Jay Abraham, one of the world’s most successful marketing legends asserts great innovation usually comes from outside your own industry. No matter what your issue, it’s likely to have been solved somewhere else.
Therefore it’s critical to mix with other people from completely different industries, take their ideas and apply them in your business.
Which is exactly what Daniela Spavetti, CEO of Spavetti AG in Switzerland did by attending the recent Swiss Economic Forum.
So why am I telling you this? Well, Daniela imparted some valuable lessons about business. Ones we can all learn from.
Founded by Daniela’s great, great grandfather who fled Italy in 1875, Daniela’s the first woman CEO in the 5 generations the family company’s been going.
Back then G-G-Granddad appears to have started selling fruit and vegetables to the Italian “guest workers” imported to build the Swiss railway system.
A true family business, they all got involved selling their wares at local markets for generations, until Daniela’s father took over in the 60’s.
Realising the “age of convenience” was upon him with the advent of labour saving household devices like vacuum cleaners designed to make a housewife’s job easier, Daniela’s father introduced pre-packaged vegetables – something of a novelty at the time.
Daniela who’s in her mid-forties spent a fair chunk of her after school time and holidays working in the business alongside uncles, aunts and grandparents.
She never felt disadvantaged compared to other children because she had to help. She always felt that her contributions were valuable. The experience made sense to her and she could see the value it provided for her and her life.
However she was also very clear she didn’t want a career in the company. So like many children, went off to find her own path.
But life has a funny way of bringing you back to where you should be. Once Daniela became a Mum herself two confluences came together.
She was looking for a more stable work environment and her father running the company needed help restructuring the businesses to ensure its continuing success.
Daniela took the project on, found she really enjoyed working back in the family business and stayed.
The business today sells pre-packaged fruit and vegetables to large supermarket chains and hospitals.
Produce comes in from local growers every morning. It’s then washed, cut, packed and shipped off.
Selling pre-packed fruit and vegetables isn’t exactly sexy. However convenience buying is becoming more and more prevalent and the market is growing.
It’s not a high tech operation requiring highly skilled workers. The environment is a cold, damp seven day/week operation including night shifts. The majority of the 240 staff are foreign workers who come from around the world.
So what does it take to run an organisation like this and what can we learn from Daniela?
- Be very clear and share your philosophy and values. This lets your people work independently, knowing the boundaries.
- Be respectful of everyone around you – including yourself. No one is more valuable than someone else. It takes a team to be successful.
- Be open minded, open hearted, go out and experience. Then come back.
- Invite people into your life.
- Do what it takes to be successful. Don’t ask people to do something you’re not willing to do yourself. During busy periods Daniela rolls up her sleeves and works alongside her staff in the cold rooms. While she freely admits they can manage quite well without her, it gives her a way of appreciating and connecting with them while not sitting in an ivory tower.
- Value your employees. And one of the best ways of valuing people is to continuously up skill them. With such a diverse set of employees, they even offer German language courses to help their staff integrate better into the community.
Loyalty works both ways. There are people there from when Daniela was a child.
- To invest in the future invest in yourself, your people and your business. We’ve spoken about Daniela’s investment in herself and her people. Spavetti recently invested 20M CHF (about the same as the Aussie dollar) in new plant and facilities.
So what of the future?
Her children ask questions regarding the business and how it’s run. There is already genuine interest on their part.
At some stage Daniela would like to hand over the baton to the 6th generation while ensuring there’s a future all the 240 employees that are currently working in the operation.
Now I’m pretty sure none of you reading this are at the 5th generation with your business. However, no matter where you are, one of the keys to success is tapping into ideas and strategies from outside your business.
Which is why the Two Heads Are Better Than One program was born.
Designed specifically to give you sharp, actionable advice or just bounce ideas, it’s an ideal way to rapidly grow your business.
Martin Puchert of Document Delight was ah… delighted. “I’m very impressed at the practical advice and insights which are helping my business already. Rashid pointed out how I could save considerable time by qualifying out prospects quickly before spending lots of effort writing proposals that went nowhere. This alone has saved me time and boosted my productivity.”
Like to know more? Head over to https://revealedresources.com/marketing-services/business-improvement-program for more information or call us on (02) 9499-7958.