From identifying prospective customers by trawling through the White Pages to awkward staff members and a ban on tuna in the workplace, Rory Boyle has some interesting, and downright quirky, experiences to share on being in business.
- Business name: Hampers with Bite
- Industry: Gifting
- Number of employees: 20 full-time/90 at peak
- Operating since: 2004
What was your first paid job?
Telemarketing — selling vouchers over the phone.
What made you get into your current business?
My brother Nick saw a gap in the market. He was strong in logistics (he was a truck driver at the time) and I always had an acumen for sales.
How did you get your very first customer/client?
Easy! We picked up the White Pages and found customers who would spend money on those bold listings. We asked whether they did Christmas gifting, and if they did, I would send them a catalogue.
What has been your biggest triumph in business?
Once my dad was outside my office, while I was giving a motivational speech to the team. He stood outside the door and listened. Afterwards, he said he had never been so proud.
Conversely, what has been your biggest mistake?
Taking my eye off the bottom line, and focusing on growth of revenue and not net profit.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
I love the competition: it’s war without bullets. Keeps things interesting.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
You work for the business, the business doesn’t work for you and it’s not your personal bank account.
If you could change one thing to make life easier as a business owner, what would it be and why?
Work/family balance is a challenge. I have three kids aged five and under. I often hope I won’t regret the sacrifices I am making to grow a company.
Who do you look up to in business and why?
My father. He was the hardest working man I ever met and is my inspiration.
What do you do to get away from work?
Family and North Melbourne Football Club is a major passion. I hope to join the board sometime soon.
Name a little-known fact about yourself.
We have a rule in my office that no one can eat tuna. I cannot tolerate the smell of it!
What is the funniest thing you have come across in business?
I had an employee who would get awkward when they walked past any colleague in the hallway. Do you head nod, raise an eyebrow or say something jokey? She just over-analysed it.
One day walking into the toilet, a colleague innocently passes and for some reason she exclaimed “You can’t come in here!” to the bewildered employee.
She came back, told me what had happened and had no idea why such a thing would come out of her mouth. I laughed, and still do.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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