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Carla, Owner, Peninsula Herbal Dispensary

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Carla operates Peninsula Herbal Dispensary & Naturopathic Clinic from the seaside town of Mornington in Victoria, on the iconic Main Street. Peninsula Herbal Dispensary has been recognised as one of Australia’s leading Naturopathic businesses; and this year the business faced and overcame one of the biggest challenges in its 15 years of operating: COVID-19.

Peninsula Herbal Dispensary (PHD) provides a unique range of Naturopathic services. Six days a week the six-degree qualified Naturopathic Practitioners offer a free acute care ‘green pharmacy’ style service. In addition to the extended consultations in specialist areas like paediatric health, autoimmune disease, mental health and more.

Peninsula Herbal Dispensary is a core part of the community, their vision being to be the #1 pro-healthcare provider offering safe and expert medicine solutions to the Mornington Peninsula community. As COVID-19 panic started to rise, their patient community looked to them for immune support, as did many new customers. Careful forward planning on stock purchases and social media marketing helped capture this market while also servicing the panic buying that occurred. This made March a busy time for the business. March also saw Carla creating the Peninsula Herbal Dispensary HOME CARE Initiative which was rolled out in the days before the physical premises closed. April saw 17-hour workdays for Carla and her husband with picking and packing plus home deliveries 3 times weekly, while also undergoing renovations in-store throughout.

When COVID-19 restrictions were implemented, the business had to quickly adapt. Carla, normally a glass half full person, recognised during the crisis that the stories she had started to tell herself were interfering with her ability to get on with the job. Carla says “We were working ridiculous hours, and coupled with home schooling, my family had a crazy few months. However, by mid-May my husband Andy and I had committed to looking forward, planning for success both professionally and personally. We have had a laugh about the funny side of the last few months, and we learned a lot about not focusing on the fears and dreaming big, despite the sense of adversity.”

Carla has provided three tips to help small businesses as the pandemic roars on. First of all, Carla says its crucial to have plenty of discussions with peers who operate similar small businesses. These discussions allowed Carla to explore new options and gave her a network that supported her when things got tough. Secondly, the importance of a good accountant can’t be stated enough. A switched-on accountant gives your business a better understanding of the options available, and can open your eyes to potential lifelines as new regulations are introduced. Finally, a supportive team that is tuned into your business vision is important. Carla credits her amazing team at PHD who put in 200% for the business and her vision, and says they were willing to tackle all of the challenges that faced them.

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