Leonie Collins • Bright
After Leonie Collins evacuated her Bright home and business under threat of the 2019 bushfires, she returned to a shop with smoke damage—and a 90% loss in business throughout January 2020. With the help of the Business Recovery Advisory Service, Bright’s Old Fashioned Lolly Shop has pulled through.
Bright generally attracts thousands of tourists during the summer holiday season. In 2020, holiday makers waited for the all-clear to return. This resulted in devastating loss during what should have been the store’s busiest period.
“I felt some trepidation re-entering the shop for fear of what I would find,” recalls Leonie. Since temperatures had been hovering in the high thirties during the week of her evacuation, she had left the air conditioner running to preserve her products. “The confectionery survived, but the air conditioning system sucked carbon in, so I found significant smoke damage.”
Leonie has strong ancestral ties to the region that made the threat to her business even more distressing. In the late 1850’s, her great-grandfather introduced confectionary into the family bakery—inspiring Leonie to make the permanent move to Bright and buy the local lolly shop.
Leonie’s business had just started to gain traction again when COVID-19 hit in late March and lockdown was enforced. She coped by investing time in business activities that she otherwise rarely had the opportunity to do.
“I soaked up information and got into the rhythm of watching many webinars which I thoroughly enjoyed,” Leonie shares. “I then became aware of the Business Recovery Advisory Service after the facilitator at a local business event connected me with a Business Recovery Adviser.”
Jumping at the opportunity, Leonie was assigned to an adviser who helped her with various strategies and actions to improve business management and performance.
The Business Recovery Adviser also made Leonie aware of the support provided by Business Victoria and encouraged her to prepare an application for the $10,000 Business Support Grant.
“Given the volume of workload the grant must have generated, I was blown away by how quickly a whole new infrastructure was designed and rolled out.
I found the application process easy to understand and navigate and was delighted to receive the generous financial support to invest in the future of my business.”
Running a small business can be isolating, particularly during times of crisis. Leonie has felt the weight of solitude, particularly as a sole trader living in a small town without family. “The support of the service has been tremendous. My Business Recovery Adviser has been akin to having a business partner share the journey for a duration. As a trusted, qualified adviser, they’ve made me feel less alone.”
Leonie’s biggest takeaway from her experience with the Business Recovery Advisory Service was learning how to implement a structure that documents priorities, goals, actions and deadlines to keep her focussed and accountable. “It’s a new habit from which I am reaping benefits”.
The service provided Leonie with information and advice at a time when she needed it most.