We believe that every business owner has an inspiring story to tell. A story of how they began. A story of how they overcame the odds. A story of what drives them. A story of when they had a breakthrough. A story of who inspires them to keep going. Entrepreneurs of Brisbane is where we tell these inspirational stories, one entrepreneur at a time.
Hi Entrepreneurs Jessica Kate here, Editor of Entrepreneurs of Brisbane (EOB) and Community Manager at Inspire CA.
Introducing Ben Love from Grassroots IT:
He is a prime example of the hard work, sacrifices and challenges of following your dreams. His story will bring you to laugh, cry and dream beyond what you think is possible now.
“I get a massive amount of satisfaction from watching something that I have created grow, seeing the business go about its machinations, and achieving what it’s there to achieve. In some ways it’s like having children. You don’t own your children, you just help guide them to whatever they will ultimately be on their own. There’s a certain amount of parental pride watching your children as they take new steps in achieving their goals.”
What has been your experience in juggling a young family and a small business?
While it’s always challenging to juggle a young family and a growing business, we have had some extra curve balls over the past five years.
When my wife Annie was pregnant with our third child, we received a prenatal diagnosis for Down syndrome.
That really tipped our world upside down.
It was pretty hard to function in general for quite a while after that, let alone grow a business.
Anyway, we moved through that and Nicholas was born and he’s the light of our lives. He is the most amazing kid. He was even featured on the front page of the ‘qweekend’ (the Courier Mail magazine) when he was one, in an article on Down syndrome and prenatal testing.
Within two years of the Down syndrome diagnosis, we discovered that our eldest son, Sam, had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Annie and I were pretty much still in crisis mode from the first diagnosis, so we just basically swung into action.
We just rolled with it.
Within 24 hours we were living out of the hospital and Sam had started intensive Chemo. He’s doing really well now. He has been undergoing treatment for two and a half years, and finishes in November 2016.
What did you learn personally from that traumatic experience?
Whilst obviously very challenging for our family and I wish our son didn’t have to endure chemotherapy treatment, I think it’s ultimately been a positive experience going through those two diagnoses. I mean, it’s changed me immensely - in who I am, with how I approach people, with the empathy I can have.
How did the business perform during this family crisis?
I was effectively absent from the business for probably six weeks.
I might have been there but my brain wasn’t there. I was sitting in a chair but I wasn’t consciously there.
A lot of people didn’t understand the impact that it would have on me, and therefore why I was so absent.
Literally, I didn’t go to work for about six weeks. When I came back and started re-engaging with the business, the business was fine, the business had not crumbled in my absence, the clients had not all fled.
In fact, we added new clients that I had never met. I actually had a few people say to me, all independently,
“Ben, I’ve just realized what you’ve been doing all these years, and what a solid business you’ve built. That you were able to, without notice vanish for a month or two and your business kept doing what it was doing.”
It was amazing for me to hear that from other people, and I was then able to look at it and go, “bugger me, you’re right.”
That was a real turning point in my thinking towards the business, and my ability at an emotional level to let go of some things and to just let the business grow. To feed it, give it the resources it needs, give the people the support when they need it. In a lot of other ways, I just needed to get the hell out of the way and let these people flourish, let this business flourish.
What was it like when you first started in Business?
We were so lucky when we started because we had nothing. That was such a gift. We had nothing to lose. After working on a remote island in the Whitsundays and doing some traveling overseas, we landed back in Brisbane with no commitments and decided to start a business. We had no job to go to, we didn’t even have rent to pay on a house, we had no car, we had no dependents, we had nothing. These days, I’ve got three kids, a wife, a house, a business and staff, and all the associated stress. It would be a dream of mine to have nothing again!
What does it mean to you to be a Great Father?
You have to recalibrate your entire role in the universe. I’m no longer me, I’m now a parent.
When we had our firstborn, for the first few months I had no idea what my role was. It took me a few months to realize that my job was not to take care of the child, my primary job was to take care of the mother. The mother’s job was to take care of the child.
Once I worked that out, and we all found our roles in this new world of parenting, everything eased up a little bit.
The trouble is, the kids grow and then you have another child, and the whole thing gets shaken up again! You’ve got to reassess the whole thing all over again, re-evaluate your position and how you can best support everybody who needs you.
What is it about the Business Journey that you love?
I think there is just something in me, something genetic. That means that I was always going to be in business, I was always going to be doing something like this. Pretty much all of my family run their own businesses, all of my wife’s family run their own businesses. I cannot say whether there’s cause or effect, but it’s just the world that I live in to a certain degree.
Honestly I love business, and I love seeing other people succeed in their ventures.
We can hopefully play our small part in keeping the light green for them, in making sure that technology and IT and all those things aren’t a barrier to where they’re trying to go.
“There’s that, and I just get a massive amount of satisfaction from watching something I created grow, and seeing what I can achieve, and seeing what it becomes. In some ways it’s like having children, you don’t own these children, you just help guide them to whatever they will ultimately be on their own.”
There’s a certain amount of parental pride watching your children as they take these new steps and achieve things, in some ways it’s the same with the business. There’s just this sense of pride and satisfaction watching the business go about its machinations, and achieving what it’s there to achieve, and obviously the people in it.
I love being able to provide jobs. I love helping and mentoring people, and lifting them up and helping them head in the direction that they want to head.
Plus these days were making a bit more money, so we’ve got some more money to give away. Purely in that sense, we can have a bit more impact for some of the charities and causes that we support. If we didn’t have a successful business and income, we wouldn’t have the money to be able to support these causes.
For every dollar in tax we save a small business, we give a family in need a days worth of access to life changing help. Here are some of the impacts -