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The hidden shame of failing business



Small Business

By Loren Webb

Lack of leadership knowledge is continuing to put livelihoods at risk

Many business leaders are still continuing to embark on risky ventures without fully understanding how to do their own jobs and manage staff effectively according to one of Australia’s top business advisers.

Daniel Davis, CEO of EOS Asia Pacific,and syndicate chairman of global networking organisation, The CEO Institute, hasworked with entrepreneurial CEOs and leaders of more than 500 Australian companies over the past decade, many of whom admit that their businesses are failing. Many leaders also confide that they are harbouring deep shame about their lack of success.

“Listen to their stories and you’ll soon learn just how painful business failure can be,” Davis said. “Apart from cash and time losses, there’s often a toll on personal relationships, health issues, stress, reputational damage, flow on losses to other stakeholders, opportunity costs and even PTSD. Many try to conceal the damage as they feel terribly ashamed, embarrassed and guilty. Whilst some learn from their mistakes and have the courage to try again, many never recover from the experience.”

According to the Gallup Wellbeing Index, 45 per cent of entrepreneurs report being stressed. A recent Australian study by iCare Foundation of 442 small business owners also found that more than 85 per cent of respondents indicated they often take work home with them, and work-related problems keep them awake at night. For many, invoices are often paid late further contributing to stress.

“What always shocks me the most is how little bosses actually know about running a business,” Davis said. “Many have no clue as to how to run an effective meeting, how to keep staff accountable and even how to keep themselves accountable which are all major contributors to not succeeding.”

A former successful retail owner, Davis is only too familiar with the challenges entrepreneurs often face. Having got his first job at the age of 10 in a timber yard, Davis went onto to acquire a series of supermarkets once he finished high school.

“By the time I was 21 I decided to open a small IGA supermarket in Blackheath in the New South Wales Blue Mountains,” he said. “In the beginning I worked 5am to 11pm seven days a week. I actually slept in the store for years. By 2008 I had two kids and five businesses including stores and truck stops. I had 120 combined staff working for me and was making a very good living. However, a friend’s company that I invested in – a manufacturing business – was floundering. Suddenly, I found myself back to working 18-hour days. The business had a multitude of problems and I didn’t know how to fix them. I ended up losing a lot of money as a result.

“In desperation, I contacted a business consultant to help me sort out the mess. She was really good, and I learnt a lot about business from her. One of the stumbling blocks I’d always faced was that as an entrepreneur who’d never studied business, or had big company experience, everything I’d learnt was on the fly. I had no-one to turn to for advice and felt embarrassed that I even needed advice.

“There had never been anyone around to teach me how to run a business – I had relied purely on self-discovery and instinct. So, it was actually a relief to have someone finally guiding me through the more challenging things. It was only then that I ended up turning the business around. I started sharing what I’d learnt with other people and soon realised that I really loved teaching people.”

EOS was created in 2000 in the US by American entrepreneur Gino Wickman and was brought to Australia by Davis in 2015. In the last two years, the Australian arm has increased their roster of professional EOS implementers and now has 18 consultants servicing companies ranging in size anywhere from 10 to 250 employees, throughout the Australia Pacific region.

Given the growing demand for business advisement, EOS’s company presence worldwide has grown exponentially in the last few years. There’s now 150+ companies working with EOS implementers in Australia and worldwide there’s more than 6,000 companies running on the system. With current growth trajectory that number is expected to reach 10,000 by 2020.

In Australia EOS’s greatest presence is in Sydney and Melbourne but the organisation continues to work with clients in all capital cities, regional areas as well as international markets such as New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Japan.

“It’s encouraging that business leaders are now increasingly feeling that there is no shame in asking for help,” said Davis. “Seeking out the right tools will can not only improve the success of the business it will hopefully also give you greater peace of mind.”


Davis will be addressing these issues at EOS APAC’s Get a Grip on Your Business event in Sydney on Friday, June 7, at the Sofitel, Darling Harbour.

The live 90-minute workshop will outline and demonstrate the simple, practical tools that comprise the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) which enable leaders and their teams to focus on priorities, clarify issues and gain “traction” for the business. All participants will be given a comprehensive workbook of tools they can use straight away in their own businesses.

For more information on the Sydney event and to claim free tickets (valued at $189 per person) visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/eos-sydney-get-a-grip-on-your-business-tickets-59801939210?discount=MEDIA