With service sector activity falling to its lowest level in almost two years, Australian SMEs will join together to uniquely self-mentor one another in innovation, internationalization, digitization, and growth.

In light of sector decline and the recent focus on start-up support, including the federal government’s $23m Incubator Support program, Australian Services Roundtable has launched a self-mentoring program for SMEs that have superseded start-up challenges and are left afloat to navigate the big, wide multinational ocean.

“As the peak representative body of the service industry, we found SMEs are facing similar challenges, and those without support are finding it very difficult and isolating to grow their business,” said Alina Bain, CEO of Australian Services Roundtable.

sme-fiji“This program acts as a buoy for SMEs to come together to workshop solutions, foster partnerships and broaden their focus from operational to strategic, and from domestic to international.”

Rising stars in the SME world – including Franklin Phillips, Full Profile, EverEdge, Dearin & Associates and Geotron – will offer one another the benefit of their experience, skills and contacts.

Operating with no physical office base, Franklin Phillips CEO Vivianne Arnold founded her business to be digitally innovative and operate globally from the outset, a skill she believes SMEs need. “Australian small businesses have not realised the potential and simplicity of taking firms global – we need to take our innovative ideas beyond the border.”

Similarly Emma Weston’s business, Full Profile, was founded with an international focus, using technology to solve real-world problems in the agricultural sector. “The SME world actually has a real sense of community and generosity when it comes to sharing solutions but there has been no avenue for this type of self-mentoring before.”

“SMEs cannot operate in a silo – as Australia climbs the ladder of innovation, this is an opportunity to connect with different groups of thinking and frame the national conversation”, said Yumi Millan, Managing Director of EverEdge, designed to navigate the complex global intellectual property market.

As a former management consultant in the Middle East and founder of Dearin & Associates, Cynthia Dearin believes SMEs need more support and advocacy. “Simply put, SMEs understand the challenges that other SMEs face. We need to address challenges head-on and reduce the high rate of failure that can be, at times, synonymous with SMEs.”

One year after launching structural and civil engineering consulting firm Geotron, Peter Geoghegan plans to investigate his options to grow his business internationally – his first stop, Asia. “Whether it’s in law or agriculture or engineering like myself, we need to share the lessons we’ve learnt as we build our businesses, because at the end of the day, we are all services, we are all one body.”

For further information on ASR’s SME Mentoring Program, please go to