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Five Minutes with… CEO John O’Brien

Founder and CEO John O’Brien recently sat down with Mybusiness to discuss his Poolwerx journey and key advice for budding entrepreneurs.

What was your first paid job?

I was seven and my parents had a country hotel. My dad paid me two pence per bag of bottled beer collected. I got my mates onto it too and I paid them a penny per bag!

 

What made you get into your current business?

In the early 90s, I travelled the world looking for a disorganised industry that I could bring order through franchising. I found it in California: the pool industry was a ma and pop set-up worldwide. I set about organising it and bringing professionalism.

How did you get your very first client?

I’ve started four businesses and all the same way. I knocked on doors, introduced myself, discovered their needs and set about satisfying their need.

“You’ve got a pool, how is it doing, do you mind if I take a look at it and let you know how it can look and perform better and make your life easier?” My marketing budget was my knuckles; I knocked on doors.

my marketing budget was my knuckles

What has been your biggest triumph in business?

For my brand, it was seeing three of our Franchise Partners over three different years being awarded best in Australia and seeing our brand awarded best franchise system outright twice.

For me personally, it was launching our brand successfully into the US four years ago. We are now the largest global pool service brand.

What is the best thing about owning your own business?

The incredible self-satisfaction that comes from knowing you raised your family off your own sweat. That, together with the opportunities you personally create for other families.

john obrien

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” Don’t wait, blame or over-analyse — just go and make it happen yourself, now.

 

If you could change one thing to make life easier as a business owner, what would it be?

Create a discipline that once you start to make a profit and free cash, don’t reinvest it all back in the business. Take some and invest outside of your business to limit risk and create a spread wealth portfolio.

 

What do you do to get away from work?

I simply enjoy the company of family and friends. But to be honest, after 25 years in this business, many of my team are my friends too.

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