How have these 14 small businesses lasted 10+ years?

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Village grocer Leaf Elwood has inspired his local community in Victoria to eat better for more than 10 years

Running a small business can be challenging yet rewarding! Anyone who has survived 10 years in small business deserves our respect and congratulations.

Kochie’s Business Builders are celebrating our 11th anniversary this year along with thousands of other Australian small businesses. Read on to find out how these 14 fantastic small enterprises have lasted 10 years or more in business. Here’s to many more!

1. Sporteka 

Sporteka was created in 2002 by Fatima Tawfek, a community development professional, youth counsellor, Tennis Australia and FFV qualified coach and a mother who has supported her own children’s sporting careers to championship levels.

Fatima Tawfek, Sporteka, Victoria

Q. What are your best memories of more than 10 years in small business?
Giving preschoolers the physical confidence through sporting success from an early age. And hearing from parents about how my past students are now continuing to enjoy sports and some of them have gone on to participate in various competitions.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges?
Getting the staff to have the same level of enthusiasm and love for sport that I have. And also identifying the best business model for expansion but not having the time or funds to be able to achieve it.

Q. Why did you start your small business?
I realised the impact of early physical competence and sporting success on the development of high self esteem necessary for social and emotional health for life. My experience as a social worker visiting schools and counselling drug addicted youth as well as experience bringing up my own three children in sport also impacted on my decision to help children. Kids who can achieve big things early in life can face the life and believe in themselves enough to avoid the negatives in life.

2. Corner Surf Shop

Corner Surf is a long established surf hardware, fashion and lifestyle store located on the coast of mid West Australia.

Suzi Salmond, Corner Surf, Western Australia

Q. What are your best memories of more than 10 years in small business?
Reflecting back on thirty six years of business, the best memories I have are from the people that walk through our door every day. A loyal customer base means we have had the pleasure of getting to know so many people watching as our school-age customers grow and have a family of their own and then their children growing up and coming to shop with us.

Q. What have been some of your biggest challenges?
Buying and maintaining the perfect stock level. Keeping an eye on turnover and adjusting your purchases to suit. Also staying relevant to the market and evolving over the years to stay current with so many changes that have occurred in retail with the availability of choice for the consumer now with online shopping.

Q. How did you start your small business?
Corner Surf had been going for eight years but the owner at the time, Leon Norris, had a Mexican Restaurant and wanted to move on. The deal to buy the store happened one night at the Tarcoola Tavern which was sealed with a handshake. My late husband Sam had no experience in retail up to this point. We met in 1985 and I soon came on board as the woman’s buyer and bookkeeper, which I am still doing to this day. 

Q. What is the best tip you have picked up from Kochie’s Business Builders?
I like being able to relate to the stories on the show. I think one of the best tips is if you are doing something you love, get the right advice from the experts and work hard, the rest will come from there.

3. Account Aspects

Account Aspects help small businesses with their numbers to create opportunities for growth.

Leigh Cummings, Account Aspects, New South Wales

Q. What are some memories of more than 10 years in small business?
My best memories have been about setting milestones for our business to reach throughout the years and the feeling when you reach one of these milestones. Also, embracing cloud technology has changed our business for the better allowing us to support more small businesses from anywhere.

Q. What have been some of your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges have been related to finding great staff. I am very passionate about accuracy and will not compromise on achieving this. I work with clients in a trusted relationship and I need to find the right staff to continue the respect and quality of our work.

Q. Why did you start your small business?
I previously worked for a bank but craved a more flexible career life. I was ready to start a family but wanted a business where I could use my expertise and a balanced family life. I moved to part-time work with the bank and started my bookkeeping business. Initially, my business was home-based so I didn’t need a lot of capital to start of with. It all began with a computer, desk and some software.

Q. How did you start following Kochie’s Business Builders?
A local cafe owner was highlighted on KBB and from there I started following it on social media. I have enjoyed listening to the video questions from customers and the practical financial management advice that is given.

4. 2 Bent Rods

2 Bent Rods introduces people of all abilities into the family friendly sport of fishing. Teaching safe, responsible and sustainable fishing practices while connecting to the environment.

Samantha Beckmann, 2 Bent Rods, Queensland

Q. What are some milestones of more than 10 years in small business?
I have plenty of business milestones but seeing people’s reactions to catching their first fish is what I keep foremost in my mind. The look of gratitude, excitement and happiness stays with you.

Q. What are some challenges that were you faced with?
It would have to be technology. Not having all the different processes and forms integrated means I’m always doubling or tripling up on the office duties rather than spending time on my business.

Q. How did it all begin?
On a fishing trip to the beach, when our youngest was two and we were catching our bait by pumping yabbies. A lot of kids  at the beach were watching us and asking what we were doing. Many of them had never seen a yabby before, we told them we were going to use them for bait. The kids got such a kick out of what we were doing and all of them actually stayed with us for a few hours. We thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could run classes and teach these kids about fishing.

5. Hot Chilli Source

Hot Chilli Source delivers a diverse range of product and supply solutions to Australian businesses specialising in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and consumables.

Melanie Stenning, Hot Chilli Source, New South Wales

Q. What are some highlights of more than 10 years in small business?
I think it would have to be helping customers find solutions that save them time, money and stress.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges?
We always joke about how we are the Central Coast’s best kept secret. There aren’t many companies who know that we exist and what we can do for them.

Q. How did you start your small business?
We began Hot Chilli Source with $27,000 in funds. We started off in our home garage and a couple of key business contacts also helped us along our way.

6. Snore Assist

Snore Assist sells affordable, proven, self mould anti-snore guards for men and women in Australia and around the world.

Elizabeth Horne, Snore Assist, Tasmania

Q. What have been your favourite memories in more than 10 years in business?
My best memory was a lovely elderly lady calling me up to say that after 25 years sleeping in a different bed than her husband, she had finally shared his bed again at the age of 78 with no snoring! Kind customers take the time to share how they are feeling healthier and their relationship has settled after treating snoring so simply and affordably.

Q. What are some challenges you have faced?
The biggest challenges have been two-fold. Keeping up with changes in the Facebook algorithm which controls what consumers see. For instance, they control which sponsored posts and advertisements consumers come across. It’s challenging as Facebook is my main advertising vehicle. How my advertisements are served up greatly impacts my day-to-day sales.

Q. What made you want to start your own small business?
I was working from home in the research industry with twin baby boys lying in rockers on my desk when overnight my own husband started snoring. One day he didn’t snore and the next he did, so it was quite a shock! Given I was already sleep deprived, I started researching available products and equipment. I struck up a wonderful partnership with a supplier to start selling anti-snore guards online.

7. Aleemahs Applique and Trim

Aleemahs Applique and Trim supply custom made appliques and trims made from sequin, bead, rhinestone and jewels to decorate costumes, bridal wear and all sorts of craft projects.

Alison Hornby, Aleemahs Applique and Trim, Queensland

Q. What are some incredible memories of more than 10 years in small business?
My best memories are hearing from customers thanking me for my products and services as well as receiving countless photos of finished costumes and wedding dresses. It makes me feel like all the hard work has been worth it and I have shed many tears seeing photos of happy brides and dancers knowing I have been a small part of their special moment.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges?
To be patient. When I started my small business I wanted it to be huge right away but I realised that growth takes time especially when starting with nothing and having no funds for rapid growth. But really the biggest challenge has been teaching myself how to run an online business, dealing with the technicalities and challenges way beyond my capabilities. There have been so many late nights just trying to figure out things like how to change the size of a photo for example.

Q. How did your small business begin?
I was a stay-at-home mum and dancing myself probably about 11 years ago and was at the library pretending I knew how to use the internet to find some trims for a costume. After having no luck at all, I came across an international costume website that said ‘Spend $200 and receive a generous wholesale discount’. I thought … well I could this! I started designing and decorating costumes and selling them to my dancer friends. I sold all of it and they wanted more! It was not my intention to start a business but I definitely saw a gap.

Q. What do you love most about Kochie’s Business Builders?
In all honesty I have not been able to watch much of KBB for a while as we live in a rural area and lost many channels including 7 last year when TV reception in our area was diverted. But when we had it I use to sit glued to it from the beginning waiting for a tip or a story to inspire me and just hoping I would understand what they were talking about. Thank goodness for the emails! I always love to read about success stories and handy tips to make my business more successful. It has been an important part of my journey.

8. Wilston Physiotherapy

This small business offers a variety of health options for Brisbane locals

Wilston Physiotherapy has long been considered the clinic of choice in the local suburb of Wilston the surrounding Brisbane suburbs. Having been in practice for more than twenty years, strong ties have been formed between this clinic and their local community. Their mission is to provide a professional and personal approach to caring for patients – with positive, measured outcomes.

Timm Eu, massage therapist, Wilson Physiotherapy, Queensland

What is your goal as part of this small business?
Q. To always work professionally and have our patients moving well and functioning in a comfortable and efficient manner, as quickly as possible.

Q. What kinds of services do you offer?
Treating staff can offer you a wide variety of evidence based treatment options aimed at reducing pain and restoring/ maintaining optimal physical functioning and mobility. We will also empower you to be as independent as possible throughout your treatment period. Research supports the notion that self management of an injury, away from the clinic, can significantly reduce injury recovery time.

Q. Why do you offer acupuncture at a physiotherapy clinic?
Acupuncture has been part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the skin or applying various other techniques to the acupuncture points to restore balance and encourage the body to heal itself.

I believes in the holistic approach and combines deep tissue / acupressure / relaxation massage, myofascial and trigger point release in his treatments to bring the body back to balance. I also provides dry needling and cupping therapy.

9. Kinderballet

Kinderballet provides preschool ballet classes to children around Australia.

Peter Zarins, Kinderballet, Victoria

Q. What are your fondest memories of 10 or more years in small business?
There are so many incredible memories. One would be when people refer to Kinderballet as a well-known and/or respected Australian brand. Another one would be having a former principal of the Australian Ballet bring her children to us because she was so impressed with the direction we were taking. We introduce children to the enjoyment of ballet rather than the strict/harsh introduction they would get at a ‘serious’ ballet school.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges?
It is having to deal with people in general. Dealing with different and changing needs and expectations. Trying to keep everyone happy!

Q. How did it all begin?
As a parent, we wanted a career that blended the ballet skills and experiences that we’ve developed over many years with the flexibility essential to a growing family’s needs. Kinderballet was born at the same time as my older son. We took our $1500 baby bonus and invested it into our business. Ten years later we have 370 Kinderballet classes across Australia, teaching 3500 children the foundational skills of classical ballet each week.

10. Leaf Elwood

Leaf Elwood is a village grocer, driven by a desire to provide the best food for everyday living and with the aim to inspire the community to eat better and feel better. Leaf offers a selection of the finest seasonal produce and specialty items from local growers, farmers and suppliers.

Leon Mugavin, Leaf Elwood, Victoria

Q. What are your fondest memories of 10 or more years in small business?
The best memory I have is of opening day. After advertising the opening time as 10am on a sign out the front, we had customers lining up and pushing the door open at 9:45am. That moment was a validation of my dream and from then on, we have continued to go from strength to strength. We now serve around 1000 customers a day and just over two years ago, I opened a second store which has doubled in revenue since the doors opened.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges?
There are a number of challenges when it comes to running a small business. Managing growth has been a challenge. As any business that grows quickly knows, finding the right staff at the right time is crucial. Managing customers’ expectations is also a challenge. I aim to ensure the customers’ in-store experience is consistently positive, and that they walk away from my store with the best quality produce and products, and having experienced superior levels of customer service each and every time, whether that be at 7am on Wednesday morning or 4pm on a Sunday afternoon.

Q. What inspired you to start Leaf Elwood?
I was inspired by an article I read in 1997 that discussed the future of food retailing and it was then that I thought that’s what I want to do. It took me ten years to find the time, inspiration, money and location to realise my dream. I started Leaf because I wanted to build a store that I would like to shop in; a welcoming and friendly place for all to come and enjoy the best food produced by the best farmers, dairies, kitchens and culinary companies.

11. Sticky Fingers Australia

Sticky Fingers is a manufacturer of hand-made condiments for the food service sector.

Lyn Bentley, Sticky Fingers, Western Australia

Q. What are some memories of 10 or more years in small business?
There have been many wonderful memories over the past 19 years. But the ones that stood out would have to be winning the FIA Best Food Service Award in 2011 and being appointed to the Board of FSANZ 2014. Also, when we began exporting to Singapore, Malaysia and The Maldives. I’ve also been a massive fan of KBB for the past few years.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges?
Managing cash flow has fairly challenging over the years. Also, managing our finance in order to expand the business. Finding reliable team members hasn’t been easy for us. And also having to cope with the ever-changing government regulations.

Q. How did you start Sticky Fingers?
We started with $20 at the Canning Vale Sunday Markets in Perth.

12. oTTo Pizzeria

oTTo Pizzeria are passionate about creating fresh delicious food, quickly and conveniently for their customers.

Gokhan & Alison Lacin, oTTo Pizzeria, New South Wales

Q. What are some highlights of 10 or more years in small business?
We were around before Facebook or Instagram was a thing! And we’ve seen members of our team grow up, graduate, have children etc. It’s so nice to know oTTos has been a part of their lives. Some team members have even decided to pursue a hospitality career from having their first job with us, working after school.

Q. What have you found tough working in small business?
I think having to work seven days a week is definitely hard work and incredibly full on. We have missed out on a lot of family functions and holidays over the years as we just wanted to focus all our attention on the business.

Q. What is the story behind oTTo Pizzeria?
My fiancé at the time and I wanted to work together instead of going to our separate jobs. I was 21 and he was 25. Starting from scratch, my husband Gokhan had to sell his car to buy equipment. We tried to do as much as we could ourselves even making the menu boards etc. We started off very small, kept it quite basic and put all the money we made back into the business. In time, we upgraded and changed all the equipment to brand new, top quality. We make a good team and I’m glad we made this dream a reality!

Q. How long have you been a fan of Kochie’s Business Builders for?
We’ve always been a fan of KBB and have watched it for many years! The home grown talent in Australia is impressive, and seeing others succeed from starting with nothing like we did, is encouraging and makes you proud to be an Aussie! One of the stories that stood out to us was the startup of a coffee brand in North NSW, as the founders were on holidays overseas when they fell in love with the coffee. And decided to create their own back home, roasting their own coffee beans and doing the process organically.

13. RMT Bookkeeping

RMT Bookkeeping offers complete bookkeeping services and consultancy services. It is a registered BAS Service Provider, payroll provider which sets up systems to ensure small businesses flow with ease.

Rosanna Taylor, RMT Bookkeeping, South Australia

Q. What has been the highlight of more than 10 years in small business?
When I employed my second staff member and seeing my clients build their business with my assistance and knowing they rely on me and my staff to get it right.

Q. What have been your biggest challenges?
One of the biggest challenges my small business has faced has been employing staff.

Q. What did you start RMT Bookkeeping with?
I started it with no capital at all. I had been working on a contract and that company became my first client for three days per week. My business has grown through word of mouth. I completed my accountancy qualification but I didn’t want to be a tax agent.I worked in the corporate world for a long time. I saw how small business needed so much help and I was happy to take them on board and give them the assistance which they wouldn’t have gotten from a standard bookkeeper.

Q. How long have you been following Kochie’s Business Builders?
It seems like forever! I love the stories of starting in the garage and growing to a massive warehouse. I read the stories and follow the tips which I have used on my clients. My commodity will never grow to a warehouse but I am very proud of what I have achieved so far.

14. Shift Property Styling

Shift Property Styling’s core service is improving the value of a client’s property through maintenance recommendations, styling and beautifully presenting their home for sale using their range of hire furniture and accessories.

Adam and Donielle Luttrell, Shift Property Styling, Tasmania

Q. What are your best memories of more than 10 years in small business?
By far the best memories are of creating a new industry here in Hobart and then being recognised for that by taking out a Telstra Business Award in the micro business category. It’s a fantastic way to have our hard work measured by business peers.

Q. What have been some of your biggest trials?
In our business, educating our stakeholders on the benefits of styling a home, can have on the sale price. When we started, iPhones were not around and most agents were still snapping their marketing images themselves. A lot has happened in that time in social media and TV (shows such as The Block for example).

Q. How did you start your small business?
Donielle and I came up with the idea one weekend when visiting an open home on the way to a weekend off together. The property was poorly presented, socks and jocks on the floor, unmade beds, dishes in the sink and we thought this is not good enough. On our three hour drive to our accommodation we talked and talked about the issues and how to fix them and then spent the night writing a business plan to target this very niche market.

Q. How has Kochie’s Business Builders helped your small business?
For us, the great things about watching KBB over the years is the way we can take elements out of each story to help to grow our own. The other thing is that KBB provides a platform to discover you are not alone in certain challenges your business faces. One of these is staying on top of digital platforms and the episodes covering SEO, mobile platforms and Instagram to help determine your audience and your brand story is a great reminder of extra things we can be doing to enhance our business’ position. The newsletters provide even more information that we can review in our own time and are a great read.

15. Kochie’s Business Builders

Hit play to see highlights from the past decade of KBB!

Kochie’s Business Builders celebrated our tenth year in small business in 2017. We’d love to hear what you’d like to read more of on the site and in our newsletter.

What do you think it takes to last 10 or more years in small business in Australia? Let us know by commenting below or sending us a message here.


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Celebrating 10 years of KBB!

12 COMMENTS

  1. Many thanks for this opportunity.
    Kochie’sBusinessbuilders Continues to inspire and inform us all to run a successful business with the customer always in the forefront. Happy 10th anniversary to everyone involved in the production of the program.

  2. Thanks so much Fatima. Congratulations to you for doing such an amazing job in small business. We are loving celebrating our 10th year in small business. Here’s to many more for all of us!

  3. So many great small businesses on their 10+ year journey. We help many small businesses continue to grow and it is fabulous hearing about their experiences and resonating with them. Thank you for having us part of this series.

    • Hi Leigh, thank you for your comment. It’s amazing being able to showcase such incredible small businesses who have come a long way to be where they are today. And that includes yourself! Congrats on doing such an amazing job in small business.

  4. Hi there

    do you ever feature West Australian small business success stories that are not mining and have succeeded as an online business even though their main 2 competitors are on the Eastern seaboard ?

    • Great to hear from you Garry. Good on you for giving Rosanna from RMT Bookkeeping a pat on the back. It is so important to take a moment to congratulate those who are working so hard and doing such a good job in small business in Australia.

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