038: In 2003 went 5 years as the founder and 1 FTE, peaked at 40 in 2011, due to a downturn in coal dropped to 12, and now has 32 FTE providing environmental consult. Invested a lot in a great team and culture (Patrice Brown)

australia consulting fte 31-40 podcast sales $3m-$5m aud Sep 13, 2020

In this episode, I interview Patrice Brown,  the Founder, and CEO of CQG Consulting, a professional consultancy that delivers practical, creative, and cost-effective environmental and development solutions throughout regional Australia and South East Asia. She is a corporate environmental advisor with over 30 years’ experience in industrial and environmental management.

Aged 42 in 2003, Patrice left a long-standing engineering career to start an environmental consulting firm. Starting as the one full-time employee for the first five years, they peaked at 40 in 2011, then after a downturn in the Australian coal industry dropped to 12, and now have 32 full-time employees across five locations. She founded the business with only $20,000 of her own capital and the rest has been from cash flow. Patrice felt they had succeeded when about 18 months ago, they bid out large competitors with over 10,000 staff for many projects. 

She believes that small business owners should always act quickly and that the hardest thing about growing a small business is having that confidence to just do it, and being prepared to make mistakes. She says that the advice she would give herself on day one is, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, embrace mistakes, just have a go, and trust yourself. If you’ve been looking for some guidance on how to start a business or grow the one you already have, then you won’t wanna miss this episode. Enjoy! 

This Cast Covers:

  • Providing environmental advice to existing industries and developers.
  • An increase in business in the last few years due to an increased global focus on environmental conservation.
  • Generating revenue from a consulting model that fits into every client’s needs.
  • From the sugar and timber industry, into environmental work then finally into business ownership.
  • How she started out managing big projects as the sole employee and grew to employ up to 40 people.
  • The lessons she learned from surviving the downturn that almost took them out of business.
  • Beating huge competitors to secure a major contract with the Department of Defence and other moments of pride.
  • The different ways that different business owners measure success and the holy grail that is time.
  • The importance of understanding the kind of customers you’re targeting so you can come up with an effective marketing strategy.
  • Taking immediate action to start a business without overcommitting financially.
  • Recruiting slowly to get the right staff and investing in them to ensure they deliver their best.
  • The difficult experience of losing staff members to competitors and other industries.
  • Getting personal satisfaction from being able to create a career pathway for young people.
  • Realizing that thriving in business is all about delivering personalized service, coming up with practical solutions, building a great team, and providing value for money.
  • Allocating time and Investing in personal health and wellness to survive in the world of business.
  • Allowing, fostering, and encouraging innovation without micromanaging staff.
  • Her passion for continual learning and how it has helped her progress over the years.
  • The value in engaging with both older and younger mentors.
  • The challenge most people have in mastering the confidence to start a business.
  • Believing in yourself: The most valuable tool you have as a small business owner.

Additional Resources:



“Success is when you’re doing something you love, with the people you like, the way you want” – Patrice Brown 

“To be able to survive in the world of business as an entrepreneur, you must look after yourself” – Patrice Brown


Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/