We are Six!

August 2, 2016 8:00 am

Six years ago today at 3.30am I was staring at a pile of folders on my kitchen table with the dog highly excited something that was clearly afoot.  The folders had things like ‘Office Lease” and “Company Car” and “Bank” and “IT Systems” written on them.  Somehow I had to weave them into a business plan that would pay for the roof over this kitchen table.  We didn’t have an office yet, and our 1 year old woke up at 6am so I wanted a jump start on the day before things got noisy.

The laptop glowed in the darkness as I daren’t turn on any lights.  The dog panted, wide awake, game for anything.  So far, running a business was proving very far from glamorous.

Looking back on that day 2190 days ago it feels like a different me.  The excitement was real, for sure, but so was the fear, the self doubt, the worry for the family, the risk of failure, the mortgage.  I justified it all as part of the journey – and I think I was mostly right, in retrospect.

Genii had only just been given a name, it had 2x directors who trusted each other, a small amount of cash to get started, and some bright ideas.  It had some good-will from some amazing people here and abroad, and so began the journey of discovery and growth that led us to today 6 years on.

In that time, we’ve grown from zero to +$25m in revenue. We’ve hired an amazing team of 30 (ish) people, and discovered the ingenious concept of payroll tax.  We’ve bought our own 1000m2 ‘Googley’ office space that we have developed and invested close to $2m into the building and our teams future here.  Genii HQ is the physical embodiment of our business.  We have our own café, a gym and a training program, a bike shack, a games room, lots of TV’s & chill-out spaces.

We also have a Design Studio, truly integrated print solutions, and a fantastic team based here of which we’re incredibly proud. We’re featured in the Fairfax Fastest Growing Companies in Australia list a couple of times.  We’ve built a customer base of more than 300 clients, produced thousands of jobs.  We’ve developed and invested in some amazing technology to build out our strategy and we continue to do so.

How?  People.  We did all of those things by finding the best people we could afford, and supporting them.  We try to make work fun.  We try and pay people what they’re worth, not what we can get away with.  We set ambitious targets and attach big incentives to them (which you can do if you’ve got driven and talented people) then leave them to it.  We have an inclusive style that involves people, and we value the input that those people give.

It’s not just internally though – we have some hugely important relationships across the industry that enables us to get things done that others can’t. They know who they are. Again, it’s people.  Treat them well, be honest with them and help them if you can – even if it costs you to do it.  A mentor once told me that most people are nice, so it’s cynical and counter–productive to assume you’re dealing with the 1% who aren’t.  Be trusting before being cynical.  You’ll get burned sometimes, but you’ll get further too, in the long run, if you do.

So if I had my time again those six years ago I wouldn’t have worked any less hard, but I’d have worked more on people and team and developing relationships inside and outside the business – and put less into office leases and banks.

And so our 6th Birthday party on Friday should be a belter as it’s cause for celebration with most of the people that made it happen.  The dog’s still not invited.

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This post was written by Johnston Alison

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