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Media Release

October 25 2007

Success factors for bush businesses

Roadhouse, Sandstone WAUniSA researchers are helping small businesses in remote and regional Australia to gain a better understanding of what is necessary to achieve long-term success and sustainability.

Led by the School of Management’s Professor Tricia Vilkinas, the researchers are identifying risk factors that need to be addressed by remote area small businesses to achieve long-term viability, and to ensure that products and services meet the needs of their communities.

Small business owners in outback communities have to adapt to varying remote area circumstances and face extra hurdles that go beyond economic issues to include social and environmental matters, according to Prof Vilkinas.

“Access to resources such as people, energy, water, infrastructure availability and other regional concerns are some of the issues associated with remoteness that many small metropolitan businesses might take for granted,” Prof Vilkinas said.

“Other factors to be considered include training and education of staff; the transfer of management expertise through to succession planning; whether wind or solar powered renewable energy can be used; accessibility to water in desert areas and quality and pricing issues; the size of communities; and education and employment levels.

“We are conducting interviews and surveys where appropriate with business stakeholders in regional and remote communities to identify the barriers to successfully managing all of these factors and how they can be overcome,” Prof Vilkinas said.

Information gained will be fed into workshops planned for small businesses, and supporting materials will be developed, based on models of best practice.

“We will also help business owners and managers to adopt appropriate leadership styles for business success,” Prof Vilkinas said.

A follow-up study of the businesses involved will be conducted about two years after the initial study to determine how successful their businesses have become.

“The success of these small businesses is important for their communities,” Prof Vilkinas said.

“Successful small businesses help to build healthy and positive remote communities by creating local employment and training opportunities that contribute to wellbeing. Other benefits include affordable healthy food, profits being returned to fund community activities, and employment opportunities that help to attract and keep families in these communities.”

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