Brendan Lonergan, CEO of Beehive Industries is passionate about tackling the growing problem of isolation, and believes the answer lies in social procurement.
However, he's been faced with budget cuts that have forced him and his team to find new ways to stay afloat. Hear from him about the challenges of operating in the charity space and bouncing back when the unexpected hits.
After a career working in banking, and then starting his own merchandise business, Brendan Lonergan stepped into the not for profit world at Beehive Industries Cooperative. But reviving a struggling business wasn’t a walk in the park, as he explains in this episode of The Company You Keep.
“To be honest when I first took on the job and interviewed for the job, I said, 'Well, we don't need a second interview. Show me the financials.' So I started reading them and going, 'Oh, what have I walked into?'” he says.
The organisation, which helps employ disenfranchised people and people with disabilities, immediately had to start upping its rates. Some customers threatened to walk, but Brendan stayed focused on only working with vendors who were able to value the work.
But that wasn’t the last challenge. Brendan had to immediately deal with a nationwide shift to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which affected the company’s financials – some aspects are only funded until 2021. As a result, Brendan has expanded into new lines of business.
So what does turning around a struggling business actually involve at the ground level? “We're getting a lot smarter about how we use the internet and our websites. We've commissioned a new website to be built.”
That being said, he offers this piece of advice for fellow business owners in a tough spot: pay yourself a fair wage from day one. “It forces them to price their goods or services correctly.”
Finally, Brendan recommends tapping into Business Australia resources, just as he’s done. “Probably the biggest is HR Advance,” he says. “We're very heavily governed under these compliance processes.”