Exploit your underdog status, SMEs urged

Exploit your underdog status, SMEs urged

Scaling a business into a large entity is often seen as the symbol of success, but one business owner suggests SMEs seeking to ditch the underdog status are shooting themselves in the foot.

Marty Halphen has grown corporate delivery company The Fruit Box Group from a small service in suburban Melbourne to a national giant, taking in around 30,000 orders each week.

Yet despite this growth, Mr Halphen tells My Business that maintaining the focus on being small, regardless of size, is what helps his business and workforce strive for continual improvement, rather than resting on their successes to date.

“I feel as if we entered an industry where there’s a whole lot of Goliaths, and we’ve always pitched ourselves as David, as though we’ve got something to prove,” he said.

“I remember in the early days, not only in the markets where we were knocked back by suppliers, but when we started with milk, none of the milk companies wanted to deal with us because we just had no volume to speak for itself. There were potential third-party distributors that we approached, and they just told us to go away … over a long period of time, we’ve always felt like our back’s against the wall.”

Mr Halphen says he actively tries to retain this status as a means of encouraging his employees to keep aiming for the top.

“Even today, we’ve got a fair volume, but when you look at our volume compared to major supermarkets or major stationary suppliers … it’s still not of equal volume,” he said.

“We always say to ourselves, ‘If you want to be number one, you train like you’re number two’. We just don't want that sort of culture or way of thinking to go away because it keeps us hungry … it just incentivises us to actually keep on improving and getting bigger and growing in the right direction.”

Hear more from Mr Halphen on his approach to scaling a business and keeping its workforce engaged on the My Business Podcast below:

Exploit your underdog status, SMEs urged
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