Coming from a long line of business owners, there isn’t much that Brian Fitzgibbons hasn’t seen — including a daredevil jumping over his pub on a motorbike!
- Industry: Hospitality
- Number of employees: 200+
What was your first paid job?
I was a public servant in Queensland State Government, in the Justice Department.
What made you get into your current business?
I was born into it. My parents and family always ran pubs, so it was my destiny to become involved in it. I lived and worked in pubs from a young age, so becoming a hotelier was just a logical outcome. It’s all I have ever known!
How did you get your very first customer?
It was an established business when I came on board, so it was my job to grow our customer base. There wasn’t a first customer as such, but there were a lot of opportunities to grow the business and get more people through the door, and that was my role.
What has been your biggest triumph in business?
Being awarded Hotelier of the Year in 2011 by the Queensland Hotels Association was probably my proudest moment. To have received industry recognition on that scale made me feel incredibly grateful. But my biggest triumph would be when my wife, Cathy, and I solely took control of the business.
Conversely, what has been your biggest mistake?
Everyone makes mistakes, but I don’t have any regrets. You learn from mistakes. If you never try, you never know. Business is a risk and sometimes things don’t work, but that’s how you figure it out. It’s all a part of the process.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
The ability to make decisions very quickly, and react to market trends and changes.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When expanding, always have a “get out of jail card”. Never take an uncalculated risk that is so big it could undermine all you have worked for. Protect what you have made; it’s not worth it to risk it all. Conservative but steady growth.
I have missed many business opportunities because I have preferred to protect the success I have already achieved. This path is not for everyone, but has worked for me and has kept my business viable.
Who do you look up to in business and why?
I get inspiration from other operators within Australia and around the world, where I can see an opportunity to improve my own business. The Merivale Group in Sydney and Sand Hill Road Group in Melbourne are real trailblazers. I think Justin Hemmes of Merivale Group is a bit of a genius.
Travelling is also the ultimate inspiration and motivation for business… and for life in general.
If you could change one thing to make life easier as a business owner, what would it be and why?
To get rid of some of the red tape. All the rules and regulations, although I know are there for a reason, take the fun out of the industry sometimes. It takes up so much time, money and resources that could be better used towards improving our customers’ and employees’ experience. It’s a bit ridiculous.
What do you do to get away from work?
I like to ride my bicycle.
Name a little-known fact about yourself.
I come from a long line of successful business owners, on both of my parents’ sides each family founded and ran successful companies. I feel proud to be continuing that legacy. I am also the eldest of nine kids, all whom have worked for the business at some point during their lives.
And I’m a mad tech freak: I am always trying to stay up to date with the newest technologies for personal and business use.
What is the funniest thing you have come across in business?
The funniest thing in my business was when we had a bloke jump over The Glen Hotel on his motorbike in the ’80s. Johnny Wonder was his name. It was a fantastic publicity stunt. If only we could do it again in this day and age, but I think we would get into a bit of trouble.
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