07/05/2008 - 22:00

Beaver bites the bullet, branches out

07/05/2008 - 22:00


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Phil Doyle is well versed in the problems facing growing businesses and the issues and pressures faced by owners ill-equipped to deal with them.

Beaver bites the bullet, branches out

Phil Doyle is well versed in the problems facing growing businesses and the issues and pressures faced by owners ill-equipped to deal with them.

After all, as head of the Growth Program at Curtin University of Technology, their business is his business.

“We find that a lot of people were 80 per cent good at doing a lot of things but they were not exposed to skills needed to run a business to its maximum potential,” Mr Doyle told WA Business News.

“We’ve observed that people tend to start their business quite small but as the business grows, inefficiencies tend to creep.”

Since 1995, the course has contributed to the growth of more than 2,000 businesses in Western Australia, with companies mentored including Realty One, Freo Cranes and Renouf Personal Training.

The workshops are designed for businesspeople in managerial and decision-making roles, and cover issues regarding strategy, finance, marketing, human resources management and systems.

Kelmscott tree loppers Beaver Tree Services has been pruning trees in Perth since 1979.

When Paul Harrison took over the reins in WA in July 1999, the business had a turnover of about $650,000 and employed six staff.

He knew the company had the potential to earn millions with more employees, but with no expertise in growing a company, Beaver Tree Services stagnated.

Mr Harrison was inspired by a Financial Dynamics Day at Curtin University and decided to undertake the program.

Working alongside Mr Doyle he learnt three things he said saved his company.

“Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash is king,” Mr Harrison said.

Beaver Tree Services now has a staff of nearly 50 and has a turnover of about $3 million.

Mr Harrison said the biggest lesson he learned at the growth program was the need to delegate tasks and responsibilities to other staff.

“It’s a tough transition because you take it personally; I mean the business becomes your little baby,” he said.

Mr Doyle said changing that mindset among the people taking his course was a challenge.

“The program is over one year. Couple that with one-on-one mentoring and you’ll find these people undergo significant change,” he said.

“We’re not tweaking at the edges, we’re impacting on people’s lives.”

Mr Doyle said his program worked for Mr Harrison because the Beaver boss was prepared to take on a different, less hands-on role.

“He started the business very small, but Paul embraced the concepts we teach and he became effective and profitable,” he said.

Mr Doyle said the course’s success stories were those business owners who had embraced the need for change.

“The very traits a person has to evoke to successfully start a business like determination, the have-a-go attitude…when the business gets to a certain stage, usually when they earn $1 million or more, those traits then become inhibiting,” Mr Doyle said.

“They need to realise that they can’t do it all themselves.

“When they come to Curtin and they take the course, they leave with a different attitude. And that makes all the difference in becoming successful.”


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