Fan-Chi Yvonne Chu
Fan-Chi Yvonne Chu is Brisbane's 2017 Multicultural Entrepreneur of the Year.
Born in the Republic of China (Taiwan), she re-settled in Brisbane after several years working in the education industry, and established the Australian Multicultural Education Centre at Sunnybank.
Now a cornerstone of the city's multicultural business scene, the company has successfully assisted more than 25,000 international students from more than 30 countries to study in Australia.
It is a truly impressive feat for the centre's Director who openly admits she knew nothing of Brisbane upon arriving in the city over a decade ago.
"I was an international student here myself and it's very complicated when you move abroad," she reflects.
"You might have a share house full of international students all from different countries, all needing information about local services, employment opportunities, working visa regulations for when they finish their studies...it can all be quite daunting."
"We provide people with the advice they need to find the right course, the right networks and the right knowledge so they can get the most from their time here."
What is your greatest business learning?
You've got to love people. If you show them they are valued then they, in turn, will help you.
What is your greatest business success?
When you see students and ambitious young people achieving their goals, especially when they are achieving so much while communicating in their second, or even third, language.
What should someone consider before starting a business?
Treat your people well, that's the most important thing. Make sure you pay the going rate to your staff but don't overcharge your clients.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
No, I want to serve people and help them and that's exactly what I'm doing.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
Word of mouth is the best promotion there is, so if you're good to your clients then they will speak for you. Help them whenever you can - in our case it's often giving clients advice regarding visas and how to start a new life in a foreign country. They're always very grateful.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
I have a business partner who helps with legal and government requirements. I've also met some great professors who've helped me learn how the education industry works.
In Asia, some people will not help you if they view you as a competitor, but here in Brisbane everyone seems happy to help!
Have you sought business advice?
From all sorts of different sources. If you don't know how or where to find a particular contact or resource, then there's always a course or workshop you can attend to show you how. Never be afraid to ask!
From a financial perspective, we have an accountant. We struggled with getting one to start with, but now the accountants come to us for work!
How do you manage risk?
By making sure we're across any kind of change in industry legislation that affects us. If there's a new government ruling or policy regarding visas, for example, then it's vital that we know about it as far in advance as possible.
What value do you place in business plans and why?
Planning is hugely important. Who are you targeting? What are the opportunities that will be available to them if they take up your service? You need to know these things to be successful.