SATURDAY night was one to remember for Bathurst businessman Matthew Irvine.
The owner of Panorama Road Safety was the big winner at the Peak Connect Carillon Small Business Awards gala presentation, making no less than four trips to the podium to accept awards.
His business also took out the major award on the night, the Carillon Business of the Year, a testament to Mr Irvine’s role as a leader of business in our city.
In his acceptance speech, though, Mr Irvine made the important point that every successful small business in our community should rightly feel proud of their achievements.
“This is amazing and very humbling considering the talent and entrepreneurship in this room tonight,” Mr Irvine said as he accepted the Carillon award.
“We are a community of like-minded businesses and all of us strive for excellence in everything we do.”
It’s a timely reminder both that running any small business is tough, and that those who are successful get there only through a combination of talent, passion, luck and sheer hard work.
And also that a real key to success for the local business community is to work together focused on their common goals rather than to work alone focused on trying to defeat the business down the road.
The changing face of retail, in particular, and the increasing prevalence of online shopping have created challenges for local businesses that were unimaginable two decades ago.
Now a Bathurst business can easily face stiff competition from a retailer based on the other side of the world, operating under different tax conditions and maybe without the overheads of a shopfront of any kind.
Opening a business, particularly a small business, is a financial and emotional risk.
There are long hours that most people never see and sleepless nights that most could not bear.
But there is also the joy and satisfaction that comes with doing a job well and seeing your business grow – and that’s what hundreds of people gathered to celebrate at Bathurst Showground on Saturday night.
Small businesses provide a culture and diversity to a regional city like Bathurst that is much harder to find in major centres.
Not all of them walked away with an award on Saturday, but they should all have the community's thanks for what they do.