My Small Rural Business: Bell Training Group

- November 13, 2019 5 MIN READ

According to the ABS, regional businesses account for over 800,000 businesses. As part of our Regional Heroes campaign, we’re profiling some of these incredible small businesses, like Bell Training Group, to see what makes them (and their towns) tick!

What is the name of your business?

Bell Training Group – and my new baby is Speakers in Sneakers!

What is your website, Instagram and Facebook too please.

Speakers in Sneakers is a work in progress! Shhhhh….don’t tell anyone!

Do you have a podcast?

No but I love being a guest to talk all things Positive Leadership, Change, Teams and Emotional Intelligence.

When did you start your small biz?

Bell Training Group started in 2010 – can’t believe we are nearly 10 years old!

Why did you start it?

Bell Training Group happened when I quit my job as a corporate Training Manager, because I KNEW I could offer better service than the outside Trainers and Coaches I was hiring in, at great cost! I’m passionate about bringing great learning solutions to people in business, because I know it makes an impact on their happiness outside of work too – and I wanted to share that vision with the world. Since then, my business partner (and husband!) Hayden and I have gone on to work with industry leading corporates, not for profits and government all over Australia and internationally, helping their people shine!

Speakers in Sneakers is a completely new side project but I am excited about it – the aim is to bring high-quality, reasonably-priced wellbeing specialists to workplaces to show them how to “walk the talk” on workplace wellbeing. It’s good to diversify and also it feels like the right time for a fun side project.

Is it the only biz of its kind in your area?

We’re pretty unique – offering a blend of consulting, speaking, coaching and facilitation, with specialties in Positive Psychology and Continuous Improvement (Six Sigma). We are the only ones in Ocean Grove – maybe in Australia with this combination!

What do you love most about living where you live?

We live in Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong –beautiful beaches, glorious wineries and great local food. I love everything about it – the people, the incredible landscape and beaches, the small-town lifestyle – and yes, I even love the buzz and excitement of the summer crowds! We are close enough to Melbourne and 2 airports that we can easily do business all over Australia from right here at the beach.

How would you describe your client base?

Really diverse – everything from luxury brands, to corporate, government, not for profit and small local businesses. But one thing is common amongst them all – I think they’re cool! In fact, several years ago we defined our mission statement: To do great business with cool people, make a measurable difference and have fun along the way. Defining this changed everything for us – because these are the criteria that we use to measure whether we want to do business with a company or politely turn down the gig. We work with passionate, people-centric businesses and have lots of high-quality conversations with inspiring leaders of all levels. What more could you want?!

Who/what do you consider your biggest competitor?

We compete against the big consulting firms and do similar work – but we’re not really direct competitors because the people who would hire them, wouldn’t hire us, and vice versa. We are unique and proud of it!

How do most of your clients find you?

It’s all repeat business, word of mouth and referrals (and about 150-200 unique new visitors to the website every month). In the last 18 months, we have not advertised at all and are constantly running at about 5% above capacity (read: working late nights and weekends!). However, there are some great new products we will be launching soon so then it will be the usual social media marketing and maybe some google ads too. LinkedIn has been a very strong source of business for us, simply through building reputation and relationships.

Do you network with other small biz in your area?

Yes – we belong to the Geelong Chamber of Commerce and try to get to as many events as possible. Also, online network building through LinkedIn has been really powerful for us – but you do have to devote a lot of time and attention to it. In addition, we work with a very inspiring giving partner, B1G1, who help us leverage our business and make donations towards charities who are supporting the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. B1G1 is a fast-growing movement full of small business owners who love making a difference and that’s probably our favourite networking of all – talking about how we can do better business, support each other, and give more through B1G1. To date, Bell Training Group has been able to make a total of 37,202 impacts across education, clean water, food security and reforestation projects, including 69 years’ worth of clean water and sanitation access to families in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi. It’s a very exciting part of our business and drives us to keep going!

What do you think is the greatest challenge your community/area/district faces right now?

Geelong has shifted significantly in recent years away from a farming and manufacturing town to more of a creative, arts-and tourism driven economy. With the establishment of several large government agencies in the area who have relocated from Melbourne, the population is booming and the economy strong – but we still have pockets of real disadvantage in some suburbs. I think that the development of stronger infrastructure to keep up with the growing population is a big challenge for the region – but perhaps more importantly, I think it’s essential that the new wealth coming to the region is not isolated to the already advantaged parts of town but that real opportunities are created to lift those who need a hand up for education and jobs in all areas. We have to share the bright future we are creating with everyone, and only then will we be a truly thriving region.

Who is your greatest support?

My husband and business partner, Hayden is an extraordinary support. Past clients are also wonderful touchpoints who are constantly saying what a difference we have made and looking for ways to work with us again. That really helps on those tough days when nothing seems to be working!

What’s your biggest goal for the next 5 years?

To be able to replicate some of the work we do and have 10 employees helping us roll out programs all over Australia.

What is your biggest challenge in terms of growing your business?

Like all small business owners, I am so busy working in the business that I don’t always have enough time to work ON the business – but I am taking steps to change that in the next little while by hopefully finding a great VA to work with, and training up some casual staff. Step by step is the secret!

If there was one thing you could to make the biggest change to your business what would it be? I have a clear vision now of the growth path we are on – just wish I could fast-forward a little to where I do have some more support so I could be a little more strategic! But it will come in time.

What/where is your favourite place in your town and why?

My local beach at the end of my street. It’s my happy place where I go for some quiet from the noise of being in business!