It’s probably time for a little bit more explanation on my new ‘look’! And tell you the story behind the rebrand.

I’m drip-feeding the changes as I rediscover lots of the work I’m most connected and committed to.

What I’m up to these days

I’m doing lots more writing (some business-y, some not so much!), focusing on my key clients. I work as a General Manager for a few small businesses. And using lots of perspective to help me with a variety of projects in the mix of the two.
Combined with working on big plans with Sage Room Co-op Ltd, it’s all keeping me out of trouble! (I refuse to use the word ‘busy’ when I remember to catch myself). And making the best use of my skills and experience.

The Creative Process

I lost touch with my creativity for a while there, so I was delighted to work with the inspirational and talented SteinArt Graphic Design to create something new. I wanted to combine the existing and familiar themes of Connection and Collaboration, with my creative side.
I’m so happy with the outcome, and even made sure to incorporate the colours that inspire me from my home country. The photo below was taken by a good friend in Scotland, Brendan Murphy, who posts his work in some photography forums online. I’d been enjoying seeing his work, and then this one popped up and stopped me in my tracks. The colours hit me on an emotional level. I felt really connected to my country of origin looking at it. I immediately knew that I wanted to incorporate the colours into my new logo. I’ve always made sure my branding was meaningful and gave some insight into who I am as a human.

The (un)Familiar Logo

The logo took a little while, as I wanted to have something that still evoked my collaborative nature. Lots of entities combining to create something more substantial together. Most of the projects I work on, and the clients I work for, require much more than the skills I have. Rather than trying to wear all of the hats, I look around me at my extended network for the people who are specialists, and where possible, I ‘delegate’ the work out. Sometimes, it requires me to start the process, and once we get closer to a tipping point, I will hand it over. Then I can manage the overall ‘project’ – become the General Manager.

The result of describing all of this to Kathryn from SteinArt, is the flower at the top of this page. It combines the collaborative ‘circle’ I had originally, with the concepts of creativity and growth.

The General Manager (GM)

People often imagine a General Manager to be a role mostly seen within large organisations. I could see it was a relevant concept to bring from my work in corporate businesses. I took the basic principles and began to create foundations for growth within smaller entities. You don’t have to have hundreds of employees to put structures in place. In fact, it can make the growth much easier if you put them in at an earlier stage.

The New Adventure – to be continued..

So, join me on the journey – I’ll be travelling a while. I’m in no rush to get the finished and polished product out there. I will be putting my own foundations in place, to be ready for the next stage. Like any adventurous journey, I expect I’ll navigate some obstacles along the way. And I have a great network of resources to support me, so I’m as ready as I can be.

Here’s to transitions!

Credit: Brendan Murphy

In the next couple of months, things are going to look very different around here. We’re having a rebrand.

Since closing the workspaces in 2020, I’ve continued to do the work that fuels my passion and drive, and makes me want to get up out of bed in the morning. For me, not much has changed, except I now have more time on my hands as I don’t have bookings, maintenance, marketing and community management of the coworking space in my remit any more.

But I realise that outside of my bubble, it might not be so easy to know what Central Business Associates mission and vision is now.

So I thought it was probably time I changed the wallpaper, got myself a new name badge, and gave the world some context on the changes.

I am very lucky to work most days with a collective of humans that have been my rock during the last decade – whom I mention and praise often, as they very much deserve. We have even created a co-operative since we decided to all work together in the one space – Sage Room Co-op , and have spent many hours working hard on our individual and shared businesses, learning about our shared values, and how to work together – even when we don’t always agree. Our accountability sessions have paid off, and we learn from one another every day.

Time for Change

So when I decided Central Business Associates needed a brand makeover, I was able to engage Kathryn from SteinArt. She facilitated an insightful brand development workshop. We ended up managing to find a way to honour all of the things that were most important to me when I started up the business, including flexible working, collaboration and community. We also brought in the values and strengths that are a true representation of who I am, and what I bring to my work and my community.

These values will come into play much more now I have more time available, forming much of the content I will write about. Alongside those pre-existing subjects I already mentioned.

Expect to hear from me about Leadership, Creativity and Perspective, alongside more on Collaboration, Community and Flexible Work. I’ll be calling for guest posts on subjects that are important to my client base, and outside of my strengths. See, that’s Collaboration and Perspective covered already!

Keep an eye out for the sweeping brand change – it’s definitely hitting the Creativity button!
Another thing I have more time for these days.. And you can even find out what an Umbrella Space is..

Do you ever feel like you just need shelter from the storm – of work & life – and of the expectation to ‘succeed’ at both?

When I realised that’s how I was feeling, I started my search for the shelter. 

I researched online, I contacted government agencies, council departments, local businesses in my suburb. And nothing felt like it was for me. Everything available felt like it was all about ‘more’ – 

  • earning more money, 
  • having more clients, 
  • offering more services
  • working more hours 
  • owning more stuff

Just thinking about all the energy it would take to get there was exhausting. I felt like I already had so much to do every day, and apparently I needed to give more… 

I felt like I wasn’t enough..

As a small business owner, I wanted to find ways to create a business community, a coworking space, a safe shelter for me and others like me. A place we could meet, share our problems, find solutions, collaborate on projects together, learn from each other, and grow – together.

And when I spoke to others about it, they started wanting to join this community. More people like me! We were all looking

  • for connection with like-minded people, 
  • for a safe place to ask questions, 
  • for a sounding board to talk about the benefits of our work, so we could go out and network confidently and promote our services to potential clients, and
  • to feel part of something bigger than ourselves.

But there wasn’t a place for us. 

So I realised that maybe that needed to be my first goal – to create that space for all of us to go to. To shelter us from the storms of 

  • Family life – trying to hold it all together AND build a business to earn a living.
  • Comparison-itis – that feeling that everyone else is doing things better than you are, and that you should probably just give up.
  • Schooldays – the lack of available hours in the day to be able to work, if you have children and no external support system. And the holidays, oh my – the school holiday juggle…
  • Excessive peopling – if you are an introvert like me (see my other blog), trying to start up and promote a small business can be extra hard. And drains your energy faster than an Energiser bunny (or Duracell, depending where you’re from) 

As much as we wanted to run our own independent businesses, we needed a place to get together, to work alongside each other, and support each other. 

We desperately needed collaboration, connection, and community.

And so began my journey to build that shelter, and provide that support – for me, and others like me. 

I call them my Umbrella Spaces. I started with a networking group that was the First Space. Read more here on Blogger

I get a real buzz out of providing business support.

Especially when I see business owners wasting precious time, making things more difficult for themselves, or that they could be happier in their lives. And I do that in as many ways as I know how. It’s what I’ve built my career on in many varying forms, including through customer care, sales, marketing, and operations.

I spent almost 6 years running flexible workspaces and promoting the (at the time) still relatively new concept of coworking. During that time I helped many businesses improve and expand. It gives me huge job satisfaction to see people succeed and reach their potential, and to feel I supported or helped them in some way.

I’ve also supported some people who might have given up otherwise. Helped them try to figure out why things weren’t working as well for them as they’d expected or hoped. Finding them the right collaboration partners – ones that matched with them for personality, values, expertise, or even from a cost perspective. In fact I’ve been called a Business Cupid! I can often save people the months or years of frustration before they realise they are in a (business) relationship with the wrong kind of collaborator or referrer. Or maybe they’re not working with anyone at all.

If you want to go fast, go alone – If you want to go far, go together

I’m not even going to try to tell you who said this quote, as it has been said in so many places, by so many people, over a very long time (this article from an Australian data scientist actually shows it’s almost impossible to tie down to one individual, although he does interestingly point out that the research became much easier when he asked other people for help….!).

I think Simon Sinek’s work around The Infinite Game is another indicator of this being a true phrase. We have to work together to create real sustainability.

Working From Home

To be clear, working from home is a great idea – I did it for about 7 years. It’s extremely cost-effective!

And for many, especially with the effect that Covid has had on everyone’s working life in the last few years, the flexible-work bandwagon is on an exceedingly fast roll! But you know what – the novelty wears off quite quickly. And is often replaced with loneliness. Especially if you work for yourself. It almost (almost!) made me consider going back to the commute, and working in a city. But deep down, to be true to my proudly introverted personality, I wanted to be based close to home. So I went out and found like-minded people, and opened the shared space.

Flexible Workspaces

I’d often be asked why I set up the flexible workspace, as I would get so frustrated that I didn’t have time to spend with the very people who I set it up for! Others would ask why I didn’t hold more networking events there. But returning to that introvert personality I mentioned, I was already running low in the energy banks, and had little left to give.

Over a period of time, I realised I was spending more time marketing and selling the workspaces to make sure I could pay the enormous rent bill every month. And not as much time doing what I loved. Helping the community of people who were choosing to work there.

Not everyone who worked in the space wanted the connections and the collaboration opportunities. Some people were just there to use the facilities. And I think that’s when I realised that I had already achieved what I’d set out to do. I’d created the base community, and cemented the idea of being able to grow faster together.

That’s when I made the difficult decision not to renew my lease when it came up. It was time to move on to the next stage. Delivering the services I’d been struggling to find the time for, in amongst the role of being the workspace host. I could see all the possibilities within the trusted network we had created as a community, but I wasn’t finding the time to help move us forward.

Our core community were able to take our big leap towards independence, by taking on a shared lease. One that was just slightly bigger than we needed, so we could still have occasional coworkers and meetings as required, and room to grow.

I now spend my days, in my element – knee-deep in research, reports, marketing and business development. Being part of the growth and support of those individual businesses in our suburban community.

Collaborative, Co-operative

We have even taken things a stage further, having just launched a co-operative called Sage Room Co-op Ltd. We plan to offer services to assist others in their growth journey. I now have more time to write – blogs and books, which I have been procrastinating about for the last 6 years (and then some..), and germinate my ideas.

Suburban Collaboration Hubs

One of those ideas, is to help other groups create a similar co-operative way of working. Demonstrate how we can create more Suburban Collaboration Hubs. Where there is no one individual expected to take on the huge commitment of a large-scale commercial lease. Each hub considers keeping a little bit of extra desk space that can be hired/utilised by those who need a place to collaborate or connect. Let me know if this is something you’d like to know more about.

Business Directory: coworking

As an aside, I’ve kept my business directory running in the hope that we can make this happen. I did such a good job of marketing my space all those years, that I still get pretty consistent enquiries from people who are looking for somewhere to work in this area. I’d love to have more potential places to tell them to contact. So get in touch if you are local to me, and have an office that you’d be happy to let out occasionally!

So, in essence, although once again my method of delivery has changed, I am still right where I wanted to be, doing what I want to do. In the midst of a community that I love, helping other businesses find ways to improve and grow, sustainably.

Here’s to Flexible-work practices, Collaboration, Sustainable growth and Business support services!

As I wrote this article, I was able to see my own journey. I’ve been talking about these same subjects – collaboration, flexible working, work-life balance and sustainable growth – for a number of years now. And whilst I’ve made some changes to my business in that time, the message has been consistent.
It’s funny how sometimes you don’t see it yourself until much later. My colleagues have always maintained I was consistent, but I’ve often felt I was being a bit ‘random’!
So I’m glad I wrote this one, even if I’m the one who most benefits from reading it.. 😉

Imposter Syndrome rears it’s head – again.

This is like the episode where they bring in the new person playing Dr Who so you get used to them. That’s how I feel right now – not that I’m putting myself in a category with Dr Who! But I do feel like an imposter, a cuckoo trying to sneak into the nest while no-one’s looking. Except I’m introducing myself, and we’re both staying, and we’re the same person…

Right, that analogy failed. Let’s try again.

There are many sides to me. I’m a consultant, a parent, a woman, and I even used to be a singer, but that’s a story for another day.

I’m also a writer, in many forms. I’ve been writing, in different styles and places, my whole life. In more recent years, I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously and realising other people are thankfully taking me seriously too. I don’t profess to be great, and I didn’t study it anywhere. I just love it, a lot. It truly sparks joy – isn’t that worth following?

And, as you will know if you’ve been around for any length of time on this site, or in my life, I like to blend my life and work as much as I can. So I’ve been trying to make a point of doing this more and more. This is another extension of that. I’ve been working (extremely slowly) on some serious writing, for a couple of books (one fiction, one non-fiction) and also on a bit of a fun blog, and I wanted to at least associate them in some way, so people will be able to connect the dots if they want to. (I personally love connecting dots!)

The Blog

Growing up, and moving through my corporate years, I was almost permanently exhausted.

I wondered how everyone else seemed to cope with everyday life, and I was often this crumpled heap in the bathroom, trying to take a quick power-nap before rejoining for round two of ‘Get over it, this is your normal workweek’!

It wasn’t until I hit my early 40’s (I’m not that quick at figuring things out – I like to be sure before I make big life decisions!), that a series of ‘aha’ moments while reading some insightful articles, had me realise that

  • I’m an Introvert (Myers Briggs INFP for anyone interested, but I won’t judge you if you’re not..).
  • I’m Highly Sensitive (not in a ‘oh poor me, pity me’ sense, in an actual scientific, can’t help it, I can assure you! sort of way).
  • I don’t like keeping my creative and business lives separate. It makes me feel like I’m being inauthentic, which is frankly exhausting. Which takes me back to the beginning of my point!  

The Resolution

So – to try to put Imposter Syndrome back in the naughty corner, I decided it was time for a merge…. The blog and it’s socials have been quietly (and like I said, slooooowly) running in the background, since 2016. They will still retain their own site, but stay connected in some ways, so I can stop feeling like I have more than one identity. Plus how else would you know to come and ask me to do any writing for you – if you happen to like my style? All joking aside, that’s not why I’m here. I’ll leave a link between them now, and make sure I say hello now and again in each, as each – if that makes sense… You are welcome to join me on either journey!

Signing off, quietly…

The past few years have been a different kind of chaos for those of us in small business.

I’ve heard people talk recently about how it was actually nice to have the occasional 3-day lockdown and spend time at home with family or binge-watch that show you’ve had on your watchlist for 6 months. And I agree, that time was precious, and should be repeated more often!

However, for those of us who rely on everyone being out and about and doing ‘normal’ stuff to keep our small businesses financially viable, we were more likely living in a state of anxiety day-to-day. Wondering when everyone was coming back out to spend with us again.

As most of you know if you’ve been following me for a while, when I started Central Business Associates, I wanted to find ways to bring people together.

To show them how to collaborate, to share their skills and learn from each other, and team up with others who were good at the tasks they didn’t like doing so much. Or that just weren’t within their range of expertise.

Through being involved in local networking events and running the workspaces in Wynnum for almost 6 years, I was able to find people I needed most to work with. They had skills that I either lacked, or that I needed an enhanced version of, in order to move my (and their) business forward. And others found me, for the same reason.

I thrive being able to help people achieve their potential. My main values are Leadership and Ethics, and I want to inspire people towards self-leadership and learning. In a sustainable and purposeful way, and not only for financial gain (we can’t ‘take it with us’, as we are often being told!).

In general, I’ve met and connected with, so many incredible and talented people, all within this suburban community of Brisbane’s Bayside in Queensland. I’d never have imagined it was possible in such a small part of this vast country we live in. It’s made me realise the huge potential there is for this type of collaborative working (and co-operative – more on this in a later blog – there is exciting news coming soon!) – not just flexible-working – which is the big buzzword out there at the moment (and I was talking about it more than 5 years ago by the way. Just saying…).

I see collaborative working in the small business context like corporate teamwork in a way . It’s getting together with, or putting together, a good group of people with a great mix of skills who can do just about everything between them – high five!

So – back to that chaos..

There is no way to properly explain the difference that having those others around made to that chaos. The calm that it brought to the panic that each of us individually felt, at different moments, over the last few years.

  • I can’t do this!
  • I need to go and get a job, I can’t sustain this business any more!
  • There’s not enough work!
  • I’ve got too much work, and not enough hours in the day, but I can’t afford to hire anyone to help!

Slowly, we all came to realise that we were all in different boats, but in the same choppy waters. So, we tied our boats together. Shared our fears, and funny stories, and our skills and experience.

And we are still here. And we are probably stronger, and much more sustainable (dare I say buoyant!) than before.

Collaborative Partners

So, I just wanted to do a bit of a shoutout to a few of those collaborative partners, and say thank you for rescuing me from the storm – I’ve come out the other side, and I’m in much calmer waters now, and excited about the next bit of the journey. In no order of awesomeness (actually, I made it backwards alphabetical, for a change)

Michelle, from MobyCo

Lauren, from Bayside Admin

Kelly, from Adaptable Quality

Kathryn, from SteinArt and

Amy, from Nurturing Confidence

My thanks to you all for your various contributions to my survival, and my business growth in the last few years!

Next time, I will be talking about what I got up to when things were not so busy in my consultancy boat…

New Collaborative Opportunities

With our office move becoming public, I was excited to be asked to do an interview with Leisa from Dot Dash Events, as part of their Tide Talks series.
It gave me another opportunity to let more people know where we are heading off to, and what services I will be able to spend my time offering once we move.

All of us who are moving into the Mt Carmel Centre are looking forward to see what new collaborative opportunities it will create for all of our businesses.

Check out the full interview here on their website, have a read of the previous blogs and chats. Maybe even see if you’d like to feature in their future interviews!

Our Community Manager, Celia Newlands, brings a wide variety of skills to the business.

“I’m always looking for new ways to help small businesses and sole traders in my community. As a Community Manager and now Co-operative Director, I’m able to connect people who could collaborate to resolve multiple problems. And as a result, grow both businesses. Over time, people have often joked about me being a ‘business dating service’ (I wasn’t so sure about that one!) and a small business surgery. The second nickname has kind of stuck and is now an integral part of our service offering.”

Different stages, different needs

Celia meets people at all different stages of running a business. From developing a great idea, through struggling to grow beyond a plateau. Or trying to find ways to work less hours, or more flexibly.
“In the midst of working ‘inside’ the business every day, business owners often can’t see the ‘wood for the trees’. Having worked in change management, I am always looking in from the outside. This often makes it easier to see how simple tweaks could really improve things. I don’t shy away from the hard questions. If I need you to see that your business will only grow if you stop micro-managing and give people some responsibility, I will (gently) tell you!”

Finding the right support

Some people might need to find Marketing support (where there are are so many different areas of speciality – social media, SEO, advertising and PR. Others might need a great Graphic Designer to build or create brand consistency.
Maybe the business isn’t growing because the business owner is undervaluing his or herself and not charging enough. Maybe they lost their passion in amongst the business development. Or the numbers don’t make sense, or they feel the staff are letting them down….

The list goes on, but Celia’s enthusiasm to find a solution doesn’t wane. It’s what drives her. Gets her jumping out of bed every morning, excited to go to work. Those who work with Celia will testify to this – even on Mondays!

Two people in a meeting room, talking and smiling.

How does it work?

The Small Business Surgery service is a general information offering, tailored as much as possible to you and your businesses needs, based on the information you provide. We try to find a local, trusted service provider to help if we can, as we are really passionate about growing the local economy.
We ask questions to help clarify the areas a business may be struggling with. Or determine where they need a service provider, before making suggestions of who may be able to assist. It will often consist of more than one option, so you can compare and see which provider fits your needs best.

Celia says “I try to help clients by letting them know what is available in their own community. Often people want to make a human connection with a service provider. We can all search online for answers these days. However, sitting down for a face-to-face chat with someone you may be deciding to hand your hard-earned dollars to, or entrust with your clients, is sometimes the best option to gain a real sense of trust. I am a real believer in authentic recommendation. If I’ve not used the services personally, but have worked with them and feel they could be the right match, I will say that.
I know a little bit about a lot of business subjects. Accordingly, in these situations, I am really a provider of information as opposed to a specialist – hence ‘small business surgery’! Finding the ‘specialist’ can be time-consuming. I’ve spent most of my career striving to provide excellent Customer Service. Finding the right product or service to meet the client’s needs is something I’m proudly confident about. I’ve built up a large network of local connections, and researched what is available in our business community. Allowing me to save people a lot of time if they need assistance and aren’t sure where to look.”

Contact Celia if you are interested in an appointment with the ‘small business surgery’. Or click here to find out more.

I really wanted to take a bit of time to delve in to explain what collaboration means to me.

Why I feel collaboration is such an important part of what we do here at Central Business Associates, but also why it is of great importance for us all to learn how to do it, and do it well!

You really do say it a lot…!

I know, I know! I never particularly used the word ‘collaborate’ until I began planning the concept of Central Business Associates, but I found myself naturally saying the word increasingly when I was explaining my business ideas, and also came to realise that I had been ‘collaborating’ for my whole working life! It was actually one of my major strengths, so I started looking more closely at it.
My research found me suddenly seeing the word everywhere  (you know how that happens – it feels like coincidence, but it’s just your brain seeing what was always there, in a new light!), but there were varying ways that it was being perceived and understood. So I wanted to clarify to you what it means to me, and how I use it in this business, so you can understand how it might benefit you, and how you can access the relevant services for you.


For me – collaboration is about teamwork – it’s about recognising you can’t do it all alone, or more to the point – you don’t have to do it all alone! If we all work together and use our strengths, we don’t have to battle away alone, and try and do the things that we are not so good at (or that we secretly really don’t enjoy doing!). It’s about give and take – for a partnership to work, everyone has to be bringing strengths to the table, or the imbalance will eventually weigh heavy on the relationship. But it’s also not about expecting something every time you give – it’s about the teamwork – knowing that if the other person or people can help you, they will.
Knowing you have a group of people who have your back is an amazing feeling, and makes you all stronger – isn’t that worth pursuing?