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August 23, 2019

OBM: 25 years of supporting small business

Organisers from the first OBM in 1994

Doing business in the Territory has evolved over the last 25 years with the introduction of new technology, the growth of HR and change in attitude towards young workers.

In 1994 Parliament House and the Deckchair Cinema opened and just under 700 people attended the first October Business Month (OBM) which included 12 workshops.

The month long event has continued to grow, with local business owners and Territorians flocking to OBM to receive business tips, hear inspirational stories and to network.

Katherine-based Hohns Metal is a small Territory company that has risen to the challenge of the new age in business.

Director Polly Hohn says the family-run business has 'greatly evolved' its efficiency and customer service.

For instance, invoices are now generated electronically and sent at the time of sale.

HR has also changed.

Hohns Metal includes employees in decision-making when hiring new staff, brainstorming on streamlining processes, different ways to advertise, team building exercises and general day-to-day operations.

“This has strengthened our relationships with our employees and increased dramatically our staff retention,” Ms Hohns says.

GTNT are celebrating their 30 year anniversary this year, Kathryn Stenson, Chief Executive says “Territory businesses have also adapted to the changing candidate market.”

“Previously taking on an apprentice and trainee was seen to be contributing to education but now it is clearly a business decision.”

IT is also revolutionising business - many trades and professions are now so dependent on IT that staff struggle without good computer skills.

“Contemporary recruitment practice focuses more on the ‘fit’ of the applicant to a business / workplace, including assessing their behavioural and learning styles and their aspirations,” says Ms Stenson.

OBM, which is presented by the Territory Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation each year, has reflected the radical changes in the workplace.

By the year 2000, more than 4,000 people were attending events - and business people were increasingly keen to take part in presentations. Last year almost 9,000 attendees upskilled their business and professional skills.

Most attendees are business people with stories of triumphing over hardship.

Some presentations are a tad quirky - for instance, former Wallaby captain Nick Farr-Jones gave a terrific motivational speech in Tennant Creek in 2005 and the 2009 OBM was opened by comedian Ahn Do.

But the strong take-home messages are always the same: the Territory is a land of opportunity - and it’s always open for business.

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