Bernard Salt in Busselton | The lifestylepreneur

City of Busselton deputy mayor John McCallum, social commentator Bernard Salt and Jack in the Box director Scott Robinson.
City of Busselton deputy mayor John McCallum, social commentator Bernard Salt and Jack in the Box director Scott Robinson.

Social commentator Bernard Salt famed for telling millennials they could afford a house if they stopped buying $22 smashed avocados for breakfast was in Busselton on Thursday.

Mr Salt revealed data showing Busselton was one in seven locations across Australia where the lifestylepreneur was taking off.

A lifestylpreneur was a person gravitated towards an area which saw growth in the number of sole traders, micro businesses and small businesses.

“There is something happening here,” he said. “Entrepreneurial energy is coming out of this region.”

Mr Salt said if you looked at Busselton’s growth in sole traders there were around 1300 in this area, which were only growing by two per cent.

“I think that is good, I don’t want one man band consultancies and businesses, I want businesses that are starting to scale up and employ one to two people,” he said.

“If you had 600 businesses employing two on average, that is 1200 jobs and it is not by big business coming here, it is by a small business taking someone on.

“Then there is the whole supply chain which feeds into it and is provided locally. The sweet spot is micro businesses employing one to four people which had the strongest growth.

“You want as many micro businesses as possible, out of that will come a lesser number of small businesses and a lesser number of medium businesses.

“Who knows the next Microsoft might come out of Busselton in the year 2040, you know a global business.”

Compared to the US, the top five businesses in Australia where large mining companies and banks, in the US they were global companies which started in someone’s garage such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon and so on.

“It is very much the tall poppy syndrome, the Americans have this culture of seeing people with a flashy car and saying, ‘I want to be like that guy.’

“We think, how did that bastard get to be so rich. 

“That’s the shift and the most confronting thing from the Australian people is that this is not something the government has to do, this is asking every single Australian to change their mind and change their thinking.

“People do not want to do that, they are very comfortable in their own little world, and their own little prejudices and their own ways.”

Mr Salt said while everyone seem fascinated by the lifestyleprenuer it really was not an odd concept and that it was quite logical older generations had come to places like Busselton to retire.

Now there was a shift which was seeing baby boomers do it differently, an entire generation of 50 to 60 year olds that still had a lot to give and could do that once their family had been raised and moved on.

“Why do that in Claremont? Why not come down the coast to ‘Ego Bay’ and start up a business.

“You might have been an accountant or a lawyer – and I think the most exciting ones are people who have done a complete sea change - they spent 30 years in accounting but are really interested in photography.”

Mr Salt said they moved to places like Busselton and started an online photography business for personal fulfillment and took the skills they learnt in corporate life to the regions.

“They might employ people, they are buying supplies, they are making a contribution, they are paying tax and are in a better space, they’re not working 60 hours a week, they might work 20 hours a week.

“It is a good balance.”

As for the younger generation, Mr Salt said they were very aspirational, they might move here, get a job as a barista and after a while decide they do not want to work for somebody else and want to run their own show.

“If you are 28, you are not married, you do not have a mortgage and you do not have children – you can do it – the previous generation were married with children and a mortgage by 25,” he said.

“They were never really going to have a go because they had too much on the line, whereas I think that encouraging young people to come here and have a go is that idea of patting someone on the back.”

If their first business failed, Mr Salt said it did not mean they were a failure but they were still young enough to pick themselves up and have another go.

Rather than recognise local sporting heroes, Mr Salt said it was important to recognise local business heroes instead of leaving it to the sports world to identify heroes who no longer lived here.

“It is not just recognising that 28-year-old for starting a business, it is using that 28-year-old to inspire an 18-year-old saying, if I do not get into uni it is not the end of the world I can start a business here.”

For the lifestylepreneur, an area had to be pleasant with activity, Mr Salt said people would not go to areas that were remote or isolated to start up a business.

“You are going to go to a place where their is a bit of energy and lifestyle amenity, where there is accessibility to a capital city and an airport, where there is internet and NBN.

“You cannot take on the world from Busselton unless you have good access to a good internet supply.”

Mr Salt said people should be thinking bigger than retail with one of the issues facing the industry was, it was rife for disruption from companies like Amazon with some categories being worse than others.

“There are other businesses that are harder to digitise, cafes are a good example, you cannot really digitize the serving and delivery of smashed avocado, you actually have to prepare that in situ with local labour.

“Cafes are now the new offices, people don’t necessarily want to meet in an office, people need to think more strategically if they are going to jump in.

“The onus is on you to find out where the gaps are, but I would think retail is a tough gig for a start up.”