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Entrepreneurs get set to launch great ideas as recession looms

24 April, 2009

As job instability increases and job cuts start to hit Australian workers due to the world economic crisis and looming recession, there are real opportunities for entrepreneurs with great ideas, according to Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast CEO, Colin Graham.

“In a recession there is less job security and sometimes for budding entrepreneurs who have been sitting on a great business idea for years, it is all the motivation they need to recruit themselves and become their own boss,” Graham said.

He said at the Innovation Centre, a University of the Sunshine Coast company, they were already seeing increasing interest in their business development programmes, from entrepreneurs preparing to put their previously unrequited plans into action.

Graham said people starting a business because of a recession, or tough times was referred to internationally as necessity-motivated entrepreneurship and said those doing it had the strong added motivation of wanting to take control of their lives to spur them on.

“With figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABC) showing more than 80% of businesses in Australia being small businesses employing 20 staff or less, they are however not alone, but with assistance entrepreneurs have a far better chance of achieving their dreams,” he said.

“Going into business of any kind is not a decision to be taken lightly but if you have the right support, such as the solid business advice and support you could get from a business incubator, the rewards could be fantastic,” Graham said.

“Evidence shows having the support of a centre such as ours markedly increases the chances of business survival,” he said.

Graham said ABS figures showed that 42% of businesses created in 2003/04 ceased operations before June 2006. Meanwhile in a 1997 study completed in the US by the National Business Incubation Association, statistics showed that business survival rate for incubated businesses surged to 87% from 44% for businesses going it alone.

“Not only that, of the incubated businesses, 84% of them went on to do business in their local region and stimulate their local economies,” he said.

CEO of Innovation Centre’s accelerator client, ThinLinx, John Nicholls is just one example of an entrepreneur who put everything on the line and had worked hard to build a business.

In 2001, Nicholls, then a pilot for Ansett, had a dream to create a low-cost computer that was as powerful as those already on the market, so when Ansett collapsed he, and his wife Jeanne, set to work.

“ThinLinx was launched in 2003 and we spent five years on research and development to perfect the design and now we have a great range of products that start from just US$99,” Nicholls said.

The Hot-E computers replace your desktop box or tower, are so small that they can fit in the palm of your hand, use around 30 times less power than a standard PC and store data on a remote server via the Internet.

Nicholls said while it had been a long and bumpy road to realise his business dreams, it had been the Ansett collapse that spurred him on to finally take the plunge and work for himself full-time, having had an interest in computers since the 1980s when he developed a modem for his Atari computer.

“I love my work and we have never regretted our decision to launch the business,” Nicholls said.

Graham said other benefits for entrepreneurs looking to start up in a tough economic climate were that the barriers to start up were often less, though attracting funding could be more difficult.

“That’s why new entrepreneurs need to have good advice so they can put together solid business plans that will attract support.

Graham said the Innovation Centre offered this to businesses within its incubator but also had programmes for other entrepreneurs wanting to get the best available start.

On Friday 5 June, the Innovation Centre will hold its Start it Up programme, an intensive and practical one-day course on how to turn your business ideas, skills and passion into a successful and profitable business.

“The course is specifically designed to assist ambitious knowledge-based businesses and has experts who have done it themselves covering essential topics such as generating business ideas and opportunities, planning for success, raising finance and developing a results-focused marketing plan,” Graham said.

“Incubated business also have an obvious advantage in that they have access to established business networks and could benefit from the reputation and trust built up around the incubators they were members
of,” Graham said.

Graham said the Innovation Centre offered flexibility office space for both start-up businesses through their Business Incubator and those looking to expand through their Business Accelerator, as well as tailored mentoring and support programmes.

He said this year the Innovation Centre had also opened up their business development programme to businesses outside the Centre, in an effort to support the Sunshine Coast economy.

“We have regular enterprise and networking events, boardroom briefings on relevant issues as well as one and two day courses focusing on starting a business and growing businesses online,” he said.

For more information about the Start It Up programme or the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast visit: www.innovation-centre.com.au.

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