Why I founded Empiraa

I’ve been asked a lot “Why Empiraa?”

This is a journey. So I thought I might as well journal it on our very own website Empiraa.com “Cheap plug”. 

Empiraa is something that in one form of another has always been in the back of my head. I have always been the guy that is the distributor, the kid in the back of the room that would stir the teacher up because I didn’t connect with the class. I always wanted to tweak or find a better way to do things.

Traditional ways of learning, working or just doing stuff never really resonated with me. Trust me, this may seem like a cool thing right now. But gee did it cause me some headaches over my work journey.

“Why don’t you just get with the program?”

“Why do you ask so many questions?”

“The way we have always done it works. You either with us or against us”

These and many other questions and statements were thrown my way. To be fair, I probably was a pain in the ass. So I get it.

in 2009 I walked into a business that really changed everything for me. 1300Tempfence, I walked into the interview as a guy looking to make a change from working with multi-billion dollar construction hire companies and really wanted to work with a grassroots company.

Grassroots were an understatement. Everything we did was literally making it up as we go.

“Can you deliver 3,500 metres of fence tomorrow?” Yep

“We need a stronger fence than temp fencing, you got something that works?” Yep

“Can you install fence to 65 schools within 2 weeks?” Yep

Honestly, we said yes to everything and honestly, we had no idea what we were doing!!!! We just thought if we say yes, we could figure it out along the way. Which we did. This renegade spirit and cavalier nature resonated with me. I wanted more of it. I loved every second of it.

We were doing stuff. No politics, no fluff. We just GSD (google that).

But after 10 years it was time for a new challenge. It was time to get that spark back, that feeling of riding a lightning bolt.

13 years later 1300Tempfence is a beast now, with branches all over Australia and NZ and a strong team taking it forward. I will always look back at them with a sense of pride.

Then the next 2 and half years I spent with two vastly companies, Jumbocorp and TAXIBOX. Both with passionate founders that brought different skill sets to the table. Now was my time to ask questions again, this time with a different lens.

I really wanted to learn, I wanted to absorb new ways of working.

Jumbocorp taught me incredible lessons about managing a business that wasn’t resource-rich, but passionate deep. Taught me financial governance matters and that every penny counts.

However, the biggest lesson I got from Jumbocorp was a little nugget that changed my career forever. Strategy matters.

We had an off-site with an incredible strategy company. Amazing work, like watching a lightbulb light up a dark room. Helped us understand how to build a path forward. Design a strategy that looked like a road map to success.

We all walked away stoked. Happy we have created an amazing road map. Then we waited.

A month later, we received a PowerPoint presentation and a tracking spreadsheet. I was gutted. I knew, I just knew all the work we did with this talented strategy firm was going to go to waste.

Sadly I was right 3 months later we were talking about the strategy still, reviewing the PowerPoint once a month, but nothing changed. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, we just didn’t have the tools to execute it. We didn’t have the tools that helped us engage our little 12 person organisation. We didn’t have the focus on the strategic plan day to day.

So the strategy sat on the virtual dust heap. (quick side bar: I tend to think there is a farm in the sky where all the strategies run around chasing after objectives all day long. Because there are a lot of strategies that didn’t even make it.)

I knew there had to be a better way. There had to be.

I checked out the Project Management tools and they weren’t the answer, not for what I was looking for. I really wanted something that helped us engage in our strategic plan daily without feeling like it was a chore to do so. The project management tools were good, I’m not to lie. But they just didn’t seem like they were fit for purpose.

The things I needed out of a strategy platform were really simple. It needed me to remind myself of our Vision Statement, I needed to see what our Core Values were at all times so I didn’t lose track of it and I needed to know how my team and I were contributing to the overall strategy. One other little thing I thought would be cool, was “Imagine if we didn’t have to be slaves to our inbox and we could collaborate around our strategic objectives on a platform?”

There were other products out there and still are. But they either were too complex, too expensive or expected me to have an MBA (which I did an MBA for one semester and realised book learning still wasn’t my thing) to build out an effective strategy.

My thought was, that real people in real businesses want to implement a strategy, they really did. One common complaint I always heard in every business I worked in was “I wish we could be more proactive, rather than reactive.” It’s hard, business life gets in the way, it really does. Then more pressing issues arise and all the wishful thinking and hoping that you will be able to create and roll out a strategy takes a back seat.

So continuing on the theme of there has to be a better way. I started to write down what I wanted a strategy platform to be. Because I knew I was the customer, I knew I was the person that I needed to be sold to. People in their business knew their business better than anyone, they just needed help to bring their businesses to the next level. 

I wrote up a list of things Empiraa needed to be and made a phone call to a contact of mine, Sam Cust.

That’s another blog entirely.

That is why I founded Empiraa. I knew that there was a problem with strategy. It wasn’t the strategy, it was the execution of strategy and getting team members on board. So I took my experience and pain with it and started coming up with a way to “fix this problem”.

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