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There’s no perfect time to start a business – but navigating the challenges of a tropical cyclone and pandemic would be enough to test any new business. Wendy Drew has made the most of the SBDC’s regional support through RSM Business Local, to help her Karratha business not only survive, but thrive, in challenging conditions.

After years of offering pilates classes from home, Wendy decided to set up her commercial studio XS Energy Pilates in 2019. XS Energy Pilates is a boutique studio in Karratha which offers mat and reformer pilates, tailored to a small number of participants and a focus on women’s health.

Here's Wendy’s story, and how working with her Business Local team made a difference.

A challenging start

Just as Wendy launched her business, Tropical Cyclone Veronica hit in March 2019. WA’s north-west was lashed by destructive winds of more than 200 kilometres per hour and five to seven times more rain than the March average. It was not even 12 months later when the COVID pandemic struck, providing even more challenges to the community as they navigated restrictions and lockdowns for the first time.

“I opened my business at a difficult time,” says Wendy. “I dealt with a cyclone and then COVID, which shut me down when we went into lockdown for three to four months.”

An unexpected source of business advice

Wendy hadn’t heard about the free Business Local advisory service until one of the advisers became her pilates client.

An initiative of the SBDC which is funded by the WA Government, Business Local offers a network of skilled business advisers throughout regional WA, with a free advisory service for small business owners.

Business Local advisers are available for one-on-one appointments for personalised and confidential small business advice. According to Wendy, having a business adviser on hand to help her navigate the precarious times was a great relief.

“I had no idea Business Local was a free service so I went and had a consult,” says Wendy. “I’ve been helped with so many things from refining the processes in my business, payroll, accounting to even giving me ideas for advertising and marketing.

“Now I book in randomly, say for end-of-financial-year for tax processing or if there is something else I want advice about. It’s reassuring to know they’re there to help.”

Ongoing support for her business

Wendy was also thankful for the support of her Business Local team during a rental dispute where she was charged full rent during COVID as well as overheads when the business was closed. A proposed 20% rent increase encouraged Wendy to seek out a more affordable site for her studio.

Wendy says that thanks to the advice she received, she went from being on the verge of shutting down to instead having some money reimbursed.

“I didn’t even know I could or what I needed to do, so having help was awesome and I got 50% or more of that returned.”

Find out more

We’re on a mission to help small businesses in WA start well, survive and thrive. If you’re looking for support and advice for your small business in regional WA, find the Business Local regional business support you need.

If you are facing a dispute in your business, you might like to read our tips on resolving a dispute or learn about our dispute resolution service.

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Small business stories
05 October 2022