Small Business

A fortune cookie with a difference

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Many small business ‘fast grower’ aspirants ultimately learn that when it comes to big ideas and dreams, you have to be philosophical about defeat. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.

However, Dominic Carosa, founder of Dominet Digital, had a unique brush with a cookie.

“When I was young I went to Hong Kong and had a fortune cookie given to me,” he recalls. “It told me that I was jack of all trades and master of none – I was insulted by that fortune cookie.

“It took me a few years to work out that this was exactly what I am.”

He knows himself better after 20 years in business.

“I understand reasonable amounts of sales, marketing, IT and finance, but I hire the masters in these areas,” he admits. “As the late Kerry Packer always said: ‘Hire people who are better than you,’ and I agree with that.”

From his first real business in 1992 – called High Score Video Games in Melbourne’s Camberwell – to his publicly listed Destra Corporation and now to Dominet Digital, this is a guy who understands his Generation X and the one below – Generation Y.

It means at the core of his success is knowing how to do what great business aspire to do – satisfy demand. However, when you have been in the hi-tech space since the 1990s and you still are, then it means you have rolled the dice and won, while many others have been taken to the cleaners.

It’s a new world with new rules and Dominic Carosa and Dominet Digital are netting the profits of understanding the online space and its communities – especially the Gen X and Y ones that spend a hell of lot of time in it.

Given his achievements and the profound insight of the Hong Kong fortune cookie, it was arguably the fortune cookie Carosa had to have. 

The inside story

On the cost of getting the best people, Carosa accepts that everyone in small business watches every cent, but he argues skimping and taking the second best in talent can be false economy: “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

On mentors, Carosa is a great believer. “I always chased mentors and people with grey hair,” he says. “I knew I had to learn more.” He looks for mentors and he puts himself in good company.

“Mentors have been critical to my success,” he explains. “I was member of the Young Entrepreneurs Organisation which now is called the Entrepreneurs Organisation. I was also in TEC – The Executive Connection – and I’m now in the Young Presidents Organisation.”

He swears by learning from people in the business.

“Business is business no matter what business you are in – it’s often the same challenges of people issues and finance,” he advises. “Peer group mentoring is great.”

Did he start the copybook way with a business plan? “I had no idea what a business plan was – I was too eager to just do it,” he says. “I did a whole six weeks of a commerce degree, but dropped out to run my business. I could have been an accountant.”

Did he have financial challenges? “Half a dozen times we nearly went broke,” he admits. “We were paying salaries on credit cards as the banks would never lend a cent without property.”

Did he do any business courses? “The Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne University was the best course I have ever done – very practical and everything I did was based on my business.”

A core strength? “I hate procrastinating – change is the only constant,” he insists. “I will embark on change for the sake of change. I have a view that complacency is a killer and if I’m not moving, there could be someone around the corner who could get to spot where I want to be before me.”

On being positive? “We have gongs and when someone does something positive, they hit the gong,” he explains. “I love sitting in my office and hearing the gong as it means someone has done something positive. That gets me going and I sometimes go out, in fact I almost always go out, and ask what happened.”

Any other Carosa inputs to explain the output? “To refocus, I do yoga three times a week,” he says. “It helps me centre myself and it’s great physically and also emotionally.”

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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