Community revival is in everybody’s best interest
As you travel around regional and remote Australia, you find a land of striking contrast in the community makeup. Some regions are prosperous, with lively main streets, beautifully maintained parks and clean streets. Many other regions are not doing so well. With paint flaking from once busy shops, weeds growing on the footpaths, empty streets and abandoned houses. Isolation and loneliness are of great concern in regional and remote communities. Many are still being overlooked despite their contribution to the economic, tourism and cultural aspects of Australia.
Such contrasts are not new and apply to many countries in the world. so you must be realistic and accept some regional areas will continue to grow and prosper, where others will not. The latter should be the exception, not the rule. You should not be aiming to create an Australia where declining communities are propped up and unsustainably. Rather, every community should be supported in its plans to manage change and seize the opportunities presented. Free from the barriers that big city people don’t experience. Investigations have shown that big regional businesses are successfully managing the issues . Some multi-national even have the policy to locate to a regional area only.
Large regional businesses can thrive
By and large, large regional businesses have the resources to overcome many of these regional-specific challenges. This is because they hey can access finance more easily because they have their ‘runs on the board’, or a parent company exists. They can attract skilled staff because they are able to offer competitive salary packages that overcome negative perceptions about regional Australia. Because of their strengths, experience and resources, they can negotiate with government bureaucracies and red tape much more effectively.
There are examples of towns and regions that have diversified their local economies to ensure their ongoing prosperity. While other areas are struggling to survive because the major local employer had downsized or moved. Many communities become too reliant on big employers to sustain their employment levels. Unfortunately, corporations can’t be relied upon when decisions are made in remote, or foreign Board Rooms.
Your future international competitiveness is based on the diversity of your businesses and the diversity of your regions. Just as the diversity of your people is a strength of Australian society, diversity in your regions is a strength of Australia’s economy. To maintain such diversity, you should encourage economic activity outside your capital cities. In responding to the challenges of any given environment. Regional communities can be the basis for generating global competitiveness and can be very effective incubators of new ideas.
Our world is being reshaped by the convergence of cloud computing, social, mobile, cloud, big data, analytics community and other powerful forces. The combination of these technologies unlocks an incredible opportunity. To connect everything together in a new way and dramatically transforming the way you live and work in our community.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the wealth-creators and job-providers
The growth potential for regional economies lies in small and medium enterprises becoming larger businesses. Some businesses in the right environment have the capacity to double or triple turnover in a short period of time. In spite of a focus on exports and the need to compete globally. Statistics indicate that regional businesses are not faring as well as metropolitan businesses when it comes to creating wealth and jobs.
We need governments to work with regional networks to ensure the investment opportunities and lifestyle advantages are effectively promoted. At the regional level, local leadership networks should take the primary responsibility for promoting their region. Many regional communities recognise this and have strategies that are designed to attract tourists and investment. Other regions need to follow this lead.
This is a significant challenge for governments at all levels. The lifestyle and livelihood of many regional business owners depend on government cooperation. Publicity and promotions may include:
- Promotional material targeted at potential investors.
- Information campaigns that target industries and the finance sector. Some financiers will not lend beyond big city limits.
- Information campaigns that target the media in understanding the impacts of negative publicity and the opportunities for regional economic development.
Regional Australia has played a major role in defining the Australian image, the values of your nation and in creating your national wealth. Regional Australia is historically responsible for much of your cultural development. It will continue to play an important role in defining your cultural identity.
Globalisation has advantages for communities, but there are issues
Globalisation has increased the importance of regional economies. Regions are the most important economic units when it comes to agriculture and value-adding for exports. Regional economies, whilst integral to national economies, are increasingly affected by international developments. To strengthen their ties to the global economy, it is essential that they connect with the world markets. Recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) will certainly boost rural economies when it comes to the primary exports. However, much help is needed when it comes to value-adding and creating new product and service initiatives.
Globalisation is not a new phenomenon, but the accelerated pace of change is having a significant impact on regional economies and their businesses. Ironically, for some regions, globalisation has increased the sense of isolation as major firms and governments centralise on the back of improved communications. There is still the little regard for the problems, frustrations, wants and needs regional people have with globalisation.
Not all communities are suffering, many are prospering
They are all important employers, wealth creators and significant global exporters. Research shows that there remains unrealised potential in regional Australia. Regional small businesses grow more slowly than metropolitan businesses. On average, they are half as profitable as metropolitan small businesses. Regional Australia suffers from an image problem, which hampers untapped opportunities and needs to be addressed.
Regional businesses provide national economic diversity. This is essential to ensure strong growth during good times and to protect y our standard of living when global economic fortunes are on the decline. Diversity is an indication of a strong, robust economy able to generate wealth in good times and adjust and survive during the bad. This calls for careful attention being paid to the communities that are suffering, to help build their economies. The prospering communities need more help to maximise the opportunities they are confronted with. Both should have job creation as a central theme.
Now is the time to tap the full potential of the ties between metropolitan and regional Australia to avoid community failures. By working together on shared goals, they can create amazing opportunities. There is inherent value in your regions and actively cultivating its resilient, determined, innovative and pioneering spirit to support regional business growth and development, all Australians benefit. Governments should work to reduce the impacts of the barriers on all regional businesses.
Good communities prosper by putting their people front and centre
It’s not always cheaper operating in regional or remote communities
Regional businesses, have to travel greater distances adding to the basic costs of doing business. Government policies inevitably impact on infrastructure and development opportunities. They are frequently hamstrung by negative, and largely false, perceptions about the small communities capacity for growth. Businesses cannot access finance or specialist business advice as easily as city businesses.
Some statics seeming indicates that it is cheaper to operate a regional business. When costs are considered in terms of the number of dollars spent for every dollar of profit, the costs of regional business are considerably higher than in cities. Lack of sales volume is often the biggest contributing factor.
Some regional businesses appear to be limiting their own growth. In some cases, this is a conscious decision based on lifestyle considerations. Business owners are satisfied with the performance of their business and can spend more time on personal and lifestyle pursuits. Of course, these considerations can have an impact, both positively and negatively on the operating efficiency and employment generating opportunities of the business.
What is the answer to building a vibrant community
Community development triangle as depicted in the accompanying diagram is the key. Take one part out and the community will falter. This is because at the centre of a community are real people with the confidence to act and a community rises and falls on its people. Research has shown that there is only about 20% of the people in a community who participate in community activities. This leaves a big percentage of people to be enticed into helping their community.
It is all too common to see not-for-profits operating in a community in isolation. Many of them with negative thoughts about having the business community helping them. Many do not understand that a not-for-profit organisation operates better when good business principles are applied. Conversely, there are many not-for-profit organisations who are willing to help the businesses in their community, However, connections need to be made.
New programs are needed to keep pace with the changing global marketplace. A community and its leaders need to become more agile and adaptable to the market forces driven by technology and the global economy. You all need to focus on growing good businesses and good people with growth potential. This simply means, businesses, not-for-profits, local citizens and governments all working collaboratively for the common good. You cannot patent it, but you can put it in a jar and take it to any community and guarantee results.
Why should you focus on small business and not-for-profits?
- They are rooted locally, on-site and exactly where the problems show up so are likely to come up with better solutions.
- Unlike big businesses, they cannot readily close down and leave town because it would cause them and the family too much upheaval.
- Small enterprises are an integral part of local communities, involving their support base, family and friends.
- They are innumerable, pervasive and infinitely diverse and so are the problems that they face. They will all do better cooperating to compete.
- Business people and entrepreneurs represent a huge talent pool because they are filled with just the kind of drive, creativity, skills, and experience that’s needed.
- They can devise solutions that are non-bureaucratic, localised, and so are customised to fit their particular surroundings.
- Together they will help each other think outside the square, take initiative, run risks and solve each other’s problems due to the close relationships.
Need for a new era for small communities and villages
- Cooperation between all sections of the community is critical and is especially relevant if they are to thrive.
- ‘Regional Development’ is a concept, without action, it means nothing so it’s better to talk about ‘business development’.
- ‘Community Development’ is a flight of the imagination, without action it also means nothing.
- Plenty of ‘talkfests’ takes place without action because of a lack of leadership and action orientation.
- Developing communities are caught between tradition and change, unfortunately still too many are wanting to hang onto the past.
- There is tension between individuals, organisations and governments rather than a culture of cooperation.
- There is no business incubator to start-up and develop businesses and not-for-profit organisations.
- The movers and shakers of a community are often ‘flogged to death’ so their energy levels become too low to remain effective.
- Insufficient entrepreneurs being nurtured in the community, probably because there is little understanding of entrepreneurship.
- The ability to innovate and get to market faster is becoming a more important determinant of success and therefore must be focused on.
- Community development is a political football because the leaders have little or no understanding of what needs to be done and what is possible.
- The local government does not have the expertise, or it is too low level, despite their good intentions.
- Terms used in ‘community development’ are usually too academic for most people to come to grips with, so nothing much can happen.
- See community development as simply increasing economic activity and improving communities, while making use of World Best Practice.
Increasing job opportunities in a regional and remote community
Become committed to personal growth of regional business owners by:
- Finding opportunities that will combat market adversity, so don’t just rely on what you like doing.
- Exploiting lucrative opportunities in the new world marketplace, because you can innovative products for the world market.
- Take advantage of environment protection, pollution prevention, energy, materials handling efficiency or resource conservation.
- Develop and use new technologies and processes because they will dramatically increase efficiency and productivity while creating new jobs.
Business problems and frustrations need to be addressed
- Not coping with the new market environment due to its overwhelming nature.
- Prolonged adversity (drought, lack of water supplies), because it causes negative outlook across the whole community.
- Responsiveness of governments, because they think they have all the knowledge.
- People needing more control over their future so nobody feels they are being manipulated.
- Finding good people to help and support the businesses, not-for-profits and the community often seems like it’s too difficult.
- Too much stress, because many have to work long hours to make ends meet.
- More emphasis needs to be placed on health and well-being so people become more excited about their community.
- Everyone would like more time with their family, so develop a culture that is inclusive of family participation.
- Most people would like more support from and for the family through improved family activities in the community.
- Adjusting people’s priorities, while this is not easy many people struggle with their own direction.
- Many will have forgotten what a decent holiday is like, so encouragement and expertise to improve management is needed.
- Young people not interested in becoming involved, therefore more innovation and business creation activities are required.
- Communications are too localised, people are frustrated because there appear to be no answers.
Issues restraining growth and prosperity in a community or village
There are many issues. Use this list to select the issues restraining your community. From the list you compile, an action plan can be constructed.
- Competitiveness of businesses needs to be watched closely in a smaller community so harmony remains.
- Unresponsive to the wants and needs of the surrounding community can drive them to the bigger “sponge cities’.
- Knowing and understanding what new technologies to use therefore becomes critical.
- Access to Broadband technology across the community is a must have so businesses can remain competitive.
- Lack of entrepreneurs, people who encourage others and act as catalysts in the community.
- There is considerable need for external help with management tasks because there is poor access to practical advice and support.
- Lack of ambition in the people, because there are few if any mentors or coaches to nurture it.
- Poor business planning, so concern for the future versus the tyranny of the urgent remains a dilemma.
- Much scope for domination of decision-making, people are too nice so the bullies and aggressors get their way.
- Passion for the business is often lacking, people would rather be doing something else so productivity is often very poor.
- The ‘culture’ of a community lacks inspiration so the status quo remains.
- Limited ability to grow or make big (i.e. costly) changes because of the fear of failure and ridicule.
- Close interpersonal relationships in the workplace can lead to conflict if not well managed.
- Limited leverage in obtaining capital so people give up trying too easily.
- Risk adverse. Too few people have an appetite for risk so new initiatives fail to materialise.
- Funding lead time from the first contact to cash flow, particularly in remote areas is a growth inhibitor.
Don’t stop here, you only need to select the right few to relieve pain and make a difference
- No money or budget allocation for what they really want so people give up trying.
- You have no time, people are continuously in the busy, busy syndrome because of poor management practices.
- Low community spirit and morale, resulting in people wanting to leave rather than make things happen.
- Information and knowledge levels are too low, so the community can be strangled.
- Non-team players, people are overly concerned with WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).
- Low levels of experience in business, non-profit and community life.
- Lack of persistence, resilience and tenacity so the local population become lethargic.
- Local people don’t know how to get the answers to many of their problems and frustrations, so they give up.
- Short and informal communication and information channels can be a blockage to creativity and innovation.
- Little interest, or investment in information systems so the community has little understanding of what is going on.
- Poor understanding of outsourcing in the community so everyone tries to do everything and consequently become bogged down.
- Lack of formal control processes, so everyone becomes exposed to the potential for mistakes and failures.
- The vicious circle of problem continuation, because people don’t know how to get off the ‘treadmill’.
- There is a limited ability to scan, monitor or influence the environment effectively.
- Being compatible with the environment and environmental issues is lacking due to ignorance.
The list can be limitless but it’s worth uncovering the issues with the biggest impact
- Poor understanding of the big-picture and changes taking place, so the community falls behind.
- Low management expertise available so there is little managerial slack to take on community projects.
- Very small management teams, committees, as a result, there are limited/unbalanced skills available.
- Relative operating simplicity and informality which can result in undisciplined work sloppiness.
- Multi-functional work-roles for managers and employees often leads to poor productivity.
- Shortage of promotable employees in the community so skill shortages become common.
- Associated problems with part-time employees and contractors or the handling of a flexible working environment.
- Lack of specialist staff with many jobs overlapping which can impede innovation and growth.
- Little or no employee training, job analysis or human resource planning so nothing much tends to change or improve.
- Narrow product and service range associated will low volume sales.
- The small market which can lead to increased vulnerability.
- With sparse backup resources, mistakes can be lethal.
- Poor support from bigger cities for small towns and villages in their region, which is short-sighted on their part.
The need for a community to be adaptable to change
You know how to use a computer, a smartphone, program your TV and use Netflix. Maybe you know something about the developing communities that the rest of us don’t. Perhaps you’re a doctor, dentist,lawyer, author, accountant teacher, scientist, engineer, or a researcher in some field. But if you don’t know how to communicate with the people in your community then all your degrees, all your skills and knowledge don’t matter much at all. You’re probably just messing up the community and your life.
Product development is increasing exponentially and many are missing out
New product development is being driven by global competitors and technology. New products are exploding exponentially.
- At 3M 30% of all sales, from 50,000 different products, are from products introduced in the last 3 years.
- At Hewlett Packard, more than 80% of their income comes from products less than two years old.
Business support has changed
People need someone they can share thoughts with. Traditional support, that was relied upon, has all but disappeared.
- Family units are disintegrating. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, in-laws, uncles and cousins are all too busy elsewhere.
- Bank managers, the friendly ones who would walk down the street and drop into seeing how you were getting along, don’t exist anymore.
- Accountants no longer spend an extra hour discussing business, they are too busy with government compliance and tax issues.
- Business Advisors are few and far between. So there are few business development advocates and promoters of new ideas to a community.
An innovative approach
How about taking a little money and put it into developing a competency of innovation within the community. Here are four ways you could spend that money and guarantee a return on investment:
- Hold Innovation Meetings where teams share ideas about new projects. Encourage people to incorporate ideas into their own situations.
- Put forward a new idea that creates revenue or saves money, in a performance evaluation process of every person.
- Rather than spending thousands on a dinosaur, persuade the council to try micro-funding a bunch of Gazelles.
- A virtual incubator can help to revive regional and remote communities, of any size.
- Give everyone in the group an investment seed fund ($200 – $500). This could be used to develop their own ideas or pool ideas with promise. This would help break the management bottleneck that stifles innovation in most communities.
The animal business – something that exists in all communities
- Gazelles – Businesses which start small and grow extremely rapidly through innovation, support and good business practices.
- Elephants – Big companies and governments, and old established businesses doing the same old things.
- Mice – Tiny service businesses and retail shops, that go on doing the same old things.
- Rats – People with negative attitudes who want to sabotage anything and everything in the community.
- Koala Bears – People who eat and sleep all day and expect life to go on as normal.
What an exciting vision the Gazelles concept is. These fast-growing, entrepreneurial small businesses offer great value to a community. They blend, innovation, energy, environmental improvement and job creation into a dynamic entrepreneurial strategy. For increasing profitability and economic activity. Just what the doctor ordered.
Believe that profitable, efficient and innovative small businesses can lead the way to a new economy in a community. They protect and restore the environment while producing abundant growth and employment opportunities. Believe that these businesses are laying the foundations for tomorrow’s industries that will be clean and ecologically sensitive from the beginning.
Now, in the frenetic global economy, people talk about technological evolution in “Web years” (Three months of a normal year, or even less). This is because the rules of the game seem to change that often. With change comes opportunity, problems only exist where there are negative attitudes. Do you believe that the greatest opportunity is during periods of recession and chaos? If you wait for governments it will impede progress, they must fit in with what a small community’s wants and needs.
Your competition is only a ‘mouse click’ away
Entrepreneurship is a must for success in business, not-for-profit organisations, projects and their community. It is very, rare to face a real fork in the road and know with 100% certainty that one way is the right way and the other is the wrong way. The key drivers of businesses, not-for-profit organisations, projects and their community are the entrepreneurial attributes. Attributes such as visioning, joining up the dots, problem-solving and action orientation, http://goo.gl/LS67qJ.
- You must seek out the entrepreneurs in the community.
- Become passionate about entrepreneurs.
- Work with entrepreneurs.
- Support entrepreneurs with everything you can.
- Gazelles and entrepreneurs are critical drivers.
“Your community will not be ruined by those who do little. But by those who watch them without doing anything”. Peter Sergeant
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community”. Anthony D’Angelo