How this entrepreneur quadrupled his business’s turnover in just 12 months

Nick Sheehan is the founder of EFEX Group, a Sydney-based business that specialises in printing and IT support. 

The company is just three years old and employs more than 20 people. In 2015, the EFEX Group turned over $3 million. This year, it’s on track to do $13 million. 

SmartCompany sat down with Sheehan to find out how he has managed to achieve such monumental growth in such a short amount of time and his advice for budding business owners. 

This is my second business. I had a previous business I sold in 2010 but I struggle to sit still.

I was keen to get out and have another crack. So, in May 2013 I started out in a little 40 square metre office.

We do print and IT solutions. We basically look after photocopiers, printers, servers and all those sorts of things for SMEs.

I’ve been in this industry since I was about 24 or 25. As we’ve grown, we’ve obviously taken on a lot of good people who have been around the industry.

It’s also about offering the marketplace something people can’t get elsewhere. We also try to give people outstanding service.

I think people overcomplicate things.

People just want outstanding service and products and services that aren’t going to cause them grief. Beyond that, it’s just a lot of noise. We try to cut through that.

Play to your strengths. There’s always things you can do that will be better than the big guys.

I genuinely look on things that have happened as lessons; we might have lost a deal or something but we we try not to make the same mistake twice.

The median age of our staff would probably be 25. We don’t have staff turnover.

It comes down to empowering young people. So not micromanaging but articulating a strategy to them and empowering them to do the job that needs to be done.

It’s also about culture. We have drinks every Friday and have team meetings every month where we articulate strategy.

Manage people as individuals and don’t expect a group of 12 people to be cookie-cutter types.

We don’t pay like Macquarie Bank but, at the same time, they love coming to work. Everyone is on the same page and moving in the same direction.

I’m not into management structures. We all sit together, do the same things, and eat lunch at the same table.

If everyone feels responsible for the result, then people are far more likely to get out of bed with a spring in their step and contribute towards that goal.

Especially when it comes to small business, management levels are crap. You need clear reporting lines, not hierarchy.

It matters to me whether people are having a good time at work or not and people really respect and respond to that. Share goals, communicate effectively and openly.

You walk into some companies and they have meetings and meetings, and meetings about meetings. But we just talk to the customer.

We suffer growing pains, there’s no doubt about that. This year it’s been 400% growth. While we’re very profitable, it doesn’t mean managing cash is any easier.

Fifty percent of my job at the moment is managing that flow of money and it’s very challenging. That’s something that does keep me up at night a bit, but that’s just where we are at the moment.

My advice to budding entrepreneurs? The biggest thing is you got to have a crack.

Don’t be afraid to take that first step, because the fact is you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Entrepreneurship is about hard work. If you work harder than the next guy, you’ll succeed.

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