This is part two of an interview held with Robyn Hendry, CEO of the Canberra Business Chamber.
We recently completed a survey, and in partnership with Deloitte Access Economics, did a robust analysis. Our sample size was more than adequate (this was our second survey with more respondents than before).
It turns out that 77% of respondents were optimistic about their businesses. 27% were looking to expand into international markets (an awesome development), and a whopping 90% are looking to expand in 2017.
Of course, there were challenges and barriers to growth, which was articulated in skill shortages and employer regulations. We are looking to work with the ACT government on the skill shortages and with the federal government on the employer regulations.
The problem in relation to the skills shortage needs to be addressed with our young people leaving the territory, without ever having realised the opportunities in their fields of professional expertise whilst they are here. It’s all very well to have jobs as baristas during their uni years, and there is nothing wrong with that, but if they could just stay a year or two beyond getting their qualifications. That way, we could send them off to far off places as good ambassadors for the Canberra region, having come to an understanding of what we have to offer here.
Q. What have you personally learnt about business in this role and in previous appointments?
Personally, my continuing insight that business is not for the faint-hearted. Business is tough. Every single day there are choices to make, opportunities to grab and alas, of course, mistakes too.
The Chamber is a business also – a “for purpose” business rather than “for profit”, but nonetheless, it has to be run like a business. Just like in any business you have to work in and on the business, every single day, learn from your mistakes and continue to tweak and improve your processes and operations, whilst keeping your eye on the overall direction, (in the “Destination 2030” document for example), and of course bring the team into the vision. So, communicating, collaborating and standing communally with all stakeholders to achieve a united purpose.
Q. Why should businesses join the Canberra Business Chamber?
The Canberra Business Chamber offers networking, education and advocacy for business owners, many of whom are the little guys in Canberra. These business owners are so busy running their businesses (I know because I too have been in business), and are very time-poor.
They want to know quickly what’s going on in the business landscape; they want somewhere to go when there are issues (with staffing, for example); and they are often looking for a triage solution.
And of course, that connectivity, voice, and support can mean a lot to their business success. It’s tough and often lonely being in business and we become a strong support network for these entrepreneurs when they need it most.