A free business advisory service is helping small businesses in regional Western Australia to realise their full potential, as the state navigates the latest COVID wave.
A quarter of WA’s more than 220,000 small businesses are located outside of the Perth metropolitan area, providing valuable services, goods, employment opportunities and more, directly to their local communities.
The Business Local service, supported by the SBDC, offers expert advice to regional small business operators at no cost, through a network of experienced business advisers around the state.
Business Local advisers offer one-on-one appointments and group workshops on a range of subjects, including business planning, financial management, taxation, leasing requirements, marketing, social media and business expansion.
Small Business Development Corporation Manager Business Advisory Services, Lisa Legena, said small businesses were critical to local communities, particularly in regional and rural WA. Like business owners all around the state, regional operators are required to undertake a huge range of tasks across their businesses, and understand many different areas of operations.
“Small business is not a small job. Many small business owners wear multiple ‘hats’ and take on a multitude of roles. At times, the challenges they face may be beyond their expertise,” Lisa said.
“For this reason, we have created a network of expert Business Local advisors with local knowledge who small business owners can call on for practical and confidential advice at absolutely no cost.”
The Business Local network operates in the Great Southern, Esperance, Goldfields, South West, Peel, Wheatbelt, Mid West, Pilbara and Kimberley through contracted local providers who have the capacity to provide a range of relevant, quality business advice directly to small business owners where they live. Regional WA businesses can also access support directly from the SBDC.
Building an innovative business in the Midwest
Euan Beaumont is one regional business owner who has turned to the Business Local network of advisers.
A co-founder of Energy Farmers Australia, an innovative business that helps farmers use organic waste to create useful by-products, Euan approached Mid West provider RSM Business Local for advice planning, marketing and more.
Originally a farmer in Mullewa, Euan partnered with engineer Tom Vogan to design and develop bioenergy and biocharcoal products that make better use of the organic waste that results from farming practices. The team is developing technology to convert organic waste to energy and a by-product called Biochar, a charcoal like product used in agriculture, horticulture and industry. The product is showing potential as a replacement for coal in the steel industry, and may be used in water filtration, added to concrete and blended with bitumen for road surfacing.
While Euan and Tom have been in business for 10 years, their work was largely centred on research and development. The launch of their first commercial project late last year meant that Euan needed expertise and advice on professionally marketing their company and product to investors and customers.
Through the Geraldton-based advisers RSM Business Local, Euan sought advice on building an ecommerce website for FarmChar, the direct-to-consumer arm of Energy Farms Australia. Euan also received assistance to create a capability statement, develop a useful tool for business-to-business marketing, and undertake business planning.
This year, Euan and Tom are looking forward to focusing on their business full-time while Euan continues to participate in Biochar networks in WA and beyond.
Advice for all aspects of business
Lisa Legena encouraged any regional businesses that need quality advice on any aspect of their business – whether marketing, finance, people management or expansion – to turn to their Business Local network for assistance.
“This free and accessible program is about supporting owners and operators to give them the best opportunity to create sustainable and successful small businesses.”
A referral to the program is not required, with business owners able to locate and get in touch with their local provider from the SBDC website.
Find your Business Local provider
To access free small business advice and support in regional WA: