Adapting to change

I don’t know of any progressive business or community that waits for the government to tell it what to do – we are the drivers of change because we are the ones who value the ability to work and live in the community of our choice.

While we should celebrate the past and live in the present, we should also be constantly looking to the future and be adapting to change.

As I drive around our beautiful region, I marvel at the vision of the town founders who saw a blank canvas and were brave enough to paint a picture using their own imagination and the resources available to them. Not only did they take huge risks in their business investments, they also helped establish the schools, the hospitals, and the community infrastructure around their businesses. They did so understanding that no business is an island – that businesses needed to support each other, and their customers needed to have good reason to live in that community.

In past generations, business and the community clearly drove growth with the government only kicking in to help them get across the line. When you think about it, the same is still true. I don’t know of any progressive business or community that waits for the government to tell it what to do – we are the drivers of change because we are the ones who value the ability to work and live in the community of our choice.

I am excited. There are an infinite number of blank canvasses just waiting to be created as there are existing canvasses to be repainted. Today, when I see a vacant shop front I see a range of possibilities not even remotely like what used to be there. When I see a young person isn’t interested in traditional agriculture, I see new business opportunities that can run alongside the family farm.

Change is already happening all around us if we take the time to stop and think about it. Agricultural machinery has been revolutionised and now operates on GPS technology. A growing number of people are self-employed offering professional services working from home offices to a global market.

As the manufacturing industry declines nationwide, instead of lamenting the fact, some are coming up with new uses for old sites and buildings.

In my hometown of Castlemaine, some 9000 square metres of industrial buildings are now housing a mix of food and hospitality vendors, manufacturers and retail outlets. Thanks to the foresight of its developers the site has grown organically of its own accord into a vibrant hub.

As one industry struggles another opportunity rises in its place.

In Swan Hill, a traditional rose plantation for the cut flower industry was reinvented with the use of technology to become Simply Rose Petals exporting to 15 countries. In Birchip, a shearing contractor diversified his family business into environmental project work.

It is indeed a great gift to be able to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes and something that we should all aspire to.

Who knows where the digital revolution, or whatever is coming next, is taking us. Just know that we have the choice of being agile and adaptable in a changing environment, or we can do what we always do and wonder why our business is failing.

Kerry Anderson – www.kerryanderson.com.au – businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria who is passionate about rural and regional small business

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