In the quest to inspire and encourage global leadership ambition by Australian businesses, InnoFuture is getting inside the heads of successful small business leaders, who have taken on the world and cracked it.
In the digital age we often get starstruck by the meteoric success of some online platforms and ‘celebrity geeks’. While digital innovation must be encouraged, Australia’s sustainable competitive advantage and future national prosperity must be linked to “making stuff” that sets global standards for excellence, value-add and simply Values – in manufacturing and food innovation. As countries like Germany demonstrate, the contribution of value-adding manufacturing to a thriving economy and a prosperous society, that builds on great values, talent and competitive resources of this country, beyond raw minerals – cannot be underestimated. Can we do it? Clearly, yes!
This interview with Peter Freedman, Founder and Managing Director of RODE, a multi-award winning Australian manufacturer and global exporter, kicks off the series.
The interview consists of three parts, each with several lessons. These lessons have been converted into short ‘insight’ topics for SME and Start-up Leaders to use as a learning and training resource for their teams and for personal inspiration.
This and further ‘insights’ from Australian Mittelstand leaders will be available from InnoFuture Academy – the ONLY high profile business education platform in Australia designed with a strategic vision for Business Leaders.
Part 1: The RODE Difference
Peter Freedman talks about ‘the RODE difference‘, five core principles that have lead to the company’s ‘overnight’ 24-year rise and rise to global market leadership in the microphones market.
“I did it to show people why we are better than anyone else”, says Peter Freedman.
If you have any doubts that manufacturing in Australia is not only possible and necessary for the economy, but can be highly competitive and profitable, RODE demonstrates how the top excuse, that Australian labour is too expensive, is just that , an excuse. “What labour? There is none. We have robots, but we also have a lot of staff.” RODE, with the workforce of around 200, expects to grow to 300 in the perceivable future.
Part 2: Leader’s Insights – You Learn Nothing from Success and Everything from Failure
Peter Freedman shares very frank insights on his journey from the brink. Before multi-billion global success, there was a disaster. “…over one million in debt… I wanted to kill myself… but from that came RODE.”
- The importance of business Vision and Mission. “It’s got to be real. And, when it’s real it can be very powerful.” RODE uses its Mission to guide and focus ideation sessions – back to the Customer and Business relevance.
- From the brink. Over one million in debt… “I wanted to kill myself.”
- When the product is “good enough”.
- What I wish I knew sooner.
Now, still surprised by the recognition, Peter Freedman sits on the Advisory Board for Technology at University of Technology of Sydney (UTS). Here, he shares his lessons from 24 years in the trenches on a range of business and management, and, dare I say, leadership, issues. These topics, continuing in Part 3, include:
- On export: “Act. Get on the plane and do it. You may not like what you’ll hear but you will learn.”
- On selling. “Nothing happens unless you sell something. Get a good salesman. Pay them more than you pay yourself and bring in money.”
- On marketing. “Get professional help.” He is clearly very involved in marketing on strategic level. “We used to do shows and reach maybe a couple of thousand people. Now…” And, the old adage that “50 percent of marketing works, but which one?” is no longer valid.
- On profit. “You have to make profit. If you are not making profit, what’s the point?” “And consider your distribution chain. If you tell them you are going to make them rich, they will want to talk to you.”
- On business culture. “Have fun. I don’t micromanage people. I let them get on with the job. If you hire the right people they will be able to be fairly autonomous. But I get involved, on macro level, in all strategic decisions.”
- On market ‘niches’. “You don’t have to have a niche – at the beginning. Be involved.” [NOTE: I call it ‘market immersion’. If you immerse yourself in a market, you will quickly learn where best opportunities are. It’s all about being close to the customer.]
- On leadership style. “I am tough. People need to be a little afraid of the boss. You can make mistakes but don’t make them again – if you do you will hear from me…”
Part 3: Five Quick Lessons from an Australian Businesses Champion
“Go for the long term. That’s where magic happens“, says Peter Freedman. Couldn’t agree more. This advice applies to any business as well as country leadership.
- Keep the cost low – find ways to be clever.
- Make a Profit – getting sales is not enough. You have to make profit. If you are not making it, find out what you need to change. Change.
- Stay Focused – focus on what you are good at: as a business, and as a business owner. If you don’t focus, your business will fail. “Go for the long term. That’s where magic happens.”
- Get Insights – understand what you best abilities are. Focus on them and get others to do specialist tasks.
- Collaborate – learn from others, bring in mentors, get access to resources, knowledge and technologies.
InnoFuture is a Business Culture innovation specialist, helping SME leaders bring their Competitive Strategy on every employee’s agenda and more successfully drive Productivity, Brand Engagement, Continuous Innovation, easier and more Profitable Sales, and Growth.
TALK TO US TODAY.
Margaret Manson | Chief Inspirator
M: 0407 66 11 30 | P: 03 9857 9215