Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - TONY RAGGATT busi­ness ed­i­tor

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.”


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.

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