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The benefits of networking and collaborating

Bringing together local business people in the same space can provide the perfect opportunity to connect, share knowledge, and find a little peer inspiration. Sometimes it is hard to make time to build your networks when running a business can already be a time-consuming exercise – but putting the time in has huge long-term benefits.

Building community connections and relationships through networking has strong benefits for local businesses. One benefit being the sharing of stories about business evolution and insights gained along other’s journeys.

We spoke to four business owners who call the Mornington Industrial Estate home, at a Mornington Peninsula Business networking event. They shared their insights on how business networks and collaborations have been important in the success of their own ventures.

Sam Keck, Commonfolk

Sam Keck is an entrepreneur and founder of Commonfolk Coffee. Sam has spun a successful roaster/retail business into a series of social enterprise efforts, including Zukuka Bora, a farmers initiative benefitting coffee growers in Uganda; and Homeground, which is focused on providing training and job options in hospitality to unemployed youth on the Mornington Peninsula. By fusing the high demand for quality coffee with organized social enterprise, his work shows us how coffee can do more than just taste good—it can also do serious good for communities at home and around the world.

Whether it’s the local gym, our accountants, charities we support, complimentary products, or the council – Sam loves looking for opportunities to build things with those that share his values.

We try not to operate our business with a scarcity mindset… Ultimately it gives us (and the people we collaborate with) more legitimacy and brand recognition. It’s also just really fun. It fills my cup to work with other folks already doing great stuff.

Kate Save, Be Fit Food

Kate Save is the CEO and co-founder of Be Fit Food, Australia’s leading dietitian and doctor-designed meal provider. With almost 20 years’ experience working in clinical health and fitness, Kate is a credible voice for nutrition and wellbeing. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people to understand the direct link between food and overall health. Kate is passionate about empowering individuals to achieve positive change — be it through sharing her wisdom on health, or her learnings in business.

Their local store has been inundated by new local customers and local business partnerships. This support has helped them all to grow together as a community supporting the health of the Mornington Peninsula as their first priority.

Without local support from other small businesses to get behind our vision to ‘change the health of Australia one bite at a time’, and to ensure that ‘Food is the first medicine’, our business foundations wouldn’t have been as strong, and this strength has led us to scale a nationwide business now delivering around 10,000 meals per week across Australia.

Andrew Van de Beek, Illumin8

Andrew might not look like one, but he is an accountant, or at least for a large part of his professional career that’s what he has identified as.  He is the founder of Illumin8, podcast host, coordinator of retreats, mentor to other business owners and generally gets himself into interesting situations in the world of accounting and business. Founding Illumin8 in 2012 has allowed him to bring together a team that shares his passion for helping small business owners do more of what they love.  He played a role in starting up a social enterprise, created a co-working space on the Mornington Peninsula, sits on a handful of technology advisory boards and travels the world to share his insights as keynote presentations.

For the team at Illumin8, having a network that supports and encourages them to push the boundaries of what an accountant might be is pivotal in their ongoing success, as well as to the growing impact they can make in the community.

Those people are the ones we fight for when the times get tough. The ones we celebrate with when the times are good. And the ones we share stories within the hopes to building each other up. Strong networks and safe communities grow healthy, happy and impactful businesses.

Lachlan Wallace, Virtus Performance

Founder, Director and Facilitator of Good Things at Virtus Performance, he is also a father, coach, average athlete, professional mistake maker and eternal optimist. He sees himself as just another human trying to figure it all out. Lachlan loves to share what he learns and enjoys doing good things with good people. He lives for the good stuff.

Lachlan feels that Virtus is a people business masquerading as a gym. Fundamentally they exist to help people get from where they are to where they want to be, but they do it in a way that fosters relationships, connection and growth.

Networking can sometimes feel insincere. However, when approached with authenticity, it’s as simple as exploring good things with good people.

Networking and collaborating play important roles in encouraging growth and sustainability for local businesses. The insights shared by business owners on the Mornington Peninsula collectively attest that local collaborations not only strengthen individual businesses, but also contribute to the overall vitality and resilience of the community.

Content reviewed and updated January 2024

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