Owning a small business can be isolating at times, but it doesn't have to be that way. A trade fair can be a great way to mingle with other entrepreneurs and spruik your ideas.
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Small Business Secrets
8 May - 8:49 AM  UPDATED 8 May - 1:36 PM

Trade fairs are a serious business, with more than 15,000 buyers and retailers alone attending some 5-day events.

The exhibition director of the biggest trade fair in the southern hemisphere, Reed Gift Fairs, told SBS over $60 million worth of business is done, with thousands of orders placed.

"This is the most time efficient way for a small business really to make new leaders and do business on the spot," Louisa Theobald said.

Leanne Haining has been a regular at trade fairs for 18 years, selling her online brand Urban Rituelle, specialising in hand creams and candles.

A 3x6 metre space on the trading floor sets her back $10,000, but she said she makes it back in spades.

"We're not just standing here giving away collateral paper work and business cards," Ms Haining said.

"We write business with our customers, we make sales and we go away with new order forms. It gives us enough business for about three months."

Joseph Skeen runs his fourth generation family business, Murra Wolka, selling authentic Indigenous art and boomerangs to National Geographic stores, airports and souvenir shops.

Mr Skeen said he uses his time at trade fairs to talk business with other owners.

"You actually feed off one another and can talk about tax issues, it's good to talk with business minded people."

The Australian home ware retailing industry is worth approximately 1.4 billion dollars and is expected to grow.

To be approved for an event like the Reed Gift Fair, business owners have to provide their ABN, exhibit history and the type of products they're wanting to sell.

Boutique events are also an option for entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business who are trying to determine what the demand is for their product.

An off-shoot of the Reed family, the Life Instyle events give first time exhibitors a chance to enter the retail space.

Young mums Stacey Fisher and Lorraine Cherry-Nguyen launched their baby beach shoe business, Minnow Designs, one year ago and are keen to be stocked Australia wide.

"We sort of built our E-commerce sales to a point where we thought they were about as far as we can go in Australia and we realised that we'd love to be in stores and this was probably the best way to go about it," Ms Fisher told SBS.

Whether big or small, the business opportunities are there for owners to seize.