A serial entrepreneur, Creel Price has achieved a level of business success and knowledge beyond his 36 years. He launched eight businesses by the time he left school and a further two at university.
At age 25, he co-founded Blueprint Management Group with just $5,000 in capital and sold it a decade later for over $100 million.
In this Q&A email interview with Alex Pirouz, Creel attribute his success to having the right culture at work, remaining focused on the mission at hand and understanding the end result for getting into business in the first place.
What are some of the key lessons that you took away from your previous business?
I think the power of staff culture was a huge lesson. When we first started, we didn’t have a huge bankroll so the value we had was in the years of experience within our staff. It was something that underpinned a lot of our growth and success.
The other key lesson was focus, which I now teach and call the Entrepreneur’s Curse. Over the ten years in business, I think we had 10 businesses in total but I think if we were to stick to one we would have been more successful.
And the third lesson would be the fact that we wanted to start, grow and exit a business, which most entrepreneurs don’t focus on.
What are the different stages in building and selling a multi-million dollar business?
From starting a business right through to exit there are many stages to overcome and succeed in order for any business to be ready for sale. The adventure was not a straight line growth from $5000 to $109 million; there were many things we had to overcome to achieve that result, wasn’t easy but it was fun.
Business is like climbing a high altitude mountain. There are actually 8 different stages, from picking the mountain you are going to climb to going to the top and successfully coming back down.
Vision: What it is you are looking to achieve.
Apprenticeship: getting the essential business experience or skills.
Start up: This is the wonderful stage where you are just starting off and as an entrepreneur you are very optimistic.
Hard yards: This is the tough period where you don’t have enough money or time and things are just a struggle.
Foundation: This is where you come up with your business model. This is the stage where you want to come up with a formula that you can replicate.
Expansion: Now that you have created a formula that is scalable you can expand your business by doing nothing else but replicating the formula or just being deep and grabbing market share.
Succession: A company is worth a lot more if you have already completed a succession plan where the business is not relying on the entrepreneur. You are ready for the Exit when you have a full management team running the business for you.
Exit: And finally exiting the business.
That sounds difficult. Are there different processes for each level?
If entrepreneurs can figure out what the key success factor is for each stage and what is required to get out of that stage, it breaks up the journey.
For example in the start-up stage, the entire goal should be about figuring out how to make enough money so that you don’t go backwards.
What is the number one challenge entrepreneur’s face?
I see a lot of entrepreneurs that are like a hare caught in the headlights.
They don’t back themselves; they believe someone else is going to give them some mythical knowledge.
Decision making is all about:
- Defining the issue/opportunity: In some circumstances the questions you ask are far more important then the answers you attain
- Assessing the answer: You assess the answer using foresight, hindsight and insight.
- Taking action: once you know what your decision is, you then want to figure out what you are going to do about it, who you are going to tell, what I am going to get out of it and finally how you will know if this decision has been good or not.
Keeping a track record of your past decisions can also help in assessing your future decisions. Within each step there will be plenty of challenges and rewards and according to Creel that is one area where a lot of entrepreneurs have very little strength.
Today, you have several ventures that are about encouraging entrepreneurship. Can you describe some?
Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their revenue. Visit www.ridcadvisory.com.au for more details.