How I brought my company back from the brink of collapse
Michael Young started Transformed back in 2006, with the aim of creating a specialist training company. Since then, the business has reached some of Australia’s largest businesses with its services and is turning over $2 million a year.
But when the GFC hit, Transformed nearly went under. Young says it took a restructuring of the business to survive.
So how did Transformed begin?
We started in 2006. I had personally been working in project management about 15 years, and I had started doing consulting work and after having worked in a number of consulting firms, it seemed like a good idea. One of the things we discovered quickly, working with different clients in the past, was that we couldn’t find decent project managers. We had been looking for some time, too.
For the best part of two years we looked, and just found there weren’t many there. We needed to go out and create our own, so from about the end of 2007 we moved into the training space. We became a registered training organisation, and we picked up some work with some large clients, and most of our work was then based around that.
It sounds like a good start – what happened next?
Then, we had an interesting time. The global financial crisis hit, and a few things happened. The Telstra subsidiary we were working with was shut down, the financial crisis obviously started to take hold and had a big impact in the banking sector, and also the Gershwin review into the ICT industry occurred in Canberra. Many contractors and consultants were asked to leave.
It was really a triple whammy on the business over the space of a few weeks. The revenue almost disappeared completely.
How close did you come to actually collapsing?
It was certainly close. The realisation for me then was that we needed to expand outside of the Canberra market, and we just needed to expand outside the project management space as well. It was one of those “oh my God” moments that we all need to have, and it became obvious that we just had a particularly large amount of risk.
It’s a tale that many small businesses could definitely tell. When you’re small and starting out, you’re just scraping together and trying to get things up and running in that very early start-up stage. We had a view to start out small and then get very big, but you just can’t become big overnight. It takes time for that to happen.
And how did you respond?
So then, we started moving into government contracting and purchasing. Then in the last few years we’d moved into construction and civil engineering as well. What we actually found was that there were two core elements in the building sector – and we quickly discovered these contract management skills were fully needed and there actually weren’t a great deal of options for people in those markets.