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Celebrate 20th anniversary with Micro Business Forum!

We cannot be prouder of how Micro Business Forum has grown over the years. Today, we look back at MBF's history to see how far we have come since.

How well do you know MBF? Try this quiz!

  1. What was MBF's original name back in 2003?

  2. Who was the very first president then?

  3. In 2008, the organisation changed its name. What was it called?

  4. What was the name of the college that was instrumental in supporting MBF from its early days till our present time?

  5. When was the first AGM held?

  6. In which year did the organisation change its name to the one we know today, Micro Business Forum?

  7. How many people can you name who are in the current 2023 committee at MBF?

  8. Who was the longest running MBF President?

  9. Who is the longest serving MBF Member?

  10. Who was the first MBF President to be appointed in an online AGM?

Now read on to find out if you were right! Answers are in red. Don't worry if you didn't score, it just means you need to come to more Coffee Connects at MBF to get to know us!
Fun Fact - Our first Coffee Connect was held at Frankies Cafe at Clarence St, Port Macquarie on 19th September 2019 as a way to connect with micro business owners and attract new members.

Click to view some of Coffee Connect photos below.

In the beginning...

Back in 2003, the AusIndustry division of the Federal Government created the Small Business Field Officer Program. One of the officers, Paul Noakes, did some amazing work as the regional officer for the Mid North Coast. He took the initiative to create the Home Based Business Club (HBBC) in Port Macquarie, in collaboration with the Port Macquarie Community College. By 2007, Paul had built a mailing list of around 60 individuals involved in home based businesses.

But here's where things took a turn. In September 2007, the members of the HBBC received news that the program would be discontinued by June 2008, and Paul would be concluding his work in early 2008. It was a tough situation, and the members had to decide whether to continue the club's activities without government assistance.

That's when Margaret Halliday stepped up. Go Margaret! She offered to come up with a plan for the club's continuation. Margaret presented her proposal during the HBBC meeting on November 16, 2007. During that meeting, the members collectively decided to keep the club going, and six amazing individuals volunteered to form an interim management committee.

The first meeting of this committee took place on December 8, 2007, where they assigned various positions within the committee. Here's who took on what roles:

  • President – Margaret Halliday

  • Secretary – John Neilson

  • Treasurer – Michael Saunders

  • Meeting Coordinator – Geoffrey Roberts

  • Publicity Officer – Lisa Christie *Now Lisa Affleck

  • Membership Secretary – Renee Bell.

From Home Based Business Club to Home Business Forum

During our members meeting on February 8, 2008, we made some exciting changes! We decided to give our organisation a new name - the Home Business Forum (HBF) - and we even adopted a fresh new logo. We also endorsed the appointment of our committee members during this meeting.

In addition, we agreed to hold six Forums throughout 2008 and set the attendance fees at a reasonable $15. Since the very beginning, MBF has always been about being welcoming, and allowing as many people as possible to join us.

We're lucky to have some amazing volunteers, like Gregg Faulkner, who stepped up to assist the Forum. Gregg took over the member and supporter database from Paul Noakes at the beginning of 2008, and by April, we already had 77 names in our database. Later in the year, our HBF management committee took over the responsibility of maintaining the database and directly contacting our members and supporters.

At first, we considered becoming an unincorporated association, but then something wonderful happened. The Port Macquarie Community College (PMCC) offered to auspice the Forum, and we gratefully accepted their generous offer. We made formal arrangements with the PMCC, and during our May 2008 Forum, our members agreed to the first version of our "Code of Conduct and Forum Arrangements" document. We also established a formal agreement between the Forum and the College.

We can't thank the PMCC enough for their incredible support. They have been instrumental in helping us with accounting, banking services, and financial reporting - all free of charge. Without their invaluable assistance, we wouldn't have been able to establish the Forum. We're truly grateful for their partnership.

Objectives of the Home Business Forum

  • To enhance personal and professional growth through a positive environment for operators of home based businesses in the Port Macquarie Hastings area.

  • To provide networking opportunities and the building of contacts in a non-competitive environment.

  • To provide educational opportunities and to build valuable business knowledge.

  • To support, encourage and challenge one another to achieve success as business operators.

  • To establish and improve linkages with other businesses and with other business groups.

These objectives remain till this day as Micro Business Forum!

Challenges and hurdles

In July 2008, our mailing list had 95 amazing members and supporters. The committee had originally planned to hold elections before the end of that year. However, we noticed a decline in Forum attendance and thought it would be best to postpone the elections. We discussed this during the October 2008 Forum and everyone agreed with the idea.

So, the current committee was given the opportunity to continue into 2009. During this transition, Margaret Halliday graciously passed on the chairperson role to Lisa Christie. Throughout 2009, we faced some challenges, but we managed to overcome them together. One of the biggest hurdles was finding volunteer committee members with the right skills to guide the HBF in the right direction. By October 2009, our member/supporter database had grown to 107 incredible individuals.

At the November 2009 Forum, it was agreed that the current committee would continue into 2010:

  • President – Lisa Christie *Now Lisa Affleck

  • Vice President – Margaret Halliday

  • Secretary – Christ McIntosh

  • Treasurer – Peggy Hughes

  • IT Developer – Zoe Pogonowski

  • Meeting Coordinator and Blog Administrator – Geoffrey Roberts

  • Marketing – Monica Hayes

  • Barbara Smith was welcomed onto the committee to fill the Membership Secretary role.

Four critical years

From 2008 to 2011, we saw some changes in committee positions as some members decided to step down and new members joined. These changes brought in fresh ideas, skills, and enthusiasm, which really helped the HBF grow from its initial setup phase to an established organisation. We are incredibly grateful for the unwavering support of the Port Macquarie Community College, the Department of State and Regional Development, and the Port Macquarie Hastings Council Economic Development Unit during this crucial period.

We held forums six times a year, with committee meetings taking place in the alternate months. Over the past four years, we've had the privilege of having various speakers generously volunteer their time and knowledge, with only a few receiving payment for their services. This has allowed us to continue our operations and keep the Forum attendance price at an affordable $15 for our members.

In April 2011, Lisa Christie passed on the role of President to Zoe Pogonowski. Later that year, Colin Imer took over and has been leading the HBF since then, including into 2012.

During 2011 there was a change of committee members with a number of new members moving into committee positions:

  • Acting President – Colin Imer

  • Acting Secretary – Alana Farr

  • Acting Treasurer – Glenda Hamilton

  • Membership Secretary – Barbara Smith

  • Zoe Pogonowski – IT Developer

  • Meeting Liaison – Vicki Carnes

  • Speaker Seeker – Pix Jonasson

  • Grants – Liz Paine

  • Committee Member – Chantelle Hancey.

2011 Christmas Party and brainstorming

In 2011, we created Forum meetings with the goal of supporting home-based business people like you. These gatherings provide a great opportunity for members to connect and learn from each other, as well as hear from inspiring guest speakers. Our meetings usually have a warm and friendly atmosphere, with around 25-35 members and guests in attendance.

We have always been known as the friendliest business network in the Port Macquarie-Hastings region supporting micro business owners like you.
2012 Sales event, brainstorming and Christmas Party

Home Business Forum First AGM

In 2012 the first AGM was held. The following positions were confirmed:

  • President – Colin Imer

  • Vice President – Barbara Smith

  • Treasurer – Glenda Hamilton

  • Marketing – Pix Jonasson

  • Meeting Coordinator – Vicki Carnes

  • IT Developer - Zoe Pogonowski

  • Newsletter Editor – Liz Paine

  • Committee Member – Cathy Walsh

  • The positions of Secretary and Membership Secretary remain vacant.

Rebranding to Micro Business Forum

After enjoying consistent success for over 4 years, we've decided to expand our membership base to include not just home-based businesses, but also other micro businesses. We're excited to welcome even more entrepreneurs into our community!

The NSW Small Business Website defines a Micro Business as:

A business with less than 5 employees, and includes self-employed individuals.

The first logo of Micro Business Forum in 2013
The first logo of Micro Business Forum in 2013

This information shows that many small businesses are often operated from the owner's home instead of a regular office or store. This means that micro-businesses and home-based businesses face similar challenges and work in similar environments.

The organisation officially changed its name to the Micro Business Forum (MBF) during a meeting on February 22, 2013.

The first committee of the Micro Business Forum was passed at their AGM in April 2013.

Barbara Smith was elected President and remained as President for seven years!

  • President – Barbara Smith

  • Vice President – Vacant

  • Secretary – Colin Imer

  • Treasurer – Glenda Hamilton

  • Membership Secretary - Kerry Williams

  • Marketing – Pix Jonasson

  • Meeting Coordinator – Vicki Carnes

  • IT Developer - Zoe Pogonowski

  • Newsletter Editor – Liz Paine

  • Committee Members – Helen Shallick and Sharin Stammers

MBF continued to do what they do best. Every 2 months there would be a forum meeting with a keynote speaker and an interactive session to work on your business. The committee over the years worked hard to support micro business owners.

The hard COVID years

The bi-monthly event format worked well... until COVID-19 hit and the town was on lockdown at various periods in 2019 and 2020.

MBF decided for the first time to cancel face-to-face events in April 2020. Read the 21st March 2020 announcement on how MBF continued to support members during COVID.

The committee had to decide if we would hold off any events at all. Fortunately there's Zoom so MBF was able to bring events as shorter webinars and the first online panel discussion "May Day is Pay Day" was held on 1st May 2020.

6th May 2020 was the 100th day when the first coronavirus case was recorded and 96 Australians had died from the pandemic. A free three month trial membership was offered. The committee deemed it was important to continue the connection with micro business owners and constantly check on how they were coping.

The interaction on social media and digital platforms were on the rise as that would be the main medium of interaction and marketing during Covid. MBF had a webinar on "How to use videos to find new customers and sell to to them." Articles such as "Back to Business" and "Conducting your Business during COVID" were shared to encourage business owners to think out of the box.

In June 2020, Wendy Hee was appointed COVID Marshall to ensure the safety of members. A set of "rules" were spelt out here.

The AGM was due in August 2020 and the committee decided to have an online AGM. Veronica Lind was appointed President online - a first in our history. Veronica cited how Covid-19 would impact over 6,535 businesses in Port Macquarie-Hastings with an estimated fall of 6.4 percent in monthly employment due to the effects of COVID-19 on the local business infrastructure and urge micro business owners to approach MBF for any kind of support. Barbara Smith was appointed Mentor for this purpose.

COVID hit members hard. An analysis showed that 34% of MBF's members either stopped operating or found jobs.

Finally, MBF's first face to face meeting was held on 2nd October 2020 at Port Panthers after eight long months of pandemic restrictions. Read the announcement.

In fact, COVID was the catalyst to change. With Veronica's leadership, several new initiatives were implemented.

  • Strategic Planning: As a big picture person, Veronica charted the importance of technology adoption, financial health and wellbeing. Implementing them in-house and ensuring members were able to adopt them. MBF's purpose and values were spelt out and our logo was updated.

  • Importance of technology adoption: MBF began going paperless and all communications and files were done online to ensure everyone was working together despite being remote; to ensure the correct versions of documents were kept securely; to improve efficiency; to ensure secure management of members' information. Several of MBF's events included technology - marketing technologies; tips and tricks to using common software and devices; cyber security etc. In 2023, MBF migrated from MailChimp to HubSpot for CRM and Marketing Automation.

  • Importance of marketing, selling and delivering right : It is so important as a micro business owner that we do this right through marketing technologies, through simple effective sales techniques and to delight customers with our products and service. These are invaluable education to MBF's members.

  • Importance of financial health: MBF has been very attentive to how we manage cashflow while ensuring that our membership and event fees remain affordable to micro business owners. Members are constantly reminded of the same through events where we shared the latest on tax; managing debt and cashflow; when insurances are necessary etc.

  • Importance of physical and mental health: Event topics included eating right to exercises to managing stress. Yes, we do need to be healthy to run a business.

  • Events: Coffee Connects were introduced in 2019 and have gone on successfully attracting new members. MBF now has monthly evening events to cater to those who cannot leave their business in the day. Members are encouraged to bring a friend.

  • Membership drive: Glenda Hamilton was appointed membership secretary in 2023 to actively support members and reach out to new micro business owners. Incentives are in the works to drive numbers.

MBF's purpose and values announced on 28th February 2021

We believe in making a positive impact to small businesses in Port Macquarie-Hastings region by having the COURAGE to TAKE ACTION.

Our values guide us to make that positive impact together with MBF Members.

  • Have ownership and accountability to those actions

  • Having FUN doing it

  • Being Trustworthy

  • Being Caring

  • Being On Time

  • Acknowledging Efforts

We do this by SUPPORTING our members; providing EDUCATION through our events and providing a NETWORKING platform through monthly coffee connects and events.

During MBF's events, you get to hear insights from people on a similar journey to you. Being a small business owner is a challenge, and it can be a very rewarding one when we find like-minded individuals who understand what we are going through, and who are there to offer support and guidance.

New MBF Logo launched in October 2020

MBF new logo | Micro Business Forum

The new MBF logo was designed by Karina Gamack of Glow Graphic Design that reflects our friendliness, professionalism and resilience.

Come celebrate MBF's 20th anniversary!

Lyn Richardson is the longest serving member of MBF. "I have been in the Micro Business Forum since its inception in 2003 when it was called the Home Based Business Club (HBBC). As a micro business and working by myself I found this group essential for me to keep in touch with other like-minded business owners and get professional advise and guidance from the amazing speakers and workshops that have been an integral part of the success of this group. The group has always been a friendly, and definitely not “clicky” bunch of diverse micro business owners and the networking is great fun! I am very excited to be on the committee so I can help continue the tradition of helping both new and long term micro business owners move forward with the confidence to succeed." - Lyn Richardson, Rosewood Environmental Services

Micro Business Forum has done a lot for the small business community in the last 20 years and warmly invites you to our 20th birthday bash which will take place on Wednesday 15th November. Members and ex-MBF Members get to pay a special rate of $30. We're inviting ex-Presidents to come share their MBF journey.

Our keynote speaker for that day is Tween Entrepreneur Patrick Dale.

MBF 20th Anniversary and Patrick Dale event 15 Nov | Micro Business Forum

Yes, Patrick is 'only' 12 years old but his entrepreneurial journey may well inspire you to give your business the push it needs to go further. He started his business by asking a simple question of "Why are there no chocolate marshmallows?" From that place of curiosity, Patrick went on to set up his own business Sweet Tooth Marshmallows and he has even attended the Global Entrepreneurship Congress! This 2022 Top 5 Australia's Tween Entrepreneur returns to share valuable insights. Don't miss it!

For the first time MBF events are open to students at a special rate of $15.

Coffee Connect is a great way to get to know MBF!

We can be the friendliest business network in town, but you wouldn't know until you experience it for yourself! MBF conducts a Coffee Connect event every second Thursday each month at 10am at various cafes. It's a great business social date for business owners to get to know MBF.

MBF Coffee Connect 9 Nov | Micro Business Forum

Our next Coffee Connect is on:

09 Nov, 10:00 am AEDT

Waters Edge Port Macquarie, 1 Buller St, Port Macquarie NSW 2444, Australia

RSVP here.

What's New

We understand that a number of micro business owners are not able to attend events and will look into improving online resources. If you have ideas or time to assist us in this area, please contact us.

Committee Members over the years

2014 AGM, April 2014

  • President – Barbara Smith

  • Vice President – Vacant

  • Secretary – Helen Shallick

  • Treasurer – Glenda Hamilton

  • Membership Secretary - Vacant

  • Marketing – Pix Jonasson

  • Meeting Coordinator – Vicki Carnes

  • IT Developer - Zoe Pogonowski

  • Committee Members – Liz Paine, Colin Imer


  • President – Barbara Smith

  • Vice President – Liz Paine

  • Secretary – Helen Shallick

  • Treasurer – Glenda Hamilton

  • Committee Members – Vicki Carnes, Francessca O’Donnell, Hilton King, Pix Jonasson


  • President – Barbara Smith

  • Vice President – Liz Paine

  • Secretary – Helen Shallick

  • Treasurer – Glenda Hamilton

  • Committee Members – Vicki Carnes, Francessca O’Donnell, Amanda Larkin, Pix Jonasson, Debra Deane


  • President – Barbara Smith

  • Vice President – Liz Paine

  • Secretary – Vacant

  • Treasurer – Glenda Hamilton

  • Committee Members – Vicki Carnes, Veronica Lind, Francessca O’Donnell, Amanda Larkin, Sophie Kubowicz, Glenda Woolston, Bron Watson


President - Barbara Smith

Vice President - Liz Paine

Secretary - Vacant

Treasurer - Glenda Hamilton

Committee Members - Vicki Carnes, Veronica Lind, Amanda Larkin, Sophie Kubowicz


  • President - Barbara Smith

  • Vice President - Veronica Lind

  • Secretary - Vacant

  • Treasurer - Glenda Hamilton

  • Committee members - Vicki Carnes, Lyn Richardson, Wendy Hee, Wendy Haynes (until October 2019), Christina Parkin (until January 2020), Lee Heng (from December 2019), Alison Carroll (from April 2020)


  • President - Veronica Lind

  • Vice President - Glenda Hamilton

  • Secretary - Vacant

  • A/Treasurer - Glenda Hamilton – Feb – June 2021

  • Treasurer - Kylie Short – until Feb 2021

  • A/Treasurer - John Clarke - from June 2021

  • CommitteeMembers - Barbara Smith, Vicki Carnes, Lyn Richardson, Wendy Hee, Lee Heng, Alison Carroll, Stuart Lyall

MBF Committee 2021
Wendy Hee, Glenda Hamilton, Veronica Lind, Barbara Smith, Vicki Carnes, Lee Heng, Alison Carroll


  • President - Veronica Lind

  • Vice President - Glenda Hamilton

  • Secretary - Alison Carroll

  • Treasurer - John Clarke

  • Membership Secretary - Chrissy Jones

  • Committee members - Lyn Richardson, Wendy Hee, Barbara Smith, Sophie Kubowicz, Vicki Carnes


President - John Clark

Vice President - Glenda Hamilton

Secretary - Alison Carroll

Treasurer - Chrissy Jones

Membership Secretary - Veronica Lind

Committee members - Lyn Richardson, Barbara Smith, Edgard Lopez (from Feb 2023)

MBF Committee 2022
Barbara Smith, Alison Carroll, Veronica Lind, John Clark, Lyn Richardson, Chrissy Jones, Glenda Hamilton


MBF Committee 2023

Videos - Member Highlights


About Micro Business Forum

The Micro Business Forum or MBF supports small business owners like you. We are a professional and the friendliest business network in town. We pride ourselves on providing education, networking and support to both start-ups and established micro and small business owners so that they can learn, grow and succeed in their businesses.


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