President's Report by Veronica Lind at AGM August 2022
Covid, floods, rising interest rates, inflation - what more can one ask for?
Business confidence has dropped. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, business conditions and sentiments continue to be tough with a third of employing businesses having difficulty finding suitable staff; nearly half of all businesses experienced increases in their operating expenses; nearly 47% faced supply chain disruptions. This is the same picture I saw when I travelled two months to Europe. They had an extra thing to worry about - War.
Business networks across the country were not spared. Some see decrease in memberships and/or revenue. The Micro Business Forum is not spared. Memberships had decreased from 45 in the previous year to 26 now. Luckily our expenses are low so we still have good money in the bank.
Several of our members took this “downturn” as opportunities to hibernate, retire or seek jobs.
Enough of this gloomy outlook.
I am a believer in looking for opportunities in the midst of crises. My clients and I who have that same spirit continue to thrive. I said last year that businesses have to find clever ways to grow.
During MBF’s June committee meeting, I asked if MBF should fold or hold and the decision is to try to change some things to continue to support micro businesses. There are new businesses being set up during the COVID period especially at a time when people were losing their jobs, so MBF wants to be there for them.
We did a survey. Had 28 responses out of which 29% were non-MBF members and 12 were involved in our Think Tank discussion which we held on 1st July. This was indicative of the interest they have with MBF.
I will share some of the fast-start actions the Think Tank team had called out at the later part of this meeting.
Now who is going to drive these fast-start actions? The new MBF committee of 2022-2023 which we will announce in a minute.
What have we achieved?
Two years now and the committee has become very adept with the technologies that we had adopted to run MBF more effectively.
I have recently created an app called JOIN MBF which anyone can download using this link https://www.jotform.com/app/mbf/join-mbf The app allows you to view and register for the next MBF event, apply and pay for membership, call or email MBF.
We had two radio interviews on Monday 7th March in line with small business month.
The first interview in the morning was with Christine Woolnough of Hastings Community Radio 2WAY FM on how MBF supports small businesses and the second interview was with John O’Callaghan of Super Radio Mid North Coast about businesses affected by Covid. Unfortunately, we had to move our small business month physical event online due to the unstable Covid situation.
Brilliant-Online continues to feature MBF events and members.
MBF members were generous in donating prizes during the combined business network Christmas party to support Bravehearts.
I wanted to read out this testimonial I had received via email from Rob Hamilton of Timbertown Motel.
“I have often admired, from the sidelines, the activities of the organisation and the support it gives to the smallest business owners as I believe this is an ongoing necessity in our diverse and competitive business environment. I know and admire many of your current members for the quality of their businesses and their input into the local business community.”
Congratulations to these MBF Members
There are two micro but mighty businesses that we want to specially highlight. They were recognised at the recent 2022 Wauchope and Hinterland Business Awards.
Qi & Tonic, Wendy Hee and Stephen grabbed the top spot for Excellence in Micro Business. Qi & Tonic specialises in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Teas for beauty, health and wellbeing. Congratulations Wendy!
Brilliant-Online was one of the sponsors at the 2022 Wauchope and Hinterland Business Awards and was also nominated as one of the finalists for Excellence in Start-Ups for Business Mid North Coast Awards. Brilliant-Online is all about supporting our communities and creating the space and opportunities for businesses to engage easily with their communities using their multi-channel interactive magazine. Congratulations to Veronica Lind, Chrissy Jones and Selena Hata.
My plate is so full this year that many times I wish for a mini-me. I made the decision to hand the presidency role to a new person, and we are so delighted to elect John Clarke from Success Tax Professionals as the new President of MBF. Job rotations are healthy and keeps the organisation dynamic and sustainable. I am not going away though. I will still be looking after MBF members. I urge every member to reach out to any small business you meet and invite them to our meetings and join MBF.
Every day, I have something to thank for. So today, I want to show the following gratitude:
The recent survey indicates that at least 40% of us get referrals from another member. So thank you for referring businesses and I would love to see that support go stronger.
I want to thank everyone, committee and MBF members who have stuck with us and I believe the new committee will bring MBF to the next level. The current committee works hard at supporting small business owners. I invited them to the Elvis movie premiere hosted by Brilliant-Online on 23rd June.
I want to thank the outgoing committee for being there, for sticking together; for making things happen: Glenda Hamilton our conscientious Vice-President; John Clarke Treasurer; Alison Carroll Secretary; Chrissy Jones Membership Secretary; Barbara Smith our friendly Mentor, Vicki Carnes Events Coordinator; Wendy Hee; Lyn Richardson and Sophie Kubowicz. All of you have so many skills put together that can benefit any small business big time. I hope the community is aware of that and reach out to you for your services and acknowledge the wonderful work you do.
Thank you and good luck everyone.
Micro Business Forum
Statement from newly-elect President of MBF, John Clarke
MBF is a great organisation for small businesses to be a part of, and it's been going on for a large number of years. I have been a member for about two years and it's been really useful because apart from the networking, there's so much support offered to businesses. If you have a problem, someone else is experiencing the same problem.
Support training for businesses
At our meetings we have training that helps us in our businesses. Most of us were trained in our trade, but not in the whole process of setting up or maintaining a business. We don't know how to market ourselves or perhaps we came into technology much later in life than the younger generation. It means we don't know about many things until someone shows us. We may have managed by finding other ways to do things but there are always more efficient ways to get things done.
Barbara Smith from The Roving Trainer did a session last month about technology and it really was just simple things about spreadsheets or Word documents, setting up databases and everybody who attended got something out of it. We got a better way to do things that were actually easier. Veronica Lind from Vermillion Pinstripes and Brilliant-Online also gave a lot of advice on how to use our social media, and it's helped to get us going on it.
What businesses need
What's the number one thing people need (when they're setting up in business)? It's really how to get noticed and stand out in the crowd. As a business, we need people to know we're here, and ready and willing to help. And the thing is, there's plenty of work for everyone, it's not like we're desperate to grab somebody else's clients. Personalities matter and we find our best fit across different businesses.
The Micro Business Forum is a great way of getting with a friendly bunch of people, having a good time, getting supported in your business and helping other people with their businesses. The more people know about what we do, the more we can help fellow members by giving referrals.
It's easy for people to join MBF. It can be done through our website, Facebook, so it's all done online, or you can come to Coffee Connect, which will cost you only the price of a cup of coffee. That takes place once a month, normally on the second Thursday of the month. There's no obligation here, you can just come on down, have a chat, we're really friendly people. And you can also come to a meeting.
For the next few months, September to December, we'll be trialing evening meetings instead of morning meetings. September's meeting is going to be speed networking and Barbara Smith will be emceeing the evening.
I think we've got a great committee, a great mix of experience and some newcomers, so we're really keen to increase our member numbers this year. With COVID, we've had a decrease in numbers. Some people have retired, others have decided to work for a company than for themselves. We also weren't doing many meetings in person.
MBF upcoming activities
It'll be really good to have some newcomers, and we're also going to be trying different things. We had a stall at the Westport markets in August, we're going to have one at Laurieton on the 18th September. So if you're in Laurieton on Sunday 18th Sept, come on over and say hi to us! Put your business card in the bowl and I'm sure there'll be a nice prize for somebody! We're here to support small businesses like yours, it's what we have as well and what we do!
Micro Business Forum