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Launching, running and growing one business is an achievement that takes a considerable amount of time, enthusiasm and effort. In Pat McCarthy’s case, he has doubled down on his passions by launching two businesses – made possible by enlisting expert support along the way.

Ask any of our small business advisers across WA and one of their favourite things about their role is usually the incredible diversity of small businesses they interact with in our state’s thriving small business sector.

Pat McCarthy, also known as PMac, offers a great example of the vast types of small businesses the SBDC and its network of advisers throughout WA’s regions work with. Pat runs two businesses in Esperance: a custom handmade surfboard enterprise, Pmac Shapes, and an innovative art concept Fish on Fish Skins. What the businesses share is the melding of Pat’s passion for the ocean into viable business ideas.

Built on a passion for the ocean

A keen surfer and fisher from an early age, Pat learned the art of surfboard building at the age of 19 from his mentor. He then qualified as a teacher and worked in schools around WA before he was inspired to launch his unique business ventures.

The idea for a business began when Pat was living and teaching in the Kimberley region and catching lots of fish.

“At the time we were filleting all these fish and throwing the skins directly in the bin or to the crows,” he says. “One day I thought ‘There must be something we could do with them.’ I first began to experiment with drying the fish skins and started gluing them to old pallet wood then drawing the fish on top.”

Now based in Esperance, his business Fish on Fish Skins offers handcrafted artworks constructed on either recycled timber with a resin coating or individually presented in a custom frame. The unique artwork helps angling and fishing enthusiasts immortalise their catch by transforming it into a lasting memento made from mixed mediums.

Pat’s second business, PMac Shapes, offers hand-shaped, glassed and fully personalised surfboards featuring his drawings.

Support from Business Local

Business Local, funded by the WA Government through the SBDC, provides a network of local business advisers throughout regional WA. After seeing an ad for the free Business Local advisory service on TV, Pat got in touch with his local team at the Esperance Chamber of Commerce, part of the statewide business support network funded by the SBDC.

“I’m maybe a unique case. I’m trying to lift off two businesses, with custom surfboards and an artwork enterprise,” he says. “In the last year I’ve scaled back work as a school teacher, so now I’m only two days at school and two or three days working on my projects.”

“I’m a lot more competent on the creative side. I like creating, but am basically useless at everything else in a business sense.”

Pat was keen to learn more about running a business and is continuing to expand his knowledge and skills.

Photo of Pat McCarthy holding one of his hand-shaped custom surfboards.
Pat holding one of the hand-shaped, personalised surfboards he has created.

Lessons learned so far

Since working with the Business Local team, Pat has participated in several workshops, including sessions on how to write a business plan, photography, social media and Xero accounting, which he described as a “game¬changer” for his businesses.

“I was in the brain space where I didn’t even know where to start and Business Local has given me the baby steps to start the journey. It’s been hugely beneficial. I’ve been able to put processes in place to improve what I’m doing to grow the businesses productively rather than just hoping for the best.”

Find out more

Across WA, if you’re looking for support and advice for your small business, find the Business Local regional business support you need.

Wherever you are, you might be interested in our upcoming SBDC business workshops, including some of the workshops Pat has completed so far in his business journey.

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Small business stories
12 October 2022