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Mobile Firms Down Under

Good ideas, well thought through and properly executed often give entrepreneurs a significant business advantage. All business owners have to keep a sharp eye on their costs and one of the major area of costs for growing business rent, business rates, utilities and even parking. Fixed premises can cost a lot of money – especially in winter time. That’s why over the last few years a quiet revolution has happened in Australia. Increasing numbers of small businesses have ditched their offices and gone on the road.

If you head over to Oz you may well come across a professional hair salon inside a Transit van pulling up in a different town each day. The owner has ensured she has all the relevant permits in all her areas of operation to park and trade. She advertises her whereabouts and timings each week on her website and the customers turn up.

There are some really interesting and creative ideas. For example, if you’ve had a stressful day and need a massage, there’s a van for that – even with a sea view if it gets a good parking space! A van could well pull up near your house crammed with washing machines as a mobile laundry. One company has even got a mobile marine museum that pulls up as a novelty for residents and tourists alike.

It may sound strange, but the significant savings have meant these companies can focus on what’s important - buying good equipment and retaining great talent. Obviously the sort of workers they need have to be flexible, prepared to get home rather late some nights, and they need to be the kind of people who want to go out there and do a job that they love – no coasting through a quiet day in the office.

But for the right kind of person, this could be a very enjoyable way to work. You don’t risk the boredom of the same location all day every day, and you’ve always got the chance to meet new people and discover what different customers want from your service. There could even be the opportunity to branch out with a franchise in the future.

There are a good many mobile businesses in the UK, though not offered in quite the same way. The closest we tend to see is a library van in a small, Midsomer Murders style village or a dinghy kebab van in a lay-by! But mobile services are the sort of dynamic and clever idea that some entrepreneurs could make work. The media often talks about ‘Generation Y’ being the generation of entrepreneurs who don’t wait for employment to be generated, but go out and create work themselves. A mobile service could be an interesting way of enthusing dynamic people(of all ages) to literally go out there, work hard and hopefully make a decent living.

As with all ideas the mobile option has its difficulties. Problems have arisen, particularly with businesses like hair salons needing water supplies. But that hasn’t stopped one firm and its team who went out and secured a contract with the Royal Australian Navy to pitch up at bases and provide dry cuts for naval personnel.

Fundamentally, this has shown how important it is for a small business to recruit and build a team of people who are not only skilled in their profession, but are flexible in their approach, believe in the company and are enthused to go out and make it successful. If you recruit for attitude and train for skills, you can often build a remarkably successful team with fresh thinking and new, if a little whacky, ideas!

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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