2020 was a challenging year for Justine Glen. Like many in the travel industry, her business was hit hard by the pandemic. However, a TAFE NSW and Westpac small business recovery course helped Justine understand how to employ her passion for wildlife photography to engineer a successful business pivot.
When international borders slammed shut in 2020, Justine Glen’s boutique travel company, Reis Voyage, was blindsided. After years of successfully assisting Australian travellers in planning their dream African adventures, business was at a standstill.
“After having quite a small, successful, niche travel business – it basically went to nothing,” Glen tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB).
She knew she had to adapt if her business was to survive. The yearly trips to Africa had provided Glen with a cache of incredible wildlife photography, and the inkling of a business idea began to form. How could she use her extensive catalogue of photos to pivot her business during the pandemic?
Small Business Growth program to the rescue
Help was at hand. With the idea for the pivot still percolating, Glen applied for Westpac’s free business recovery course. Presented in conjunction with TAFE NSW, the 12-week Small Business Growth program provides Westpac’s customers with valuable training. The program helps them face the challenges of the rapidly changing business environment delivered by COVID-19.
Glen says there was plenty to absorb with the course syllabus running the gamut from marketing to change and risk management to innovation and business continuity. The most important lesson for her? Being resilient during change.
“There’s a saying: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most it intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change’,” she says.
“If you aren’t prepared to blow up your business and start again, then someone else will do it for you. Adapt or die was the most significant realisation in my business and, I think, for the travel industry.
“The risk management part of the course I found invaluable: learning to be exact with the strengths and weakness of my business – the risk registers and templates are all great tools to help simplify the process and help you action and prioritise risks.”
She suggests any business owner looking to pivot would benefit from the Westpac TAFE NSW course, which delivers its learnings in easily digestible segments.
“The recovery program is straightforward and versatile. It doesn’t have to take up all of your time, the course materials are all there ready for you to start working off, and the teachers are very supportive.”
Support to guide you through the recovery
Glen believes having access to the latest digital tools and mentors assisted her when it came time to reframe her business.
“Mentors are a must in every business,” says Glen. “I have been lucky to have people in my life who have taken up that role and challenged my ideas, theories and more so to look outside the box.”
Glen says being able to tailor her existing social networks to promote her business pivot was incredibly important. She explains that the course gave her the confidence and tools to move forward with repositioning her business.
“To be able to move into another space within my existing business was very important. For example, I learned to tailor my Instagram and Facebook pages to incorporate the new photography business, Reis Voyage Wildlife Designs and Prints.
“Brand awareness is key, and by setting up an online shop, I could also pivot my travel business to photography. The grand plan is that moving forward, they will eventually work in conjunction together when we can travel again.”
She advises other business owners who the pandemic may have impacted to apply for the course.
“It is a great way to get support and realise that you can be prepared for change. It gives you the motivation to push your boundaries. To see how you can successfully pivot your business or make inroads for ideas that may be beneficial to you. If you don’t adapt, then you will be left behind,” says Glen.
As for those business owners that may be fearful of change, she offers this advice:
“Don’t be scared, which is easier said than done, I know. But don’t be afraid to take yourself out of your comfort zone and try an idea you have wanted to do for a long time. For me, it started with one of my images on a single canvas cushion. It could be something within your business or another avenue that you may want to branch into. Have a go as you have nothing to lose.
Apply now before April 30 for your chance to take part in the free Westpac x TAFE NSW small business recovery course.
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