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I was once taken aback when an owner of a successful business I interviewed for an article in The Australian newspaper admitted that he owed the turnaround of his operation to the inspiration he received from Brad Cooper.
At the time, Mick Burgess and his Urban Landscapes business had won the NSW/ACT Family Business Australia award for a first-generation business.
Cooper, of course, faced charges over his involvement in the demise of HIH Insurance and I’m happy to admit that in all of my years I never wrote a story about his inspirational powers.
On the other hand, I should concede that I have encountered a number of successful operators who have said Brad and his team of speakers in the ‘90s helped them lift their business bar, and the jumps that resulted ended up consistently being personal bests.
In analysing the common characteristic of high-flyers, the one that keeps coming up time and again is the competitive attitude of the person driving the business.
And this competitive drive means that the founder is continuously looking around to see who is setting the standard for successful business.
Anyone hoping to set up a retail food or beverage business should not look any further than the likes of Tim Pethick from nudie or Janine Allen from Boost Juice.
The Boost Juice story has shown many up-and-coming franchise owners how to create a fast-growing business in double time.
The marketing and systems explain the fast growth, along with the perception of the owner who clearly understood what consumers wanted. The longer run growth story could prove hard to match, but the story thus far is a great template for franchisors on L-plates.
Pethick ended up selling out to the venture capitalists, but his come-from-nowhere story with his premium juice product will go down in local business legend.
I remember Mark Bouris when he started Wizard in a little office in Double Bay in Sydney, and marvelled at his spectacular growth.
This involved taking on a string of partners such as the late Kerry Packer, which meant his company could leverage off the strong connection he could make with the Nine network, its footy shows and general sporting coverage.
Then there was Gerry Harvey, who created a plan to grow his Harvey Norman concept by innovating on the franchise system as we know it, and this action underlines the two-part strategy of really successful business growers.
Harvey knew the franchise model had its merits and was responsible for spectacular growth stories for the likes of McDonald's, but there was a problem.
Franchisees sometimes didn't measure up, but as they had paid money for their franchise, they had rights and could cause trouble.
So Harvey created his own franchise model, where the franchisee manager was given the store but he ran it as though he owned it like a franchisee. If he didn't cut the mustard he could be shown the door.
The likes of Harvey know you don't have to reinvent the wheel to be a success; you simply have to look at those who have done it before you.
These innovative entrepreneurs copy the best, analyse the secrets of their subject's success and then strive to create an edge for themselves by going one step further.
Edward de Bono tells the story of two boys walking in the woods, without shoes on, who met a grizzly bear.
One boy went to his bag and started putting on his running shoes, but the other boy reminded him that he would never outrun a bear.
The first one replied: “I don't have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you.”

Copying the best and thinking outside the square makes many in business absolute champions. 

Published on: Tuesday, June 02, 2009

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