CEO Jacqui Attard

In our 30-year history, there has not been a time as important as the present, to empower small business owners to recover and grow.

This year has been one for the history books. We started out in July 2019 forecasting a strong year ahead as we made future plans for our business and for the small businesses we work with. Unfortunately, this was not the year we expected. Small business was first impacted on a localised scale by fire and drought, and later a global pandemic which affected businesses big and small, entire communities, and individuals – nobody was immune.

Without minimising the scale of what we’ve been through this year, there have been some positives. Many people used the ‘slow down’ to work on their businesses to bring them into a stronger position for the future. Some of us took the opportunity to pivot our businesses or to digitise on the fly, to allow us to keep trading and hopefully maintain our strong team of people.

A Strong Start to the Year

We commenced 2020 with some great events such as Breakfast with an Entrepreneur with Dylan Mullan. In Small Business Month we hosted our first ever Pitch Your Business event and gave away $5K in prize money to our winners. The calibre of the people in the room left us speechless. Our judges had their work cut out for them when choosing our remarkable winners – Make Me A Rockstar and Creatures of XIX.

Proudly, this financial year also marked the 30th anniversary of Realise Business and in November, we combined our Annual AGM with a big birthday event to be remembered. We celebrated with over 80 attendees consisting of our members, our stakeholders, our team and our Board. We also appreciated the support of the Minister for Finance and Small Business, Hon. Damien Tudehope, joining as our special guest speaker on the night.

Stepping into our Purpose

Covid-19 certainly challenged us as a business but at the same time it allowed us to truly step into our purpose and our vision to empower people to successfully run a business. Our team rose to the challenge for each other and for our clients, doing everything in our power to facilitate their recovery.

We worked late into the night, most nights, delivered additional advisory hours and increased our workshop and webinar offering in an online format to meet the urgency of our clients.

In June, we reached out to small business owners and over 350 people completed our survey on their key focus for their recovery from the Covid-19 disruption. We are now using the knowledge we gained to deliver a stronger support offering for all.

Working on our Business

I feel strongly about leading our business in the same way we encourage our clients to lead their businesses. Working on your business gives small business owners the best chance of being more prepared for unprecedented disruption to their business.

Prioritising our digital growth allowed a quick transition into a remote business when Lockdown occurred in March. In the last two years we have invested in a new website, a new CRM, and a new phone system to make the team more agile and flexible. We also focused on developing the talent of our team to foster a self-sufficient and confident unit of people who are highly successful in their roles. The team we had in place for Lockdown was able to comfortably ease into working from home, while supporting our clients in their own transition. I’m thankful we worked on this as part of our strategy before the pandemic occurred and I’m grateful to have had an incredible team of people around me to facilitate the sudden changes when needed.

A Place for Small Business

In celebrating our big birthday this year, I reminisced the stages of our business through our 30-year history. As I went back over the years
of Annual Reports, I realised our vision remains true to this very day. Our founders’ vision, was simply, to build a place for businesses to go. We
began as a community organisation, localised to the Sutherland Shire, and we now have a national presence. We are a bigger business but the ‘community’ feeling we champion prevails. Over the years, many people volunteered their time to help us get to this point and I’d like to acknowledge everyone who has been part of this incredible, 30-year journey.

Our Board has been instrumental in our development and success and on behalf of the whole team and our members, I’d like to extend my gratitude for their guidance over the year. It has been a busy year, and I am thankful for the dedication and expertise of our Business Advisors and our Support Team. In our most challenging time, there was no obstacle too great for this team, and we were unified in our purpose of helping small businesses. I truly wish to thank the entire Realise Business team, it’s a team I feel honoured to lead and I look forward to another year together empowering small business owners to accomplish their dreams.

– Jacqui Attard