How to build a business like Geoff Ross

  • Opinion
  • September 5, 2014
  • StopPress Team
How to build a business like Geoff Ross

From brewing vodka in his garage to eventually establishing what Paul Catmur called a "vodka empire" worth $138 million, Geoff Ross knows what it takes to build a successful business. In recent years he has turned to a slightly different type of brewing and is currently chief executive of craft beer brand Moa. Ross also serves as a chairman of Trilogy, the skincare company.

Following his recent induction to the Marketing Hall of Fame, Geoff Ross has teamed up with 2degrees to share secrets with Kiwi business owners across the country as part of the Building Smarter Business project. We chatted to him to get his Top 5 tips for businesses.

Geoff Ross’s Top 5 tips for Building Smarter Businesses:

1. Get a proper goal.

If you want a small little business that provides a nice lifestyle, then you are not out to build a business, you are building a lifestyle. That’s not a real business. Look how you can gain scale — ideally without simply adding more people. Begin with the end in mind, set a clear vision of where you want your business to be in a year, five years, ten years. Aim to be the leader in your industry — think big. If you have an export proposition, then think real big.

2. Do things harder, faster, sooner. 

Starting and building a small business is an all-consuming undertaking.  You can’t half do it. Don't muck around and 'dabble' in anything. A good business plan will help. A strength can be your size, you should be quicker than others, so make sure you are doing things harder, faster and sooner.

3. Get people with you, who have the skills you don't.

As a small business owner, you’re expected to wear a multitude of hats and especially when you’re starting out, you have do everything and anything to get the business off the ground.  However it is important to realize where your strengths are — usually the stuff you love to do. And where your weaknesses are — usually the stuff you hate doing. And get people on, who have the skills where you don't, as soon as you possibly can.

4. Capital - you need it. Don't be precious about giving up some equity in exchange for funding.

People get precious about the ownership in business, but you need capital in order to grow. Allow someone else to invest in your business.  You’re better to have 50% of a business worth $100 million, than 100% of a business worth $10 million.

5. Develop and define your brand story

Your company’s story needs to be real, have talk value and be interesting enough that people will spread it for you.  Typically large corporates brand stories will lack in a genuine story and interesting personality. So make sure your brand story does show real brand roots and expresses itself in a candid and real way. This can be a strength when up against the more sanitized and fake smelling brand stores from the big guys.

The Building Smarter Business project gives the opportunity for small businesses to get personal mentoring with four of NZ's most successful entrepreneurs -- chef, restaurateur and author Al Brown, fashion designer Kate Sylvester, Ross, and  CEO of Moa Brewing and Triumph & Disaster founder Dion Nash.

For more information and a chance to win a mentoring session with Geoff, head to

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