BACK IN BUSINESS
• CONFIDENCE ON THE RISE • CITY STALWART SENSES CHANGE • COMPANIES EXPANDING • DEFENCE DEAL EDGES CLOSER
THERE has never been a better time to back yourself with a good business idea, according to insolvency professional and business development leader Michael Brennan.
But the problem is that across the country too few businesses and people with good business ideas are willing to take a calculated risk or be funded to do it, he says.
Mr Brennan, principal of Offerman Partners and chairman of the Townsville Business Development Centre, was commenting as green shoots emerge in Townsville with a range of established business owners and some new entrepreneurs stepping up to expand or invest.
Mr Brennan said our entrepreneurs needed to be encouraged.
“Well- managed risk is very good,” Mr Brennan said. “The people who take that risk, the first movers, they will be the ones who succeed.
“If you do have a good business idea that is viable, money has never been cheaper and leases have never been lower.”
But Mr Brennan said one of the concerns he had was that too few people were taking calculated risks.
“When people don’t take risk, the economy suffers,” Mr Brennan said. “That tradesman, working for a boss and who thinks he can do a better job – if they are not confident to take that risk, that small business doesn’t start up.
“One of the things I see across the country is that you have a huge percentage of businesses that are stagnant, just bumping along the bottom, doing enough to survive but not expanding.”
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows there were 12,003 businesses in Townsville in 2017. This is about 400 fewer than at the peak of the mining boom in 2013.
Mr Brennan said one of the challenges for business growth was consumers having the confidence to boost discretionary spending.
There were also difficulties accessing finance with banks taking a much more serious look at whether people can repay the loans they are providing.
Mr Brennan said the Government looking to reduce the period of disqualification for bankrupts from operating a business from three years to 12 months was a positive move.
“Traditionally in Australia we see a business going broke and failing as almost a criminal thing but in the US they have a much different view,” Mr Brennan said.
“Changing the Bankruptcy Act is saying to people, ‘ if you do the right thing and business goes bad, you are only going to sit on the sidelines for 12 months’. It’s tyring to take that stigma out of having a go.”
EXCELLENCE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
ELLEY Hudson says you’ve got to back yourself. Certainly, this young business owner lives by that belief.
After working in property management for 10 years, mostly as an employee but also in a business partnership, she decided to establish her own business.
Ms Hudson ( pictured above) launched Excellence Property Management on her own last December. It now employs four people and has close to 190 rental properties in a growing portfolio.
“I was getting frustrated with how property management was run in the sense that property management staff are not necessarily trained and supported so they can give the best level of service,” Ms Hudson said. “Owners suffer because they are not getting professional service.”
A good relationship with her bank has helped secure a business loan to expand the business while she works hard on gaining referrals, networks as much as she can and puts a lot of time into social media, advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
“It was a bit scary going into this. Even though I had the experience in the industry in similar positions, it’s different when you are the only person at the wheel,” Ms Hudson said.
“You’ve got to back yourself and have faith you know what you are doing.”
A CALCULATED risk and good planning are required to develop a thriving business, according to dentist Dinesh Singham.
Mr Singham with his wife Lindsay, also a dentist, operate Absolutely Dental.
They initially bought a practice in Kirwan in 2011 and more recently acquired former commercial offices fronting Woolcock St in West End, converting the building into a larger second practice which opened last month.
In terms of size, it ranks as one of the biggest independent practices in Queensland with separate dedicated facilities for children and adults.
An allied health business, Absolutely Face and Spa, will open in the West End premises next month. Dr Singham said they always tried to be innovative and provide the latest technology.
“It’s a calculated risk. I think you have to take a punt, have a good business plan and back yourself as well,” Dr Singham said.
After beginning with five staff, they now employ 25 people and plan to grow staff numbers by another four people before the end of the year.
Dr Singham said they invested in people and services, donated to charity and community causes such as Ronald McDonald House at Townsville Hospital and ran free dental days for people they called “super heroes” such as police, ambulance, firemen and women and prison officers.
TRAVEL Associates is a boutique travel agency with a total focus on uncompromising customer service, says franchise owner- manager Debbie Rains.
The business is a franchise of the Flight Centre Travel Group, locally owned and operated by Ms Rains for 30 years.
Currently, the business employs 40 people in the region.
Ms Rains ( pictured) will open another travel agency at Otto’s Fresh Food Market at Warrina next week.
“Developing relationships with clients, other businesses and organisations has helped us maintain business and staying nimble and changing the way we do business has allowed us to stay in business,” Ms Rain said. “We actively ask for referrals and repeat business.” Ms Rains said while business conditions had been difficult, there were signs of improvement. “If we don’t take opportunities when they present, these opportunities may not be available when all the stars align,” she said. “Our business is primarily people’s discretionary spend. So when things are tough, travel is one of those expenses that is either reduced or cut out of budgets.” Ms Rains said with the current skill shortages being experienced in the region, confidence in job security was growing. This would mean more people were inclined to spend on discretionary purchases. “It is our business culture to give back to the community, therefore, where possible, we purchase locally and use local services,” Ms Rains said. “Personally, I think this encourages other businesses to do the same, which helps our dollar go around the community.”
NOW is the time to invest to capitalise on the growth ahead, according to Paul Willis.
Mr Willis and his wife, Cate Whalan ( pictured above), operate Cate’s Chemist Townsville. Ms Whalan purchased her first pharmacy at the Garbutt shopping centre in Townsville in 2006, rebranding it Cate’s Chemist.
Last year, with their pharmacy manager and now partner Eliese Lloyd, they purchased another pharmacy in the Townsville GP Superclinic in Hyde Park.
The couple will open a third pharmacy this month in the Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Services medical centre in Garbutt.
Mr Willis said they sought to distinguish themselves in the pharmacy sector by focusing on providing good quality health services and solutions rather than on the sale of retail goods.
They are specialists in Aboriginal and Islander health and have secured agreements with Queensland Health to supply medicines and goods such as dose administration aids into aged care facilities.
“We think the Townsville market is at the bottom of the cycle and that now is the time to invest and grow,” Mr Willis said.
“I think the people who do so will be able to enjoy the benefits of growth down the track.
“There are a lot of exciting developments occurring and the council has a coherent plan for the future of the CBD.”
Mr Willis said health was a secure and growing industry as the population aged and more people needed the services it could provide.
He said he was optimistic that proposed changes in the regulation of pharmacists, giving them more scope to provide health services, would benefit the industry.