Secrets of Australia’s gun companies

What does the business world look like from the vantage point of red-hot financial growth? We asked companies with exceptionally strong financial figures to spill the beans on what Aussie business people need to know in 2015.

The cloud is fading

The big end of town has wholeheartedly embraced “the cloud”, says CEO of Kloud Solutions Nicki Bowers. Cloud computing involves outsourcing information technology to third-party suppliers who manage a business’s information externally.

Bowers’ business services company grew 273 per cent to more than $19 million turnover last financial year, according to the BRW Fast 100 list.

“Big organisations are picking up their entire systems and putting them on the cloud, allowing them to be more agile and competitive, more focused on their own core business,” she says.

“In the beginning they were doing it [moving to shared cloud computing] in bits … today big businesses realise that you cannot be half-pregnant about it.”

Profit is top dog

Turnover figures are always headline pigs, but the number that matters the most still sits at the bottom line. What this means is that if you make a profit you’ll have a successful business.

“The lesson we’ve taken away is the merit in starting relatively slowly and then accelerating,” says Adam Schwab from e-commerce business AussieCommerce Group, which grew by 145 per cent to more than $146 million last year.

“Our story began five years ago and if we were not always turning over a profit, we would have died.

“In retail, we knew we had to be profitable from day one to survive, and last year’s figures reflected our fundamental focus on doing lots and lots of little things really, really well.”

“Good old-fashioned” is dead-set cool

It’s the first chapter of Business 101, but in today’s increasingly online business world, first-class customer service is still super hot.

The co-founder and general manager of Prime Build, Dean Willemsen, insists treating subcontractors, clients and staff “the way I’d want to be treated” is invaluable to the construction outfit, which launched in 2009.

The national company enjoyed turnover growth of 195 per cent last year to almost $22.9 million.

“Our strategy, definitely our success, has been founded on old-fashioned values of treating each other respectfully and listening,” Willemsen says.

Apps market highly volatile

According to global data, in March 2013 Apple App Store and Google Play had more than 700,000 apps each.
By July 2014, Google Play has more than 1.3 million apps while Apple App Store had 1.2 million.

According to Danny Gorog, director and co-founder of Outware Mobile, which posted annual growth of 157 per cent and gross turnover of more than $9.2million in 2013-14, this increasingly busy apps market has resulted in a dirge of inferior products.

“You would think they [top-tier companies] all have the best apps, but that’s not always the case,” Gorog says.

“What we know is that if the app does not focus on how it’s going to look to the end user … it’s just not going to succeed long-term.”

Online cannot be hands off

Stevan Premutico, CEO and founder of Dimmi, says a revelation of his past year was “that you can’t automate everything even if you are online.”
The restaurant booking business grew by 53 per cent to $4.2 million last financial year.

“We quickly grew from zero to 2500 restaurant partners but there needs to be heart and soul in the business and in the relationships you form, especially when dealing with other SMEs,” Premutico says.

“So while, like many businesses, we dream of scalability and automation we have intentionally adopted a very hands-on approach when it comes to account management and customer relationships.”

Bricks and mortar critical

Boss of Metro Property Development Luke Hartman, is one of Australia’s current crop of high-flyers. His company turned over $221 million in 2013-14; a leap of 224 per cent year on year. Hartman says “infrastructure is our greatest challenge.”

“Our ability as a country to provide the infrastructure to service that growth has not kept pace with demand,” he says.

“Customers constantly talk about infrastructure – access to transport, hospitals and schools – as one of the most important factors in the purchasing decision, increasingly the success or failure of property projects is inextricably linked to infrastructure.”
But global tech bosses don’t need hugs

According to Nic Blair, director of Brisbane-based Brus Media, today’s multimillion-dollar businesses are often built without physical meetings.

“Over 90 per cent of our revenue is from international clients without any actual face-to-face meetings,” says Blair, whose mobile app marketing start-up will double turnover to $3 million-plus this year.

“We’ve established key relationships and exchanged millions of dollars with people we’ve only ever had contact with via email and the occasional Skype message, perhaps crazy to some but it’s the digital world that we live in.”

Originally published on the Sydney Morning Herald