The secret to surviving the downturn in Gladstone: revealed

A YOUNG couple on the cusp of closing their beauty business three years after buying it have invested in a cheaper property.

Effie Robb, who owns Be Pampered with husband Matt, said it was a matter of keeping their business afloat; trying "something new, something different".

"That's why the whole move was a risk, because you're outlaying and you're wondering, 'is this going to be worth it'. It was waiting for people to do the work, first to quote it, then to do it. We got held up quite a few times. That's made the whole process hard for us as a business. It's worked out to be more [money] than we initially thought."

Mrs Robb said forking out the extra capital to move, including to fit the new store which is used for massages, beauty therapy, and a Gold Coast fly-in doctor specialising in cosmetic injectable, was "a risk", especially considering they'd moved out of the previous premises.

That risk places them alongside more than 1390 Gladstone businesses that are currently at "medium risk" of financial failure, according to an accounting firm.

However the firm says with the "right strategies" a business could go from "simply surviving to success and growth".

SV Partners, the firm that conducted the analysis on thousands of Gladstone businesses, categorised low, medium or high risk based on "business behaviours", such as late payments on debt or cash flow loans. It found that while 10% of Gladstone businesses were at high risk of financial failure, 63% are pulling through the downturn.

Gladstone Regional Council's strategic community inclusion officer Luis Arroyo said new owners of "micro-businesses" with fewer than five employees were more "agile" than bigger business who are locked into a plan that previously worked.

Mr Arroyo, the man heading a program to prop-up Gladstone's micro-businesses, said it's smaller businesses that could "adapt to the challenges" of the downturn to become the region's "biggest employers". "It's more difficult to change bigger businesses - that, we know from the past. Some of the businesses would prefer to die instead of changing," he said.

"These [micro-businesses] are the businesses that will provide future employment -- it's the business with new ideas, it's the business with new concepts," he said. "They will thrive in the new economies."

Mrs Robb said their business has so far received positive feedback from customers, because of a range of changes from "better parking" to "something new, something different".

While rent is the major reason behind the move, foot traffic and "exposure" to potential clients is also a benefit. After a six-month search for a new staff member, she's started advertising in New Zealand, as she and her husband are "working long hours to cover everybody".

"We are still hoping to find someone because at the moment we are not as busy as we'd like to be, being down a staff member."

The competition is already there in Gladstone, with a heap of home beauty therapists, but she hoped an extra staff member would give her a greater market share.



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