do I like it? And secondly, do I have a suitable space for it to be displayed? If the answer to those two questions is yes, then I finally ask myself: Can I afford it?

So, you first have to consider who your art will appeal to and know their price range. Central Victorian sculptor Trevor Prest’s work mostly comprises of large heavy pieces most suited to big spaces. It goes without saying that an art gallery, or a company or university wanting to make an impact in their entry foyer, will pay considerably more than the average home collector. Having said that, I loved his work so much that I did buy a piece and managed to squeeze it in to my house.

But how on earth can an artist value their time when they are doing something that they love? Like farmers who choose a lifestyle, this may be just too hard a question to answer. Perhaps a better question is to ask: What total income do you need to live comfortably? Then, it is a simple matter of working backwards and thinking about cash flow, what types of items bring in the best results, and how many you have to sell at what price to meet your target income. Your best-selling and most profitable items must come first. Afterwards you can indulge in your passion. As a starting base you should think about how much it costs to produce (materials etc), not forgetting all those small hidden costs like studio rental or services, advertising, packaging, and transport that quickly add up.

And, when it comes to your personal time in marketing your work, make sure you are spending it where it counts. An artist at a Farmer’s Market recently mentioned to me that he was about to stop attending the markets as his items were becoming too highly priced for this type of audience. Good decision as he will not only save on his personal time but also the cost of travel. Lucky, I made my purchase beforehand.

Before you start thinking that I buy everything I see, I recently visited Sobrane’s studio in Broome, Western Australia, and left with only a greeting card; mainly because my suitcase wasn’t big enough. It was interesting to see how she has positioned herself as an artist and diversified her products to create a steady flow of income. In addition to the big priced pieces of artwork for serious collectors, there were lots of smaller items that browsing tourists could happily purchase; for instance, cushion covers, cards and smaller unframed art works. Sobrane has also embraced the latest trend where street artists are employed through community grants to paint silos and other large buildings in rural communities creating tourist attractions.

Branding is king no matter what industry you work in. If you portray yourself as a struggling artist selling whatever you can, then buyers will expect low prices. Valuing yourself and knowing the worth of your artwork is just so crucial in sending out the right message. It all comes down to perception and how it is presented, from the sales venue right down to the artistic quality of the price tag. In the digital era with capacity for online marketing and sales, there is a much wider reach and audience for artists who can create a strong brand.

No business person has every skill required to be successful. The key is to ask the hard questions, recognise your strengths and weaknesses, seek professional advice when required, and surround yourself with a team when taking your business to the next level.

A final word of advice from someone who unfortunately doesn’t have a creative bone in her body. It also helps if you’re good at what you do!


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Quilt Station

As a small rural business, Quilt Station has given Margaret Mew amazing opportunities.

As a small rural business, Quilt Station has given Margaret Mew amazing opportunities.

Margaret Mew can’t remember a time when she hasn’t made ‘fine little things.’ As a teenager she made her own clothes, then she sewed and knitted for her children … as mothers often used to do. Then, in 1992, she went to a patchwork class and her world dramatically changed. Today, thanks to her incredible work captured in her stunning book, Quilts from the Colonies, Margaret and her Elphinstone based business, Quilt Station, are recognised across the world by quilters.

Why patchwork I ask? Margaret barely pauses to answer. ‘I loved that it had unlimited possibilities of pattern, of colour and prints of fabric,’ she explains. And over twenty years later it appears that she is still mesmerised. ‘Fabric to me is the motivation every day. It still excites me sewing two pieces of fabric together and see how they look.’

Like all artisans Margaret has dedicated years to learning her craft and the journey has been an interesting one. With her newfound passion fuelled by continuing patchwork classes and as a founding member of Goldfields Quilters; she started working part-time at a patchwork shop in Castlemaine. ‘Some days I just got paid in fabric,’ she admits with a wry smile. She then started taking inhouse classes at the shop which helped attract more buyers of fabric much to the owner’s delight.

After a ten-year ‘apprenticeship’ in quilting Margaret also started producing her own patterns, with an emphasis on traditional antique American styles that she particularly loves, selling them inhouse and through the shop’s website. In what can be quite a long process, she begins by making the quilt, then works out all the technical instructions and produces it as a physical pattern for other quilters to purchase. ‘In the early days I literally drew the diagrams with handwritten instructions and photocopied them,’ she explains. ‘The early ones looked pretty basic but slowly and surely I’ve gained more computer skills and now I’m using a graphic designer and producing them with a bit more of an edge.’ Her most recent pattern was printed in full colour and retails for $32.

According to Margaret things first got really exciting around 2010 when a quilting shop in the Netherlands started buying her patterns wholesale. Suddenly Margaret’s name started appearing in European quilting circles and, in 2011, she was contacted by France based magazine and book publisher Quiltmania who were visiting Australia for a Sydney event. Carol the publisher, and Guy their photographer, travelled to Elphinstone, artfully ‘threw’ quilts around Margaret’s house, and took beautiful photographs. Over the next few years Quiltmania featured Margaret in articles and published some of her patterns.

It was clearly time for Margaret to capitalise on this world-wide recognition, only enjoyed by a handful of Australian quilters. She left her part time job and purchased a long arm quilt machine business that she could operate from home. Not only did this unique piece of machinery assist her to finish her own quilts, it enabled her to take on work from hobby quilters in the region, providing a small but steady income. Her first task was to write to the previous owner’s customers introducing herself. Quilt Station in the tiny central Victorian township of Elphinstone was born!

2017 was another significant milestone when Quilt Mania published Quilts from the Colonies by Margaret Mew with text in both English and French. Margaret enjoyed an all-expenses paid trip to France to attend the launch. ‘I sat and signed books for four days followed by a lovely holiday,’ she smiles. She also travelled to the United States, promoting the book and teaching even more obsessed quilters in what is reputedly a $3.7 billion annual industry according to figures published by the International Quilt Market.

Despite this incredible publicity on the world arena, it has still been up to Margaret to generate her own local marketing and publicity to keep a steady flow of income.  With a creative eye she maintains her own website. ‘I am very particular about how everything looks and am constantly changing my website,’ she admits. She is also an avid blogger and has recently embraced Instagram already enjoying a huge following. An online course has encouraged her to update her profile and better connect with potential customers. ‘I don’t think I could have built my business without social media,’ she admits. ‘All quilters are on Instagram which is so good for creatives because they are so visual.’

With experience Margaret is becoming more strategic in converting followers to customers. ‘You need to let people in, connect with them and build a relationship by offering something for free,’ Margaret explains. ‘By guiding them to my blog where I talk more in-depth, they are then on my website with access to my shopping page.

While the long arm quilting machine was a big part of her initial business, it has recently been surpassed by her more favoured activities; speaking and teaching, both of which help promote sales of her book, patterns and templates. A glance at her online calendar reveals that she is a regular guest speaker at guild events across Victoria and interstate, in addition to her own fortnightly inhouse classes. It is something that Margaret clearly enjoys and helps fund another of her passions, overseas travel!  In October 2018 she is off on another quilting adventure spanning the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom.

What surprises me most is that Margaret rarely sells a quilt, instead keeping them for teaching purposes. Quilts are only sold when her cupboards get too full and then, usually to friends and for only a fraction of the cost that it takes to produce them. As an accredited appraiser who volunteers at guild events to enable quilt owners to apply for insurance cover, she clearly understands their value. ‘It’s not unusual for a handmade quilt to be valued at $5,000 or even $8,000,’ she says, ‘but that doesn’t mean that someone will pay that.’

Likewise, Margaret has a large collection of old fabrics that are exceeding storage space and is next year looking at selling them through a booth in the United Kingdom. This is a strategic decision that will help gain new customers for her patterns and teaching classes, not to mention help fund another overseas trip!

One of the biggest challenges of being a home-based business, especially one that grew from a hobby, is friends not understanding that she has work to do. ‘Every day is a work day when you work for yourself,’ acknowledges Margaret who is busy producing new works for patterns and hopefully a second book.

Choosing not to analyse her personal worth and business too in-depth, Margaret is following guild and council standards when she speaks and charges fees that she is comfortable with. She also maintains the books for her husband’s business, Art Station, based in the outbuildings at their home. Although the two businesses are kept separate in an online accounting system, Margaret is grateful that they come under the one partnership requiring only one BAS to be completed for taxation purposes. She is also under no illusion.

‘As a business Quilt Station is not our main source of income,’ Margaret admits, ‘but the bottom line is that I will always make quilts because it’s what I love to do. It also gives me amazing opportunities.’

http://www.quiltstation.com.au/


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Value yourself

BY KERRY ANDERSON

BY KERRY ANDERSON

When I recently wrote this article for Inside Small Business it went viral, obviously resonating with many small business owners. What it highlighted to me is that you can learn a lot by listening to others and avoiding their mistakes. Start by realizing your true value.

Like most small business owners in a rural community, you try to please your customers by offering a reasonable price for your goods and services. Often, we drop that reasonable price even lower for a ‘nice’ local who says he or she is doing it tough. They work for a set salary while struggling to raise a family. You know them well because your kids go to school with theirs.

Over the years this ‘nice’ local becomes a loyal customer as they work hard to improve their situation and, true to form, each time they cite tough times as they send their children to university, renovate their family home, and then move to a new location and build a new home. In return for their loyalty and in sympathy, you continue to cut a bit off your invoice.

Fast forward 25 years and that ‘nice’ local has retired with their healthy superannuation, to enjoy that new holiday home and top model four-wheel drive they have just purchased with ‘their’ hard earned savings.

You look at your books and wonder how you’re ever going to retire let alone trade in that old work vehicle that should have been replaced five years ago.

Two questions came to mind when I recently heard this sadly true and all too common story. How highly do your customers respect your business? More importantly, how highly do you value yourself?

While you provide a high-quality service or product to maintain your integrity and reputation in a small community, dropping your price doesn’t necessarily increase customer satisfaction. They will still complain just as heartily; probably more because their respect for you is already low. And they will continue to expect low prices EVERY time.

And, let’s be clear; YOU gave them permission to think and behave this way.

So what can we do differently as a small business owner?

Understand your worth and respect your right to earn a decent living.

Be clear on your product or service’s true value. If compared with a cheaper alternate make sure that customers understand the differences in quality, transport costs, and access to follow up service.

Only discount when it is strategic and it doesn’t impact on your bottom line.

Offer alternatives such as lay-by and part payments when a customer cites difficulty.

Walk away when you need to.

Look after yourself first so you can then look after others.

I’d love to hear any other tips you may also have.


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Just one step

BY KERRY ANDERSON

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The day that 22-year-old Brendan Earl decided that he wanted to take control of his own decision making was the day he decided to go into business for himself.  Fast forward seven years and this savvy young man from Collie in Western Australia is already specialising, expanding his business and has exciting plans for the future. This is just one step in his journey Brendan says.

Like many young men Brendan Earl prefers hands on learning and didn’t particularly like school. Fortunately, being raised in a small business family, he was better prepared for business than others. ‘As soon as I could push a wheelbarrow I was working weekends and school holidays for my father’s construction business,’ he recalls.

After finishing year 10 he took on an apprenticeship with a local firm, All Tech Plumbing. ‘I chose plumbing for the money,’ he admits. ‘At that time in my life I wanted to do a trade and people said that plumbers get paid the best out of all the trades, I really didn’t know any better.’

A talent for football (AFL) saw him playing in Perth for a few years which took him back to the family business. ‘Working with dad gave me the freedom to travel back and forwards from Perth several times a week,’ he explains.  A run of injuries put an end to his football career, so he became more focused and, in many ways, this setback helped to launch his business.

‘The day that I wanted to start taking control of my own decision making was the day that I decided to work for myself “become my own boss”,’ says Brendan. ‘To be honest, at that time in my life I had no real idea about business, so I pretty much winged it at the start and worked hard.’ He also found himself an accountant and a book keeper to set up everything for him. ‘We started with a MYOB accounting system, but I now have great admin support and we use Xero which is more efficient and easier.’

Brendan thought that being a local and having a good reputation would give him a head start in his business journey. He was wrong! He quickly discovered that a personal reputation and a business reputation are two complete different things and had to work hard to prove the value of his new business.  ‘It was always hard to get on to tradespeople in a mining boom, so I was on call 24/7 in the beginning trying to break into the market and not wanting to lose a job. It was a bit tough not knowing when your next job is going to be,’ he admits.

A lot has changed from those early years of being in business. With a drive to improve himself and work smarter in his business, Brendan continually learns from his mentors and attends numerous business and networking events.

‘I understand business a lot better now. I learned by my mistakes and the mistakes of others. It’s a great way to learn as I don’t have to make the same ones.’

Through his observations, and wanting to have a business model that works for him, Brendan noted that clean treated water was becoming more of a commodity. With people becoming a lot more health conscious the need for water filtration was becoming more apparent.  It was at this moment that Calybre Plumbing & Gas was transformed to Keip Filtration.

‘The goal with Keip Filtration was to build an asset and provide a service. For example, on a residential scale anyone can walk into Bunnings or a hardware store and buy a filter then get any plumber or handy man to install it. They don’t necessarily know the quality of the product or installer and end up paying top $ for it then it’s forgotten about,’ he explains, ‘but Keip filtration provides the full service.  We supply only top-quality products at great prices which are then installed and maintained by a specially trained and licensed plumber.’

By specialising Brendan has transformed his business in a number of positive ways. For a start he has expanded his business base across a wider region - providing water treatment for mines, vineyards and hospitals, wheatbelt farmers and a variety of domestic customers. In fact, this service is now going Australia wide.

Work has now dramatically changed for Brendan. He now has a lot more time to work on his business rather than in his business.  ‘When you are plumbing you are on call 24/7 but when you go into filtration you can schedule the work in, it’s not as urgent. This allows me more freedom to build the business exploring different business ideas and opportunities.'

This has also helped his cash flow as he has found that customers pay better. ‘If it’s a breakdown then it’s usually not budgeted for,’ he explains, ‘whereas generally if they decide they want their water treated they plan for it in their budget.’

Scheduling regular filter replacements provides additional customer service. ‘When a filter is installed the customer can forget about it. They automatically go on to an automated maintenance program which is ongoing, and I can schedule to suit both the business and the customer.’ This adds significant value to Brendan’s business. A database has more resale value than goodwill he astutely observes.

With a business partner Brendan is exploring a new water filtration project on a much grander scale, collaborating to bring new technology to Australia in 2019.  After reading an article about high levels of nitrate, uranium and arsenic in water, he is also starting a fund to raise money to treat water for remote aboriginal communities.

As a young indigenous man Brendan has never tapped into financial assistance. ‘I wasn’t aware of any financial assistance for indigenous businesses at the time I started,’ he admits, ‘but like everything else government funded, it’s not just handed to you, you have to jump through lots of hoops. Sometimes it just isn’t worth it.’

In fact, Brendan has been lucky enough – albeit through hard work and sacrifice - to self-fund his business right from the beginning not having to take out a loan of any kind. With new business plans he hopes to stick with this trend having business savings and a good revenue stream. Having seven years of a successful business makes all the difference.

Reflecting on his achievements to date Brendan says he is proud to be a young man in business. ‘In the beginning it was tough. My friends were making good money while I was just getting by day to day, but seven years down the track I’m in a good position.’

‘This is just one step in my journey,’ Brendan cautions. ‘Collie is where I love to live but the world is a small place. I’m always looking for the new ideas and big opportunities. I like change and I love a challenge.’

Brendan’s top business tips

  • Do your research.
  • Start
  • Set Goals
  • Give it a go.
  • Work hard
  • Stick at it.
  • Ride the roller coaster.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Fail Fast

www.keipfiltration.com

FOOTNOTE:  We are delighted that Brendan is involved in the Operation Next Gen Collie discussions exploring ways to strengthen his home town into the future. Congratulations Brendan on also being named a finalist in the South West Small Business Awards!


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Share your story

Sharing your authentic story as a rural business owner helps you to stand out in a competitive global market and gives customers the confidence to buy from you.

As a wordsmith I am constantly sharing stories. Stories that educate, inform, inspire and challenge deserve to be shared.  In my youth we relied on oral and print mediums. Today in a digital world the opportunities are much greater.

But why should a business allocate time and resources to articulating its story?

It all comes back to why should I purchase a good or service from your business?  Is it because it is so good?  But what if that same product or service is available from multiple businesses?  Why should I buy it from you?

Customers are becoming increasingly savvy to marketing ploys and, sadly, there is a growing perception with younger generations that business people are profit hungry and unethical.

Sharing your story can help explain who you are and what you stand for.  In a competitive and global market, effectively articulating your story can help customers decide who they want to do business with. 

As I wrote in my last blog, when Elise Brown of Fair Dinkum Dog Coats changed her wholesale business to an online one, she was faced with a huge challenge.  How could she help customers find her new website?  And then how could she convince them to buy her product instead of all the other choices on the market? 

Telling her personal story has been an important strategy. 

Through her website and social media Elise has been able to articulate how her business allows her to work and live in a rural community that she loves. Her followers have watched her two daughters grow up in the workshop and carrying their orders to the post office.  Through her posts they know her personal values on family, rural living, and caring for animals.  She also explains how her product is made and the benefits of using oil skin.

Notice how the product came second?

Sharing your authentic story and presenting a human face can also help change negative perceptions about the business sector in general.

Not only are we members of a community, we are parents and volunteers. As business owners we provide a valuable service, create employment and contribute taxes to support the essential government services depended on by many.

As we have recently evidenced, the public can be fickle and perceptions can rapidly change.  One minute they are applauding our sporting heroes and the next minute they are tearing them down.  Then, after hearing their personal remorse, they are once again defending them.

We need more people defending the business sector when it is wrongly portrayed in a negative light. The public needs more information to be able to carefully consider and weigh the evidence instead of making snap decisions.

Simple and genuine stories are extremely powerful.  They should be embedded on your website, in your marketing materials, and when speaking in public. 

Not everyone is a skilled communicator so, if required, seek professional assistance to help articulate your story in the most effective way.  A skilled communicator will not put words in your mouth or try and spin something into bigger than it should be.  They will understand that less is best and authenticity is your main advantage.  They will also remind you to think from a customer's perspective.

Then, just be yourself and let it shine through.


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

On the Road

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BY KERRY ANDERSON

A passion to live and work in the outback took Tom Curtain to the Northern Territory in 2001.  Since then he has experienced an industry collapse, reinvented his business, battled a council, and ignored all his mates who said he couldn’t do it. It was a simple matter of being agile and utilising his talents to create Katherine Outback Experience that now travels the east and west coasts of Australia.

Ever since watching Landline on the ABC whilst at primary school in Kingaroy Queensland, Tom Curtain has dreamed of living and working in the Australian outback.  After finishing boarding school, he completed a three year degree in cattle genetics. 

‘Mum and dad wouldn’t let me go any sooner,’ he admits.  But as soon as he finished university he was off to the Territory, living out of a swag and mustering cattle. Yep, he was living the dream!

With a passion and talent for training horses, Tom spent a number of years contract horse-breaking throughout the NT and QLD which saw him travel from station to station every two to three weeks. Recognising this lifestyle was not sustainable for him and his young family, in 2008 Tom seized the opportunity to purchase a property on the outskirts of Katherine where he setup his own horse-training facility for the cattle stations to send him horses to train.  However, in the blink of an eyelid, the 2011 live export ban not only impacted on the cattle stations, it also dried up Tom’s business.  ‘All the budgets were cut on the stations and there were no horses to break-in.’

Fortunately, Tom had one other skill to draw on.  ‘When I first started mustering in the Territory the head stockman gave me a guitar and showed me how to play three chords.’ Ironically this happened whilst sitting around a campfire, an inspirational place to practice singing and writing songs as Tom discovered. He subsequently entered a singing contest and won.  Now, with his horse training business dried up, Tom resorted to music.

‘I started singing at the caravan park four nights a week. Then through conversation people got really interested in what I do and wanted to come and see how I train horses and working dogs.  I combined the three and moved into the tourism game.’ 

Tom had effectively tested and discovered a new business; however, setting up the Katherine Outback Experience on his property raised a few obstacles along the way.

‘Wearing a cowboy hat gives the impression of being a bit simple.’

‘At first there was a lot of negative feedback from my mates,’ Tom admits, ‘and Council said it wouldn’t work. Wearing a cowboy hat gives the impression of being a bit simple. I laughed it off and kept on going.’

Apart from talent, Tom had three positive things going for him. 

‘I knew a little bit about tourism because my parents operated a Farm Stay for 25 years, so I had grown-up in the industry, offering horse rides to visitors.’ The benefits of a university degree also taught him structure, prioritisation of workloads, and to work in a regimental way. And thirdly, he knew from experience that audiences like to see something different.

‘I won a horse breaking competition in Queensland a few years ago and, knowing I was also into country music, the commentator asked me to sing. I sang a song while standing on the young horse’s back. Thank God I didn’t get bucked off!’

The next challenge was to find an audience for Katherine Outback Experience.

‘I had to raise awareness that I was here,’ says Tom. ‘There wasn’t much of a budget so I painted some signs on old tin and put them up on the town outskirts. Council said they were too close to the township so I moved them 70 kilometres out of town.’ 

Tom commandeered the help of mates and backpackers to place brochures on car windshields around shopping centres and caravan parks. ‘Facebook came on the scene which was good, but we had very poor internet so technology wasn’t much use.  I had to do a lot of face to face ground work.’

Then there was the weather challenge; something that no amount of marketing could overcome.  ‘Over the Wet Season, from November to March, Katherine gets too hot and wet to train animals and tourism dries up,’ Tom explains.

Using his time productively, Tom initially moved back to his parent’s property in Kingaroy during the Wet Season where he could still train horses.  Then he decided that he may as well take his fully trained horses and dogs with him. Katherine Outback Experience is now in its second year of being on the road over the summer months, travelling the west and east coasts of Australia, and the business has reached a new level.

‘Over the last fifteen years I’ve needed to make X amount of dollars to cover my expenses,’ Tom explains. ‘This is the first year that I haven’t had to train horses on the side to make up the difference.’

As you would expect, the logistics are quite complicated when you take six horses and 12 working dogs on the road together with a horse truck, caravan, car and trailer to carry all the additional gear, horse yard panels, and stockfeed needed for four to five months on the road. Locations, permits and publicity need to be negotiated individually with each town he visits. 

Thankfully Tom has some welcome support thanks to a chance encounter three years ago when he met his now fiancé, Annabel, whilst hitch-hiking in Western Australia.

‘Annabel threw in her career as an Urban Planner in Perth to come and live in a tin shed with me,’ Tom says with a slight hint of disbelief and immense relief. ‘She’s thrown her heart and soul into the business and has taken over the bookings and marketing which frees me up to train the dogs and horses.’

In the first year Tom tested the roadshow concept by booking a five-acre location for a couple of months in Dunsborough, Western Australia. ‘It worked pretty well but we were still missing a lot of tourists and performing six days a week which is unsustainable.’

That’s when the show started travelling further afield.  ‘We thought that by taking the show to regional towns, we could market the event to an existing population four to six weeks in advance rather than having to work tirelessly marketing to the very transient tourist market who stay only two to three days,’ Annabel explains. ‘We also saw an opportunity to partner with local sporting and community groups so they would also profit from the event, and help spread the word within their community.’

When I caught up recently with Tom and Annabel during their whirl wind visit to Collie in Western Australia, it was evident that their business model was working well for them.  St Bridget's Primary School was doing great business selling food and drinks to the local community out in force for a great evening of family fun entertainment.

The pair work well as a team with Annabel keeping the crowd entertained as Tom gets ready to handle a local unbroken horse, explaining his methodology in the process.  The dogs are a great hit with the kids and Tom leaves no doubt about his horsemanship skills as he effortlessly canters in a tight circle on a bridle-less horse whilst singing and playing his guitar.  And that's all before he takes to the stage to sing with his west coast side kick, Big Bob!

‘We’ve done over 30 shows so far this season,’ says Tom. ‘All at very different venues, everything from cricket ovals to parks and schools. We even did a show at a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere.’

With Annabel administering the website and social media pages, it has become a whole lot easier for people to find Katherine Outback Experience but Tom is adamant that the local relationships are still important in getting the word out to audiences.

‘It doesn’t matter how good you are, you have to have a good marketing strategy,’ says Tom who openly admits to being terrible at promoting himself. ‘It’s taken me four years to make it and I’m still learning all the time, modifying the show here and there, seeing what works, and the best way to spread the word.’

Oh. And did I mention that Tom has made three music albums?  His latest is ‘Territory Time’, which won two Golden Guitars at the Tamworth Country Music Festival up against Lee Kernaghan and all the big guns!  His Territory mates even helped piece together an impressive video clip for Never Never Land which won CMC Video Clip of the Year and Heritage Song of the Year. 

Not bad for a bloke constantly on the road!

TOM & ANNABEL’S TOP BUSINESS TIPS:

  • Have short and long-term goals so you know where you want to be and can work out how you are going to get there.
  • Be flexible and prepared to take risks. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work, it’s all a learning curve and just one step closer to the next win.
  • Surround yourself with positive like-minded people
  • Maintain strong records so you can measure performance and gauge opportunities and constraints  
  • Maintain an open mind to allow yourself to keep learning – particularly in a climate where marketing and business trends are changing so rapidly.


KERRY ANDERSON: Founder of Operation Next Gen and author ofEntrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Scaling to need

Bacchus Marsh Nursery 1975-2000.jpg

BY KERRY ANDERSON

Small businesses are extremely versatile. They can be scaled up and down according to the times and needs.  And there is no better example than the Bacchus Marsh Florist & Nursery currently under the third generation of ownership in the one family.

In 1966, only three months after unexpectedly becoming a widow, Josephine Jennings was cajoled by her daughter to have a look at a small plant nursery advertised for sale in the rural Victorian town of Bacchus Marsh.

While her husband had worked long-term for the State Rivers Authority involving a move from Maffra in Gippsland to Halls Gap in the Grampians, Josie’s duties had previously revolved around the State Rivers owned home and raising five now grown up children.  Suddenly, left without a home and a husband to care for, it made perfect sense for her to move closer to where her married daughter Yvonne Marsden lived with her family in Bacchus Marsh.

“She wasn’t very keen on the idea of buying a business,” says Yvonne, “but I knew she was gardening mad and the shop had a residence at the back for her to live in.  By the time we had walked through the shop she had bought it!”

Housed in a small cottage facing the main street, Josie’s nursery was relatively simple consisting of small plants, seeds, fertilisers, and pots. For some time the adjacent shop, also part of the freehold, was rented to a hairdresser.

‘Mum did ok with the business,’ recalls Yvonne who helped out by driving a ute and trailer to buy new stock from Melbourne when the shop was closed every Monday.

After remarrying, Josie’s new husband, Bert Layton, helped out for some time until they got the travel bug in 1971 which is when Yvonne and husband Lyle took over the business from her mother.

‘Lyle thought it would give me something to do now that our three boys were all at school,’ Yvonne recalls with a wry smile, or maybe it was a grimace? They started by leasing then purchased the property.  For the first six years Lyle continued working elsewhere to help pay the nursery off until he also joined Yvonne in the business full time.

Yvonne says that the best eleven years of her life were when the whole family moved into the tiny residence at the back of the shop so the kids didn’t have to go home to an empty house after school.

Within a year the profits had been tripled. ‘I bought product in much bigger quantities and more lines,’ Yvonne explains. ‘We also started selling sand, soil and pine bark from the back of the shop and really got into horticulture in a bigger way.’

Perhaps the biggest change to the business was the introduction of a floristry. ‘This ended up as being as good as the nursery in terms of revenue,’ says Yvonne who taught herself the art of arranging flowers.  Land at the rear of the shop was purchased to build their new home and the residence was given over to the business.

The ‘big drought’ that first reared its ugly head in the 1980’s and re-emerged in the 1990’s effectively shut down many wholesale nurseries as water restrictions impacted on sales and prompted change.

Yvonne and Lyle downscaled the business to its original size and built shops to rent out which has effectively become their superannuation.  Lyle was then able to give more time to his passion for farming and training race horses while Yvonne continued with the floristry and nursery on a smaller scale.

2007 heralded another change when their youngest son, Brian and his wife Kerryn, bought the business. 

The value of intellectual property and knowledge of customers and processes should never be underestimated. The transition was a very easy one given that Kerryn had worked with Yvonne in the business for 15 years prior.

‘It was a great business to go into. We just kept it moving slowly but surely. While some new business owners like to promote that it is under new management, it was business as usual for us,’ explains Kerryn who admits to simply telling customers that Yvonne wasn’t in today when asked. ‘I didn’t want to embarrass them that they didn’t know.’

Brian is quick to clarify that there were no family favours given in the purchase of the business. ‘Mum and dad have worked hard all their life and deserve a good retirement.’  The couple also knew it was a good solid business that has stood the test of time.

But times do change and so do customer expectations and trends.  For a start, Brian and Kerryn introduced seven day a week trading about eleven years ago.

‘Rain, hail or shine, we are open,’ says Brian.  While they employ between four and six staff members at any given time, he and Kerryn work Sundays and public holidays to cut down on penalty rates.

‘When we get busy we get really busy,’ adds Kerryn. ‘We cater for a lot more weddings these days. People know that we are always open which is important.’

While the couple have only ‘made a few cosmetic changes to the shop’ and introduced a few different lines including a lot more indoor plants, there is always plenty to do especially with regard to the floristry component of the business.  ‘Flowers are always evolving,’ explains Kerryn. ‘There are lots of different ideas and trends to keep up with.’

Their daughters, Jamie and Keely - great-grand daughters of Josephine - also work in the business so there is the potential that one day there may be a fourth generation added to this family dynasty of small business owners.

Whether scaling up or scaling down, or simply doing what it always does best, the Bacchus Marsh Florist & Nursery is a great example of how small business families can live and work where they love over many generations.

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE

ABOVE:  Josephine Jennings just prior to purchasing the Bacchus Marsh Nursery and her daughter Yvonne who later took over ownership.

The Marsden Family’s top business tips:

  • YVONNE: Work it yourself.  You have to have staff but it pays to always be around.
  • LYLE: Own your own property.
  • BRIAN: Don’t spend more than what you earn (impressed on him by his mum!). 
  • KERRYN: Understand that you can’t please everyone.

KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business’ and grand-daughter of Josephine Jennings. Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

 

 

Rejuvenating this Christmas

Social Media – Closed for Break.jpg

If anyone deserves to put their feet up on Christmas Day it is our small business people.  Naturally our customers would agree. Or would they?

As Christmas approaches, our business people are starting to look decidedly tired.  If they’re in agriculture, chances are they are busy with harvest.  If they’re in retail then it is potentially their biggest earning period of the year.  And, if they’re in the service sector then it is a rush to complete those big urgent jobs before Christmas and the dreaded ‘shut down’!

If anyone deserves to put their feet up on Christmas Day it is our small business people.  Naturally our customers would agree.  Or would they?

One downside of being in business today is that there is a huge assumption by customers that businesses will be open 24 hours and seven days a week.  If I run out of milk, surely a shop is open?  If my toilet is blocked, it has to be fixed now!

While we love to encourage our city cousins to spend their dollars out in the region, their expectations are sometimes hard to meet.  They are genuinely puzzled as they drive into a rural town to find most of the businesses closed after midday on a normal Saturday let alone on Christmas and Boxing Day.

What they fail to understand is that predominantly small businesses in rural towns are family owned and run.  In order to spend quality time together as a family they need to shut their business from time to time.  This is important for their personal health and relationships.  Anyone who has hired staff will understand that penalty rates are prohibitive for many small businesses that simply provide a living for the owners and little profit to spare.

My advice to small business owners is not to feel guilty.  Simply plan well ahead and communicate with regular customers your intention to close for the holiday period. Place a sign on your door and website explaining that you appreciate their understanding.

And, if you are a customer, please plan ahead for your needs as much as possible. And, when faced with a closed sign on a business door, be happy that this small business family is taking care of itself.

When we are rested, we will be back to serve you with a smile on our face.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas. Relax. Business can wait!


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Blinded by the Stars

WORDS by Kerry Anderson, PHOTOGRAPHS by Shayne Mostyn

In what many would term an unusual career pathway, Shayne Mostyn has been preparing to be self-employed for most of his adulthood. From the army to technology; from the Gold Coast to the dairy town of Cohuna, every step and new skill has prepared Shayne to create his own destiny in a rural town where he was blinded by the stars.

Like most teenagers, school was just something you do every day according to Shayne. ‘Nothing inspired me at school,’ he admits without apology. ‘I just wanted to go into the army.’

Six years in the army taught him one of his greatest skills.  ‘Tolerance,’ Shayne says. ‘I cope with day to day stresses much better than most people. When I am out at 2.00am doing a night photography course with a storm raging around me,’ he explains, ‘I weather the storm a lot better.

Exiting the army, he then became a technician for Xerox in Sydney followed by a stint working at the Olympic Games.  Technology is another expertise he has accumulated.

‘I worked my way up through Xerox becoming a team leader and then operations manager.  You get a name for yourself and then get head hunted to put out fires.’

Working for Xerox and IBM taught Shayne about processes, another important element that has prepared him for business.  ‘Flying by the seat of your pants is definitely not the way to manage a business,’ Shayne says.

As is often the case with tree changers, Shayne first discovered Cohuna in northern Victoria when he and wife Sarah were visiting her sister over the Easter holiday five years ago.  Arriving in the small agricultural town of just over 2,000 population they discovered that there was no reception for their mobile phones via Vodaphone.

‘Without my usual 140 emails per day, eighty percent of which would require action, I suddenly had bliss,’ Shayne recalls.  ‘We loved Cohuna and driving back to Melbourne I said to Sarah that I could live there.’

As fate would have it, by the time they arrived back in Melbourne he had received a job offer of driving an excavator.  ‘I’d driven tanks in the army,’ Shayne explains. ‘Other than a gun there is not much difference.’

Two weeks later Sarah was offered a job with an accounting firm in nearby Echuca getting offered more money than she was receiving on the Gold Coast.  Their fate was sealed!

Owning a farm was a dream of Shayne and Sarah but it soon became evident that a traditional dairy was beyond their means. ‘With a $2.5 million buy-in required we decided to go with a different business model,’ Shayne explains.

An episode of Master Chef featuring goats cheese gave them the idea to convert an old dairy farm to breed and milk goats, a much more affordable solution.

‘I enjoy the farming side of things and did relief milking to gain experience,’ says Shayne. ‘We’re doing something different and I would challenge anyone in the district to say they are bringing in more money per acre.’ 

Hmm in light of the recent dairy crisis, he is probably right!

With Sarah driving the product development and marketing their boutique soaps made from goat’s milk at Windella Farm, Shayne has been free to pursue other interests.  It soon becomes clear that he is not one to sit around and lounge at home.

That very first weekend in Cohuna he saw the stars and took his first astro shot.  Actually, that was the big selling point when it came to relocating there.

‘You can’t see stars like that on the Gold Coast,’ he says. ‘I started studying online watching You Tube clips.  I took a night photo of an old Massey Ferguson tractor in a paddock and put it up on Facebook where it got a lot of attention.’

That was the catalyst to establishing Shayne Mostyn photography which is now one of his favourite past times and an increasing source of revenue as he studies what is the best business model in this field.

‘Everyone has a camera these days and, even if they want professional photos, many aren’t prepared to pay for it,’ he says. As far as photography is concerned, Shayne believes there are three sources of revenue. 1. Selling artwork through a website; 2. Paid photography for special family events and commercial work; and 3. Teaching photography through workshops.

The latter is what Shayne is finding most successful.

Collaborating with Matt Krumins, a Melbourne based photographer, Shayne is offering city photographers something they can’t find in Melbourne – the stars.  Weekend workshops are bringing city folk to the country.  They start with the theory, photograph at night, and then edit and reflect by day.

‘We were thinking of doing it closer to Melbourne but because of the dairy crisis and fear in the local community I decided to bring the workshops to Cohuna.  It’s only eight people each month but it is eight people that weren’t coming before,’ Shayne says.  ‘They come and use the local accommodation and spend their money in town.’

Becoming part of a rural community has had a huge impact on Shayne and Sarah.

‘On the Gold Coast we lived closed to people but didn’t know anyone. Here we have got to know people. What should take 30 minutes to do often takes over an hour in Cohuna because we are always stopping to talk to people.’

And local connections leads to more work as Shayne has discovered. Drawing on his technical skills and love of a challenge, he has his finger in many pies.  25 local businesses now entrust their websites to Shayne for regular updates and he is also trained to do specialist hoof trimming through a local vet for local dairy farmers which involved training in the United States.

When I ask what Shayne thinks about living in a rural town he pauses for a moment.

‘There is an element of satisfaction and achievement that I’ve never had before,’ he admits. ‘I’m more creative.  I look at an opportunity and see what I can do with it.’

On the downside there is limited customer reach in a rural town requiring travel. ‘You’re also competing with the locals who are already well known.’ On a positive note, he adds, ‘the strength of a small town is word of mouth testimonials. Do a good job and they become your biggest advocate.’

Five years living in a rural town and Shayne’s goal is not to be working for anyone else. That means doing something different in Cohuna hence the Astra workshops and a new idea to combine them with a tour of the Murray River.

‘There are plenty of people doing this type of thing but I can do it differently. I’m looking for the wow factor,’ Shayne says.  Some would say he has stars in his eyes!

Check out Shayne Mostyn Photography

Shayne’s Top Business Tips

  • Diversify. Don’t do what everyone else does.
  • Follow up with everything you do. ‘Must have’ photo list for a wedding essential.
  • Be honest about what you can do.

KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Welcome to Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017. To celebrate we are offering 7 free webinars over 7 days tailored especially for rural Australia.

Is your rural community ready to establish an entrepreneurial ecosystem?  How can we create a collaborative culture where entrepreneurs are valued, nurtured and supported? Sonia Wright from Operation Next Gen Cohuna joins the conversation.


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE http://www.kerryanderson.com.au/about/

Collaboration & Cooperatives

Welcome to Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017. To celebrate we are offering 7 free webinars over 7 days tailored especially for rural Australia.

 

Collaboration and Cooperatives: Why is collaboration essential in a rural town?  How can a group of people collaborate to make a business a reality?  Join a partner of the award winning Bakery on Broadway to discuss how they did it.


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

FARMING TOGETHER PROGRAM - Coop Builder Tool

Capitalising on the Digital Era

Welcome to Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017. To celebrate we are offering 7 free webinars over 7 days tailored especially for rural Australia.

Can your rural business afford not to be on the internet?  Elise Brown from Fair Dinkum Dog Coats will explain how she transformed her wholesale business into an online retail platform.


FAIR DINKUM DOG COATS

KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Buying a Business

Welcome to Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017. To celebrate we are offering 7 free webinars over 7 days tailored especially for rural Australia.

Buying a Business:  Start Ups are a great way to get into business but they aren’t the only way according to Michael Kerr from Kerr Capital. Why not buy a small to medium sized business?  And your dream business may not be listed for sale but very available. Find out why as Michael takes us through five steps to consider when buying a business.


Michael Kerr

Founder of Kerr Capital which started in 2002, Michael champions small business ownership and works with both sellers and buyers at all of the different stages of the small business ownership life cycle.  He provides advice and services covering business sales, business valuation, business exit planning, business improvement, and buying businesses.

Michael has a B.Comm, University of Melbourne (1985) and a MBA, Melbourne Business School (1999). He is a member of the Australian Institute of Business Brokers and a Registered Business Valuer.

http://www.kerrcapital.com.au/

KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE

Start Up Barriers

Welcome to Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017. To celebrate we are offering 7 free webinars over 7 days tailored especially for rural Australia.

Overcoming start up barriers:  Got a great business idea but the challenges seem overwhelming?  Maybe its not as hard as you think?

As we discussed it is really hard to get a business loan from a bank without having assets to put as security against that loan.  But there are alternate sources and this blog by Fleur Anderson (no relative!) provides some good examples.  READ


KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE