Frequently Asked Questions about the SBO

If you’re seriously considering doing the Small Business Owner Program (SBO), you may have some questions before you decide to register. Listed below are some answers to common questions our participants have prior to registration, please take the time to look through them.

If you have questions that are not answered here, or you would like to speak directly to someone to get help deciding whether the SBO is right for you, please feel free to contact the Program Director, Rob Douglas: get in touch

The Small Business Owner Program (SBO) is a business program exclusively designed for owners of established small private companies with annual revenue between $750k – $3m. The core of the program is held over a period of 4 months (4 x 2/2.5-day blocks), SBO follows a proven philosophy and process that has been tested and refined for more than a decade.

During the program, you will have access to over 15 insightful business minds, who are all eager to help you and your business prosper. You will gain the practical skills, framework and confidence needed to improve your business and become the leader you want to be.

Download more information about upcoming program dates, fees and the course outline.

SBO is designed specifically for owners small businesses with annual revenue between $750k – $3m, who are looking to improve their business skills, motivation, and gain clarity and direction for the future.

Whether you’re a sole owner, family owned, or a private business with multiple owners that is looking to improve, seeking greater balance, or working on exit or succession, SBO will provide you with the tools, knowledge and network that you need to reach your goals.

If you would like to speak directly to our Program Director, Rob to see if the SBO is right for you please contact him: 07 2113 4444 or get in touch

The program is exclusive to owners. If you’re a Manager with no equity in the business then the program is not for you. The only exception is for family businesses where the next generation is assuming responsibility, but may not have the equity in their name. Senior managers in private companies may want to look at the OM Leadership Program.  

If the business exceeds the annual revenue guide of between $750k – $3m, you may want to investigate the Owner Manager Program (OMP).  The OMP is very similar in philosophy to SBO, but is tailored to meet the needs of mid-sized business owners and the specific differences in how a larger business should approach scalability, leadership and the role of the owner. Follow the link for more information on our Owner Manager Program.

SBO is a premium business program that runs over 4-5 months. The program fees cover the cost of 9 residential days including luxury accommodation, all meals, course materials, psychological testing, and face-to-face access to some of Australia’s leading business minds.

The program investment is similar to employing a quality business coach or consultant for 6 months. It can be paid in monthly instalments over the life of the program or in a lump sum. If cost is your only assessment rather than value or return on investment then SBO may not be for you.

“In the 12 months since completing the program we would have got that money back tenfold.”

Rob Kneebone | ABP Group

“It is worth every penny when you’re walking out of it. The return on investment you make here will just be made so quickly when you walk back into your own business.”

Kendall Tait | Tait Motors

Request more information about fees, upcoming program dates, and the course outline.

The core of the SBO is broken down into four blocks, which are held over a period of  4-5 consecutive months. Each block consists of a residential stay for 2/2.5 days – with the exception of the last block which includes 3 nights (the final night being a celebration). 

While this may seem like a lot of time “out of your business”, the program is in fact very compact and comprehensive. Following each block, you will be able to implement what you’ve learned immediately and start to see the impact of the program before the four blocks are complete.

The program allows you to step outside your business and see things differently – to provide perspective and clarity. It NEVER seems like there is an ideal time to take time out of your business, but if you commit to it, the benefits pay you back for years to come.

As spoken by our alumni…

Jill Reilly of Feeling Well Pty Ltd initially balked at the idea of taking on the time commitments of a residential program. She says, “I got over that quickly…organised my life to be away. In fact, the residential nature of the arrangement is evil genius on the part of the program organisers – they knew that the group would bond out of necessity of being away together. Very clever.”

Joanne Payne of Sequel Drill and Blast Pty Ltd was also hesitant at first at the prospect of stepping out of her business but came round to the idea. She said, “It is a big time commitment, but it teaches you that your world doesn’t fall apart either at three days a month, and that gives you added confidence in your staff.”

The SBO is a face-to-face residential program currently offered at locations within a short drive of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. As it is a fully immersive program with hands-on activities and face-to-face interactions, the program doesn’t suit online delivery. Online environments just don’t develop the same depth of trust and business connections that are an integral part of the SBO philosophy.    

The facilitators and presenters will be there in-person to help you get the most from the experience so that you can make the changes you need to reach your goals with clarity and confidence.

We are very selective in the types of facilitators and presenters that we use as part of the Small Business Owner programs. We look for people that are genuine experts in their area of expertise, work with small businesses, have a real world practical approach, and are proficient in adult facilitation.  The facilitators are all successful leaders in business who know exactly what it takes to build, sustain and operate a business like yours.

Each SBO has two facilitators who will guide you through the program from block one to the very end of block 4. These facilitators are there all the time. One is generally a specialist in strategy and business models while the other is a people and leadership expert. They will be supported by over 15 presenters who are leaders in their fields. These brilliant business minds are eager to share their real-life experience and proven methodology so you can replicate their success in your own business.

For more information on the Facilitators and Presenters download the OMP more information document.

First and foremost SBO is specifically designed as a personal journey for busy small business owners. In a nutshell it is about you and your business not just covering a range of content. That makes the learning experience extremely targeted to the specific needs and unique emotions of running a business. We’ve had seasoned business owners undertake the program and comment “the program was a perfect mix of content and accountability for small business owners.” 

Different from a monthly networking group the program follows a structured process and methodology to move the business and owner forward. The approach has been proven over decades with hundreds of businesses and their owners.  

Finally the sessions are designed to assist with practical application and accountability. While many academic, online, or networking programs leave you to think about application of theory, SBO ensures you apply the learning to your business and the group of like-minded owners hold you accountable to make it happen. 

“It’s a unique opportunity to feel both challenged and supported as you learn new ways of looking at your business… I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anybody running a business.”
Peter Sanderson | OneTeam IT

The program is also built on the philosophy of a broad range of genuine experts as opposed to the knowledge of a single business coach. You wont find just one facilitator trying to be an expert on all things business, but a range of subject matter experts and similar business owners that will challenge you on every facet of your business and personal approach. 

You will actually find that a good business coach or advisory board is complementary to the SBO program and will help you implement and action the learning moving forward.

Over the years we have had around a dozen business owners with an MBA or Masters Degree complete the SBO and OMP. In all cases they felt the Program added additional value to their learning and experience. 

Generally, the SBO is far more practical and personalised to your current business and life situation than an MBA or Masters program. Its unique format ensures that business owners apply all lessons immediately with real-time real-life results.

“OMP was one of the best educational experiences of my life. Everyone in the room was a business owner and the content was directly targeted to the owners of mid-sized businesses. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has already completed an MBA.”

Craig Lipman (MBA graduate) | EDI Solutions

Absolutely. SBO is not a formal or traditional education experience. It follows a discussion based learning model that challenges you to think differently about your business and your own personal life goals without written assignments, tests or exams.

You will gain ample support from the facilitators, presenters, and mentors who are eager to see you succeed in addition to the other business owners in the room. You’re not alone when you do SBO.


To get the most from the Small Business Owner Program we suggest you clear the diary so that you can attend all sessions in their entirety before you register. You can manage missing some sessions or a block if we know in advance. Please discuss your particular situation with the program director. 

If this year’s SBO dates are not suitable or already sold out, we suggest you join our waitlist for next year’s programs. The SBO is extremely popular, and by being on the waitlist you’ll be the first to hear when the new dates have been released.


It depends. If you’re stuck in your ways and already have all the answers, then SBO is not for you. But if you’re in your more mature years and looking to transition the business or adapt your role, then the SBO is perfect. 

We’ve had people in their 60s undertake the program to help them let go, transition to the next generation, prepare themselves and the business for exit or they want to keep going. Whatever your age, SBO will give you the clarity needed for the next stage of your business and life.

Selling or exiting a business is a big decision both financially and personally. The transaction requires specialist knowledge and skills, but the bigger decision involves financial returns, lifestyle and timing.  The SBO will assist you in finding the clarity needed to prepare for and time the process. Should selling your business be the end goal, SBO will also provide you with tools and specialist connections to help as part of the process. 

A number of AOM Association Partners currently offer their members an opportunity to apply for part-scholarships for the Owner Manager programs.

For more information, and to check if an organisation that you belong to offers part-scholarships or member benefit rates to our programs, visit our Partners page

The OMP is a highly practical program, which encourages you to reflect on and challenge your current state of affairs as a business owner. 

The format of the program includes small and large group sessions, one-on-one discussions, and direct feedback panels.

It is designed for business owners who are not used to sitting in a classroom.

The content is entirely practical with business tools and frameworks, case studies, and real-world examples that are designed for immediate application to your business.

Each program generally consists of 12-20 owners as participants. This size allows for valid networking, but also ensures depth of engagement and connection between the participants and facilitators/ presenters.  

The Program challenges each business owner on a personal level in the context of their business. We have had multiple owners from a single company complete the program together, but our general recommendation is for owners to do the program one at a time. This broadens the network, allows each owner to focus on their individual needs, and extends the benefit to the business over a longer period of time. 

One of the advantages of the Program is that it is industry agnostic – each program is made up of owners from a broad range of industries. Most owners come into the program thinking their business and industry are unique and wondering how much they can learn from owners in completely different businesses. They soon learn that there are many similarities and much can be learnt from owners in different industries.  

The best time is generally when you first learn about it! Many owners want to complete this project, fix that problem, or get the business strategy to a certain point before undertaking the program. In the vast majority of the cases they just delay the benefits and when they do the program, they wish they had done it earlier.  

There will never appear to be enough time to complete the program and there will always be other things to invest in. 

The easiest decision is to delay to “a better time“, the reality is a better time never comes. You just delay the personal and business improvement, delay the clarity, and above all delay the financial returns that inevitably come from undertaking SBO.         

At the conclusion of the Small Business Owner Program participants feel invigorated, motivated, re-engaged and inspired within their business. They have clarity and direction for the future and have made incredible connections with their peers and facilitators.

If you’re looking for continued support post-program, we offer SBO+.

SBO+ are one-day sessions held quarterly for SBO alumni only. 

These sessions are extremely beneficial and allow you to get the advice and support needed to stay motivated and keep you accountable.

We guarantee your experience will be targeted, personal and highly impactful. While other programs usher you along with hype, slick sales pitches and empty promises, SBO is the real deal. We personally guarantee it by name and by reputation. 

Download More Information about SBO

Small Business Owner Program (SBO)