Townsville Business Development Centre is proud to launch 21 stories from 21 years in celebration of our 21st birthday.
Throughout our birthday month of October in 2016, we shared the stories of locals who started with an idea and with some help from the Townsville Business Development Centre have grown into great Townsville businesses, creating jobs and delivering new services and products to the community.
Over 21 years, we’re proud of the work we’ve done helping countless businesses to grow the economy, create jobs and make sure everyone in Townsville has the opportunity and support to pursue their business dream.
Enjoy the 21 Stories series in full below, and check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TownsvilleBusinessDevelopment.
Story 1 – Totalfab Engineering Services
Story 2 – North Queensland Veterinary Diagnostic Services
Story 3 – Jane Can Sew
"As someone who was taking a leap of faith venturing out for the first time on my own in business, the Business Development Centre provided the ideal situation and support to get established.
Being located at the centre put me at arms length to a number of government programs and workshops, which I could access to assist in developing and growing my business."
And on starting a new business today?
“Don’t go it alone. There’s support out there. That’s what the Townsville Business Development Centre does.”
Marcel McLeod first opened Totalfab Engineering Services out of our business incubator in 2002. Within a couple of years he dramatically increased his profit and outgrew the centre, moving to his current premises in Rasmussen. He is a great example of the legacy of TBDC and what we strive to achieve.
“It’s a very niche industry. Going up against large global companies? I can’t compete with that. I’ve got to work out what the best opportunity for me is in the industry here.
“Getting a unit at TBDC was cost effective. It’s affordable with good facilities and they’ve been really flexible. Sharyn and the team here have really helped me out. They push for my causes.
“There is also a business community here to help you out. Tony, next door, from NQ Glazing did all my doors for the lab. Matt, from Choice Computers, did my computers for me. Having people close by did wonders for me. Everyone I’ve worked with here has done good by me.”
James at North Queensland Veterinary Diagnostic Services definitely has the most unique set up in our business incubator. He has turned his space into a high tech lab that provides research testing and diagnostic services for medical samples for animals from across North Queensland.
“I am an English teacher by trade. I didn’t want to go back after I had my children. I started doing this and it’s just so creative and fun. I ended up selling things and more and more people wanted to buy them and it’s become a business.
“Now I can only just keep up with it. I’m employing other creative people.” On working with the Townsville Business Development Centre:
“I’m a very determined and driven person. I was accepted into a big design market in Brisbane, Finders Keepers, so I needed to either get serious or just plod along.
They’ve (Townsville Business Development Centre) just been great; they’re an amazing support. I’ve said I need to know about trade marking, they set up a meeting. I need to know about accounting, so they line up good, reputable people. The Centre has a network that I know if there’s a business they work with, I can work with them.”
And just who is Jane?
“She’s like my literary heroine, it’s a link to my previous job. Jane could be anybody. And Jane is constantly reinventing herself. She started off as this little girl from an old pattern group but I decided she needs to grow up to this young hipster type. It’s Jane re-invented!”
After being a life-long seamstress, four and a half years ago Kylie started Jane can sew. Beginning with children’s clothes, she then expanded to women’s clothes. In addition to her website, you can now find her work in Chappell Street Melbourne, Brisbane and soon to be Cairns.
Story 4 - Hoi Polloi Cafe
Story 5 – The TapHouse Townsville
Story 6 – Yellow Brick Road Wealth Management Kirwan
“We saw the potential to turn the space here into something nice and bring more life into the city.
“The décor is just what my brother and I wanted to do, our ideas. We didn’t want to buy anything from catalogues, we found things individually that we liked.
“We didn’t know where to start with the business so we thought we should go and see the Townsville Business Development Centre and they really helped us out. They talked to us about how to fit-out a shop, an efficient way of setting up a café, because we’re really restricted for space. They helped with our social media and all the behind-the-scenes work of running a business, which we had no idea about.”
Advice for people looking to follow their dream of owning a café?
“Do as much as you can yourself – it keeps costs down and adds more personality to your shop. But definitely get help with the business side of things.”
From the outset, Sean and Conor from Hoi Polloi Cafe in Denham Lane were clear they wanted to run a unique cafe and the coffee needed to be great. It’s undeniably become one of the coolest places for coffee in Townsville. Make sure you stop in after the markets this morning, and keep watching this one – they’ve got big plans for this little shop!
“We saw a niche in Townsville for a craft beer bar. We love craft beer, we love self-pour – we think that’s a unique concept.
“We all still have our full time jobs. That’s the hardest part. Balancing everything around that, it’s stressful but you do what you’ve got to do to make things work.”
“The Townsville Business Development Centre was really helpful and honest. Considering our unique situation – two couples going into a business, family going into a business, the first time that we’d done a business together, they really helped us initiate our discussions and decide whether it was possible and how we were going to carve out the pathways to actually building The Taphouse.”
Advice for others wanting to follow the dream of opening a bar?
“Be prepared to work hard. People might see owning a bar as a lot of glamour, but it’s hard work. It’s staying ahead of the game, offering something unique and being competitive. And being prepared to work behind the bar. We don’t just own a bar, we’re here all the time.
“It’s hard and it’s challenging but some days you walk in here and you get tears because we take a minute to look at what we’ve done and we’re proud of it. We’ve learnt a lot in the first year and it’s important we take what we’ve learnt to grow the future. We’re happy, but it’s a lot of hard work.”
And just how far does the dream go?
“World domination of craft beer – a Taphouse in every major city in the world!”
Family partnerships can be challenging, so brother and sister duo Craig, Lana, and their partners Mark and Alyce wanted to make sure they had a plan to give their business the best chance of success. The City Lane precinct has brought new life into the CBD and The TapHouse Townsville has added a whole new dimension to the landscape. They’re coming up to their one-year anniversary on the 22nd of October – make sure you’re there to help them celebrate!
“I wanted to be part of Yellow Brick Road for the full offering – financial planning and home loans.
I went to the Townsville Business Development Centre (TBDC) and asked for some space to launch my business. It was great. It’s a base that wasn’t at home, so you’re still going off to work, but you’ve got flexibility and they work with you.
There is a business community there, a network. It was really positive, you have other start-ups and the team in the office to bounce ideas off. It was great being surrounded by other people in a similar situation, starting up a business and going through the same things as me.
When I moved out of the Centre into another office space I joined the TBDC board. It’s a very active committee; I get to actually work on projects and campaigns for the Centre. Nobody is there just to tick a box.”
And what about Mark Bouris, the head of Yellow Brick Road?
“Terrifying? Yes! But he’s actually just such a blokes bloke. The first time I met him he just wanted to talk about the Roosters (NRL team). He has a very active role within the company which is great.”
Josh from Yellow Brick Road Wealth Management Kirwan started his business out of the Thuringowa incubator two years ago. After graduating to a new office within a year, he is now an active member of the TBDC Board with invaluable insight into how how important our services are.
Story 7 – Concrete Grinding & Polishing Services
Story 8 – American Big Dogz
Story 9 – R Mahoney Design
“My parents wanted us to have more opportunities so when I was 10, we moved from Iran to Australia. We had to learn everything, including the language. They always had businesses here in Townsville and I worked in them too. Then I had a business as a professional Interior Designer for 20years.”
“My husband and I both operate Concrete Grinding & Polishing Services and we have been members of Townsville Business Development Centre (TBDC) for quite a few years. It’s good that there is a place like TBDC that can help with all parts of your business. We’ve attended workshops and events that have been really great for us.”
“Recently, I’ve been following my passion to help other business people to manage stress through nutrition, health and wellbeing. I enrolled in the Women in Business Accelerator program run by TBDC. I want to use the knowledge and experience I have gained to create a business that will help others to be at their best.”
Mitra has a sense of energy and enthusiasm that is evident in everything she does. She knows better than anyone the challenges business owners face and is passionate about developing her own personal brand to help and support others. Managing stress through good nutrition and an active lifestyle is often the key to breakthrough success and it’s great to work with a client who lives and breathes her own message.
“I was working a few jobs, including some labour work, and the work was starting to dry up in Townsville. I thought, I can’t keep doing this.
“I heard about this business opportunity and thought why not. So I knuckled down and came up with a business plan. My parents had mentioned the Townsville Business Development Centre to me so I went in to see them. They really helped me out a lot. We developed the business plan to get it to a professional standard. They helped me source loan opportunities and put me on to the people that I ended up getting a loan through. They really helped me get the ball rolling.
“It’s been great. It can certainly be a bit tough, it’s a lot of hard work, doing late nights and every weekend down in Flinders Street, but here I am six months later and things are going well.”
Any advice for other young people looking to take on their own business?
“You can do it. You’ve just got to knuckle down. Make sure you do your research, make sure you’re prepared. But there is definitely help out there. That’s what I found with the Townsville Business Development Centre.”
Aiden at American Big Dogz is breaking the stereotype. There is a misconception that his generation lack the work ethic and determination required for business. From day one Aiden was committed to getting advice and doing the work required to make his venture a success. He had a strong sense of what needed to be done and has already identified opportunities for growth.
“My friend sent me an email about an #imagineTSV event (run by Townsville Business Development Centre) and said I needed to be there. It’s amazing how it just takes one friend who believes in you and knows that you need to be somewhere at a certain time. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life.
“I walked away realising there are so many other people out there with creative ideas, wanting to launch their own businesses, but believed they couldn’t go against the grain. It was an amazing event to feel confident in yourself.
“So I thought, what have I got to lose? Within three months I was sold out of my first release. We had the shop (Textile Collective by Emerging Designers) open up and my work just keeps selling so fast, as I sew it sells straight away.
“I was accepted into the Women in Business Accelerator Program at TBDC. We’re doing business plans, cash flows, leadership work, all of those things you couldn’t do by yourself. It keeps you on track. There are times where I’m just so exhausted, sewing and working full time. They help remind me that I just have to keep going.”
And where will we see R MAHONEY DESIGN next?
“I want to eventually have my own boutique where I sell my work along with other Australian designers. Hopefully one day I can stock my designs in shops all over Australia. And then New York Fashion Week. Why dream small!”
When our guest speaker, Nick Bowditch – Writer and Speaker, posed the question, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Rachel stood up quietly and said she would launch her fashion label. It was her lifelong dream and fear had held her back. That same day, she signed up for our Women in Business Accelerator Program.
Rachel is amazing! She set big goals for herself over 6 months and just keeps ticking them off. She has been accepted into a market in Sydney next month and when a client comes to you worried that they can’t keep up with the demand for their product, you know it’s a good problem to have.
It is really exciting to see how far Rachel has come, since that event in April and when we host our 3rd #imagineTSV event on 22 November, I can’t wait to see what she imagines next.
Story 10 – Townsville History Walking Tours
Story 11 – 360 Health & Fitness NQ
Story 12 – Townsville Bookkeeping Services
“I came here as a soldier in 1980, married a Townsville girl and stayed. When I got out of the Army I became a carpenter and worked on old heritage homes, specialising in old Queenslanders
“After I retired, I was asked me be in charge of building the museum at Jezzine Barracks. When I finished that, 3RAR was posted to Townsville and they had a huge collection. I help set up their museum. I’m the curator now and it’s massive. I’ve always had a passion for history in this town.
“Not long ago we had family visiting who asked me about the history of Townsville. I took them on a bit of a tour and afterwards they suggested doing it for others. So I thought, why not give it a go?
“A City Councillor gave us the number for the Townsville Business Development Centre. They’ve been an enormous help. From our first meeting, right up until now. The workshops they conduct are well priced and really valuable. We’d recommend them to anyone who’s thinking of starting up a business. They’ve pointed us in the right direction and put us in contact with people that we wouldn’t have otherwise known about. We’ve even had Nicole (from TBDC) on the tour.
“We do a few different tours. Everyone likes our Palmer Street one, with dinner and wine at the end.
“Townsville is forthright in Australia’s history – there’s a lot of Australian firsts that happened in this city. From the first official flying of the Australian flag to the very first patent outside the New South Wales colony – the outdoor toilet.”
And what will Townsville’s history look like in the future?
“We’ll see. We’re making it every day!”
We have loved working with Bob to see Townsville History Walking Tours come to life in the City. Its a wonderful new tourism business offering locals and visitors the chance to understand more about our colourful and interesting heritage.
As part of our T150 celebrations this year we hope you enjoy the air show today and make sure you go on one of Bob’s tours to hear the stories and history of our last 150 years!
The Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) program we deliver on behalf of the Federal Government, enable us to offer affordable business advice and support to people like Bob who have an idea for business. We look forward to working with Bob as his business continues to grow. Find him on Facebook and coming to Instagram soon!
“I grew up in Townsville always wanting to play Rugby League. I feel fortunate that I played in the NRL for the Eels, the Roosters and the Cowboys. Now I’m with the Blackhawks and I’m proud to represent Townsville. Rugby League has made me pretty honest in my approach to fitness. I enjoy it in a social setting and being a part of a team. That’s something I really push with 360. It’s a team environment, not just you battling by yourself.”
“I enjoy the leadership of being in business, it’s something I take very seriously. It takes more than just knowing fitness and routines; you have to get emotionally invested in their fitness. I relate my experience with players on the field to my clients.”
“Once I decided to start the business, I went to the Townsville Business Development Centre (TBDC) to figure out the next steps. From there, the learning hasn’t stopped. I can ask them anything and they have the answers. I’ve been to their seminars learning from leading Australian entrepreneurs.”
“I pride myself on getting work done, but jumping on a computer and making sure the admin gets done is something I’ve found difficult. I’ve been lucky to be pushed towards the right people along the way. That wouldn’t be possible without help from TBDC.”
“I like 360 being a local place. Our job is to make people feel welcome and our clients get that too. The people who have been with us for a while are now helping those who are beginners in their fitness quest. It’s a great environment to be a part of. My aspiration is to be a better coach and leader in the community.”
Anthony has a genuine passion for helping people recognise their full potential through fitness. When we first met with him about his idea for a business, he explained his approach wasn’t one dimensional but that he understood that health and wellness was impacted from all directions, 360 degrees. He wanted to create a business where people could feel like they belong, like part of a team. The culture of any business is important, but for Anthony, it’s been paramount to his success. He’s had to to step out of his comfort zone in business, just like he encourages his clients to do at 360 Health & Fitness NQ, and he keeps pushing himself everyday.
Anthony is fortunate that through his career he learnt what it takes to achieve your goals and that it’s important to have a good team around you to do it. He is a fantastic role model in the community and it will be great to see what comes next for 360.
“I have four kids, and I wanted the flexibility in my work to spend time with them, so I decided to start my own business. It has certainly had its challenges, but it works perfectly around my children’s lives.
“I love all my clients! Every day is different. One day I could be in a builder’s office, the next I’m working out of the home office of someone who owns a caravan park. I had to turn down my first client this week. But when my youngest goes to school, there’s definite room for more expansion.
“I knew about Townsville Business Development Centre (TBDC) from a previous job. The accountant I worked for told every new start-up business to go and see them. When I was looking at starting up, I knew what needed to happen to be a bookkeeper; I just needed the reassurance of setting up a business plan.
“They’ve been so easy to deal with. The whole team at TBDC are very approachable. And I make time for the #imagineTSV events too because I get a lot out of them.”
And what drives Cindy?
“I want to be able to help my clients with their admin so they can focus on what they’re good at. That’s my motto. But I make sure they always know where their business is at.”
We see a lot of people who come in looking to provide services to other business operators. Often their challenge is to recognise the value and worth of what they do. It’s easier when you have something tangible you are selling. When you can help a client sort out their paperwork and bookkeeping, this is priceless. It never cease to amaze me the number of people who operate their businesses without having their back office in order. It’s so stressful for them on top of everything else.
When Cindy came in to see us she had an idea of the types of client she could best help. We could see straight away that she would be of immense value to any business. Cindy takes a very professional approach with Townsville Townsville Bookkeeping Services and is committed to ensuring her clients can focus on their business with piece of mind that their paperwork and record keeping is taken care of. She takes the guesswork out their financial position for them and this is critical to good business management and decision making.
Story 13 – Connect ‘n’ Grow
Story 14 – Hands on Wildlife
Story 15 – Bounce Coffee
“This is one part work and one part philanthropy for us. It’s a vocation and then some.”
“Not enough training providers put the emphasis on outcomes. We feel we’re letting our students down if they’re not getting the right outcomes.”
“We have students who have gone on to university and are studying degrees in medicine and nursing. We’ve got students who have started further training and employment at TAIHS. Many more are taking their knowledge back to their communities to help others.”
“We started as a tenant at the Townsville Business Development Centre’s incubator. We were based there from 2012 – 2016. When you first set up a business you need a lot of support and TBDC provided it for us across a number of different avenues. It was great being there alongside people who are going through a similar process in starting up a business. The contacts provided to us during that time have been great and we still do a lot of work with them.”
“We want to become the best health and community service educators in Australia. We want to take our work national and become the best training organisation in the country.”
“I absolutely believe we can do it from Townsville.”
There are a lot of people who talk about creating change or making things happen, and then there are the people who are too busy actually doing it to tell their story. Michael is a great example of that. Whether it’s his business Connect ‘n’ Grow – RTO 40518 or his newest incarnation Seed Foundation Australia, Michael is making a difference.
When we first started working with him, he had aspirations of improving outcomes for young indigenous people in the health sector. The reality is he has created a model for accredited training that provides pathways for high school students from remote communities, such as Bamaga, to enter into tertiary studies at university.
Michael started his career as an educator who now operates with the mindset of an entrepreneur. He has a clear and determined vision to change the world through education and it is inspiring to see firsthand the lives of a generation he is influencing with his work.
“Our business just had its seventh birthday!”
“Dan is born and raised in Townsville, and I came to Australia to study at JCU. We’ve both been zookeepers our whole life, and we decided that we wanted to start a wildlife organisation.”
“We’re both animal people, but I really needed to learn how to run a business. From the very beginning, when I found the Townsville Business Development Centre, we attended workshops and sought mentoring. They helped us a lot, not just with information but with networking around town.”
“Our goal is to create wildlife heroes; we want to spread our conservation message as far as we can and make sure that people are doing whatever little things they can to help save wildlife.”
“To achieve that we have to keep doing what we’re doing and grow our business. I’ve recently been to their #imagineTSV events. They push you to dream bigger, see what the possibilities are and let go of your fear.”
And advice for new businesses starting up?
“I would encourage people to find help. When we were starting out, I would talk to professionals and we didn’t seem to fit in any traditional boxes. I can remember meetings with lawyers and accountants where I just didn’t know what to do. There were accountants trying to figure out whether our animals were assets or not. Our mentors at TBDC have seen the fact that we didn’t fit in a “box” as a strength, and they’ve helped us find the answers we need.”
“My advice – even if you’re a little bit different, go for it!”
Jackie and Dan are both champions of their cause.
Everyone has different motivations for going in to business. For some it’s the freedom and flexibility, for others it’s to create financial opportunities. Then you come across people who are so completely committed to their passion that their business is actually their life. It’s the dream and they both live it with HANDS ON WILDLIFE
Their love for their animals is evident. Our most memorable event at the TBDC involved a live on air segment when we put radio host Blake in a snake pit with a death adders and taipans. Jackie and Dan were more than happy to be involved because they recognised the opportunity to teach a broader audience how to understand, respond and react to deadly snakes. For them, education is key.
Jackie has consistently sought help along the way to ensure that they are creating a sustainable business for their long term vision. It’s always rewarding to see clients make progress when they’ve shared with you their dreams and aspirations.
“Our vision is to provide people with a consistent cup of coffee. Our motto – helping to heal the world’s bad cup flu.”
“I’ve trained well over 7,000 baristas in my time, but I can’t teach someone what I need to in two or three hours. So we’ve got coffee machine manufacturers who listen to our feedback as coffee makers and the resulting machine is second to none. It’s been blood sweat and tears.“
“My favourite part is watching our clients grow their own businesses, when they can provide their customers with an excellent and consistent coffee. I tell them we can increase their bottom line and I get a kick out of bringing that to fruition.”
“I heard about the Townsville Business Development Centre through word of mouth. Someone told me about their affordable space and the business support available to help you get going. We were there for a few years and they helped me a lot along the way.”
“What keeps me going is watching this place grow. It’s not money these days. I believe we’re at least as good as, if not better than, the bigger companies – we’ve certainly got the passion. Getting businesses to give us a go and then getting to blow their expectations right out of the water – that’s what I get a kick out of. My staff are the biggest key to the whole thing. I want my team to have similar aspirations to me.”
In 2012, Justin was operating in one of our units in the incubator, distributing his blend of coffee throughout NQ. He and his off-sider worked long days doing everything that needed to be done. They would roast once a week and packaged everything by hand.
The success of a business in the first few years often comes down to the willingness to do what it takes. This includes managing the stress from the risks you take and often embracing the unknown. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and having faith in the team you build around you.
The warehouse facility on Ingham Rd, which now serves as the headquarters of Bounce Coffee is a testament to Justin’s ability to do exactly that. He now employs 14 staff, roasting and distributing their award winning coffee up and down the entire east coast of Australia and the Northern Territory. While he still has even more plans for growth, it’s great to see the business now operates at a level, that gives Justin time to stop and enjoy his coffee.
Story 16 – Hot Rock Adventure Centre
Story 17 – Complete Imports
Story 18 – Jason Fichera
“13 years ago my best friend made me go rock climbing. I was a bit scared of heights so I wasn’t sure, but it turned into a regular activity.”
“I was serving in the military and decided I wanted to do something else. I started working casually in a fitness centre with a rock climbing wall. I become a manager and built it up – as a business owner would do, so I wanted to see how I could become one.”
“I was looking at opening a rock climbing business and contacted a builder. My now business partner Tom, who I didn’t know at the time, also contacted him for the same reason. The builder put us in contact with each other and we realised we could do a better job together.”
“We saw the Townsville Business Development Centre early on, before our partnership was written up. Tom went to their workshops and got a lot out of them. We then went in to see them together with a list of questions and it gave us someone to bounce ideas off and learn from.”
And what has Ryan learned from entering into a partnership and starting a new business?
“Take the plunge. Nothing’s too hard if you set your mind to it. There is plenty of support around and people that are willing to help, like TBDC. The fear of the unknown is the only barrier that you’ve got. Once you’re through that, you’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Tom was in the Defence Force here in Townsville when he came to do one of our workshops, Your First Steps. He wanted to start his own business and was keen to find out what he needed to do. He was very thorough and motivated. He and Ryan followed up quickly with getting one on one help for a business plan and working out how they could best turn their idea into a reality.
They are a great working partnership because they have similar objectives and values and a combined passion for what they do.
Hot Rock Adventure Centre has an impressive set up. It incorporates a number of complementary disciplines such as slack lining – think wide tightrope – bouldering, yoga, all in with traditional rock climbing. Constantly evolving their activities and broadening their scope has worked well for them.
Recently, we heard they had young people from their centre qualify for upcoming world title events, and this is a fantastic achievement for any business and a milestone for Tom and Ryan.
“We started Complete Imports about three and a half years ago, importing products for NQ businesses.
“I’ve grown up around business, being involved in the family business from a very young age. I learnt a lot about running a business from dad.
“I learnt about international trade as an employee, which gave me the drive to start a business for myself. When we first started, we came across the Townsville Business Development Centre online and went out there to meet with them. We joined up as a member, and they were a great help with networking for us and putting us in contact with the right people who needed our services. We found it extremely useful, especially in those early stages when you need assistance quickly.
“From there, we’ve grown into Brisbane and Australia wide. We’re now also a part of River City Labs in Brisbane. It’s a technology and innovation business incubator. We were accepted into their accelerator program. It’s incredibly competitive; out of hundreds of applicants from around the world they only accepted seven, so it’s amazing to be one of them. We’re creating an online platform called IncoDocs, to make it really easy for Australian exporters to complete all of their shipping documentation to sell their product to the world.
“We’ve grown now, we’ve still got the office and warehouse in Townsville and we’ve opened another one in Brisbane. We’ve expanded Australia wide.
“I love the industry that I’m in. I’m passionate about international trade. It ties together business and travel and different world economies. It gives people so much opportunity to buy and sell goods all around the world – that’s what I love about it.”
From the beginning, Ben and Brandon impressed us with their tenacity. They had a clear vision for what they wanted to achieve – providing solutions for businesses operating in international trade. They asked lots of questions and were 100% committed to their goals.
For them to have been accepted into the accelerator program at River City Labs is a great achievement. It is an extremely competitive and sought after program so it’s fantastic to have them here representing North Queensland in their industry.
“I’m a musician.”
“I grew up in Ingham and I’ve spent the last two years touring through America, Europe and the United Kingdom promoting my album. A few of my songs have been picked up on radio throughout Europe and the US. It’s been hectic. I do it all independently so I have done all the groundwork myself to build my career.”
“It certainly hasn’t all been smooth sailing. The hardest thing was going into such saturated markets and trying to get a foot in the door. For the first six months I wasn’t able to play any gigs or shows, it was incredibly difficult to break into the music scene. Once you’re in though, it gets easier. Now I’ve even done some festivals and major gigs.”
“Sharyn and the team at the Townsville Business Development Centre helped me build a strong foundation for my music business, because it is a business. TBDC guided me through that side of it. They helped me develop my brand, to making sure it was unique and marketable, and that it properly represented me. They really simplified things for me and helped hone my ideas. It was great to have that guidance.”
The future for you now?
“I’m enjoying being back home for a break and I’m in the process of writing another album, which I plan to record next year. Then I’ll be doing it all over again – touring bigger and better. Once you’ve got the momentum started, you have to make sure that you maintain the drive.”
When Jason came to TBDC he was working as a high school teacher during the day and playing gigs all over Townsville 3-4 nights a week. While he loved his job and the kids he taught, he loved music more. He was serious about understanding how he could be in the business of music.
It was always clear how committed he was to music and his career so it was no surprise when his 6 month leap of faith overseas was extended indefinitely.
Festival gigs, a European tour, radio airplay in the UK, and a nomination as a semi finalist in the International Songwriting Competition later, and Jason is taking a well earned break back home to reflect on the 1500+ gigs he’s done in the last 10yrs that have taken him across the world.
Building on his success, he shared with us recently his intention to use the knowledge and experiences he has gained to assist and develop other aspiring artists.
As far as what constitutes a “business”, he’s is a great example of why it doesn’t need to be complicated. For Jason Fichera – Music, armed with the knowledge of how to best commercialise what he does, all that’s left to focus on, is him and his guitar – simple really.
Story 19 – Townsville Food Magazine
Story 20 – Brendan Gaeta – TBDC Chair
Story 21 – Kounias Lawyers
“I left my job when I was pregnant, and started Pink Noise Creative, my graphic design business, working from under my house. Around the same time I heard that a local food publication was for sale. That’s when I first came to the Townsville Business Development Centre, to get advice on whether it would be a good investment for me and how exactly to go about it. They helped me access the capital I needed to buy it, through a NAB Microenterprise loan”
“I’m a foodie at heart and a graphic designer by trade! Being able to put my passion together with my skills has been a match made in heaven for me. I just love food – it’s more than something we need to stay alive; it’s fun, it’s exciting and it brings people together. That’s what I try to show in the magazine, we want to present the wonderful places, producers and retailers we have right here on our doorstep.”
“It is hectic managing a magazine. The business has grown so much I’m lucky to have an amazing team behind me now. That’s one of the things I love about it – the magazine is 100% local because we can produce everything in house.”
“Working on the admin side of things was a struggle for me. That’s something TBDC is helping me hone. Since taking on their advice I’ve become better at it – I’m a lot happier in my business than I was a year ago.”
“I’m currently doing the TBDC Women in Business accelerator program. It’s teaching me so much. When I started, I went in guns blazing and then realized there’s so much I need to understand and know how to do. The program has been brilliant. I’ve also met a lot of people who have become great sounding boards – we’ve formed friendships and we’re able to use each other for advice, it’s been great.”
“I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of the team at TBDC.”
When it comes to starting a business, some people dip their toes in the water and others jump straight in the deep end and learn to swim quickly. Jaimie launched into, not just one, but two businesses and she has absolutely flourished with both.
It has been such a privilege to work with someone who has incredible creative talent and the matching drive and commitment it takes to succeed in business. She is constantly pushing herself and seeking out ways to improve and expand her horizons. Townsville Food Magazine is a testament to that and the evolution of it over the years is a credit to her passion for it.
As a participant in our 2nd intake of the Women in Business accelerator program its rewarding to see her confidence in supporting others who are newer the business journey and for her to be able to share her experiences and knowledge. Jaimie has already navigated many of the challenges of starting out, such as of transitioning from home to commercial office, employing and managing staff, managing cash flow and growth and this in invaluable. Her investment now in herself professinoally to consolidate and refine her business will position her well for future opportunities and we can’t wait to see what she will create next.
“I moved to Townsville when I was 20 to go to James Cook University. I only ever planned on coming up here for a year, but I took a job with Connolly Suthers Lawyers and I’ve been here ever since. I’m now married with four kids and I’m one of the partners at the firm.”
“Developing business and driving economic growth in Townsville is my passion. That’s why I took on the role of chair of the Townsville Business Development Centre.”
“I believe the Centre and the services we provide are critical for our city, even more so in the current economic climate. Everyone needs to be focusing on how we can secure economic growth to allow businesses to flourish and create jobs. TBDC does an excellent job in delivering on that, providing advisory services to so many businesses and giving them the tools to operate and expand.”
“Sharyn and the team are the driving force behind it all. They are very motivated and committed to the cause. The organisation couldn’t achieve what it does without her and them.”
And what does the future hold for TBDC?
“I’d like to see us increase the amount of services we can provide even further and continue to expand our physical capacity. Last year we opened our creative business incubator, The Hive, in the CBD and we now have a new CBD business accelerator space to offer in Sturt St.”
“I’ve really enjoyed the “21 stories from 21 years” – it shows just how much TBDC can help people and give businesses the tools to push forward with their endeavours.”
Brendan brings a wealth of practical and professional experience to TBDC. Having his support as the Chair on the Board is important to the organisation and especially to support the staff who manage and run the Centre. He has a genuine interest in seeing Townsville prosper commercially and taking up a position on the board was a great demonstration of that commitment.
Recently, Brendan developed a series of webinar presentations to deliver to clients of TBDC .They are structured to provide them with practical skills and tools for managing employees, an area of his professional expertise. These have proven to be very popular and extremely well received. They are an invaluable opportunity for small business clients to access critical professional expertise they otherwise wouldn’t.
Brendan and the team of volunteers who sit on the management committee perform a vital role in assisting TBDC to ensure the business community and budding entrepreneurs in Townsville and NQ have a range of support available to them for their commercial aspirations.
“I’m a lawyer. I’m working from home at the moment, but I’m about to move in to Townsville Business Development Centre’s new CBD business accelerator space
“I like the idea of having an office away from the house. The new incubator is really convenient for my clients and I; it’s in the city and close to a lot of the other businesses and facilities I use on a daily basis. As a sole trader, I also love the idea of being surrounded by other business people who I can collaborate with. It’s comforting and exciting. Knowing that I’ll also have mentoring and support from TBDC there makes it a fantastic opportunity to grow my business.
“Previously, I was working in another firm and I realized that I wanted to be able to do things differently. I wanted to move away from the more traditional type of law firm. Working on my own I get to make my own choices about how I want to run it. That was something I was looking forward to and I haven’t looked back.
“I’ve been doing TBDC’s Women in Business Accelerator program and it’s been great for me. It’s one thing to be a lawyer and another thing entirely to be a business person. The program has helped me understand every aspect of running your own business, as well as referring me to the right organisations or people who can help me or who I can work with
“Things have been very consistent since I started. I’ve always been confident with the legal side of my work, it’s just fine-tuning the business side of things. TBDC are helping me achieve that so that I can find the balance that is essential when you’re running your own business.”
A lot of people starting out in business are good at what they do. They are often experts at what the do. But they needhelp to understand what it takes to run a business. At TBDC what we “do” is provide that. We work with clients to develop processes and structures that help ensure they are creating a viable and sustainable business.
From day one, Filitsa has sought out practical and relevant tools and strategies to help her ensure that she can improve the set up of her business. She is driven by her desire to ensure her clients can benefit from the different approach to legal services that she offers.
Outside of Kounias Lawyers, Filitsa is very active and dedicated to driving activities for the greater benefit of the community. Whether through volunteer work or supporting other likeminded business owners through meet up groups and events, she is a proud advocate for our city.
Through her own interest in advocating for small business she created a social media profile “Townsville loves your business” which has attracted an audience of over 4000 followers on Instagram alone. For someone already juggling the challenges of family, business and life, this has been a great boost to the business community and a great initiative to support our region.
We definitely love her business and we look forward to continuing to work with Filitsa to achieve her business goals in the future.
TBDC Turns 21 - Anniversary Celebrations