“With cash rates so low, I think now is the time to invest and grow your business,” he says.
“We’re certainly doing that at the moment at The Coronis Group. We’re scaling up as we speak, because we are bullish about the South East Queensland economy, especially in Brisbane, for the next two to four years.”
Coronis has spent 30 years in the property industry, building a network of 26 offices across South East Queensland and managing more than 8000 investment properties, 4000 buyers and sellers and 300 employees. He says recruiting the right talent is the most crucial element of scaling up, and Brisbane businesses will be spoiled for choice in that department.
“Quite frankly, I think we’re very lucky in Brisbane, because the amount of people coming from the southern states to live up here now is just incredible,” he says.
“We’ve just hired two senior, CEO-type people into our business from Melbourne. They’ve both just bought houses up here; one is going to live on the Gold Coast and one is going to live at Northgate.
“In Brisbane, we’ve traditionally had a bit of brain drain where talented people go to the southern states. But we’re actually seeing the reverse of that at the moment. People are coming to Brisbane for a safe, clean environment, and the talent coming into town is very good.
“So for anyone wanting to scale up their business, my honest opinion is that recruiting the right talent is the most important thing to do, and there’s more talent out there in Brisbane than I’ve ever seen in my 30 years of business.”
Coronis also points to the major projects in development in Brisbane as another reason for local businesses to take bold steps forward in 2021.
“Brisbane’s in a very unique place,” he says. “You’ve got Queen’s Wharf happening, which will eventually drive tourism to Brisbane. And the opportunities it presents… I remember going to a breakfast for Queen’s Wharf and talking to someone about the astronomical amount of fresh cut flowers they’ll need every day for all of those hotel rooms. Opportunities like that are going to be incredible for Brisbane businesses.
“You’ve also got Dexus, and their $2.1 billion transformation of the Eagle Street Pier precinct, and all the activity at Howard Smith Wharves. These are all wonderful places where people are going to be spending a lot of money.”
Coronis’ enthusiasm is tempered by an awareness that there are still businesses struggling with the fallout of COVID-19, which will continue to be felt in 2021.
“Certainly, city cafés are struggling because there are so many people who are still working from home,” he says. “The population in town is only running at about 60 per cent of where it was before COVID during the week, and that has an effect on CBD businesses. The flip side of that, though, is that the suburbs are doing better and suburban cafés are doing well.
“Similarly, properties around the major universities are harder to rent because there are no international students coming in, and businesses in those areas are struggling because the population’s not there.
“One of Brisbane’s biggest exports is education, and eventually we’ve got to find a way of getting international students back into Brisbane. It’s not just about the student, it’s about the family who come to visit the student, and then they fall in love with the weather and the community, and they decide to buy a house and stay in Brisbane.
“We have to consider that international migration was quite strong in Brisbane, especially from Asian countries, and we’re not going to see that for the next couple of years. So we’ve got to look at the influx from down south, and what their needs are going to be when they move here – schools, clubs, cafés and so on. Finding a way of appealing to those people is going to be so important.”
Coronis believes there is light at the end of the tunnel for those businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 – but they have to be prepared to make difficult choices and take advantage of new opportunities.
“You must manage your cash flow well,” he says. “You must be able to get into a position to have liquidity. If that means you have to cut costs to create that bigger runway until you can make your business profitable again, you have to make tough calls.
“You also have to look at where the market’s going to shift. Don’t just expect that what you were doing before is going to be the same as what you can do in the future. You have to be smart about where people are going to be, and what their post-COVID needs are going to be, rather than just saying, ‘Well, I do this thing in this space and it’s been good to me in the past’. If you take that approach, it means you’re not adapting to the evolution of the business world.
“You can’t just do what you’ve always done. My advice to businesses is to take what you’ve done and challenge it, pull it apart, get a mentor’s opinion on it, and see where the opportunities are moving forward.
“I guarantee you, there’s someone in a garage in Brisbane at the moment who’s going to be the next great businessperson, because they’ve got a fresh idea and they’re going to run with it.”
Brisbane Business Hub has been developed to help the local business community recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. It’s a physical and digital space for businesses in Brisbane to find advice and learn the skills to sustain and grow their business – across all industries. Visit the Hub in-person at Level 2, 155 Queen Street, Brisbane City, or explore our virtual Hub.