Selling positive ideas
Positivity, courage and grit against the odds was the opening message local businesspeople received at the Pilbara Business Bootcamp from its high-energy keynote speaker.
Beechworth Bakery founder and author Tom O’Toole got attendees motivated off the bat with an opening address about his rise from childhood poverty to starting his own business and later franchise which is now recognised as the most successful standalone retail bakery in Australia.
He said starting the business in his then-quiet hometown of Beechworth in Victoria 33 years ago was the realisation of a long-held dream, but it had taken great perseverance to build and expand it through difficult times.
Today it has grown to have 250 staff across six thriving stores and makes a collective turnover of about $17 million each year selling to more than a million customers.
Mr O’Toole said his bakery was “no different to anyone else’s” but the key to his business success had been a focus on people — both employees and customers.
“I’ve been in business since I was 21, and I know the greatest sickness in this world today is loneliness,” he said.
“My business is about people. You can buy coffee and cake anywhere, so why buy from my place? Because of my staff.
“It’s 5 per cent technology, 95 per cent psychology and attitude.
“Quality and service are remembered long after price is gone.”
Thorough staff training, transparent communication, strong involvement with community events and a focus on fun were some of the main ways Mr O’Toole recommended businesses could build their people’s morale.
He urged Karratha business owners to think positively, focus on adding value to others, set and write down goals and not give up on their dreams.
“There’s heaps of dream takers out there who’ll tell you it can’t be done,” he said.
“Don’t let anyone steal your day. Keep in touch with your dreams.”
Pilbara Business Bootcamp opening speaker Tom O'Toole.