Gary Mitchell knows just how much the world of small business has changed over the past 30 years. He credits the SBDC with helping him get through the tough times to help his business thrive.

For more than 30 years, Gary Mitchell has been carving a niche in WA’s small business landscape. His business, Framous Picture Framing, offers a range of services including framing photos, memorabilia, posters, prints and mirrors, and repairing and restoring artwork and frames.

We asked Gary for some insights into how he has sustained his business over three decades of change.

Do what you love

Gary’s enthusiasm for his work is obvious. It’s also likely to be one of the key reasons he has enjoyed so much longevity in business.

“I roll up in the morning and have a smile on my face when I put the key in the door,” says Gary. “Of course, there are times when it’s not a joy but overall it’s an absolute joy to come to work.”

Be prepared for ups and downs

“Some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced – and probably will face again – are the economic challenges that every business owner has to go through. When the economy starts toughening up, you have to batten down.”

“There was a period there where things got quite tough and I was considering going out of business. The SBDC helped me, through courses and advice, to stay in business, reassess the business – and I’m still here after all of this time. It’s been challenging – but with the SBDC’s help, I’m still in business.”

Gary points out that things don’t always run smoothly in business, but there is help available when the going gets tough.

“The one thing I’d pass on to other business owners is that it’s normal to hit the road of confusion and dead end. You pick up the phone to the SBDC and they guide you out of that road. They are terrific.”

Get the support you need

Gary learned about our SBDC services over a coffee. “Initially I went ‘Oh yeah?’ and then eventually it was ‘Oh yeah!’ so I made a phone call and I’ve been ringing them ever since.”

“I’ve used quite a few services of the SBDC. I’ve used the commercial tenancy service several times over the last 30 years because I’ve moved. I’ve got into trouble with landlords quite often over that time and the SBDC has made it quite effortless to negotiate all those little challenges.”

Expect the unexpected

Over more than thirty years in business, Gary has experienced a number of challenges and learned there are always more challenges to come.

“During Covid, it was a tough gig for everybody because nobody knew where they stood with their rent, their lease, their obligations as a tenant. My landlord didn’t even know what he needed to provide for me. The SBDC sorted it out and helped to build a great relationship between me and my landlord because I was actually helping him out. SBDC got me through Covid.”

Know what you don’t know

Knowing our SBDC services are available has given Gary great peace of mind in his business. Gary uses the example of having to evolve his approach to marketing and learn about social media.

“Whenever I run into something that I don’t know, I often ring through to the SBDC and ask ‘What do I do?’”

“I came from the dinosaur era of print media and I’ve had to move into social media where I’ve had no idea. The SBDC has been terrific. I’ve done some courses on social media and what I should do and not do – you find out what you don’t know and what you need to find out.”

Find out more

Like Gary, you can turn to the SBDC whenever you need advice on a challenge or opportunity in your business.

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Small business stories
15 August 2023