017: With 2 FTE, Launched in 2006 Just Before The GFC, They Grew to 9 FTE and $1M in Annual Sales with Many Bumps in the Road and Lessons Learned Before Selling Out 10 Years Later (John Groom)

australia fte 6-10 podcast sales $0.5m-$1m aud tasmania technology Apr 19, 2020

In this episode, I interview John Groom, the founder and previous CEO of Acrodata. In 2006, aged 39 and a year after getting married, John jumped from senior corporate life and started his first business which specializes in document security and management in the small market of Tasmania, Australia. A year later, their first of three children arrived, and a year after that, the global financial crisis hit, causing his business to lose a new and large government contract. 

They however pivoted quickly to find new customer segments and recovered within three months, growing from 2 full-time employees to 9 when he exited the business nine years later, and at over $1 Million in annual sales. The business still continues to grow and be profitable to date. He admits that in the beginning he underestimated the size of the market for their services locally and would do a lot of things differently if he could redo it. 

John believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is funding and managing people, and the advice he would give himself on day one is, “Strap yourself in. Be ready. Build your resistance. Look after yourself. Stay healthy. Expect bumps in the road and expect to make mistakes.” Stay tuned to learn from his incredible entrepreneurial journey.

This Cast Covers:

  • An amalgamation of things he learned in senior positions at different businesses.
  • Introducing digital workflow into government entities, businesses, organizations.
  • Transitioning from a corporate career into entrepreneurship.
  • There’s no roadmap that’s 100% in business ownership, one has to experience it hands-on.
  • Running a business and taking care of a young family simultaneously.
  • Being agile and innovative for a business to survive during a crisis.
  • Creating the business ready for growth and achieving $1 Million in revenue and 9 full-time employees.
  • The importance of a business founder paying themselves a cost-effective salary to allow for the business to grow from internal funds.
  • The value of being a risk taker and having some self-belief while also taking the advice of more experienced advisors.
  • The pride of achieving great milestones with the business and what success looks like.
  • A business owner has to be totally involved and focused on their business.
  • Taking on investment funds from friends and family, and no government funding.
  • The most stressful moment in his small business growth journey.
  • The challenges of entering business for the first time and proper cash flow management 101.
  • Taking on an equity partner and how it can help take a business farther.
  • Having a mindset of making tasks easier and more efficient no matter what the task is.
  • Character versus technical skills when it comes to productivity and adding people to the team.
  • Leading in creating a fun, decent, and tolerant culture that delivers excellent customer service at a profit.
  • Networking, taking formal personal development, always having an open mind to learning, and surrounding himself with people smarter than him.
  • John’s experience and advice on successfully exiting a business.
  • The hurdles of self-funding a business and the benefits of seeking funding externally.
  • The power of proprietary software, Excel, and Salesforce in growing a small business.  

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“You can’t do a business in a half-hearted way”

“Culture is a critical component of business success”

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/