Joe Andon’s Vuly Trampolines is a genuine home grown Brisbane business success story.
Seven years ago, Andon – an ambitious but largely unqualified teenager – was selling trampolines out of the garage of his parents’ Lota home.
Today he heads a business with an annual turnover of more than $25 million, and 130 staff in three countries.
His extraordinary journey has been acknowledged with a nomination in three categories at this year’s Lord Mayor’s Business Awards.
As a long term Marsh Tincknell client, Joe was happy to share some key business insights.
Two parts – Things don’t have to be the way they are … and secondly – Push Limits … a little crazy is good!
Single biggest key to success?
I think everybody has a different key. It’s knowing what you’re best at – and then putting yourself in the best position to utilise those skills. For instance, for some people it might be Operations – running a tight ship, understanding the business, watching cash flow, being a sharp operator. For me, it’s the creative side, understanding design, being open minded, trying new things and pursuing them passionately. But obviously complementary skills are important. You can’t do everything yourself.
Developing self belief?
I honestly think some people are born with it. It might sound strange, but I can remember as far back as the age of nine, believing that I would have a multi-million dollar business by the time I was 25. For others, self-belief accumulates. It’s built along the way – through small successes.
There are a lot of elements to building a great brand, but for me it starts with understanding the importance of design. We shouldn’t underestimate the role of art in business. Can you imagine what Nike would look like without creative input?
Customer service comes from the top down. People are watching what you do, the example you’re setting! So it’s important you uphold the same values outside of work.
When I receive poor customer service, I feel like I’ve earned the right to give the culprits a hard time. You want to be treated the same way you treat your customers. Every now and then there are exceptional circumstances, but as a general rule, there’s no excuse for poor customer service.
Leading people is one of the hardest things in running any sort of business. You need your belief to rub off on them – to get them through the flaming hoops. If they don’t believe, it’s just another job. I found Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People a really powerful and useful resource.
Again, I think this ties back to belief. If you believe, you don’t care. Setbacks are irrelevant. You have no doubt you’ll get to where you want to go eventually.
It’s an important part of business. The more you’re exposed to risks, the more tolerant you become. When I was 15, I spent all the money I’d saved on an old caravan that I was planning to renovate. It fell to pieces. I felt like I was going to spew. Later on in life, my first container of trampolines (200 of them) – when I didn’t sell one in the first two days, again I felt physically sick. But gradually you become immune. Today, even the bigger risks don’t phase me.
Worry and stress?
Worry is really interesting. You can worry all you like about what might go wrong, or you can invest your energy in working hard to make sure what you’re worrying about doesn’t happen. Then you won’t have anything to worry about!
I love what the great philanthropists do – the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, giving away 95% of their wealth. My personal situation – I think you need to be 100% in control of your own situation, really riding on top, before you should be helping others. It’s like the oxygen mask on the plane. Get yours fitted first, and then you can help others. Otherwise it might not be sustainable.
Knockers and negativity?
There will never e a shortage of people prepared to tell you that something is not going to work. The interesting thing – regardless of how many times you prove yourself, no matter how good your track record – they’ll still keep doubting you. Look at Steve Jobs. He revolutionised an entire sector, built a billion dollar business, and yet when he announced he was setting up retail stores, people still said he was crazy. Business needs to be challenging the status quo. And not everybody is comfortable with that.