Business Success.. How do you achieve it? Coffee with Jim Donovan.

May 30, 2011Post by Laura Humphreys

Had a very enjoyable coffee with Jim Donovan last week.  Luckily for liber8yourbusiness members, Jim has agreed for me to interview him for the liber8yourbusiness online seminar room.  Here’s a sneak preview of  what makes a successful business according to Jim.

Firstly though, a quick bio on Jim…  a long and stellar career I could go on about but most exciting to me was Jim’s success with Deltec.  A previously successful manufacturer of radio base-station antennas and related equipment, Deltec suffered a serious downturn and strong competition in its existing markets, leading to significant losses.  Jim became a shareholder and CEO instigated a major transformation, with a revitalised organisation (internal retention/promotion and external recruitment), product range rationalisation, and the introduction of smart business processes and “lean thinking” to support global expansion in its new area of focus – advanced antenna systems for mobile phone networks. In 3 years, Deltec trebled turnover and achieved very high profitability, growing to over 200 staff and contractors, with 95% of sales exported to Asia, Australia, the Americas and Europe. At the HiTech2000 Awards, Deltec won the Growth Company of the Year Award, the Award for Investing in People, and the HiTech Company Supreme Award. Deltec was named by Unlimited magazine as one of the best places to work in New Zealand. The following year, Deltec sold its business, brands and intellectual property to NYSE-listed Andrew Corporation (S&P500) for a not insignificant sum.

So you can see why I like Jim’s experience… you know how I love great exit stories, my favourite stories of all!

Here are just a a few of the pearls of wisdom Jim shared with me.  I promised him I’d make them accurate, so I hope I can read my own handwriting and here goes…

Jim believes his strength lies in taking a company with a ‘mess’ and fixing it.  He says that he can see a mental picture of rightness.  He gets such companies to identify their core purpose and offer. What do you offer the world?  Who are you offering it to?  Why would they buy it?  How will you make and fulfil this offer? Then he works out how to transform the mess into a simple clear lattice.  A business must have purpose and design… ‘a business must be designed with greatness in mind’ (My favourite quote of the day).  Business owners must work on not in the business.  The business needs a life and higher purpose of its own.  An owner should be asking how can this business create value for them?  Why are they investing their life energy in it?  What will it do for them?

As business owners, according to Jim, we should “develop a viable designed business that serves a purpose and delivers value for the customers and the owner.” (Many owners forget the last part and focus only on value for customers not for themselves).   Get your pricing right – don’t charge fleet hire rates for taxi services.  Be disciplined.  Hire the right people, train them and trust them.  Put the right processes in to support the business.  At the end of the day if you have a great team and great processes, it doesn’t matter what the product is.  You can re-engineer your product to fit market trends and demands.

My summary… with a clarity of vision, you can build any business to fit market trends and demands. With the right processes and team in place you can take on the world.. and build a business someone wants to pay a lot of money for.

Thanks Jim.  Hope I got most of it right, despite my hand writing!  I do subscribe to everything Jim talked about… as liber8yourbusiness clients and those who have heard me talk will know.