By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

According to The Economy of Shopping Small: Custom Counts, a report commissioned by American Express, there’s good news to be had for small business owners, with 85 per cent of participants saying they are in a better financial position than 12 months ago, among other findings.

One participant was Ben Cochrane, manager of the Parkview Hotel in Orange. Cochrane is a fourth-generation hotelier, a tradition which started with his great-grandfather, who owned hotels in Sydney.

Many parts of Cochrane’s story complement the findings of the report, which suggest that more than a third of small businesses in Australia are run by people under 35. Custom Counts found that 39 per cent of all 18-24 years olds are planning their own small business, and that one in five small businesses are started by founders just out of school or university. The average age of multi-generational proprieters is 34-years-old.

Cochrane moved to Orange as a child with his parents, who purchased and operated Parkview Hotel. After finishing school in 2007, Cochrane travelled around Europe, before coming back and working at the pub, learning all aspects of the pub before taking over as manager.

“I find running my own business to be an incredibly rewarding experience, and trading is strong. We’ve built a great network of local suppliers and working with a top class team internally is always a bonus,” states Cochrane.

The report also found that most small-business proprieters are confident in their business’ future, with revenues projected to grow by 31 per cent among small businesses that have traded for the last three years. Cochrane agrees, and has an optimistic outlook for the future of his pub and for the city of Orange in general.

“Definitely positive. We’ve seen the city of Orange change and grow a lot over the last decade, and as it grows we feel the positive effects with more business coming through the doors. I expect this will continue into the future as we continue to refine our operation and attract more customers, growing with the city.”

Of course, not all of the outcomes of the report were positive, with 61 per cent of respondents suggesting they have increased their spend with large businesses over the last 12 months, as compared to only 37 per cent with small businesses.

Katrina Konstas, vice president small merchants at American Express, said that small businesses like the Parkview Hotel contribute significantly to the local community, not to mention the aptitudes of their owners.

“Whether we realise it or not, small businesses have made ongoing valuable contributions to the world around us. For example, half of Custom Counts respondents who have worked in a small business said the experience had been pivotal in their career or academic success, and 70 per cent of all respondents attribute their sense of belonging to the community around them. Some of these relationships go back generations, with one in eight respondents aged 65 or over still using businesses their families used before them.”

Cochrane notes that while managing a small pub in a regional centre can be tough, the rewards outweigh the challenges.

“Nothing great comes without putting in some hard work. Running a small business requires attention and effort all the time. The benefit of it being your own business is that you always get to see the results of your hard work pay off. While there is of course responsibility and effort required, the reward outweighs this many times over.”

You can see more of Ben’s story below.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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