TIPS TO BUILDING YOUR OWN SUCCESSFUL ENTERPRISE
Anthony Kuhlmann has always been interested in business. At just five years of age, he started his very first small business doing odd jobs around the community – and he hasn’t stopped since.
After completing school, Anthony landed his opening corporate role with JP Morgan Bank at just 17 years of age. He had found his niche in the financial services sector and took every opportunity possible to learn and grow. From here, work opened up at the Australian Stock Exchange where he welcomed the chance to learn from the very heart of the market.
“I was perpetually curious about the concept of ‘value’ (both intrinsic and extrinsic) and the role that this plays in economies all over the world. I was always fascinated by different business models,” Anthony said.
Throughout the early part of his career, Anthony embraced an intrapreneurial spirit to build the skills and confidence required to achieve his dream of owning his own business. In 2016 he became Director, Transaction Banking Solutions (for the Institutional Banking Team) in the CBA Innovation Labs. Here he created his own unique innovative project for a competition called ‘The Intrapreneur’ in 2017. This competition called on employees to enter ideas for assisting customers in some way. Anthony’s commitment to helping small business became the spark for his project dubbed ‘Post Code’, for which he ultimately won first place.
However, while his work to date had effectively opened his mind to new ways of thinking and learning, it was as a coach and mentor for local businesses in the Queensland Start- Up Ecosystem that his passion for helping SMEs was reignited. He was ready to move from Intrapreneur, to entrepreneur.
“I was lucky enough to help some clients triple and quadruple their sales in a very short period, and I thought ‘I would love to just do this full-time’ and that’s how it all really began!” he said. Earlier this year, Red Apple Consultancy entered the market, designed to help business owners accelerate their enterprise through sales, strategy and business revenue optimisation.
The response to Red Apple’s launch has been phenomenal, solidifying the hard work, learning and ambition to consistently innovate that Anthony has demonstrated throughout his career.
DON’T GO TOO BIG TOO SOON, GET THE BASICS RIGHT FROM THE START, FOCUS ON YOUR ‘CORE COMPETENCY’ AND GET SPECIALIST ADVICE OUTSIDE OF THIS”
“I just started texting people and asking ‘hypothetically, if I were to start a consultancy business, would you have any work available?’ and I got a lot of positive responses and we were literally booked out just 12 days after launching,” he said.
“In one of our first client engagements, we were able to increase our clients’ sales figures by over 500 per cent in less than 10 weeks – and that was just by working with them for two days per week. The best part was that we didn’t change the product itself, just the way in which it was marketed to their customers – it has everything to do with the way in which the product is represented.”
Anthony credits much of his success to his intrapreneurial pursuits, which taught him the importance of exploring each idea through divergent thinking, then narrowing the focus to a complete, specialised and expert product.
For others wishing to step out of intrapreneurism and apply their experience and learning to the world of business, Anthony recommends three things:
Make sure that your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is super competitive. Focus on a niche (e.g. If you are a web designer – be the number one web designer for cafes). Understand your customer acquisition cost (CAC) to lifetime value of customer (LTV) ratios.
The other recommendation he offers is to not focus on scaling a business first, but monetise as a priority.
“The ‘Silicon Valley’ culture tends to talk about scale first, then monetise, but unless you’re building the next LinkedIn, Uber, Facebook, SnapChat… it’s so much easier to monetise, then scale. The best part is that you can literally get on the phones today and broker some deals to achieve that!” he said.
Starting your own business can be overwhelming, but always remember that you do not have to do it on your own. Just as collaboration is important within the intrapreneurial realm, it is vital to successful business too. Reaching out and connecting with other business owners who can offer skills to complement your own is an effective and smart way to grow.
“Don’t go too big too soon, get the basics right from the start, focus on your ‘core competency’ and get specialist advice outside of this,”
“Use your networks to make connections and to meet like-minded business people. The irony/paradox is that most other business owners are going through similar challenges, so if you can structure genuine ‘win-win’ deals that work for all parties, then you’re already off to a good start!”