What 500+ Games of Club Footy Have Taught Me About Running a Business
Taking the lessons learned on the footy field into the boardroom has helped build the world’s largest swimming pool and spa maintenance franchise for John O’Brien, Founder and Global CEO of Poolwerx. He’s also survived through five economic corrections in that time, so understands what it takes to build a resilient business.
Beyond his passion for entrepreneurship, John’s club footy career is almost as impressive. He got his first kick as a seven-year-old growing up in rural Victoria and didn’t hang up his footy boots until 36 years later, with more than 500 games of Aussie Rules and Gaelic footy under his belt.
As a business entrepreneur, he’s survived through five economic corrections and says the lessons he learned on the field have helped shape his business views and values.
1. Find the better way – only by constantly training and evolving as a player, team and business can you get ahead of the curve. “The day players or executives feel they know it all is the day they need to hang up their boots,” says John.
2. Dare to succeed – the Viking mentality of never giving up is what gets Poolwerx through adversity, such as the torment brought on by COVID-19. “When you’ve got your back to the wall late in the second half, that is when you dig deep for moves or sheer determination to find a way to win through or lose well,” says John.
3. Partnership mentality – on the field and in the boardroom, it’s always about relationships and working together as a team. “Teams always fascinated me more than individual sports – no matter who you were, once you pulled on that jumper you were one team with one goal – to win. That’s why franchising has been my career, it’s one big team,” says John. Be it Franchise Partners or suppliers, Poolwerx takes a real partnership approach – the company even refers to its supplier as ‘Partners in Profit’. John describes Poolwerx as a family business made up of family businesses. “We have this unwritten tribal language that binds us all together on one mission – from singing the team song after winning the game to making sure your franchise partners and suppliers are profitable too.”
4. People first – in a business just like on the field, your biggest asset and IP is your players, your people. “Conversely, while you’re a team, every individual is at a different stage with different abilities and motivations. The trick for me as coach these days is constantly guiding the individuals on our team to be the best they can be, the best fit for the team and peaking at the right time,” says John. This approach helped us keep everyone employed globally through both the GFC and the Pandemic and we grew strongly through both too.
With Poolwerx recently announcing its most successful year to date after 29 years, John’s winning formula is helping drive big wins for franchise partners. If you’d like to join this winning team, click the link for more info.