Success is a journey,not a destination so keep looking for improvements
Born in London and immigrated to Australia in 1972, Andrew Banks began his career as an actor, but it wasn't long before he discovered his passion for Human Resources and took the opportunity to travel the United Kingdom, Norway, the United States, Europe and Africa to build on his human resources experience - experience that eventually led him to start his own business in Australia in 1985 - Morgan & Banks (M&B). This was just the beginning of Andrew's adventure in the Human Resources and Recruitment industry in Australia and abroad.
Andrew launched Talent2 International (TWO) in 2003, a publicly traded company on the ASX, to focus on HR Outsourcing and Executive Search and Selection. Today, Talent2 International has a team of 1,700 professionals operating in 19 countries - a result of both organic growth and 15 acquisitions. Morgan & Banks grew to become the dominant recruitment force in Australia and Asia, and commanded 17 percent market share. At the point the company went public in 1995, sales had grown to over A$800m, before its merger with TMP/Monster.com in 1999.
A born risk taker, Andrew is passionate about the need for entrepreneurial spirit to be nurtured in a nation - he knows firsthand the willingness of people to take risks that grows wealth and creativity in a society. He speaks with People Matters on the journey of creating Talnet2 and what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
When was the first time that you felt you needed to set yourself free and venture out as an entrepreneur? How did you decide upon the business idea?
It was when I was studying at the university and needed funds to subsidize my grant. I found I could buy men’s fashion shirts at wholesale rates and sell them to students in campus and make more money in a month than my whole year’s grant! I subsequently was an investor in a restaurant in Sydney when I emigrated there in 1972, which we built up and sold 2 years later to give me my first capital, as until then it had all been on loans and credit cards! I then realized I needed to go and work for a larger company to gain experience of the corporate world, which I did in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I then decided to get serious and start a longer term business venture (Morgan & Banks).
How difficult was it convincing investors regarding the long term sustainability of your idea?
The first ‘real’ business plan was put to a local Australian Bank for launching M&B in December 1984 and we asked for a 200,000 AUD overdraft based on a ten page business plan that explained that Morgan (Geoff Morgan) and I were able to demonstrate a successful track record as recruiters working for others in the past (aside from my corporate HR experience prior to that) and now we wanted to change the industry sector and the ‘cottage industry’ approach of employment firms and executive recruiters and create a business that was the largest professional services firm for that sector much in the way larger CPA firms that were emerging in the 80’s!
The meeting lasted 30 minutes and we got the loan on the spot. We both did high-fives down the street and the doors opened in January 1985!
Being a new business, what did it take for you to attract and retain your best people?
Our reputation in the market was known to an extent and that helped, but fundamentally people were attracted to the vision and goals of M&B. Even on day one, we spoke of being the game changer and becoming a market leader and people believed we could do it because we were confident!
Who was your first client?
Our first client was a pharmaceutical company in Sydney that gave us a role to fill on day one. But then, we did not wait for the phone to ring, we went out and promoted like hell!
What according to you are the top things that a budding entrepreneur must focus on in order to succeed?
1. A vision and an idea of the business model that is the goal and some tangible evidence or research that it is sustainable and customer centric, not idea centric.
2. The ability to execute (or get the team to support your weaknesses).
3. Ensure you do the right things in the right order. LST - Logical/Sequential/Tactical. So many new businesses fail as they expand the wrong areas too quickly or don’t focus on the basics and build ground up!
4. Self confidence so you are not knocked off your path by doubt.
5. High energy.
6. Good people skills and EQ to engender team work.
7. Ability to back up the creative ideas with process so nothing is lost by inefficient delivery of product or service to the customer.
8. Understand the flow of money instinctively (cash flow/investment/sales versus profit and margin). Good entrepreneurs can almost feel their business and its ebbs and flows and react quickly (cut costs/get cash in/sell more/take complexity out).
9. Never settle. ‘Success is a journey, not a destination’ so keep looking for improvements and adaptations so your business stays abreast of your market and customers.
What should they avoid?
Never stop listening to your customers and your best people. Stay humble and close to the root system of power that got you there!
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
No matter how good the idea, execution and how you deliver what you do for customers day-to-day is everything. Get that right and the rest will look after itself, and remember the goal is NOT to just make money. It is to do something that is better and more useful than anything currently in the market and thus is your way of changing the world… just a little!