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Networks the power house of business
12 March 2018
The full-service communications agency Loulaki Blue opened its doors 17 years ago. Deborah Cox (above) founded it for reasons of flexibility, lifestyle and because she wanted the space to develop exciting and innovative communication ideas for the marketplace.
“We have a particular project we are working on, but only when we can, because often in small business you don’t have time to put your head above the parapet you’re so busy,” says Deb, whose company began work as a supplier to the Westpac Group about four years ago.
From Westpac’s point of view, supplier diversity makes good business sense. Diversity opens up new networks and forges new connections, introducing new and different talent to the pool of people solving complex problems with future-thinking solutions, and that benefits everyone.
Sentiments such as these tie in very nicely with the recently released Westpac’s Businesses of Tomorrow Connections Report. The research in the report revealed 75 percent of business leaders believe a business cannot survive today without professional networks.
Loulaki Blue’s business model is to work on a project by project basis. This has been a challenge for the business, but the company’s ability to scale up and back depending on demand is made possible by having developed strong connections with other businesses and networks of providers.
“When I think about it,” says Deb, “most of the businesses we work with – our strategic partners, the people we get on board to support us deliver a project (and who align with our values, and standards) - are owned and run by women. They’re usually micro businesses run by women with a great skill or service who - for all sorts of reasons, but usually around wanting a different way of working – have left larger companies and corporations to work for themselves.
“It’s these networks and collaborative partnerships that have helped us grow, and who support our business success,” says Deb.
The communications company recently completed the certification process with WeConnect International - a global network (with an Australasian arm) that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. Deb, who was introduced to the network through attending a Ruby Connection women-in-business function in 2017, admits that like anything that is good for you, it required a lot of effort.
“Networks and programs like WeConnect open doors. They introduce you to new people and ideas, and they help strengthen relationships. At the Ruby event I met a few women-owned businesses. We work with one of them, now,” says Deb.
Inclusion and opportunity is necessary for everyone in business, not just women. The turning point can be the opportunity to be at the table. For Deb, getting to that table to then be judged on her merits comes back to networks: “Someone has known someone and that’s got us in on a meeting.”
It’s a process Deb calls luck, but that designation sells her ability to strategise, network and support other women-owned businesses, short.