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Episode 5:
Andrew Northcott
works it.

Systems and great people are what turned a uni laptop start-up into Labour Solutions Australia

Self starter
Andrew Northcott
is a
Self starter
Self starter

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Entrepreneur

James Tuckermann 

James Tuckerman is an entrepreneur, angel investor, professional speaker, and Editor-In-Chief at Anthill Magazine. He is best known for launching Anthill Magazine in 2003. In 2009, he reinvented the business model towards 100% digital production. In 2004 and 2005, he was named Best Small Publisher in Australia by ABA (now Publishers Australia). He founded the 30under30 among other programs and initiatives designed to support entrepreneurs in Australia.

If you left your business
today, would it
continue to grow?
By James Tuckermann 

It’s abundantly clear that for Labour Solutions Australia’s Founder/Director Andrew Northcott business is his passion, but even more importantly he also lives 'beyond' the business. In fact, almost every utterance from this man's lips in this micro-doco, suggests to me that his business is prepared to survive and thrive beyond its founder. It has a succession plan.

The importance of having a business that can live beyond the founder was explained to me by a business mentor who also just happens to be on the board of an AFL football club. Let's call him George (because that's his real name). While this is a situation that happened early in my own entrepreneurial journey, it’s equally applicable to even the largest of entrepreneurial enterprises. (If you’re a ‘hands on’ CEO, listen up.)

After a particularly rocky two or three years in business, George said to me, "James, would you like to know what team qualities win Grand Finals?" Who wouldn't?

Here's what he said:

“A winning team is like a pyramid.”

Successful team presidents, company boards and coaches know this intuitively, even if they never put it on paper. And every pyramid requires a solid foundation of fundamentals, with two other important layers on top.

1. Fundamentals – the bottom layer

Players must be fit, able to run for kilometers without tiring, kick straight, handle the ball accurately, tackle within rules, and all other things expected of elite athletes.

2. Strategy and Talent – the middle layer

It’s about getting the best players, team captains and coaching staff, and then putting a clear strategy in place to guide the talent and exploit the fundamentals.

3. Flair – the top layer

A winning team needs a special type of magic that only a few people possess, such as the ability to lift a human body to impossible heights before kicking an unfathomable goal, just as the siren blares. We all know flair when we see it. It’s what we remember. It’s what makes something remarkable. It’s exciting. When we employ flair, we often feel great about ourselves. Many entrepreneurs have this quality in spades.

George’s story about football teams and pyramids had reached its conclusion, or so I thought.

“James,” he finally continued. “Do you know what I see when I look at your business?”

With more than a hint of good humour in his voice, he concluded.

“I see an upside pyramid — all flair, no fundamentals. You have an upside-down pyramid.”

And he was right. Like many entrepreneurs (whether in their third year or 30th year), I had built my business using ‘big picture’ thinking, with little thought to the things that keep a business operating smoothly. And this is a trap for even the most seasoned business owner.

In this video, Northcott talks at length about systems, processes and hiring great people. He also describes playing competitive polo as 'living in the moment". He can afford to. His business is likely to operate like a well-oiled machine in his absence. And, should he ever decide to exit, he will profit accordingly and leave behind a business that will continue to succeed without him.

I haven’t ever met a business owner who doesn’t struggle to get these two goals in balance. What's the ratio of flair to fundamentals in your business?

James Tuckermann 

Entrepreneur

James Tuckerman is an entrepreneur, angel investor, professional speaker, and Editor-In-Chief at Anthill Magazine. He is best known for launching Anthill Magazine in 2003. In 2009, he reinvented the business model towards 100% digital production. In 2004 and 2005, he was named Best Small Publisher in Australia by ABA (now Publishers Australia). He founded the 30under30 among other programs and initiatives designed to support entrepreneurs in Australia.

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