What it takes to succeed in business: a Shark Tank investor tells all


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Glen Richards is the founding managing director of Greencross, which operates more than 160 veterinary hospitals. It also has more than 250 pet care stores operating under the brand names Petbarn and City Farmers in Australia and Animates in New Zealand. Glen is chairman of Healthia and People Infrastructure. He is one of the "sharks" on Network Ten's Shark Tank. Here, he reveals what it takes to succeed in business...

"You need a reason to leap out of bed, a 'why' that gets you excited"

What was your first job?

glen richards shark tank

I grew up in western Queensland on a grazing property. The policy was to have large families to supply cheap labour.

Being a station hand and jackaroo provided me with some fantastic life lessons as well as a great work ethic. Every roadblock has a way around it.

What's the best money advice you've ever received?

I am a Warren Buffett fan and most of my money advice is based on his approach.

Don't be greedy. Invest in/buy appreciating assets.

Know the value of every dollar and think like a stingy small business owner no matter how big your enterprise becomes.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

Buying my first veterinary practice at 27.

The amazing business and life lessons in growing and running a busy clinic helped lay the foundations for the success of Greencross.

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

Investing in a dodgy pepino fruit plantation when I was 19.

I had no idea about the industry, I had no idea about the management team, and I had no idea about the ethics of the dodgy salesman who sold me my shares.

If anyone promises you amazing life-changing returns ... run like hell and don't look back.

The only life-changing returns come through hard work and smart decisions!

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

I love active holidays, good food and good wine.

Overseas family ski holidays are just about the right mix with plenty of daytime fun on the slopes with family and friends, and plenty of fun nights in some great ski resorts around the world.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

I would stick it in a company that we are about to IPO on the ASX.

Healthia is developing a network of high-quality podiatry and physiotherapy clinics.

I think we have some very experienced physiotherapists and podiatrists leading the organisation, supported by a management team that has deep experience in scaling up and running a multi-site national footprint of clinics.

What would you do if you had only $50 left in your bank account?

Start again!

My life lessons in living and breathing business over the past 30 years and my passion for pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities will probably hold me in good stead and I am ready to do it all over?again.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

Absolutely but no doubt the soul searching is about how much you leave to your children and how much you bequeath to charities.

I hope my children will attack life, seek out and follow their passion and perhaps on their journey they find something deeply satisfying and beneficial to focus their time on.

I am delighted to be able to give them some mentoring and financial support.

To give my children a stable financial platform may allow them to go exponential, and in doing so they may achieve exceptional things that directly or indirectly benefit society.

What do you look for to determine if you think a business idea is likely to succeed?

I try to put myself in the customer's shoes and work out whether it really is needed or wanted by the marketplace.

Does it provide a unique position with the customer or solve a major roadblock? And then I always consider the "who" and the "why".

Does the entrepreneur have the mongrel to go all the way with the idea and do the numbers make a compelling reason to pursue the opportunity?

Finish this sentence: money makes ...

... you comfortable. But it's very shallow without a purpose and passion.

You don't wake up every day as an entrepreneur or an employee to deliver more EBITDA for shareholders or business owners.

You need a purpose, a reason to leap out of bed, a "why" that gets you excited and engaged with life and everybody around you.

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