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How a Small Australian Manufactuer RODE to Global Market Leadership

09-09-2014
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You learn nothing from Success and everything from Failure…”
In a quest to inspire and encourage the pursuit of global market leadership by Australian manufacturing and technology businesses, InnoFuture is getting inside the heads of Australian small business leaders, who have taken on the world and cracked it.
Manufacturing success and excellence is the best path to a sustainable, thriving economy and a prosperous Australian society that builds on our great values, talent and competitive resources of this country, beyond raw minerals.
Kicking off the series to reveal their secrets, is the interview with Peter Freedman, Founder and Managing Director of RODE, a multi-award winning Australian manufacturer and global exporter. But, before multibillion global success, there was a disaster:
“…over one million in debt... I wanted to kill myself… but from that came RODE."
The RODE Difference
Peter Freedman talks about ‘the RODE difference‘ (http://www.therodedifference.com/), five core principles that have led to the company’s ‘overnight’ 24-year rise and rise to global market leadership in the microphones market.
“I did it to show people why we are better than anyone else”, says Peter Freedman.
If you have any doubts that manufacturing in Australia is not only possible and necessary for the economy, but can be highly competitive and profitable, RODE demonstrates how the top excuse, that Australian labour is too expensive, is just that, an excuse.
“What labour? There is none. We have robots, but we also have a lot of staff.” RODE, with the workforce of around 200, expects to grow to 300 in the perceivable future.
Now, still surprised by the recognition, Peter Freedman sits on the Advisory Board for Technology at University of Technology of Sydney (UTS). Here, he shares his lessons from 24 years in the trenches on a range of business and management, and, dare I say, leadership, issues, including:
• On export: “Act. Get on the plane and do it. You may not like what you’ll hear but you will learn.”
• On selling. “Nothing happens unless you sell something. Get a good salesman. Pay them more than you pay yourself and bring in money.”
• On marketing. “Get professional help.” He is clearly very involved in marketing on strategic level. “We used to do shows and reach maybe a couple of thousand people. Now…” And, the old adage that “50 percent of marketing works, but which one?” is no longer valid.
• On profit. “You have to make profit. If you are not making profit, what’s the point?” “And consider your distribution chain. If you tell them you are going to make them rich, they will want to talk to you.”
• On business culture. “Have fun. I don’t micromanage people. I let them get on with the job. If you hire the right people they will be able to be fairly autonomous. But I get involved, on macro level, in all strategic decisions.”
• On market ‘niches’. “You don’t have to have a niche – at the beginning. Be involved.” [NOTE: At InnoFuture we call it 'market immersion'. When you immerse yourself in a market, you will quickly learn where best opportunities are: real, unmet, uncontested customer needs. It's all about staying close to the customer.]
• On leadership style. “I am tough. People need to be a little afraid of the boss. You can make mistakes but don’t make them again – if you do you will hear from me…”
…and more…
Here are Five Quick Lessons from an Australian Businesses Champion
“Go for the long term. That’s where magic happens“, says Peter Freedman. Couldn’t agree more. This advice applies to any business as well as country leadership.
1. Keep the cost low – find ways to be clever.
2. Make a Profit – getting sales is not enough. You have to make profit. If you are not making it, find out what you need to change. Change.
3. Stay Focused – focus on what you are good at: as a business, and as a business owner. If you don’t focus, your business will fail. “Go for the long term. That’s where magic happens.”
4. Get Insights – understand what you best abilities are. Focus on them and get others to do specialist tasks.
5. Collaborate – learn from others, bring in mentors, get access to resources, knowledge and technologies.
Watch the interview with Peter Freedman, RODE at: http://www.innofuture.com.au/busienss-lessons-that-rode-to-global-market....

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