Q&A: A problem shared is a problem halved

This week we talk to Peter Mayne of Treadstone, a business that advises businesses focused on innovation and export on tax incentives, grants and growth strategies. With a long and a diverse CV at blue riband corporates, Peter’s focus today is empowering start-ups and he believes a shared workspace is the way forward to success in the sector.

ISB: How did what has been a long and diverse career path lead you ultimately to Treadstone?

PM: I’m an entrepreneur. Throughout my career I’ve moved across the service industry and had a lot of change, never staying in a job for more than four years at a time. I’ve had stints in banking, financial insurance, information technology and transport. My own business, Mayne Capital, provides business consulting and other services for a range of clients.

ISB: You have retained your passion and drive for business for decades, what motivates you and how do you keep yourself in shape for the rigours of working hard day in and day out?

PM: Fitness is such an important part of a healthy mind. It’s discipline. I’m currently training for a triathlon. Typically, my weekly program includes a mix of running, swimming and cycling. If you’ve the physical fitness coupled with a quest to learn and a thirst for knowledge, both from those older and younger than you, you’re going to be in pretty good shape mentally to handle the setbacks in life.

ISB: Your business is geared towards empowering SMEs – what is it about the sector that enthuses you?

PM: Everything I do is in the innovation sphere. I work with a number of the universities and I am seeing incredible innovation across the medical, manufacturing, tertiary education industries. It’s interesting to consider what the future of work will look like, and how the workplace is responding to that. Thirty or forty years ago we didn’t have the tech, so today we are lucky it’s so simple for someone to set up a business.

ISB: You’ve seen a lot of changes in the way we work, what do you look for in a workspace today?

PM: Today, there is great emphasis on design, technology and flexibility. When I started out, there were no shared workspaces. Like many, I can work from home but the flexible, social nature of a shared workspace, means that you can surround yourself with like-minded people from a diverse demographic with endless possibilities for interaction. My business is based out of co-working space, WeWork. Out of the 1000 plus members, you have people who are at different stages of business that come together for breakfast, regular lunch-and-learns and even beer on a Friday afternoon. Flexible shared space comes at a lower cost of entry, breaking down barriers and creating lot of opportunity for people to start their own thing – shared office space is the future.

ISB: You’re spending a lot of time working with young entrepreneurs, what do you see as the chief attributes of the new generation of business leaders that will help them succeed?

PM: The key is having belief in yourself to succeed. You also need to be able to handle failure. When I started working, it was almost frowned up to change jobs. Now it’s almost the complete opposite. So, the workforce has changed a lot too. There’s a lot more energy in young people, they’re willing to give more of a crack, sooner. People are prepared to try things, fail fast and learn. It’s a good thing to experience failure and be working on multiple projects at one time. It broadens your experience and grows your skillset.

ISB: Finally, what’s the #1 piece of advice you would pass on to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?

PM: Take a risk. Be resilient and always have an enquiring mind. Accept that some ideas will fail so be ready to move onto the next one. Do surveys and test your ideas. Prioritise communication within your organisation – I think that’s the biggest reason many start-ups fail. Continue to be inspired by those around you, and always surround yourself with committed people whose skills are complementary to your own.

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