Steadfast's small business champions do a victory lap

“If you want to be the best, you have to compete against the best.”

This is the champion mindset behind the award-winning small business Getaways SA, winner of Steadfast’s ‘The Garage’ competition. As part of their prize the owners, husband-and-wife team Steve and Kym Brown, received a $100,000 Nissan Motorsport package, including a VIP weekend at the Newcastle 500, V8 supercar race. The competition also provided the Browns with a national promotional opportunity that would normally be far beyond the resources of a small business.

The experience made the Browns realise that success in small business is much like success in motorsports. When you’re in the driver’s seat of a small business and you see an opportunity ahead you, go for it.

“You have to grab opportunities because if you don’t someone else will”, says Kym.  

How it all began

Steve and Kym’s business journey began in 1995 after returning from their honeymoon in Tasmania. They loved the experience of staying in a B&B cottage so much they thought they could do something similar back home in South Australia. On their return home, they bought a property with fabulous views on 20 acres in the Barossa Valley.

Soon they were driving guests around to see the local sights. Demand grew so they bought a second property and opened a shop to handle tourism bookings and referrals from other accommodation businesses when they had no vacancies. Then one Saturday night they had people queued outside their door until 7pm and that’s when they realised they were onto something.

Their big break came five years into their journey when they won Tourism Australia’s top award. Suddenly they were catapulted from being a small local business to being on the national stage.

Fast forward 22 years and they now own 14 properties, 11 tour businesses, a reservation service (for booking SA holidays) and employ 35 people. Along the way, they’ve won 51 business and tourism awards, achieved business growth each year and become foster parents to four “awesome” kids ranging in age from one to 12.

“We make magic happen by creating life-changing experiences for our customers, like ‘Meet the Winemaker’, ‘Make Your Own Blend’, sampling wine and food and meeting local characters,” says Kym.

The power of teamwork

While seizing opportunities is crucial in business, Kym says success also depends on partnering with likeminded people. Such as the local food and wine producers who help give Getaways SA guests an amazing experience and Kym’s 86-year-old mum, who’s been ironing sheets and working in the office from the beginning. And their Steadfast insurance broker, Andrew Benda, a Steadfast insurance broker, who  urged them to enter the competition because he both admired their business success and knew that, being longtime revheads, would love the prize.

As part of their prize weekend at the supercars, Kym and Steve spent time in the pits to see how Todd and Rick Kelly’s Nissan Altima crew worked. What they saw – the teamwork and respect between all team members – highlighted the importance of their own team and business partners.

Kym says their experience was like a second honeymoon, only this time around they had a chance to think about their business and discuss what they had achieved and how they can continue to grow and thrive.

While there may seem little connection between belting a vehicle around a racetrack and how most small business people spend their days, there are lessons everyone can learn from the high-performance ethos present in motorsports.

In fact, one of the most interesting business book published in recent times Performance at the Limit: Business Lessons from Formula 1® Motor Racing - details how the combination of strong leadership, effective goal setting, seamless teamwork and relentless innovation can be combined to create a winning culture. As you roar into the new year, it’s worth taking a minute to check whether you’ve got all the necessary pistons firing in your business.    

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