Mark Hunn shares his story as serial entrepreneur starting off working for Salvation Army woorking with 10 different countries and shares his knowledge with in depth Business Tips that can help launch a business.
Top 3 Business Tips:
1. Find What People Want and Give it To Them. You need to find your buyers first and work backwards.
2. So stop worrying about what idea you've got. Pick one. Make sure you already know who the buyer is and just get to work because you can spend years analyzing to come up with a great idea or you can just start working on it.
3. Your biggest commodity is time. - value your time. And that includes valuing other people's time because if they've put aside the time to meet with you, Then be there for it because it's nothing worse in business. If you are in a business and you are meeting with other people in business, they're all busy. Everybody is busy. So when you don't show up or you turn up 20 minutes late because you know you had something important beforehand, all it tells them is that they're not important to you. So always value their time. The only other one that I had which is probably good for people just starting out. Friends and family, the catch cry of the start of a business.
Favourite Recommended Resource:
Mark's favourite resource is a mentor who And the really interesting thing about this is that he doesn't know that he is my mentor. I listen to a podcast called No Bullshit Leadership with Marty Moore. He's a really successful ceo and the thing that I like about his I think he's got. 300 podcasts or whatever. They go for about 20 minutes or something. But they're very practical, so he doesn't talk about philosophy and all that stuff.
He talks about on the ground how you making decisions, and he doesn't pull any punches. And I it's actually really refreshing. And I've taken a lot of his lot of his teachings, molded it into how I do things. Yeah. But yeah, that's, it's a really good podcast on how to lead in an organization, even if you are not.
Mark Hunn Interview
[00:00:00] Carlo Selorio: It's Carlo so here from the Business Launch Podcast, I am privileged to have a special guest here. Mark Hun. He is a serial entrepreneur. He's got a few businesses engaged abilities. He's got a pub, I think, I'm not quite sure.
[00:00:17] We'll touch up on that one. And he's got his own. What was. I forgot what .
[00:00:23] Mark Hunn: There's a charity. Charity. That's
[00:00:25] Carlo Selorio: it. Charity. I forgot the words. It didn't come outta my . Yeah. So there Carlos, welcome mark for coming to the show. How are you today?
[00:00:38] Mark Hunn: I'm good. Thank you. Getting ready for the Christmas rush, but always got time for a chat.
[00:00:44] Carlo Selorio: This, it's great news. What's let's go back to where you started. Where did you grow up and how'd you got started in business?
[00:00:55] Mark Hunn: I actually grew up, if anyone's familiar with Sydney grew up back in the [00:01:00] R Penrith. Yeah. The Panthers, right? Yeah. Back in the day when it wasn't the booming metropolitan center that it is today.
[00:01:08] Yeah. But I actually business is one thing that's always. Drawn me to it, but it wasn't actually business that I was interested in. I've always been really interested in leadership, so even from a young age I think my, my, one of my first encounters with a real leadership role was When I I joined the Army spent five years in the army.
[00:01:31] Made it up to sergeant before I left, and I was just really fascinated with how individuals can inspire and motivate other individuals towards common goals. And I think for me, that's what has transpired into business is not so much. The business it is itself, but about what the business can provide to a group of people where it doesn't matter what the idea is.
[00:01:59] As long [00:02:00] as you've got a group that are all buy into the same idea, then you can have a business experience. So that's where it all started. And yeah,
[00:02:09] Carlo Selorio: probably. Yeah. So what was the first business for you then? And how did that come
[00:02:15] Mark Hunn: about? Oh, you're going back a few decades now. I know people can't see me, but I'm actually quite youthful here.
[00:02:21] Good looking
[00:02:21] Carlo Selorio: fella. Good looking ,
[00:02:22] Mark Hunn: Anyway Yeah my first business came out when I was at university. So my first degree I did psychology. I did it in Charles Stir. I actually wanted to do medicine to be honest, but didn't get the marks to get in. So I went into psychology and I, it matched really well with what I wanted to know about leadership.
[00:02:40] And while I was there We, I started a my first company called Night Visions. Nice. And it was it was like a subscription based program that had groups of university students that would go basically night clubbing together. So what I would do is it was $20 a year for a membership, and [00:03:00] then I'd.
[00:03:00] Okay, 50 people want to go. Great. And I'd hit up nightclubs in the city and arrange, free entry, free drinks, all this sort of stuff to add value to why people were coming. Yeah. And it grew really quickly. Wow. And so that was the first one. I sold that when I You sold that as well?
[00:03:15] Yeah. Sold that when I finished uni. I guess that's, we'll get to that later about the top three pieces of advice. My first one. Always have an exit strategy involved. Always have some sort of plan as to what you're gonna do when you wanna leave. Yeah. Yeah, so that was the first one after that one. I started a business called Medi Sculpt.
[00:03:36] It was a beauty service that melted fat away from your body and we targeted. So there was a lot of businesses around that were already doing that sort of thing. But we made ours mobile and we targeted weddings. So we target. Specific niche. Wow. Yeah. People who wanted to drop weight for their wedding.
[00:03:57] Cause the whole the actual business [00:04:00] model was really good. And it was quite an effective treatment program, but it didn't have the research show that it wasn't very, The longevity of the results weren't really there. So you can't it's hard, especially when you're trying to maintain your credibility in a market because word of mouth is your most valuable advertising meeting.
[00:04:21] If you are going to say that this is going to drop the weight and six months later the weight's back, regardless of how much McDonald's someone's been eating, they're gonna still say your treatment didn't work. Yeah, that's true. We targeted people who literally just wanted to lose weight for one week.
[00:04:37] This treatment will have you two sizes smaller in seven days. But it'll last about a month. And most of our clients were happy with that cuz they just wanted it for the photos at the wedding. To be honest, by the time the wedding was over, they're already married nobody cares what they just let yourself go, but the rest of us did.
[00:04:55] Carlo Selorio: that's not exactly what I did.
[00:04:57] Mark Hunn: Yes. That was that was the second business. [00:05:00] And how did you exit? How. Sold it. That's usually sold. It sold. Is selling not always, but anyway, there was a lot of things that I learned in that. But between those two I was working as a, I was running a drug and alcohol rehab in in Sydney and.
[00:05:17] That was really interesting mostly in showing the tier of leadership that people think that there's either, you're either a leader or a follower but you're not. Everybody is both, and it doesn't matter what the scenario is. You can have a leadership role. So I was working in a drug and alcohol rehab as the assistant manager there, and I had people that I reported to.
[00:05:41] So I was a follower, but I could also be a leader for the clients that were in there. And so while I was there, I went back and did my law degree finished that moved into the law for a couple of years just to get my practicing certificate, get the experience, all those sorts of things.
[00:05:55] Yep. And then controversial topics. Yeah, I'm quite big on [00:06:00] letting. Being open to new ideas, being open to new experiences, and just seeing where they take you. I believe that there's a bigger force out there that controls a lot of, what we do and the, the serendipitous moments that we find ourselves in.
[00:06:16] And if we just allow ourselves to experience those, we don't know that Later on we're gonna look back and go. If I hadn't have been open to that and I was actually, I was working at the drug rehab and I got a phone call from a friend of mine who said I'm working over in Nauru at the regional processing center for asylum seekers.
[00:06:36] Wow. If you remember the controversies from about 10 years ago.
[00:06:40] Carlo Selorio: Is that Up north. Yeah.
[00:06:42] Mark Hunn: Is that, yeah. Refugee processes with the boat people. Oh, yes, that's right. Yeah. I ended up going up there and working there and running the the welfare the case management team. Up there. And I think the really interesting thing about that experience is that it [00:07:00] was almost an incubator for leadership in a turbulent environment.
[00:07:06] Like businesses operate in different environments. Tech industry, turbulent environment, things are changing daily. If you look at the legal field, stable environment, things take so long to change. They've both got their challenges. But. Being able to experience multiple ones, gets you ready for being able to experience some of the hardships in business where you can reflect back on something and go, look, this happened six months ago.
[00:07:34] This happened a year ago, and I got through it. I'm gonna get through this. And so working up there, the programs would change like every six days and you'd have to just adjust to get it done. From there actually just before then I got chosen to go over to Bangladesh as the Australian Youth Ambassador for 12 months.
[00:07:52] That was great. Really good experience working in Bangladesh. I think the biggest thing that I got out of that is an understanding of different [00:08:00] mindset. In, in Western society especially. Hello?
[00:08:03] Carlo Selorio: You there? You there Mark? Yeah. Yeah,
[00:08:03] Mark Hunn: I'm here. Can you hear me,
[00:08:03] Carla? Hello? Yep.
[00:08:03] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, can hear you. Yeah, you just. I'm not sure if it was that my internet or was that your side?
[00:08:03] Mark Hunn: Everything seems right over
[00:08:03] Carlo Selorio: here. Yeah. It could be my actual internet.
[00:08:03] Mark Hunn: That's all right. Where'd you get up to? .
[00:08:05] Carlo Selorio: I, we got up to Bangladesh. Yeah. Then we can kick off then. So you've.
[00:08:12] You went to Bangladesh and
[00:08:15] Mark Hunn: Yeah, so I went to Bangladesh for 12 months as the Australian Youth Ambassador over there which is a government program and I think one of the biggest contributors to. My business life was identifying like the mindset that we have in western society, especially around problems and solutions in so in Australia, England, America, all these sorts of things.
[00:08:40] We really skip past analyzing the problems and jump straight to the, this is the solution, let's work on this solution. And what we end up finding is, We have great answers to the wrong problems in Eastern philosophy over in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, all those places. Yeah. They actually spend [00:09:00] 90% of their time analyzing the problem before they even start thinking of a solution.
[00:09:05] And for me, it was really hard to get my head around that when I first got there, I found. Really frustrating cuz it felt really slow. Like I'd go to a meeting and we'd sit around talking about the problem and I'm there going, we need to do this, that's what we need to do. Let's just do that. And we'd leave the meeting without a solution to then come back and talk about the problem again.
[00:09:25] And by the end of it, I actually appreciated the idea that sometimes you need to slow down. Properly analyze what the problem is and once you've done that, the solution basically presents itself. Yeah. And it's something I've tried to bring back into into my work in Australia, but. After all of that before I I've always had businesses during this, but they've never been the core focus.
[00:09:49] They've been a side project. I was actually started working at the Salvation Army in their international development team, and I ran their compliance and partnerships department. So looked after all [00:10:00] of the the contracting with Partners overseas who had to actually develop projects on behalf of Australia.
[00:10:07] So we get a lot of money from department of Foreign Affairs. So the Australian government donates money to be used overseas in the AusAID budget. Yeah. People donate money to be used for overseas projects, and my role was to go over and make sure that what the money was earmarked for was what it was used for.
[00:10:25] Yeah. For example if we've paid. Three water tanks. Make sure three water tanks got built, not just one. And they sent you three photos. And I think the best thing that I liked about that job was a lot of the role was about upskilling the. Project partners that we had. So we had projects in India.
[00:10:46] There was Papua New Guinea where else? Ukraine, Africa, Tanzania, Zanzibar Zambia, all over the world. There was 10 countries that we worked with, and each of them had. [00:11:00] Really strong strength in some areas, and they had really bad weaknesses in others. And my role was to fly over to the countries, analyze where they were at with their with their abilities in their own governance and then structure.
[00:11:15] A support program to actually upskill them, whether it was in how to create policies and procedures, training programs education for their accountants on, what procurement means. What conflict of interest is. It's even things like identifying differences in in definitions.
[00:11:33] For example, in Australia disability. Identifying somebody with a disability, we think is quite a straightforward process, but if you go to Pakistan, in Pakistan, being a female is considered part of the definition of being disabled. Wow. So if you are asking people overseas to say, okay, we need to run a project for people with disabilities, in their head they're thinking, oh, I'll just get a group of women together.
[00:11:57] Whereas that's not what we're thinking. [00:12:00] So getting people in the. Wavelength. And that was a really great experience because it actually felt like I was running 10 different businesses at once. Cuz I had 10 different countries. They all had different strengths, had different weaknesses, and you're building the governance and the leadership capacities in the countries projects in third world countries.
[00:12:23] Yeah. Wow. That would've
[00:12:25] Carlo Selorio: been an excellent experience to. Being able to touch base to 10 different countries as able to just shape them as well.
[00:12:35] Mark Hunn: Yeah. What was. It was really rewarding because you could see the impact that they were having and you could see the greater impact in the value that they were able to provide.
[00:12:48] Yeah. And yeah, I think that's probably a discussion for a later time as to what those. What does value actually mean? Because in business, everybody sees value as the cheapest option, but it's not. [00:13:00] Value is, there's three aspects to value. There's the cost of the item, there's the quality of the item, and there's the time to market.
[00:13:07] You could have the cheapest car, but if it's gonna break down in six months, you're better off paying more for one that's gonna last longer. That's true. And I think that's something that a lot of really new business owners don't take stock off. They just go for the cheapest everything.
[00:13:22] Carlo Selorio: Going after finishing the Salvation Army, What did you end up doing there?
[00:13:29] Mark Hunn: While I was at the Salvation Army, I launched two other companies. Yep. One of them was Engage Abilities, which is the one that I've got now, and the other one was the charity. And I ran them while, so I only worked at the Salvation Army three days a week the other day.
[00:13:42] That's a good gig. Time management is one of, one of my strengths. And so I could squeeze pretty much everything into three days a week. And they were long days like I'd start at eight and finish at six at the office. But I got them, I got it all done. And [00:14:00] yeah, so what ended up happening was the companies grew so big that I ended up having to leave the Salvation Army to move across there.
[00:14:11] Carlo Selorio: And so you had people running the actual businesses itself before you Yeah. You exited from Salvation Army. Yeah, that's right.
[00:14:19] Mark Hunn: Yeah, that's, I worked with some very good people there. Yeah. And I think they've got all the skills they need to keep things going and yeah. So
[00:14:30] Carlo Selorio: with starting engage abilities were there any issues that you had when you first started or any setbacks when you first started?
[00:14:42] Mark Hunn: Not so much setbacks. Myself and my business partner actually we were working at another organization doing very similar work, and we weren't, we didn't like the ethics and morals that the other business was. So we decided, I think we [00:15:00] can run this, ourselves. So we ended up launching our own.
[00:15:02] And what we weren't prepared for was that the way we were feeling was the same way everybody else was feeling. So when we launched our company 90% of the staff moved across, which was great. But it's a massive acceleration of growth. Yeah. And. I've had businesses before, so we were able to combat it and control the growth.
[00:15:27] But I think a lot of new business owners love early growth, but they dunno how to control quality and cash
[00:15:35] Carlo Selorio: flow. Yeah. Sustainability of
[00:15:37] Mark Hunn: that. Yeah. Yeah. Maintaining your cash flow when you've, when you're running a business is. Especially during growth, cuz you often have money coming out and your profit and loss is showing that you're making a pile.
[00:15:51] But if you are if your customers aren't paying their bills on time, you still have to pay your staff in every week or every fortnight whether people are paying their bills or not. [00:16:00] And that a lot of businesses get themselves into trouble really early
[00:16:03] Carlo Selorio: on. Yeah, I think a few. A few of the builders are having those kind of problems now.
[00:16:11] Mark Hunn: So yeah, we've all been there. I was there, I've been in that situation. Thankfully it was early enough that I've learned from it, but why? I have quite a few friends who ask me for advice on, running a business and that sort of thing. But my specialty is more in the legal compliance governance side of things.
[00:16:29] Yeah. So not particularly the finance side. But everybody who's run a business has got some sort of understanding of finance, otherwise you are not still in business. ,
[00:16:38] Carlo Selorio: What were the big wins for your for that business when you first started?
[00:16:43] Mark Hunn: I think the big wins and I think this goes back my time in Bangladesh really analyzing the problem first.
[00:16:49] So we launched about three months. After the N D I S had begun. And because of that [00:17:00] I'd spent a lot of time analyzing the government programs that were available for community services and had spoken to a lot of people quite high up just around The trajectory for the future. So we were able to actually identify the growth market for the N D I S before it really took off.
[00:17:20] So we positioned ourselves really well for that. And that was probably the biggest win that we had, was rather than just jumping on the latest trend, Kind of already taken off and you've missed the boat. Identifying the next one that's coming. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:17:35] Carlo Selorio: That would've been a great way to launch your business, being able to identify all that and being able to grow it to where you wanted it to go.
[00:17:44] With the, on the flip side, did you have any setbacks as well for that? Yeah,
[00:17:50] Mark Hunn: There's always setbacks the problem with community services industry is that it's a service industry, so you're very reliant on staffing. Yeah. The that got [00:18:00] there, there's some really good quality staff out there, but there's also some that are just in it for the money.
[00:18:06] And we find that with other businesses as well, that not everybody has got the same intentions which is unfortunate. I think our biggest setback was probably, and it wouldn't be that we didn't think we'd survive, it just required a bit of trajectory. Molding covid not in the business sense.
[00:18:25] The community services industry is, Exceptionally reliant on transient workforce. A, even the N D I S says that 80% of the staffing for community services comes from international students. Most of them studying nursing, psychology, all those different fields and they need to work to earn a living.
[00:18:46] For two years there were no, no student.
[00:18:50] Carlo Selorio: And they all flew back to their countries in a lot of the countries that they were studying from. Yeah.
[00:18:56] Mark Hunn: Yeah. And the sector really of struggled. I was at a [00:19:00] conference last week with minister Bill Shorten was did a video presentation and he was saying that this industry's only got I think it was 217,000.
[00:19:11] Across the entire nation and that number should be closer to five or 600,000. So
[00:19:17] Carlo Selorio: it's really shortly staffed in that industry.
[00:19:21] Mark Hunn: Yeah, that's right. And I think that's so being able to work around that actually was quite Came out with some good stuff. So we've got partnership programs with the University of Western Sydney for their student placements.
[00:19:33] Yeah, we do programs with tafe to get staff that are training. Yeah. Coming straight through. We do trainee ships for people who are interested in getting into the field but aren't qualified. Yeah. And that allows them to gain the qualifications. So trying to find win-win solutions where we get what we need, but the staff members also get what they're after.
[00:19:55] Yeah. That's the ideal, but doesn't always happen. It
[00:19:57] Carlo Selorio: doesn't. [00:20:00] Talk, let's talk about your, is that pub that you have as well? Yeah.
[00:20:06] Mark Hunn: Yeah.
[00:20:07] Carlo Selorio: So how did that come about as well? Cause it's completely different niche market to engage abilities.
[00:20:15] Mark Hunn: Yeah. So there's there, there is a a segue point.
[00:20:18] We, so we have engage abilities. We've also, I've got another company as well called Pham that does app development. Yeah. And my passion's always been in international development and working internationally. We launched our own charity called Able Collective Australia, and it focuses, Programs in we've got three countries at the moment.
[00:20:40] There was meant to be another two, but Covid cut down. Any of that ability to actually go and do due diligence on your business partners? Yeah. So we've got three different countries, but the funding is, we don't we take donations, but we don't actually ask for donations. We self fund our charity, so it takes the [00:21:00] profits from our business goes into the charity and then it runs.
[00:21:03] Programs aimed at people with disabilities and supporting them internationally. So we've got a house for autism in Bangladesh. We've got a wheelchair and mobility program in Samoa. We've got some home modification things in Australia. There's a Christmas appeal that we do in Australia and we've got business partners for it and everything.
[00:21:24] But what we. What we wanted to be able to do is to be able to demonstrate to people that you can still have a social outlook on life and still support people and not have to jeopardize your own happiness. I don't, I think there's this misconception that to focus on charity, you need to not focus on your.
[00:21:48] It's like a one or the other. Either I focus on me or I focus on others. And I actually think that you can do both. And I think if you focus on yourself in the right way, you can actually help people [00:22:00] overseas. So what we did was we started Australia's very first charity bar. So it's in Wollongong, it's called the gom, because why not Wollongong's known as the Gong.
[00:22:10] Yeah. And all of the profits from the bar go to our charities. Yeah, there's no there's no no profit that goes anywhere else except for to our programs. And because of that we're able to offer some very Some very good prices because we're not looking to make profit. Like for example, if businesses will book our bar for Christmas party and that sort of stuff, and it's a tax deduction because the bar doesn't actually take the money.
[00:22:37] Wow. What we do is if you give the charity a donation, we will give you the bar to. So people are doing donations to the charity, which are tax deductible and being able to use the bar. We also do the same thing with our drinks. So if you become a member at the bar you can make a donation to the charity and we'll give you a complimentary beer.
[00:22:59] Which means that [00:23:00] at the end of the day they get a tax receipt, which generally speaking will be 40% tax deductible at tax time, which means if your beer was 10. You've actually had $4 off it, paid by the ato. That's genius.
[00:23:14] Carlo Selorio: Very genius
[00:23:15] Mark Hunn: idea. Yeah. And so we're trying to create this culture where people can have their fun, but still think of others.
[00:23:24] And our catch cry for the Gong Bar is party with purpose. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Do what makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, that allows us to help others make their life better too.
[00:23:38] Carlo Selorio: Wow. Very inspiring story to have that. Were you, did you buy the actual building itself or was
[00:23:45] Mark Hunn: it a No, the building's lease.
[00:23:47] We bought the bar that was there. Yeah. It was a distress sale during COVID. Yeah.
[00:23:52] Carlo Selorio: Which a lot of businesses had a lot of distress sale. But you've actually. Turn it into a positive, making sure that [00:24:00] it's actually given back to others. Yeah. Yeah. Wow. It's very inspiring stories that you have here.
[00:24:06] With your businesses because I, it's, I can see where you are, where you're standing out in in all businesses that you have. So what makes your all different, all your three businesses stand out from. Competitors or like other businesses?
[00:24:25] Mark Hunn: I think the charity it doesn't stand out. Yeah. It does the same thing that other charities do.
[00:24:30] And Other people will we have partner programs with other charities too, where, it the I, especially with the bar, the idea of the bar is to encourage people to be socially responsible. So if, for example we have multicultural center book the bar and all the money that came through the bar went to.
[00:24:48] It's not just about making money for our charity, it's about being able to make money for all charities. So we don't want to be separate. We wanna be able to work together. Cuz at the end of the day, there's [00:25:00] so much work to be done, nobody can do it by itself. So I don't think our charity is any different to any others.
[00:25:08] I think the bar is because it's, the bar is just a vehicle to allow people to feel part of helping others even. Cash might be short if you're gonna go out anyway. At least make sure that the money that you're giving over the bar isn't just going to somebody's second Ferrari. Yeah. And for engage abilities the company, like the main company that we have I'd like to think that there is nothing that stands about out about us, because the great thing about the N D I S a double edged sword.
[00:25:38] There's a lot of compliance in the N D I S. Yeah. The governance structures required are almost like they, they're almost handed to you. This is how you have to run the company. It's, it doesn't provide a lot of scope for you to bring in some of that ingenuity, some of that new ways of thinking, but the same time there's [00:26:00] boundaries, yeah. Yeah. But at the same time, it also means that if everybody's doing it correctly, The client is actually the one that that wins out because it's not about picking the best company. We all do the same thing. We all do it really well. It's about giving the client that choice on what's gonna be their value.
[00:26:18] The best. Spoke about value earlier, and the N D I S sets the prices. So they tell you how much you can charge. So clients aren't making their choice based on how much it costs because everybody's charging the same thing. They're making their choice based on the time. Like how quickly can you provide the services?
[00:26:36] Yeah. And what services are you providing? Is there a particular support worker that we really like? Yeah. Is there a group program that really targets something that I'm interested in? And that's what it should be. What's provided to the clients should be. Should be allowable to give them the choice.
[00:26:52] Now if a client comes and. Doesn't want to use our service because it doesn't meet [00:27:00] their need. They're looking for some particular program that we don't offer. We'll look and see if we can find somebody who does give that program and forward them on, because it doesn't cost us anything. Yeah. And instead it actually helps the client out.
[00:27:13] So I think in that, The, we don't, we, N D I S providers shouldn't stand out from their competitors. Yeah. And I think the one place that people do stand out unfortunately there seems to be this misconception that everybody's vying over clients, especially in community services, which is just not true.
[00:27:33] There are so many clients, so many participants that are desperate for services. The problem is that there's not enough staff. So the competition in this industry is not the client. The competition is actually the staff the business that can have the best staff and have the best programs, they'll be the ones that win because the clients are looking, clients are ringing up and they're saying, I need a behavior support practitioner.
[00:27:59] And our [00:28:00] answer is, we've got six. Our earliest timeframe is maybe three months from. And they're going, oh, I need something quicker than that. And yeah. So filling staff in roles, you're actually competing for staff. You're not competing for clients. Yes.
[00:28:14] Carlo Selorio: How do you train your staff? I know that because it's your own staff based business, so how do you train them to, to be the best of their abilities to serve your.
[00:28:27] Mark Hunn: I think training is a really interesting and controversial topic, especially in community services, mostly because the N D I S model it's based around, Client facing hours. Yes. So if you have a client getting a service from a support worker, you can claim for that. But if you are giving training to a staff member to be able to better work with a client, you can't claim for that.
[00:28:52] And what ends up happening is, Businesses because they are based around profit and loss, trying to cover your [00:29:00] costs. People devalue the positive aspects of training because it's not invoice. You can't, you're not getting paid for it. So why are we doing we do we do training every single month. We have a a.
[00:29:13] An annual training day that has guest speakers come in. We focus on that on the training. But the way that we've been able to measure it is in the outcomes from the clients. So our staff, our turnover from staff is a lot lower. So your recruitment cost is a lot less. Turnover of participants is a lot lower so that you're not actually having to find new clients all the time.
[00:29:32] Recruitment becomes a lot easier because people actually tell their friends, come and work over here. Yeah. And so we don't advertise. We advertise the bar, we advertise the charity. We do not advertise engage abilities. And the reason is because we want the quality to speak for itself. Yeah. And so there's benchmarking tools.
[00:29:50] Fair Trade used to do them. I don't know if they still do, but you can get benchmarking tools for pretty much every industry. Yeah. And I'd suggest that to any budding entrepreneurs have a [00:30:00] look at the benchmarking tools cuz it'll tell you the percentages that you should be putting aside for different.
[00:30:06] And so we took what was allocated as the advertising and marketing budget in the community services industry, and instead used that for training. So we said, rather than paying for bus ads and television spots and all this sort of stuff, let's put that money into training the staff. Cuz at the end of the day, we're not actually vying for clients.
[00:30:28] We're vying for staff.
[00:30:30] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, you're, you are creating more value for your staff. By doing that as well, cuz they're more, they got more ability, I guess they're growing as a person in your business and they're getting more skills as well, but
[00:30:48] Mark Hunn: decreases their anxiety. Yeah, the anxiety in the community services industry is extremely high.
[00:30:53] Cuz you're dealing with people in their everyday life. Boundaries between me as an individual [00:31:00] and me as a staff member get crossed all the time. And when you can't separate your work from your life, you start becoming anxious about everything. Being able to provide people with training lets them feel more confident in their role and their ability to do their job makes them feel open to ask questions as well.
[00:31:17] Carlo Selorio: Yep. Oh wow. It's It's really awesome how you being able to change the narrative in advertising to training the actual staff itself, because I think that's a, that you can apply that to different businesses and actually grow your businesses because you are empowering your staff that way as well.
[00:31:39] , what motivates you daily, mark?
[00:31:41] Mark Hunn: I like challenge. So I actually love problem solving. It doesn't mean that I always look for problems, but I actually really enjoy the almost the adversarial nature of competing with a problem and then beating it. So that's probably what motivates me daily.
[00:31:57] I really appreciate and [00:32:00] value every single staff member that we have, and I know. I wouldn't be here without them and they wouldn't be here without me. So every day that I could just go. Cuz when you own your own business, one of the hardest things you've got is motivating yourself. Yeah. It's almost like doing if anyone's ever done a course at home, you know when you don't have to teacher saying, oh, where's that assignment?
[00:32:24] It's so easy to say, I'll just do it tomorrow. I'll just do it tomorrow. And you never end up doing. Owning your own business requires a lot of self-motivation because it's easy to say, oh, it's a nice day. I might just go to the beach. I'll do that stuff tomorrow. But you've got staff that are working for you and they come in and they work every day and they rely on you to do your job every day because at the end, If the business fails, you are all out of a job.
[00:32:52] Yeah, and I've got about 140 staff across all the businesses. And so what motivates me is [00:33:00] being able to make sure that they still work in the environment that they enjoy.
[00:33:04] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, that, that's a great great way to put it because it's like a partnership thing, so to speak, because you're. You work for them and they work for you so to speak.
[00:33:16] Mark Hunn: There's a symbiotic relationship. Yeah. That's what leadership is. Yeah. Leadership is a relationship where one party has decided to forego their ability to make a choice and allow you to make that choice for them. Yeah. And that's what leadership is. Yeah.
[00:33:33] Carlo Selorio: It's something that you seem to.
[00:33:37] To do well at to all your businesses. Who are your influences growing up and in business and in life?
[00:33:44] Mark Hunn: don't really differentiate between the two. I think it's a bit of a fallacy to think that there's the business side of you and then there's the personal side of you. Because we're all whole people.
[00:33:54] That's right. You can't, you can try and separate it out. And I'm a big believer on the [00:34:00] objective nature of business and the subjective nature of. Life. Yeah. But at the end of the day, you bring who you are as a person to your workplace. That's true. And you bring your workplace back home with you. Yeah. I've had quite a few.
[00:34:14] I actually did a big chapter on this in my thesis. Yeah. And looking at those pivot points that. My particular outlook, and I think my first one was my father mostly because he never gave up. He's always if he says that he's gonna do something, he will carry through on it. That's big.
[00:34:35] My biggest frustration is in, in work life at least, is gunners. People who say they're gonna do something and then they don't do it because there's. It's almost unheard of to be doing a task that is purely individualized. Every task you do is going to have a flow on effect to other people's tasks.
[00:34:56] That's true. So when one person isn't doing what they're meant to be [00:35:00] doing, it ends up throwing out everybody else. There's a bottleneck
[00:35:03] Carlo Selorio: in the end. Yeah.
[00:35:04] Mark Hunn: Yeah. I've had one of my previous girlfriend's fathers. Was one of my mentors and he taught me the quietness of life, just being able to sit back, relax, listen to the world around you and then react afterwards.
[00:35:21] And I think that was more in relation to In when you are running a business, when you are an executive, you are always on show. You are always, when you are a, when you're a staff member or you are the assistant, there's an expectation that there, you're gonna have bad. You're gonna have bad days, and people just accept it because you are the, you're the admin assistant or you are the accountant or whatever.
[00:35:43] But when you are the leader of a business, you can't have an off day. You can't show that you're having an off day because everybody in that business needs to. Needs to be able to believe that even when everything's going bad, you are in control. Because that's what they've [00:36:00] bought into. They haven't bought into the business.
[00:36:02] Yeah. They've bought into who they're following, who runs the business. Yeah. So being able to just even when you're in the heat of an argument or you are thinking, no I'm taking the moral ground. I'm gonna win this. Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war. Yeah. And he taught me and then after that I actually had one of my mentors at when I was working over in Nauru and he was he was a psychologist from Norway actually.
[00:36:27] And he had a very good ability to train other people, and he taught me a lot about. How to stay objective in decision making because the other thing that you find when you run a large company is that there are people at the bottom of the company who know your name but have never met you. And.
[00:36:47] Even when your business is starting to grow and build, everybody wants to stay analog. Everybody wants to be, able to touch and talk and speak to every single staff member. And that's, I tried that too. [00:37:00] But the problem with it is that as the company grows, you actually bring in governance structures where people report to other people, and you need to be able to allow those people to lead their team.
[00:37:10] Yeah. So the only real touch point that you as a business owner of a large organization have with people that actually do the work on the ground, is through your decision making. That's the only thing they see from you. They only see the effects of decisions that you make, so you have to be able to control yourself to.
[00:37:33] Objective in your decisions so that the people that are following you have some sort of surety that when you make decisions, it's not personal and it's predictable. Yeah. So that they have a level of comfort that, whatever happens is going to be in the best interest of everybody, even if that decision is to close my particular business department.
[00:37:53] Okay. And that's what he taught me was how to stay objective in my decision making.
[00:37:58] Carlo Selorio: Wow. You've [00:38:00] got some really good mentors that's shaped and pivoted your life into different areas.
[00:38:05] Mark Hunn: I think the other thing to highlight too is I still have a mentor now.
[00:38:08] Yeah. And I mentor other people as well. But I think that one of the great things about the human existence is that you never stop learning. Yeah. And I think once you get to that mindset that you think I've learned everything that I need to learn, you actually start declining. Yeah. Because you reject things that otherwise could have been learning
[00:38:27] Carlo Selorio: experiences.
[00:38:28] That's true. That's true. Going forward, what big goals do you have? For your businesses in the next three to 10 years? Oh,
[00:38:37] Mark Hunn: I like to see growth in the businesses. Not just in financial growth, but also growth in the individuals. Like we've had staff members that have started out here as support workers, moved up to managers and are now like running their own areas and being able to build that leadership through that.
[00:38:55] Yeah. I've got a a very exciting app coming out [00:39:00] through pitch. Should be coming out in about the next three or four months. It's most likely going to be quite. Quite big.
[00:39:06] Carlo Selorio: I'll have to have you back here to pitch that over
[00:39:09] Mark Hunn: here. Yeah. It'll be good if if the name comes up story straight, download it.
[00:39:13] It's going to be massive. But it's, it'll be a, it'll be a big one moving forward. Nice. And I think with the charity I want to, in three to 10 years time, I wanna see some of these communities being able to be self-sufficient, where they don't rely on us running programs for them because they're able to run the programs themselves.
[00:39:32] I think that's the big thing, is being able to build the skills in others. Yeah. So that they can do it themselves.
[00:39:38] Carlo Selorio: Yeah. There's some great goals to to look forward to because it's just, it's not just about yourself, it's about. Empowering others, being able to help them be decision makers themselves.
[00:39:54] Yeah. Yeah. What's your top three advice for an aspiring entrepreneurs or [00:40:00] business
[00:40:00] Mark Hunn: owners? I'm not sure if you noticed Carlo, but I had a lot more than three, so I haven't had you went. Yeah. So I've got three left. Yeah. But I think I had six all up. My, my biggest one for business owners. Find your buyer first.
[00:40:14] Find what people wanna buy and then give it to them. I think a lot of people have great ideas of what everybody needs but just because somebody needs it doesn't mean they're gonna pay for it. That's true. So find your buyer first and work backwards. Two of my companies are government funded.
[00:40:30] They're really good. If you can start with a program that is funded by the government, you've got a few things. First one is surety that it will continue. There's actually a legal precedence for that. And the second one is payment terms. When you're starting a business, your biggest struggle is going to be cash flow's.
[00:40:49] True because you have to pay your bills, but other people aren't paying theirs. But if one of those parties is the government they have payment terms and they generally stick to those because if they don't, there's large [00:41:00] penalties that they pay you. because they've overstepped. So being able to confirm that, you will have the money coming in, actually allows you to project how far your cash flow will go before you would start running into the black.
[00:41:15] Yeah. The second one people are so prod protective of their ideas. People think that they've got the next million dollar idea. And if somebody steals it, it's, they've taken it away from them. Ideas are so easy to come by. Everybody has a good idea. Everybody sits down at the pub and says, oh, I thought of WhatsApp 17 years ago so what actually matters is not the idea. It's. The first one to execute and the quickest to market, they're the two that mattered. So whether you've got a great idea out there or you don't have a great idea, what actually matters in the end is actually doing something about it and being the first one to the market.
[00:41:53] Yeah. So stop worrying about what idea you've got. Pick one. Make sure you already know who the buyer [00:42:00] is and just get to work because you can spend years analyzing to come up with a great idea or you can just start working on it. And at the end of the day, every idea and every business is a living organism.
[00:42:13] It changes as it goes, but you've gotta, you've gotta change something. So you've gotta start somewhere so you've got something to change. My third one Your biggest commodity is your time. Money you can get from places you can find it, all that sort of stuff. Your biggest commodity in business is your time.
[00:42:30] It's your biggest commodity in life because time is the only thing that you can buy from other people, but you can never buy your own. Yeah, that's true. When it comes to looking at value and looking at how much something's gonna cost, cost, what the quality of it is and how long it's gonna take. Always side with whatever's gonna be the quickest and the best quality.
[00:42:51] You will have time funding constraints because, you can't pay a million dollars for something when you're starting out. But when push comes to shove, go for something that's quick. [00:43:00] I think it was Warren Buffet who said the quickest way to success is to fail quickly. The idea is that identify what's not working and then move on because the amount of time people waste 10 years flogging a bad idea or in a terrible business when they could have moved on to the next.
[00:43:15] Yeah. So value your time. And that includes valuing other people's time because if they've put aside the time to meet with you, Then be there for it because it's nothing worse in business. If you are in a business and you are meeting with other people in business, they're all busy. Everybody is busy.
[00:43:33] So when you don't show up or you turn up 20 minutes late because you know you had something important beforehand, all it tells them is that they're not important to you. So always value their time. The only other one that I had which is probably good for people just starting out. Friends and family, the catch cry of the start of a business.
[00:43:52] When you start a business, your biggest investors will be friends and family, and that's where it comes from. It would be for both funding your [00:44:00] business, but it'll also be for staffing your business Now, That works great when it's a small business. As your business gets bigger friends and family sometimes create barriers.
[00:44:11] My biggest suggestion is when you are starting a business and you need to bring investors in, Only provide equity ownership to friends and family, not legal ownership. The difference being is that when you do legal ownership, your, those partners are also owners of the business and can make decisions.
[00:44:31] You also need them to sign documentation for bank accounts and leases and all this sort of stuff. Yep. Keep the legal ownership for. Or at least a majority of it, because at least then you control the decision making and only sell equity ownership. It'll save you down the track when you actually need to make tough decisions.
[00:44:52] And it might actually save your friendships and your family as well. Yeah
[00:44:55] Carlo Selorio: that's excellent advice. You've had like multiple great advices in this [00:45:00] interview. How do you want to impact the world and what kind of legacy do you want to have?
[00:45:09] Mark Hunn: I just want people to be able to know that they can achieve something.
[00:45:12] So whatever their interest is, whatever their, passions are, there are people that have those passions, who have those interests and who will follow you. So just be confident in. There's, there are bad business ideas, but at the end of the day there's always somebody who will who will get behind you cuz that's what a business is.
[00:45:30] It's just a group of people who have like-minded understanding of what they're going to achieve and they've nominated you as the person to lead them through it. Yeah.
[00:45:40] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, I think you've already making a lot of impact in people's lives from your people working for you and all the countries that you work with.
[00:45:51] As we were talking before we started fun question, if you could recommend one book to our listeners, what should it be or [00:46:00] a resource that you can recommend.
[00:46:02] Mark Hunn: Yeah, I mentioned earlier on that I have I actually have a business mentor at the moment. And the really interesting thing about this is that he doesn't know that he is my mentor.
[00:46:11] I listen to a podcast called No Bullshit Leadership with Marty Moore. He's a really successful ceo and the thing that I like about his I think he's got. 300 podcasts or whatever. They go for about 20 minutes or something. But they're very practical, so he doesn't talk about philosophy and all that stuff.
[00:46:31] He talks about on the ground how you making decisions, and he doesn't pull any punches. And I it's actually really refreshing. And I've taken a lot of his lot of his teachings, molded it into how I do things. Yeah. But yeah, that's, it's a really good podcast on how to lead in an organization, even if you are not the.
[00:46:53] Carlo Selorio: Yeah, so it's no, no bullshit
[00:46:55] Mark Hunn: is it? No bullshit leadership.
[00:46:57] Carlo Selorio: Nice. I will have [00:47:00] to subscribe to that and get some tips from there as well. It's been a really good chat mark. If listeners want need help from you, from business or have a question for you, how can they reach you or what is the best way to reach
[00:47:15] Mark Hunn: you?
[00:47:17] If you just go on engage abilities.com.au that's our main website. There's a Contact us page and you can put a message through there. It'll go through to the admin team and I'll forward it on to myself. Yeah. Excellent. Otherwise I am on LinkedIn. So on LinkedIn, yes. The message on LinkedIn, usually it pops up on my screen and reply.
[00:47:39] Carlo Selorio: I'll make sure that I touch base with you in LinkedIn and I'll tag you once the episodes up as well. And thank you so much for this time. I know that you're a very busy man and like your wisdom is just. Come full circle, I guess giving it to others now and sharing. And last, I [00:48:00] know that we spoke about you.
[00:48:01] You've got something on that. You're gonna be going to Colorado instead, so would you like to say that anyway?
[00:48:11] Mark Hunn: Yeah, my my doctorate was in was in leadership in the community services area. And a lot of really interesting things came out, especially around the the philosophical differences between the Eastern way and the western way of looking at a problem.
[00:48:25] Cuz leadership is really about just finding a way forward on something. That yeah, it's been some really. Outcomes from that that people have picked up on how they lead and where they can build their strengths. I'm looking at doing a TED Talk early next year. There's a couple of conferences.
[00:48:42] There's a conference in Hawaii that I'm going to mostly around the disability sector. And there's one in. I think it's in June next year as well, that I'll probably be speaking out as well to around the N D I S and what we've experienced in Australia which is really unique for the rest of the [00:49:00] world and there's a lot of other countries looking very intently to see what they can learn from it to roll out in their own government services.
[00:49:09] So I'll be talking at those two.
[00:49:11] Carlo Selorio: Excellent. Thank you so much again, mark, for your time. And your wisdom. I'll definitely keep in touch and make sure to have you back on that show and talk about leadership again.
[00:49:23] Mark Hunn: Yeah, no problem. I talk about leadership or the next
[00:49:25] Carlo Selorio: business. Yeah, next business.
[00:49:27] Exactly. Thank you so much and have a great day. Thanks
[00:49:31] Mark Hunn: Carlo. See you. Thank you. Bye.