Nigel Heyn - REDD
With almost a quarter of a century’s experience in digital technology, the man who built his first computer at the tender age of eight now helps others to make the best use of their own IT resources and investments, heading up the burgeoning consultancy business from Fortitude Valley.
“I’m a self-confessed IT nerd by nature, but then you’ve got to be interested in what you do,” Nigel said.
“We provide what we call an MRI service for our clients, which involves helping them to manage, reimagine and innovate in their digital operations, in one case saving a client $2 million in four months.”
Keen to explore global opportunities, Nigel embarked on the Lord Mayor’s Business Mission to India as a delegate in 2014, returning with contacts which saw REDD expand its global presence and establish a new team based in Hyderabad.
“Digital industries move at an incredible pace, to the point where six months effectively equates to dinosaur years, so it’s vital to have access to as much expertise as possible,” he continues, reflecting on the trip which yielded new partnerships and friendships in equal measure.
“The connections I made on the business mission have helped us to expand our overseas expertise, but also to grow our team in Brisbane and these trips certainly add tremendous value to our city’s economy.”
With access to some 5300 developers around the world in addition to its core team in Fortitude Valley, the company’s formation on 1 September 2016 will certainly go down as a 'redd' letter day for business in Brisbane.
What is your greatest business learning?
Your workplace culture is the most important part of your business. Create a good culture and people will want to be a part of it and do business with you.
As Richard Branson says: “If you look after your staff, they'll look after your customers!”
What is your greatest business success?
I’d say it has been seeing people embrace digital technology and how it has helped to transform their businesses and their lives.
In particular, I’m pleased we’ve been able to give people who didn’t grow up with digital technology the confidence to use it and improve their businesses as a result.
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- Identify what problem in the market you’re trying to solve.
- Make sure you have a thorough understanding of how you’re going to solve the problem.
- Ensure you have an appropriate financial model in place so you can systemise and make a profit from your work.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I made sure we had a good 10-year plan in place, but in hindsight, I probably would have invested more in marketing in the early stages.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
The fastest route to growth is your existing customer. Find out who their biggest supplier is and get them to sell your service. Essentially, it’s word of mouth.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
If you love what you do then you’re probably always reading about it, attending related events or conferences or speaking with people about it anyway. Be a sponge – talk to people as much as you can!
Where have you sought business advice?
I would definitely recommend assembling a good advisory board. In some cases, the people are 10-15 years older than me, so they have great experience. If they don’t know the answer, they will probably know someone who does.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
A lot of people underestimate how much money is required to grow a business. Make sure you plan ahead to capitalise on your success and ensure you have funds for a ‘rainy day’ as, no matter how well you plan, there will always be unexpected issues that come up.
How do you manage risk?
By ensuring good corporate governance. I look forward to board meetings or any scenario where I might be the least knowledgeable person in the room, because it means there’s opportunity to learn.
Your workplace culture is also important when it comes to managing risk. If you ensure there’s clarity around your values then you minimise ambiguity, which can create risk.
What value do you place in business plans and why?
They are critical! It’s vital that you get ideas out of your head and down on paper, in a form that everyone in your organisation can understand. It helps them to join you on the journey.
We will often take the team offsite to look at a business plan. It’s important to keep a clear head, refine it when necessary and make sure you’re agile enough to adapt it.