Chocolate boss Ian Sargent loves being up to his elbows in peanut brittle mixture or taste testing truffles, even if he knows he should instead be forward planning for the business.
Thanks to an Australian Government initiative and a diligent personal assistant, the dark chocolate orange and almond bar-loving Ian is now far better at splitting his priorities and working on the business as well as in it.
Ian’s “PA/secretary/Managing Director” - yes, all rolled into one person, used the popular Small Business Advisory Services program to get Ian off the kitchen floor and into Business Enterprise Centre seminars.
“She found out about the SBAS program and sent myself off to BEC seminars on business plans, marketing, succession planning and accounting,” Ian said.
“Accessing BEC advisory services was simply good business sense and I urge small business operators to take advantage of the expert advice.
“You may think you will get round to this one day, but you really need to just make it a priority and do it. We now know that at any time our staff and management team can visit a BEC course or access information.
“The services have been excellent for focussing me to work on the business, not in the business, like we all tend to do when things are busy.”
Ian is the owner and CEO of Whistler’s Chocolate Company, based in Perth. His father David, one of a long line of English confectioners and bakers, started the company in 1968 after arriving in Perth as a "10-pound Pom".
Yummy! Whistler’s makes everything chocolate … bars, brittles, honeycomb, licorice, the lot!
SBAS has received $27.5 million in Australian Government funding to extend the program, after it initially funded 37 BECs to deliver free or low-cost services, over four years.
The new funding will allow successful applicants - those being eligible service providers such as Business Enterprise Centres and registered business organisations - to provide quality advice and assistance to thousands of small businesses across Australia.
Whistler’s SBAS involvement last year led to Ian going to a strategic planning seminar.
As a result, Whistler’s next exciting stage is not far off and will be a 600m² shop in a Swan Valley tourist retail centre - to compliment its current wholesale manufacturing complex and factory outlet.
“Small business manufacturing is very tough work and this is a strategic move to get more of the retail-end dollar,” Ian explained.
SMALL BUSINESS ADVISORY SERVICES
Not-for-profit organisations, such as Business Enterprise Centres, are funded for two years under the Australian Government’s Small Business Advisory Services program to provide free or low-cost advisory services to small businesses.
Small businesses may find access to a range of advisory services, including but not not limited to:
- business management skills
- financial management skills
- business planning advice
- mentoring and networking for business
- general business advice.