Did you know that behind the Digital Solutions program and Business Station is a hardworking team of 25 plus 103 Advisors across Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory?
We are passionate about small business and think it’s important that all the businesses we work with know more about the team who are here to support them.
So we wanted to introduce our fearless leader and CEO, serial-entrepreneur and business strategist Colin Jorgensen, to kick off the introductions! He has had an extensive, and varied, career in business with plenty of experience to share.
We sat down with him to find out a little more about his background, all the skills and business expertise he brings to the team and what he loves about his role here at The Business Station…
Tell us about your background and career so far.
After being in the industrial safety industry for years, and spending my time traveling around to big companies and mines across Australia, I saw the gaps in the service and products we were delivering – and saw an opportunity to start a business for myself and improve on what we were offering.
I jumped in, borrowed $10,000, bought and kitted out a van and went around selling my own tools and safety equipment around Perth. Like most small business owners, I also had a ‘side job’ of driving rubbish trucks on the side to keep the cash coming in until I grew, put more people on, and built it into a successful branch in Bayswater. I ran it for 5 years and it was growing well, but, as always, we hit the ‘growth ceiling’ and had to decide what to do – either go all in or sell and try something else. Although I had staff, it still was just me in the driver’s seat by myself, and an opportunity came up to form a company with 4 other directors and investors and be part of a team and board – I wanted to work with other like-minded people so I made the change. The company was called ‘Steel Blue’ and we launched in Bassendean in 1995 – today Steel Blue is Australia’s leading supplier of work boots, a household name for tradies. Today, I’m still a shareholder and close to the company directors.
After that, I started a restaurant, then went back into the safety industry, did some consulting with bigger companies and so on… Thanks to the entrepreneur in me, I kept semi-retiring and then going back to work!
So how did you get involved with the Business Station?
In short, I wanted to be part of a team again and once I found out that their entire purpose was to support small businesses to grow and succeed – I was in.
I have been there – a few times now! – so I empathise with small businesses and the struggle it can be to access the support you need, get the right advice and know what you don’t know so you can succeed! When you are by yourself in business you have to wear all the hats to keep afloat – but then you can lose your creativity and passion because you have to do everything, even the things that drain you.
Note: That’s part of the motivation behind our new ‘Small Business Battlers’ initiative – just Google ‘Small Business Battler’ to find out more.
What do you do when you don’t have the budget yet to bring staff onboard to help or outsource? Having support around you is critical but how do you pay for it when it’s just you?
When I was starting out, I would have loved to have access to experienced people to lean on with ideas, get guidance and help me grow. But I didn’t know where to look.
Business Station and the Digital Solutions – Australian Small Business Advisory Services program fill that gap in a real way and it’s great to be a part of providing that to small businesses here in WA, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Until you’ve had a mentor or support person in your business life you don’t know what you are missing. By providing small businesses with coaches, experts and advisors for all areas of business, they can access the skills and expertise they lack and spend time working on themselves and upskilling – without spending money they don’t have!
What is a ‘superpower’ you bring to your role?
I’m here to drive the program – which calls into play my biggest ‘superpower’ which is all of the experience I have gained during my years of running and leading businesses.
My role at the start was very operational, getting the program up and running while putting processes in place to support the team to do what they need to do. Now, it’s leadership and development. I’m here to support the staff and team to grow, learn and develop and take ownership of what they are doing, while developing the business, increasing brand awareness and building relationships with the right people so we can reach more small businesses across Australia!
What has been your most memorable success story/highlight of the Digital Solutions program?
In general? The fact that we have been able to deliver over 14,000 hours of Digital Advisory support to new businesses since we began. That’s thousands of Australian small businesses that we are actively helping to upskill and grow!
On a personal note, I get to meet with a lot of small business owners and being able to pass on a little bit from my own experience is always a highlight. Recently, I was in a session with one business owner to help provide leadership support, setting up structures etc. Halfway through the session he stops and says “The lightbulb had just gone on”. Knowing that you’ve been part of that moment for him and that it will help save his business time, money and mistakes – that’s what it’s all about!
Let’s wrap this up with some ‘fun’ questions…
What is something you are passionate about outside your career and work-life that not many people know about?
Family first. I have kids and 3 grandkids – including two sets of twins! So that keeps me busy.
Outside of that, my passions are cooking and, this might surprise some people, I have also played drums in a rock cover band, The Moonlighters, for 12 years. We used to regularly play the pub circuit, weddings and gigs, and are just getting back into it now things are opening back up.
But don’t expect a ‘Digital Solutions’ band anytime soon… even though that’s a pretty good band name!
And finally, what is one tip or tool you would share, from your experience, with small businesses looking to succeed?
Seek help. Find a mentor. Don’t try to do everything on your own – the key to growth is having someone you respect who can challenge you so you can succeed. And if you don’t have the budget yet, it doesn’t have to be a paid mentor – find a friend or colleague who is where you want to be and ask for their help, advice and experience. That’s what I wish I had done sooner, so learn from me and reach out!
A huge thanks to Colin for his time – and we’re sure that now you can see why we, and the businesses we help, are so lucky to have him onboard here at the Business Station!
If you would like to check out the Digital Solutions program, we have over a hundred Advisors ready to help, who have experience, skills and knowledge that you can tap into and access to benefit your business. We are here to support you – so please reach out!