27 July 2016, Written by Dr Glen Richards


TAKING an idea from a lightbulb moment to a fully-fledged enterprise may seem overwhelming for the average punter, but serial entrepreneurs get excited by the challenge, and generally follow a similar roadmap on their way to execution success.

Last week it was very exciting to take part in Ralph Ashton's My Big Idea panel, an initiative of the Australian Futures Project. Ralph is criss-crossing the nation to encourage Australians to come up with potential problems and then solutions for tomorrow's Australia. We are invited to check out My Big Idea and submit our innovative ideas or vote on others, and assist in shaping our future in areas as diverse as economic growth through to effective healthcare and caring for the elderly.

Greencross (ASX: GXL), and the original business plan behind it, was developed not to create an empire across the vet and pet industries. It was born simply because I was tired of bumping into vets who were burnt out and sick of their profession and were providing pet owners with a substandard, at times unprofessional, offer. Practicing as a vet in a small group of practices was very isolating and challenging. Similar to many small businesses, I lacked the scale and resources to run the business effectively.

A key idea or solution was to develop a network of veterinary hospitals that had professional managers providing corporate support for a network of local veterinary hospitals. This meant human resources, information technology, finance, marketing, and education would be carried out by a full time team with a full time focus to provide support for the local veterinary hospital. The local team then focused full time on client and patient care which ensured better clinical and customer outcomes. On the back of trying to solve the issue of professional isolation and burnout for the local vet, Greencross became the succession plan and the employer of choice for the profession and the largest consumer-facing pet care provider in Australasia.

Our approach was to scale the company rapidly and implement innovative solutions to many of our industry roadblocks on the journey to becoming an ASX200 company. Growing so quickly meant we needed to reset the company every 90 days. The 'reset session' would open with identifying the roadblocks and critical issues stifling Greencross growth or creating chaos as we evolved the network of hospitals. Very quickly we would fill a whiteboard with the problems we had to solve and then we would focus our resources, both time and money, on the five key things to achieve in the next 90 days to take the company forward. These imperatives would link to our one-year goals, our five-year plans and our 10-year vision.

Similar to a Japanese proverb I love to quote: 'A vision without action is a daydream; action without a vision is a nightmare'. Turning an idea or vision into action needs a disciplined approach with regular planning sessions, the right people on board, enduring patience, and a focus and passion for the purpose.

Dr Glen Richards joined resident Sharks Steve Baxter (internet pioneer), Janine Allis (Boost Juice), Andrew Banks (Talent2) and Naomi Simson (RedBalloon) for season two of the Network Ten series Shark Tank Australia. Follow 'From the Tank' - Business News Australia's Think Tank - for Richards' views on everything from private equity to IPOs and politics.

Read more about the 90-day company reset, the best way to avoid 'entrepreneurial seizures', according to Richards.

Read previous articles here for Dr Glen Richards' views on everything from private equity to IPOs and politics:

Join us for breakfast with Dr Glen Richards, the founder and executive director of Greencross Limited (ASX: GXL) and Shark on Shark Tank Australia, at Customs House on Wednesday 2 August 2017.

Click here for more information and to book your seat.


Author: Dr Glen Richards
About: Dr Glen Richards is a veterinary surgeon and founder and former CEO of Greencross, Australia’s largest pet care company. Glen spent 10 years building a multi-million dollar integrated pet care empire, which now operates more than 130 veterinary hospitals in Australia, New Zealand and China. The company is also Australasia’s leading specialty pet care retailer, with more than 200 stores operating under the brand names Petbarn and City Farmers.
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