Life & Style

The University of Newcastle

Sign up for a City of Newcastle FREE short course with the University of Newcastle

Attention small business owners in Newcastle! The University of Newcastle has partnered with the City of Newcastle to offer a range of FREE short courses.

Designed as part of the City of Newcastle’s response to the economic effects of COVID-19 the five separate courses provide local businesses with the unique opportunity to upskill and rethink their approach to business. Whether you want to focus on how to utilise social media, customer behaviour analysis, optimised negotiation, improving business relationships, or real-world innovation; these courses are designed to help you retrain and diversify your business.

The short courses are offered for FREE over an eight-week period with students receiving a certification of participation upon completion and a credit towards a Bachelor or Master’s program may be awarded.

To get a better understanding of just who can benefit we spoke with Karen Deegan; local business owner of Built For Good and Common Theory who recently enrolled.

Karen Deegan
Karen Deegan

An architect by trade, Karen is working on building up numerous separate service-related businesses; Built for Good, Common Theory, and NewCoh. At the core of each is the concept of creating environmentally friendly and socially responsible housing communities.

Thanks for joining us for a chat Karen. Can you go into some detail around how the last few months have impacted your businesses?

“We [Common Theory Directors] had been talking to each other since the end of 2019...that's when we decided to pull up our socks and got into the nitty-gritty of how we were going to take the next steps with Common Theory.

“Then quarantine hit, and the pressure of households and having to stay at home, which sent us all bonkers and made us realise that spending all our time in our homes...we’ve forgotten that we’re supposed to be living in tribes and villages. For millennia our social construct was to live amongst a group of people and it’s only been in the last few generations that we’ve gone into our homes, and it doesn’t work. As soon as you put a bit of pressure on that context, something gives. Then comes stress.”

The time was now for us to do this. It was time for us to illustrate why we need to change the way we live. It wasn’t so much that COVID negatively impacted the business, it made it clear that we needed to pursue this.

How did you hear about the short courses offered by the City of Newcastle and the University of Newcastle? 

“I’m part of an even bigger group called NewCoh (Newcastle Collaborative Housing) and it was from this network that someone forwarded a link to me about the short courses, knowing that we were going into business. When I read through the descriptions, it was like this lightbulb moment of not knowing I needed it until I saw it.”

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You’re signed up for the Understanding and Predicting Customer Behaviour in the Services Context short course. Why did you decide to sign-up for it? 

“There’s all this focus out there on business planning and business model and branding and marketing but no one talking about that whole process of when a customer is purchasing a service; no one teaches you that. I’ve listened to a million podcasts and read a million books, but no one talks about that specific element.

“We’ve had people go through the process of loving what we do, and thinking they need the service but not actually purchasing. We’re at the point now where we know what we are, we know the offering, the market segment, but we don’t know how to create a process. We’ve got the pieces, we just don’t know how to connect it all together.

What are you hoping this course can do for your business?

“It’s a really focussed course which is brilliant because we’re at that point with all three of our businesses where all the chunky thinking has been done, but we haven't been able to bring all the elements into alignment. The outcome of the course is to create a case study, and I imagine everyone will do their own business. You will put your own business through this funnel of thinking.”

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So, what courses are available?

Courses start from 31 August and run for eight weeks (four hours per week) and will be held online with live seminars, open discussion, and collaborative learning. Individuals must be currently or previously working for a business within the Newcastle local government area and can enrol in multiple courses.

For more info: click here