023: In 2006 quit a senior job at Telstra to start a video tech business using little start-up capital with two other Founders, now a team of 90 and $15m in annual revenue growing 20% – 30% per annum (Christopher Stenhouse)May 31, 2020
In this episode, I interview Christopher Stenhouse, the Co-Founder and former CEO of Switch Media, one of the world leaders in OTT (internet) content streaming. Switch Media designs, develops and delivers tailored IP video solutions for a diverse range of industries Christopher started the company back in 2006 when he was 43 with two other founders, just after quitting a mid-level management role at Telstra. Some of their 30 clients include Foxtel, The Australian Government (Including helping two Prime Ministers create videos for their campaigns), and AVC Media, who they built the original video platform for.
14 years on, they now have a team of 90, $15 Million in annual revenue, a growth of 20% to 30% per annum, and 4 offices across Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK. He undertook professional development through negotiation training at INSEAD MBA, the number one business school in Europe. Before stepping down as CEO in 2018, he put a heavy focus on sales leadership, especially since the other founders had those skills. He emphasizes the need for communication in every business and recommends hiring people one likes over people with more skills because nice people can be trained.
He believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is, “When you’re small, you’re nimble and quick to pivot, but as you get bigger, you need processes and structures. Find a way to handle your larger distributed team without losing your nimbleness.” The advice he would give himself on day one is, “Focusing on what is important, not urgent, and stay alert to what’s changing in your broader market. Be ready to pivot in case it does, and it almost definitely will.” Stay tuned for more of his actionable advice on how to grow a small business into a hugely successful and profitable giant.
This Cast Covers:
- Starting a worldwide successful online video B2B SaaS business.
- From mid-level manager at Telstra to taking on a lifelong interest and thriving at it.
- How their business survived during the global financial crisis.
- Growing the company from nothing to $15 Million in revenues over a ten year period.
- Expanding into international markets and establishing offices in those locations.
- Helping Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard create YouTube-style campaign videos and seeing a million dollars for the first time.
- Success in having a profitable business and a team that loves what they do.
- The efficiency in self-funding the business through personal savings and investments from family members.
- What Christopher would have done if he had a huge chunk of funding when starting out in business.
- The most stressful point in their small business growth journey.
- The importance of having a shareholders’ agreement before starting out in a partnership business.
- Demonstrating consistency as a business owner and the impact that has on employees.
- Improving on his sales skills to contribute more to the company’s overall success and the learning experience that it was.
- How a business owner loses contact with their team members when their business grows bigger.
- The difference between the business that a business owner starts and the one that they end up running.
- The value in recognizing the difference between an urgent task and an important one.
- Top HR Tip: Growing from zero to 90 staff by employing people they like.
- The role of communication in building a sustainable and kickass culture.
- Getting an MBA in France and being able to successfully apply it in business.
- The invaluable nature of having an independent board of advisors.
- The process of stepping out of the CEO role while still staying on as a shareholder.
- The power of a robust cashflow forecast in growing a small business.
- Focusing on the important tasks, staying alert to what’s happening in the broader market, and being ready to pivot the business if the wind changes.
“You need agreement constantly at the top, not only so you go in the same direction, but also so you can demonstrate consistency to everyone else in the business” – Christopher Stenhouse
“When you are the CEO of a company, you’re also, whether you like it or not, Chief Salesman” – Christopher Stenhouse
“The business you start isn’t necessarily the business you end up running” – Christopher Stenhouse
“You should employ people you like” – Christopher Stenhouse
Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/