What are the speed bumps that threaten to slow down small businesses?
That’s the question that RedBallon founding director Naomi Simson was asking 10 years ago in the very first free SmartCompany newsletter.
Simson came to the conclusion that it was finding, and nurturing, great people that can put the brakes on growth, but she also made the observation that small business owners are often spoken at, not to, by others.
“It is fun listening to big business and government tell people what is ‘up’ with SMEs at the moment,” she wrote.
“I was once the marketing manager for small business at Apple (okay, so that was 15 years ago) but I did the same … read the research, simplified all the detail into a few sentences and wrote the press release. With 500,000 small businesses in NSW along, I would suggest that there is at least that many issues too.”
Today, we are celebrating SmartCompany’s 10th birthday, and Simson’s comments feel just as relevant as ever.
When SmartCompany was launched 10 years ago, there wasn’t anything else like it.
As an online-only publication that was dedicated to small and medium business and entrepreneurs, it broke new ground and shone a much-deserved light on a group of businesses that can often be overlooked, or taken for granted.
There are many things that have changed about SmartCompany since those early days, but that core remains—and we think what we do sets us apart from other media outlets that choose to only focus on the big end of town.
We believe in Australia’s entrepreneurs and SMEs, and we want to champion them. We want to know what makes them tick, what kind of Australia they want to live in, and we want them to tell us how it is—warts and all.
We cherish our independence and our mission is to help our readers access the news, advice and inspiration they need to keep growing.
And so today we’re launching what will be a year’s worth of articles, interviews and special events, as part of what we’re calling the SmartDecade.
You’ll find interviews with other businesses turning 10 this year and we’ll be asking influential Australian business leaders to tell us what they’ve learnt over the past decade.
Plus SmartCompany’s beloved Aunty B will be taking us down memory lane each week with a look back at what we were talking about in 2007.
We want to showcase and celebrate the past 10 years of small business in Australia; what’s changed and what’s stayed the same, the businesses that have come of age during this time, and the entrepreneurs and leaders who took a leap of faith back in 2007 to follow their dreams.
I recently caught up with Amanda Gome, one of the key people who created SmartCompany, and she told me about the day SmartCompany was launched, after eight months of laying the groundwork.
“The launch was a bit of a fizzer,” she says.
“We were all standing around with champagne waiting for launch time and a chastened web developer rang up and told us the site was accidentally launched a few hours ago.
“We ran to our desks and began working—and never got that champagne.”
I’m glad Amanda shared this story because I think it says something about SmartCompany and the people who’ve worked hard to bring it to life.
We’re a small business too and as our readers know, that means it’s all hands on deck, all the time.
It also means that being prepared to celebrate the wins is important, even if you don’t always get to drink the champagne.
I want to thank Amanda, Eric Beecher and Di Gribble for creating SmartCompany, and to the many talented editors, journalists and contributors that have helped the SmartCompany community grow.
Thanks also to the current team, including publisher Zoe Dattner, journalists Emma Koehn, Dominic Powell and Dinushi Dias, and our colleagues in the partner content and commercial areas of the business. And to our readers, supporters and partners who make SmartCompany what it is.
We’re incredibly proud of the SmartCompany community and while I’ve only been with SmartCompany for a third of its life, I know the next 10 years are going to be even bigger and brighter—no matter what speed bumps we encounter along the way.