According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, regional businesses account for over 800,000 businesses. As part of our Regional Heroes campaign, we’re profiling some of these incredible small business owners to see what makes them (and their towns) tick!
Meet Rhys Bower, the co-founder of Bower Wood Lawyers in Wagga Wagga, in rural New South Wales. Eager to understand what life is like for rural business owners, we asked Rhys to shed some light on how things work for him and his business partner and the kinds of things that make their community tick.
What is the name of your business?
Bower Wood Lawyers
Where can we find you online?
Do you have a podcast?
No. Love listening though – any recommendations? 😊
When did you start your small biz?
Why did you start it?
To be master of my own destiny and do things my own way (well, our own way). My partner Nick and I saw a lot of ways that traditional law firms were not serving their clients or their employees well. We wanted to run a firm that would take much better care of clients and the team.
Is it the only biz of its kind in your area?
No, there are a bunch of law firms in the area, but most of them take a fairly traditional approach to practicing law.
What do you love most about living where you live?
The people, the space, the bush. All of it really.
Do you have a shop front?
How would you describe your client base?
Diverse. Some young, some mums and dads, some older folks too. Some really successful business people, some one-person shows. We love working with people who are having a go.
Who/what do you consider your biggest competitor?
I don’t really think about that. Or put a different way, we are our own competition. We try to do better than we did the last time and continually improve. We try to outdo our last go at it.
Business is a bit like sport and art combined: lots of creativity, lots of determination to improve, lots of hard work. Of course there is a commercial reality to business too – we have to make enough to eat – but it’s more about improving step by step.
How do most of your clients find you? Ie via website, word of mouth etc
Lots of referrals and word of mouth. And quite a few find us from the web too.
Do you network with other small biz in your area?
Yes. I’m a director on the Chamber of Commerce and do plenty of networking under that banner. My business partner and I also like to get out and talk to other SMEs as much as we can.
What do you think is the greatest challenge your community/area/district faces right now?
That’s a tough one. I don’t think there is a single greatest challenge that the community faces. Everyone has their own challenges. And for every challenge there are at least a couple of opportunities. That’s not to say there are some things that could be better. Better internet, cheaper travel between Wagga and Sydney / Melbourne. More commercial real estate with north facing windows.
Who is your greatest support?
My wife, my family, friends, my business partner. My son also gave our business a 5 star review on Google one day while he was at school, which was pretty cool (but also a bit of a concern). He’s taken it down now. It was a good reminder about connection.
What’s your biggest goal for the next 5 years?
Continue to grow carefully and cement our culture into the organisation. Do what we do better.
What is your biggest challenge in terms of growing your business?
Time – you can’t do it all. As a professional services firm, my partner and I wear two hats – a fee earner / worker and a manager. It’s a challenge because the demands of each are very different. Even under each hat the tasks vary in size, complexity, nature, urgency. It makes for a very “lumpy” pipeline.
If there was one thing you could to make the biggest change to your business what would it be?
Hire more people and improve our set up. We are in the process of doing both those things.
What/where is your favourite place in your town and why?
I don’t really do favourites. I’m happy as long as I have good people around. At home with my family, out with friends or at work with the team.
Vote for Rhys Bower in our Regional Heroes competition!
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