As I sat next to him on a table of 12 people Mark answered each question with stories and examples from his life, talking through his lessons as he spoke about his business partnership with Kerry Packer, the sale of Wizard Home Loans to GE Money for $500 million and how one of his competitors at the time was “only doing $25m in profit each year” (Wizard was doing $80 million profit at the time of sale and was a younger business).
His stories were grand in stature, his examples rich with meaning… but through it all the one thing that spoke to me the most was that Mark Bouris thinks big, with an unwillingness to think or talk about anything that isn’t.
This begged a question that I had to ask…
“Mark, the vast majority of business owners, after years or even decades in business are still of a size that would be dwarfed by a $25 million bottom line, and that’s completely fine if that’s what they want, but for those that are striving to be market leaders, what separates the big guys from everyone else?”
For the first time that day Mark paused and looked down, deep in thought. After a few moments he looked up at me and said, “Well it’s fear. And it’s not that we don’t have fear, we have a lot of fear. I used to spend a lot of time one on one with Kerry Packer on the weekends and he was very fearful person. But when a business starts to get bigger and therefore takes bigger moves on the part of the business owner, the big guys feel the fear and just get on with it, where as with others it prevents them from moving forward.”
Mark went on to articulate that when a business gets to a certain point where it provides the owner a good lifestyle and a great income, most stop there because they no longer want to risk it, they’re comfortable.
What I took from this answer is that while some go into business for lifestyle, they get to a certain point and have achieved this goal, which is great – bigger is not necessarily better, and neither is right or wrong, good or bad. All that is important is that you know which is true for you.
And for those with goals of building a bigger business, although they may reassess at different points on the journey, will continue to build, continue to roll the dice and take risks each step of the way to achieve whatever their vision was when they started out.
So ultimately, how do you determine how big you’re going to get?