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Australian Entrepreneurs: Agreon's simple Business Strategy reaps global rewards

Eyes Wide Open interviewed Agreon Managing Director, Brian Brannigan on the drivers of growth for their globally successful business.

1. Agreon services clients throughout Australasia, Europe and the Middle East.  That's a phenomenal achievement given you started as a home based business.  What made it possible?

It's been made possible through specialisation and outstanding service.  We play in the highly specialised niche of Identity Management. Few in the world can offer the level of service and technical expertise that we do for solving particular integration problems associated with Identity.  We have partnered with global organisations such as Oracle, Sun Microsystems and Computer Associates.  When their clients face complex challenges with their identity systems, we're often their first choice for fixing it.

2. You have rapidly grown to a team of 40 + people and are still growing.  If another business owner was about to go through the same level of team expansion, what would be some tips you would offer to help them successfully manage the team growth?

When you are a small team and the business is growing rapidly, each individual tends to have a high level of empowerment and delegation.  You give people more room to do their job, make decisions and take risks. 

As the business gets bigger there is a tendency to want to regain control and limit risk. By all means manage risk, but it's important to maintain the high levels of empowerment and delegation that positioned you for growth. It's easy to have cold feet and get in the way. Refine and reinforce your vision. 

Assuming that individuals were attracted by growth, put effort into mentoring their ambitions.  Don't curtail them. Try to be opportunistic as their creativity and efforts present new opportunities for them and the business.

3. You've previously owned a business.  What were some of the key points of learning that you transferred from one business to the other?

Cash is king!  We never borrowed with either business and grew organically.  We only spent what we had earned. Mentally we worked on a cash basis, not an accrual basis. The key to business success is keeping it simple.

This promotes sound business decisions.

  • Starting off we needed customers, not business cards or brochures.
  • We recruited from contacts not agencies
  • We purchased fewer things, but always quality that would last
  • We learned to treat our client's time and money as our own
  • We promoted a strong sense of risk/reward with respect to investments
  • We took chances on exceptionally bright graduates early
  • We executed on our vision and created an environment that retains staff
  • Focus wins, it's that simple

4. At this point in time, how much does the business depend on you to operate? 

Operationally the business has little or no day-to-day reliance on my input.  We have a management tier that has assumed responsibility for all operational and project related aspects of the business.

My role at present is forward looking in terms of planning what we need to do internally and externally to make the most of the opportunities that are presenting themselves to us on a regular basis.

Given that our success has been based on a niche focus, the opportunities we are looking at need to be adjacent to our current areas of expertise and experience.  This month I am off to Dublin with Enterprise Ireland where a number of innovative early stage Irish ventures are looking to us for regional representation.

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