I was pleased that Paul Vasileff was named Young Australian of the Year. I have never met Paul, but it is clear he has a strong passion for his business and profession.
Several of his comments in the Australia Day edition of The Advertiser are worth reflecting upon.
For example, “So many people in the early stages, the sceptical ones, said “You can’t have a couture fashion house in Adelaide because it won’t work.” South Australia’s disadvantages as a business destination have been well documented but Vasileff’s success demonstrates that globally competitive businesses can be founded and built in this state.
The “born global” business is often talked about but is much less seen. This presents a particular challenge for economic development professionals in how we support, or get out of the way of, such firms.
Another comment, “This is still only the beginning…I’m excited to see how far we can take it.” This sort of aspiration is vital if South Australia is to shake off its tag as the state with the highest unemployment levels.
Significant employment growth will only occur in this state if business owners have the aspiration and confidence to grow. Listen to people like Tammy May or Maggie Beer and it becomes quickly evident that throughout their business journey they have had a vision for their firm and a strong desire to achieve it.
Or, “…if you work hard and you’re passionate and determined you can really achieve whatever you set your mind to.” Many business owners have personal drive and natural resilience, but for many people starting or running a business it can be a lonely experience.
The concept of resilience permeates public policy at the moment. Programs based on PERMA principles have been delivered to workers in the automotive supply chain to help prepare staff as closure looms, however I have not seen a significant program aimed at building resilience in small business owners. Is such a program feasible?
Working with firms to increase aspiration, improve resilience, and think globally should be important element of any local economic development strategy.
Image: Adelaide fashion designer Paul Vasileff named Young Australian of the Year. Picture: Kym Smith