Top 50 Small Business Leaders launch celebrates excellence in troubled times

We are delighted to be able to announce that we will be launching this year’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders Report at a gala online event at 5.30 pm on Wednesday 28 October, and you are welcome to join us.

The evening’s festivities have been made possible by event sponsor the State Government Victoria, and this year’s report sponsor is ActionCOACH, the world largest coaching organisation for SMEs.

This year – more than any other – our Top 50 Report celebrates the resilience and innovation displayed by the Australian small-business community. 2020 has thrown challenges at small businesses that, dare I use the “word of the year”, are unprecedented. We started the year with the bushfire crisis, wondering whether businesses in the many affected communities would be able to rise from the ashes. Then COVID hit…

Having invited submissions before the virus wreaked havoc across the globe, we feared that at least some of those who had nominated would have been forced to close their doors. It is testament to the tenacity, and willingness to pivot their operations where necessary, that all 50 of the small business leaders selected by our judges have been able to roll with the punches and are still working hard.

As it does every year, the report reveals the incredible diversity within Australia’s small-business community. Grace Mugabe is fulfilling her mission to empower women and the migrant community with skills to enable them to be financially literate, sustainable and independent. And Joan Delavalle’s multi-cultural salon caters to the hair and beauty services needs of clients with different hair types and all skin tones. Business types range from the new frontiers of technology – Bernadette Schwerdt’s venture Synthetic data uses machine learning to safeguard our power supply networks – to primary producers such as Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher.

Reflecting a strong shift towards recognising the business community’s responsibility to the environment, sustainability is at the heart of what many of this year’s Top 50 do. Sprout Stack, Australia’s first commercial vertical farm is eliminating food miles by getting its salads grown on Sydney’s urban fringe within hours of harvest, while all the beach towels created by Gabby Samkova are made from between eight and 14 recycled plastic bottles, helping to reduce the appalling levels of pollution in our oceans.

Join us at 5.30 on the 28th to join in the fun and celebrate our small-business community. MC Emma Vosti will introduce us to a representative of the State Government of Victoria and ActionCOACH’s CEO Paul Henshall, who is also one of our judges this year. Emma will then chat with Gabby Leibovich, author of Catch of the Decade and co-founder of successful businesses Catch, Scoopon and EatNow – Gabby will share his experiences of getting these start-ups off the ground and growing them into the significant enterprises they have become.

I will then conduct a brief panel discussion with four of this year’s winners – coffee-pod queen Kayla Mossuto of Crema Joe, teenage sun cream entrepreneur Joshua Apitz of Seagull Milk, Talita White of online marketplace Esther & Co and Sprout Stack’s CEO Hugh McGilligan – to find out how about the challenges and successes that have made their businesses what they are, and prompted our esteemed judges to anoint them among this year’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders.