Success is Balance, Never Give Up - Ralph Anania


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1. Tell us more about your company and your journey.

I was born and raised in Western Sydney and the son of Italian migrants, where I spent most of my younger years working in the family fresh produce business, under the guidance of my father who had a strong work ethic and even stronger sense of community and family.

Whilst I wasn’t aware at the time, I came to realize many years later that the lessons my father was teaching me in those early years, were the lessons that would eventually pave the way to my entrepreneurial future.

Today with over 35 years of business experience, an Australian entrepreneur award winner, International Keynote Speaker and Author, I am regarded as an authority in business transformation.

I have successfully transformed over 30 of my own businesses into highly efficient enterprises, growing one of them to $130M in annual revenue. This has taken me on a journey of sharing my own real business experience with thousands of clients in a variety of industries, in 13 different countries around the globe.

Over the past decade I’ve been engaged and trusted by many business owners and entrepreneurs, to assist them in turning their businesses around and at times, from the path of serious destruction.

My mission is to enrich the small business community by encouraging ‘sustainable’ change, not just in the organisation but most importantly where it all stems from; it’s leaders.

I am also extremely passionate about guiding our next generation of young adults in finding their passion and achieving their dreams. And I thoroughly enjoy watching them evolve and grow as they go through my young adult programs and become leaders in their own rights.

I’m a family man with 3 amazing children who keep me inspired to continue doing what I love best; making a difference in other people’s lives.

2. How did you come up with this idea and go about executing it?

I became a business transformation expert and coach by default. I had helped a couple of businesses navigate their way out of some serious financial difficulty, which saw them thrive into profitable and sustainable enterprises. Word quickly got out and before I knew it, I was getting referred to businesses in similar situations who were in desperate need of help.

What I found, which was a real shift for me, was that not only was I transforming their business, but they would also tell me how the pressure had affected their personal lives. Being able to guide them through their personal challenges and having them come out a completely changed person was something that was so fulfilling that I became hooked.

You see, when you transform a business there is always financial satisfaction, but when you're able to change someone else's life, that experience remains with you forever.

3. What has been your biggest challenge that you faced and how did you overcome that?

As an entrepreneur, I've had many aspirations and many challenging goals, which at times can come with a fair amount of risk. But without risk, you don't grow as everything has an element of risk associated with it.

During my 35 years in business, I have come close to bankruptcy three times and although I have never been bankrupt, I did lose everything and had to start all over again. Now whilst the risks were identified in each of those situations, there's always the unforeseen and no matter how prepared you are, you can at times get caught out.

The secret though is to NEVER GIVE UP, as there is always a solution if you are willing to explore every opportunity available to you. When you look at, or approach every challenge, be it in business or in life, with a positive attitude, you will always find a solution. Don't get caught up in the problem, because that won't achieve an outcome, look for what you can do to turn things around.

4. What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

Being grateful for what you have is the first step to achieving success, whatever that looks like for you.

Success is very different for everyone and from my own experiences in dealing with hundreds of business leaders large and small, most people think that by having a lot of money they are successful. Success is not measured by the amount of money you have or what possessions you have accumulated, success is measured by what you have been able to achieve and contribute to making a difference in the world and how many lives you’ve be able to change as a result.

I will say this though, Success is balance, when you have the right balance in your life and everything is flowing evenly where your business or work life is under control, your family life is fulfilled and taken care of and you have enough time out for yourself, then and only then you will experience real success, because success without happiness is superficial.

5. What are some of the most important factors for running a successful business?

Growing a business can be quite challenging at the best of times, but the formula for running a successful business is the same no matter what industry you’re in, the only thing that changes is the product.

The secret though, is that it requires great business skills and the single biggest reason that most business start-ups are gone within the first couple of years, is the lack of “business” skills. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs are focused on making it to the top as quickly as possible. And just like we see on the road signs while we’re driving, the same applies in business, “speed kills”.

In order for you to grow a business, regardless of what industry or what size, first and foremost there needs to be passion, if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing then why are you doing it. The next is a plan, you must have plan, without a plan that clearly articulates what is required to get you where you want to go and what you want to achieve. And then of course there needs to be purpose and vision and most importantly you must do your research, as this will allow you to understand what is actually happening in that particular industry.

Most people that start a business have a delusion that just because they have great skills in their craft or profession be it a great chef, a mechanic, a great builder, a plumber or even a great doctor, that they automatically have the skills to run a business. Being a great doctor doesn’t make you a great businessman or woman. It requires great business skills to run a successful business, just as it requires great medical skills to become a great doctor.

During my 35 years in business, I have seen numerous businesses, fall by the wayside through lack of business experience and the need to act quickly. This really saddens me, because I believe that it’s the small business sector that keep a country’s economy moving forward and the reason that quite a lot of them go broke, is that no one was there to show them how NOT to go broke.

I have seen many young entrepreneurs with a belly full of passion go and start a business only to fall flat on their face because they had no idea how to run a business or were too focused on having the title. Rather than staying relevant and innovative and ahead of the competition.

6. What are your tips for first time and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with the right people who encourage and support you and you will have a much better chance of succeeding.

Having negative people around you who are very opinionated and always disagreeing with everything you do or say, will not serve you and you should love them just the same and remove them from your life. Unfortunately, and sadly enough those people generally have more issues than they make out and are usually jealous of everyone, regardless of the circumstances because they see the world as owing them a living, instead of taking the necessary steps and appropriate action to correct their own life. Don’t get caught up in other people’s baggage, because without you even realizing it, they will happily hand it over to you if you let them.

Find yourself a good coach or mentor. Just like every world-class athlete who is at the top of their game, first and foremost, they all have a coach and secondly, they need to keep training to remain competitive.

A good coach will always have you playing outside your comfort zone, not so it becomes unbearable, but you do need to be uncomfortable. What that means, is that you are always looking at correcting, refining making small adjustments to keep you focused and on top of your game, be innovative and find new trends. What worked last year doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to work next year.

A good coach will show you how to see what you can’t see and have you remain relevant and ahead of your competition and not become another statistic.

7. How can one overcome a hurdle of lack of funds when starting up?

Get creative, there are many ways to obtain funds. There are angel investors, private funding, venture capital and many more. But you must have a very clear plan that shows the investor that you know what you’re doing and their money is in safe hands.

You can also look at who you need, that can add value to your business and remunerate them with shares or deferred payment. Exercise all other options as well, some governments encourage start-ups and have funds available via business grants, but you need to explore all these options, unfortunately they won’t just fall on your lap.

You can also look at other opportunities through collaboration, however I will say this, always pick the right person before the deal, because if you collaborate with the wrong person, no matter how good the deal is, it will be doomed for failure. Just make sure they carry the same values as you and take some time to understand how that person operates before you go into any form of partnership together. And make sure everything is in writing and signed off, never just go into any deal or partnership on a handshake, regardless of how well you know that person. Remember all divorces started out as marriage.


Instagram ID: @ralphanania

Interview By - Sandeep Virothu 

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