The 'ARN spotlight on' series explores partners operating in the local channel landscape right around the country, from Cape York to Hobart, Byron Bay to Fremantle and beyond. In this edition, we focus on Western Australia and Subiaco-based partner Leap Consulting.
"Collaboration is key" is a tried and true saying in business, and even though Leap Consulting is situated in Western Australia, it has managed to connect with peers from all over and has made a successful consultancy in the process.
Getting down to business
While Leap Consulting opened its doors in 2004, the story of its managing director, Zaun Bhana, started in 1997.
Bhana started his career working in Darwin, then took up a job in the “Big Smoke” of Perth. Meanwhile, co-founder and technical director, Leigh McDonald grew up, and was also working, in Western Australia.
“My business partner and I both have very similar stories where we probably ended up in business without much thought,” Bhana said.
“You'd like to say there was some romantic story of a business plan and taking a hit, but oftentimes it's bloody messy and you’re confused over time and you just wake up and you're like, 'Oh, I'm in business.'”
The major drive for the business was having a point of differentiation in the market rather than location- or target-based reasons, inspired by a business consultant that “took pity on us in the early years.”
That point of difference, Bhana said, was to deal with businesses that had a plan in place.
“One of the things we just started with was saying, 'Hey, look, we won't quote you, unless you've got a plan or a strategy,’” he said.
“Even in the early years, and even though we only had five staff, we were saying to clients, 'If you don't have a plan, we can't advise you on what's the best path to take.'”
Today, the business has over 20 staff, with plans to expand its workforce further.
Leap has seen its fair share of success, with the business accruing five consecutive years of growth of more than 20 per cent off the back of the mining boom.
For Bhana, this blessing was also a curse as “it really pushed us forward in a very fast rate.” Looking back, he believes the business probably would not have learned some of the lessons that it did if the growth had not been as rapid.
“That meant we really picked up some poor habits and for a number of years post that growth we missed targets, we didn't lead people well, we missed delivering the right outcomes for clients,” he said.
“We had this growth that a lot of businesses in WA had experienced and really hadn't put in place the right structure to help continue that growth going forward. And so, about three years ago, we really started to think about, 'How are we going to change the business? How are we going to adapt to the marketplace?'”
In order to adapt, the business expanded and invested into the technology consulting space.
Leap also decided to refine its target market and honed in on middle-sized enterprises, ranging from 50 to 350 employees, as the co-founders found these businesses often didn’t have the right level of knowledge.
“That meant we had to redirect all of our marketing efforts, redirect our vendor alignment, redirect our investments all around this mid-size business alignment strategy and really addressing our clients' technology risks in a way that was what they expected, what they wanted, and where they wanted to take their own company,” Bhana said.
“That was a huge challenge for us. And it has been a big focus that's driven the business and as part of where we're going.”
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