The Australian Centre for Business Growth at the University of South Australia has reached a significant milestone since it was founded in 2014: it has now taught the CEOs/MDs of more than 1,000 small and medium Australian companies how to grow – and as they have grown, they have created significant numbers of jobs.
The Centre’s Longitudinal Growth Study indicates that SMEs that have completed its growth programs have added revenue and created new jobs at more than five times the national average. These SMEs are achieving an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5% for revenue and 13.6% for jobs.
A number of these companies have experienced super high-growth, with 7% achieving a CAGR of greater than 50%.
ANZ Chair in Business Growth at UniSA and Director of the Australian Centre for Business Growth, Dr Jana Matthews, says it is exciting to see CEOs and their executive teams implementing what they learn, achieving success and creating new jobs.
“Nobody is born knowing how to drive a car, but billions of people have learned how, Dr Matthews says.
“Likewise, nobody is born knowing how to drive company growth, and that’s why CEOs/MDs and their executive team members come to our programs. They want to learn how to market and sell what customers value, how to build an organisation that will sustain growth, how to hire and retain great people, identify the best growth strategy for their company, figure out what kinds of processes and systems their companies need, how to manage their financials, build a team, innovate, finance growth – and continue to grow as leaders.
“Once our CEOs and their executive teams learn how to grow companies, they add jobs. Without doubt, the graduates of our programs are the job-builders of today and tomorrow.
“We have worked with companies from every state and territory – from 536 companies in South Australia, to 23 in Tasmania. As Australia moves through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are determined to help more companies rebound and create the jobs needed to restore our economic prosperity.”
The Centre’s integrated set of programs have been designed for the CEOs/MDs and executive teams of small and medium companies with 5–199 employees. Since it was founded, the Centre has received support from South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, the Federal government, co-funding from the companies themselves, and support from ANZ, the Centre’s Foundation Partner, to deliver its programs to CEOs/MDs and teach them how to grow.
Examples of South Australian companies that are applying the learnings from the Centre include current program participant Nuago, a technology business named as one of South Australia’s fastest growing companies, ranking ninth on The Fast Movers SA 2020 list.
Brendon O’Rourke, Managing Director, Nuago says the program has been a game changer.
“Attending the Centre’s Clinic and the Growth Modules has provided a platform for our team to prepare the business for its next stage of growth,” he says.
“As a rapidly growing company, we have experienced fivefold growth over the past three years and the Centre’s growth programs have provided us with the knowledge and leadership tools we need to sustain our growth well into the future.”
Past program graduate, Adelaide-headquartered cleaning specialist, Australian Green Clean has applied the lessons from its program participation as the business has navigated the pandemic.
General Manager of Australian Green Clean, Charlie Aykroyd says the team has made significant changes in the business, as a result of attending the Clinics and Growth Modules.
“We graduated from the AUCBG Growth Modules program in June 2018,” Aykroyd says.
“During the program the owners and executive team developed a three-year plan for the growth and expansion of the company. We clarified roles and responsibilities, moved our technology to the cloud, put in new systems and processes, talked with customers to better understand their needs – all of which enabled us to respond quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We quickly shifted to working remotely, used technology to communicate with employees and customers more effectively, and began offering new services as we better understood what our customers needed and valued – including stainless steel hand-sanitiser stands which we commissioned a local manufacturer to produce.
“The growth we had as leaders and the changes we made as a result of going through the Centre’s Business Growth Modules have made a fundamental difference in how we have managed and grown the company.”
Dr Jana Matthews says companies such as Nuago and Australian Green Clean are the growth engines for our economy now and for the next decade. “The Centre was established to help company leaders understand how to build great companies that can grow, add jobs and create economic prosperity in their communities, so we’re proud and humbled to have been able to help 1,000 companies over the past six years, and we look forward to helping the next 1,000 job-builders grow and
create even more jobs.”
About the Australian Centre for Business Growth
Established in June 2014, the Australian Centre for Business Growth at the University of South Australia (part of UniSA Business) provides CEOs/MDs and executives of small and medium companies (5–199 employees) with the knowledge and skills they need to develop as leaders, accelerate company growth and compete in a global marketplace. The day-long Assessment Clinics, six-month Growth Ramp, and three, three-day Growth Modules were designed, developed and are delivered by Growth Experts who have started, grown and exited companies and understand the process of company growth. The programs use diagnostics, expert presentations, facilitated group discussions, peer-to-peer learning, and action planning to enable CEOs and executive team members to learn how to rebound, then lead and manage company growth.