News

Innovation key to big success for local small business

EXPANDING SERVICES: Wade Kent from Ballina’s Blue Sky Outdoor.
EXPANDING SERVICES: Wade Kent from Ballina’s Blue Sky Outdoor. The Northern Star

TWO innovative small regional businesses, Ballina's Blue Sky Outdoor and the Byron Beach Cafe, have been recognised for their success by being shortlisted in the 2014 Australian Small Business Champion Awards.

Blue Sky Outdoor owner Wade Kent said the formula for his camping gear retailer was as much about the fundamentals as innovation.

"We've made a big emphasis over the last few years to try to have the best customer service that we can," he said.

Blue Sky's listing in the national awards didn't come out of the blue. Mr Kent has also worked hard to establish an "e-presence" and recently moved to larger premises in West Ballina.

"We've spent quite a bit of time and energy getting our online presence right, to try to grow the online store," Mr Wade said.

"The retail environment has been very challenging over the last few years, especially with the growth of online business."

In Blue Sky's case, it has been about testing innovative new lines that fit with an outdoor brand, such as a range of workwear and archery products, and a closer focus on watersports.

Perhaps the business's most innovative step was to enter the tourism market, this month introducing kayak tours following years of customer requests.

Mr Kent sees a clear link between selling outdoor gear and providing experiences to go with it, particularly in a town surrounded by stunning waterscapes.

"We've had lots of inquiries and bookings," he said.

Over in Byron, the Byron Beach Cafe, under the ownership of Ben and Belinda Kirkwood since 2007, has continued to take out awards from NSW Tourism and now has national hopes.

The key to its formula is its multi-functionality, transforming from a casual coffee and breakfast cafe - with a separate takeaway kiosk - in the daytime to a destination restaurant as the sun sets over Mt Warning.

With a venue right on the beach, the cafe has taken advantage of its site to host an increasing number of weddings and corporate events.

Add to that a catering arm and the venue is juggling several profit lines and showcasing its brand at the same time.

Topics:  business innovation



Help Byron band clean up our beaches this week

In Hearts Wake peform at The Northern in Byron Bay.

Find out how to register your interest

How to find elusive Woolworths' Super Discs

Woolworths Marvel Heroes Super Discs are the latest craze in collectibles.

How far would you go to collect all 42 Woolworths' Super Discs?

Flood relief grants welcome news for council

Fixing roads. Richmond Valley Council.

Disaster recovery assistance for roads damaged, on its way

Local Partners

Wonder Woman is a kick-arse superhero romp

WITH so much at stake, thank Zeus that Wonder Woman didn’t fall into the same trap as its DC Extended Universe predecessors.

Everything coming to Netflix, Stan, Foxtel and Amazon Prime Video this June

Orange Is The New Black returns for another season.

Find out what's being added to our streaming services in June.

Sam Armytage and Tom Cruise? Saaaaay what?

Apparently, the answer is no.

Musical tribute to flood volunteers released

Songwriter honours flood volunteers who helped their neighbours.

Lismore songwriter Simon Thomas was moved by strangers' kindness

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Maybe he just wanted to make himself the story.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Here's your chance to carp about feral pests

Carp might by great fun to catch but they're destroying Australia's watercourses.

Science in the Pub looks at carp and coral trees

SNEAK PEEK: What new shopping centre is going to look like

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the cinema and shopping complex on Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Mercato billed as regional NSW's most sustainable shopping complex

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!