For our latest Hills Voice: your business we sat down with Travis Kalleske of Templewood Horse Riding Centre and Tally Ho Lodge in Inglewood.
What is your background into this business?
Templewood is a family business founded by my parents in 1970 (we are already looking forward to celebrating its 50 year anniversary next year). It has been teaching generations of South Australians how to ride and follow their passion for horses. Tally Ho is a Bed and Breakfast and function centre that's been established on the same property.
I have recently returned home after working for 20 years interstate and overseas in SMEs and corporate roles, with experience in marketing, branding, sales, and commercial development.
What is your greatest business learning?
Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
It is important to have a vision for what you want to achieve with your business and how you want to get there, but it's just as important that all the stakeholders involved understand and share your vision, and are aligned to it.
Get feedback from business partners, colleagues, employees, and anyone else involved in your business to help ensure you achieve your goals, and don't be afraid to make adjustments as you go. This extends to recruiting new staff; take the time to make sure they are the right fit for your business, first and foremost, regardless of their talent and experience. There are so many examples of businesses, big and small, that had great ideas but were unable to execute on them for this reason.
What is your greatest business success?
In my last role working in financial services, my team designed the branding and marketing strategy for a new credit card which was a national finalist in the 2018 National Financial Products Awards.
Is there anything in your career that you would have done differently?
Rather than something done differently, I think it more valuable to share my greatest learning, and that is the importance of the customer experience. It is imperative when looking at the product or service you provide that you see it through the eyes of a customer, on their journey from beginning to end, and following up afterwards. This helps you to understand what they really want, like putting wheels on suitcases: something that was only thought of 20 years ago!
It is good to get external people to give you feedback on this if you can, to remove bias. Conrad Hilton talks about this in his book Be My Guest by explaining that while building his world-famous hotel chain he would get people to stay in his hotels and then get their detailed and brutally honest feedback on their experience. He was always challenging himself to improve it.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest business information and trends?
I consult the usual sources such as the financial press and catching up with my network. I find social media platforms are becoming increasingly important as they continue to diversify, for example LinkedIn is so much more than a business networking platform now. I listen to a lot of business podcasts; Gary V is an interesting one for those with entrepreneurial interests. I also try to keep developing my own skills as much as possible. I am currently studying the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course.
Adelaide Hills Council also recently held a business month which had some excellent sessions on business trends for small business.
Where have you sought business advice?
I gain advice from many and varied sources. I reach out to my network and mentors regularly, this is a great source as the information as it is usually real time, practical and free (obviously, you need to minimise costs in any business!). It takes time to develop this however; you need to invest in these relationships over time and be prepared to return the favour.
Paid forms of advice include local associations and Chambers of Commerce such as Business SA. I also use my accountant and we currently use a family business consultant periodically.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
Do not try and grow too quickly; be realistic with your targets. When calculating return on investment, I find it a lot more accurate to model my pricing structure from final market price, working backwards to the cost of the goods or services provided; I avoid starting with the cost and then just adding a margin. Start with a sales pipeline as well and make some projections.
Be honest with yourself, if you are passionate about your product or service but not necessarily a financial expert, or you don't have a lot of training or experience in Profit and Loss statements, then ensure you get external advice upfront. It is a critical factor for your future business success and sustainability and, no, it will not take care of itself.
What value do you place in business plans?
To me, they are important. It is the old saying, "businesses don't plan to fail, they fail to plan". Business Plans are only as useful as you make them however, especially if they get put in the drawer and forgotten about. They need to be reviewed often and adjusted as you go. We have been using a family business consultant to assist with this which is good for keeping everyone on track and accountable.
Anything that can go wrong probably will, especially if you are working with animals like we are, so your plans will change constantly, but the planning process really helps with communication and alignment of everyone in the business.
Business plans will often be required as well if you are seeking loans or raising capital etc.
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- Put the customer first in everything you do (I would make this # 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 as well)
- Audit yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and get assistance with your weaknesses.
- Try and have some fun! Mix it up and try and keep balance in your life.
Interested in sharing your business experiences? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your own case study.