After working in some of the world’s premier wine regions, a lunchtime chat caused Joshua Roberts to take a big city concept and tailor it to suit the growing needs of local businesses, opening Townsville’s first co-working office space in 2018.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I never expected to be running my own business in Townsville. I was born here, spent most of my childhood in NSW, before completing high school in Innisfail. After that I attended University of Adelaide to study a Bachelor of Oenology (wine science)… Yes, I am a qualified winemaker.
The next four years were spent travelling Australia and abroad making wine in a range of different regions including Hunter Valley, Rutherglen, Barossa Valley, Margaret River, Napa Valley (USA) and the Upper Rhine (Germany). Between vintages (winemaking period) I returned to Townsville as family were now living here. It was on one of these ‘temporary’ visits when I was offered permanent work in a retail position, leading to opportunities, training and skill building in a new industry.
At this point I reached a crossroads – not sure whether I wanted to return to winemaking or to start a new career. It was a five-minute conversation over lunch that led me down the path to Co. Habitat. Realising there was a gap in the local market for collaborative shared office spaces, a model that was already building in popularity in the major cities down south and overseas, I started building a brand and concept that would work well in Townsville. Here we are 4 years later and still growing.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a business owner?
Aside from Covid and the challenges all businesses have faced in recent years, the biggest challenge for us was introducing a new way of business operation into a town that can be quite traditional. Luckily for us, we had enough people take on that risk in the early days and have since grown to having over 40 members utilising the space.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
During Covid, I started to teach myself to play the bass guitar. Two weeks later I was roped in to playing as part of an Isolation Band being put together by Hit103.1. It sounded pretty good, but sadly I have not played the bass much since.
What is the best piece of career/business advice you ever received?
Whatever you do, make sure you have good accountant and lawyer and focus on getting the small things right first.
Going forward, what is next on the cards for your business/career?
The next big step for Co. Habitat is certainly staffing. It is a scary thing growing a business to the level of needing additional help and personally this is something I may struggle with.
From there however, the sky is the limit.
Find out more about Co. Habitat Co-Working Space here.
This free community segment is proudly sponsored by Clothier Careers.