Thanks and goodbye

Well, this is it. My 772nd Entrepreneur Watch and my last. Today I finish up as editor and publisher of SmartCompany after almost five years.

This blog is basically a long list of thanks to the many people who have helped SmartCompany become the best SME publication in Australia. But first, I wanted to say something quickly on Labor’s decision to pull the pin on its surplus promise.

A few weeks ago I wrote that it was time to relook at the promise and circumstances have left Treasurer Wayne Swan little choice – a $4 billion revenue shortfall in October alone will catch anyone out.

While I haven’t agreed with everything Swan has done this year – particularly his attacks on billionaires – I think Labor has shown pretty strong economic management since coming to power in 2007, steering the country through the GFC in good shape and getting the balance between support for the economy and cautious management of debt pretty right.

But Labor will pay a heavy political price for letting go of this surplus. This was a promise that should never have been made in an environment as uncertain as we have seen in the last few years. You almost get the sense the Opposition goaded Labor into making this promise, and the Coalition has exactly the result it wanted.

Of course, the idea the Coalition would (or should) have delivered a surplus in conditions as choppy as this is a load of garbage too.

With that said, let’s get back to the point of this blog.

I’m extremely sad to be leaving but I am also very proud of how SmartCompany has grown. When I started in April 2008, just over 10,000 entrepreneurs received our daily email. Today, we hit more than 51,000 inboxes every day with the latest news, insights and tips for business owners and managers.

There has been a great team behind this growth.

SmartCompany founder Amanda Gome led us from start-up to SME with her passion for entrepreneurship, her great sense of a story and her boundless energy.

We’ve been blessed with some great reporters and editors, including Jacqui Walker, Mike Preston, Madeleine Heffernan and Emma Krieger. I’m leaving a brilliant editorial team in charge. Cara Waters is already a great editor, while Patrick Stafford has become the gun reporter we knew he would. I know Engel Schmidl and Andrew Sadauskas will keep the site looking great.

At the risk of leaving someone out (apologies in advance) I’d also like to particularly thank the people who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make SmartCompany the great publication it has become.

Campbell Corser is our IT guru, our operations genius, our marketing whiz and the man who helps make things work for advertisers – he’s also my train buddy and great friend. Amelie Mills has been with us from the start, quietly working behind the scenes to make everyone else look good. Lauren Smith has worked tirelessly to make sure our advertisers have stayed happy, Dan Bruce has brought great marketing ideas to the business and Jemma McMahon and Kate Sallai and Meagan Francis have made great contributions.

It’s been fantastic to work with our great advertising team, led by Dan Metcalf and including Rebecca Davies, Belinda McNulty, Shun Wong, Ayalah Gelnay, Kylie McCaig, Nick Dunlop and Olivia McDonnell.

And with all the people from our sister publications at Private Media: The team at Crikey, led by Jason Whittaker; StartupSmart’s Oliver Milman and Michelle Hammond; Property Observer’s team led by Jonathan Chancellor; Leading Company, led by Kath Walters; and Women’s Agenda, led by Angela Priestley.

Thanks also to Anastasia Pantzis and all the admin team for keeping the place going.

I would like pay special tribute to our leadership team at Private Media: Marina Go, the publisher of Crikey and Women’s Agenda, who I’ve learned a lot from in a short space of time; Amber Sloan, the chief operating officer who makes the place tick; and Private Media’s chairman Eric Beecher, who has an unquenchable thirst for new ideas and has been a wonderful mentor.

Another thing that makes SmartCompany so special is the network of great contributors we have been able to build. We have too many bloggers and experts to name, but I’d personally like to thank those hardy souls who have been with us throughout the last five years, including Sue Barrett, Michel Hogan, Chris Thomas, Craig Reardon, Naomi Simson, Kirsty Dunphey, Colin Benjamin, Jason Gherke, Peter Vitale, Andrew Douglas and Terry Hayes.

Finally, and most importantly, I’d like to thank the SmartCompany community.

Being an entrepreneur is a difficult, exciting, scary, magical thing and what we try to do every day is capture some of the passion you have for your businesses. To be honest, that’s not too hard. That passion shines through in the stories you tell us, the entries into our awards and the comments you leave on our site.

The way you share your own insights, advice and feedback (both positive and negative) inspires us to keep finding ways to delight, surprise and hopefully help the SmartCompany community.

I’ve been trying to think of one secret that I’ve learned from entrepreneurs during my time at SmartCompany that I could pass on.

I’m afraid what I have come up with is very simple: Make something happen.

The best entrepreneurs and leaders and people I have come across are women and men of action. When things go wrong or even when things are going well, they never sit still. They are trying things, making changes to their business, coming up with new ideas and implementing them.

They don’t sit and talk about problems and try and worry them away. They do something – and sometimes the wrong thing – and try and change their circumstances.

It sounds easy, but it’s not – we can all get comfortable and accept that things are just the way they are. The ability to make something happen is a trait I hope I can carry with me into my next adventure as the editor of BRW.


James Thomson is a former editor of BRW’s Rich 200 and the publisher of SmartCompany and LeadingCompany.


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