Jo Burston knows how to take hold of life’s chances. Prior to starting her own business, Job Capital, in 2006, Burston was working in a corporate role for another company when she got the chance to fly to Melbourne on the premise of pitching her employer’s service to a potential client.
When she arrived, she ended up pitching her own idea – a business which would manage the financial affairs, including payroll packaging, of contractors.
This pitch was enough to encourage well-known entrepreneur and investor Philip Weinman to fund her venture to the tune of a couple of thousand dollars. Burston attributes her initial pitching success to her passion for her idea and this passion has stayed with her throughout her business journey.
At first, Burston’s business was incubated within one of Weinman’s companies in Melbourne. The incubator style allowed her to tap into the skills and resources of a larger business, while not having large overheads. After two years, she graduated from the firm and moved Job Capital to Sydney where she started a smaller team.
In the first financial year the business made a turnover of $500,000, but this grew rapidly, and after three years it had a turnover of $3.7 million. After six years, the business had reached $38 million and had gone from 1.5 full-time staff to 13.
SmartCompany spoke with Burston about hiring the right staff, breakfast with Richard Branson and keeping her many ideas in check.
Name: Jo Burston
Company: Job Capital
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For Burston, there is no normal day.
“I’m very lucky to be able to design how I work and how I run my day. I work very well in the evening with my time because I’m not a morning person. It’s the mentality that I have to do what it takes and finish the task. Being a high achiever, I just work until I finish the task.
“It’s a matter of doing what it takes, it’s not just the best you can do,” she says.
Burston starts each day with a 12-minute, company-wide, “huddle” at precisely 8.48am.
“We discuss the company rocks – the company goals. We talk about how we’re tracking against the goals and which areas individuals and the company as a whole is stuck on. It’s all about overcoming barriers.”
Burston has instilled a focus on processes within Job Capital and each day she reviews business metrics.
“I meet with my chief financial officer every day. We review the cashflow and all the analytical data of what’s happening in the business.
“We evaluate every day because we want to understand the whys and why nots; it’s basically a tool to work out what we’re doing well. The focus is on improvement though. It’s not a measure to hit people with,” she says.
Burston has also installed a “model of accountability” within the company to ensure jobs are being completed efficiently.
“Another part of the daily routine is every afternoon I receive a report on the activities for the day from the team. It lets me know which deals were closed and what’s in the pipeline.”
On a daily basis, Burston says managing the employees takes up the majority of her time.
“The company will create its own success through the delivery of services and the people in the business,” she says.
“The second focus would be on strategy and third would be the clients.”
At Job Capital, Burston says she identified a problem with businesses using contractors struggling with their payroll systems and a “lack of visibility”.
“The best management decisions are formed when people get the necessary information as fast as possible. If you’re waiting a month to see an end of month report, or a week to get a payroll report, you’re going to be behind from the start.
“I’ve provided a low cost solution which gives you access to this information in real-time. It positively affects the morale of the business by making the life of the person using it so much simpler. The intelligence stays in the business, but they do lose the costs and decrease the backend costs,” she says.
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