Hello, I’m Rachael Thomas and I and very excited to have joined the WBN team as Business Manager. For the past 20 years I have been running, with my husband, Pre-emptive Strike computing and IT Solutions, Strike Point Graphic Design and Printing and Plexus Web Sites and Software Development in Albany. We have now sold two of the businesses, Plexus in January and Pre-emptive Strike in July. If you were to ask me what the main lessons I have taken away from my experience as a small business owner are, I would say Number 1 – start with the end in mind. Whenever developing new products or services or diversifying, keep in the back of your mind how are you going to exit (succession planning), because believe me, one day you will. The second would be to invest in good staff. If you find someone who fits your business that you can trust, keep them. Build a culture that is supportive, inclusive and great to be a part of. Thirdly, build the systems to support the staff and yourself to allow you to step away from the business. This could be something such as a phone system that acts as a receptionist and emails you messages when you are unable to answer the phone. Or a cloud based job management system that allows you to track customers, jobs, interactions and time spent from anywhere. And fourthly, put in place the procedures and policies to allow everyone to utilise your systems competently and effectively. At the end of the day we want to be able to give our customers the best service and experience that we can so that they will come back and also tell others about how good we are!
So a little bit about me. I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm in Tambellup in the Great Southern until my mid teens when my parents sold it and moved to Albany. I completed my schooling in Albany and then a Bachelor of Business from Edith Cowan University in 1990. I almost have a Grad Dip in Marketing, but that is another story! On completing university, I spent time travelling and working in a myriad of industries including sharebroking and finance, mining, retail, radio technology and tourism. I have worked for some amazing people including Paul Terry (who built the last version of the Esplanade Hotel) in Albany, Tony Shadforth from Shadforth and Associates in Hobart, and Ray Delapolina from Marlows Autoparts. All were incredible Entrepreneurs from whom I learnt about the value of building and maintaining your brand and teamwork. They were constantly re-evaluating their businesses, diversifying and always on the lookout for opportunities.
Running the businesses in a regional centre has not been without its challenges – especially in attracting and keeping staff. We were very lucky to come across some amazing people and have had a number of employees stay with us for 10 + years. It also allowed us to raise a family and build a life in a very beautiful part of the state. I have a son and a daughter who have both left school and are now off pursuing their own dreams.
I hope to be able to share my knowledge, experiences and what I have learnt over the past 30 years with the businesses in the Wheatbelt Business Network. I have a wide range of experience in online and cloud-based systems; web development and search engine optimisation; and graphic design and brand building. I would love for you to contact me if you have any questions you’d like to ask or to even just pick my brain. I’m here to assist you, our members build better businesses and in turn, build your communities.