• What Does Success Mean To You?

    For such a long time I had been chasing money and I guess fame in business and I thought that was considered success. To a certain extent there’s nothing wrong with that, but let me tell you that success comes a lot quicker and a lot more abundantly when you’re not in it for the money.

    What are you chasing?

    If you look at some of the wealthiest people in the world, even though they have everything they could ever want in life, a lot of the time they are still very unhappy. Money helps and enables us in so many ways to be happy, but it’s important to note that no matter how much you have sitting in your bank account, or how many cars are sitting in your garage, if you take time to regularly look around and count how blessed you are, 9 times out of 10 you’ll see it’s our purpose and passion, and the people who surround us that bring us the most happiness and success. They are the ones that make us rich.

    I will always dream big and strive to go far in business because that’s just a part of who I am but I do know that success looks different to what I originally thought a few years ago. Success is not once I’ve hit a certain figure in my bank account. It’s not how many times I go on holiday per year. It’s doing something that I am truly passionate about, something that brings meaning to my life and other people’s lives. And it’s the people who surround me; it’s my happy, healthy family who have a roof over their heads, who are fed well and have the privilege of living in this magnificent country.

    So, what are you chasing? Is it a lavish lifestyle of fancy things that, in the long run, don’t actually mean anything? Or, is it to live your best life doing something that you love, with purpose and your loved ones surrounding you?

    Spoiler alert: When you actually start to focus on your passions and purpose in business rather than making a quick buck, I guarantee you, you will see success a lot sooner than you think. Finances included.


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  • Turning Obstacles into Opportunity: Trent Innes

    Earlier last month we had the incredible opportunity of speaking with the Managing Director of Xero, Trent Innes. I first heard Trent speak at Kick Start Smart last year and was so inspired by what he had to say and his passion for mentoring that we just had to get in touch. Trent has some great advice on nailing those numbers and turning obstacles into opportunity. Be inspired!

    Can you start by telling us a little bit about you, your background and how you came to be the Managing Director for Xero?

    I’ve been the MD at Xero for about a year and a half now but have been at Xero for 4 years. I have been here through tremendous and amazing growth going from when I first started we only had about 50,000 customers in Australia and we have now got over 446,000, so it has been an amazing ride. We have grown individually in people as well, when I started we were between 40-50 people, we now have well over 350 people. It’s been really good fun! My career before that? I started as an accountant in the early days but I quite often felt I wasn’t very good at it, which isn’t the truth, I sort of found a lot in technology at the sametime and I think when you combine accounting and technology together, you can do some really cool and amazing things. My career after that was very much always around technology but technology from a business sense, combining the business and technology worlds together. So I had a number of different roles during that phase. I did some consulting and technical based consulting and then I found my way into sales and marketing when I was at Microsoft. I was there for about 8 years and ended up running a division before making my across to Xero.

    Why do you believe it is so important to get the numbers right when starting out in business?

    I don’t know if it is just when you are starting out, I think you always need to be across your numbers. I think it’s really important throughout your career or throughout your journey to make sure you understand your numbers. I think one of the biggest failure rates we see in business is people having an amazing idea, but then when it comes to actually implementing that idea, they can’t quite get their head around the numbers. So if you’re not good at it, I think it’s really important to surround yourself with somebody that is very good at it. Whether that be in the early days, an accountant or a bookkeeper or even a friend that might understand numbers. You meet lots of great creative people who are awesome but you still need to make sure you have someone around you that can understand the numbers to make sure you understand where your opportunity is but equally you understand where the money is going as well.

    Have there been any really tough obstacles that you’ve had to overcome or any lessons you’ve had to learn the hard way whilst being at Xero?

    I think there are always massive obstacles. If I stopped having obstacles I’d do something else, it would be getting too boring. So I think the key is turning an obstacle into an opportunity and generally that’s an opportunity to actually learn or develop a new skill or alternatively to bring potentially someone else into the business who actually has those skills to get around that obstacle. To give you a specific example; the biggest obstacle I’ve faced during my time at Xero is managing high growth. Managing a high, fast growing company is not necessarily that easy. It’s a good problem to have but I’m always really conscious and aware that the things that were really, really special that got us to where we were in the early days; how do we maintain those when you go through growth. If you add more people or more customers, how do you make each one of them feel as special as when you had one person or one customer? I think that’s probably the biggest obstacle and opportunity we’ve had.    

    Why do you believe it’s so important to have mentors?

    I think it’s very important to have mentors for a couple of different reasons. As you get more senior in your role it does actually potentially get a bit lonelier. As it gets lonelier I think it’s really good to get people around you that you can bounce things off. I don’t think its necessarily fair to take things home so you want to try and find people that can help you, that have experience in things that you may not have or can potentially give you a different point of view. I think we talk about diversity a lot, but the true diversity is actually diversity of thought. So having people around you that have a different thought can actually help you navigate things better. I think having external mentors is really important because they tend not to actually be involved in the day to day running of your business at all so they can give you a very independant view.    

    Have you had many mentors? If so, what’s one piece of advice that has stuck with you over the years?

    I’ve had lots of mentors and I still have mentors today! There has been lots and lots of advice I’ve been given but one piece that does actually stick with me is, as you become more senior in your organisation and your profile builds, you have the opportunity to meet some amazing people who can be potentially intimidating to you if you haven’t actually met them before – I brought this to one of my mentors and what he said back to me was “Trent, they’re just people”. As soon as I got that on board and I got my head around that he’s actually completely right and I’ve gone with that mental view now every time I meet someone who could potentially be intimidating, whether that be a Federal Minister or someone senior in business. There is usually some common ground and they are just people when you get talking with them.  

    What would be your top tip for long lasting success for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

    I think you have to believe in yourself, you’ve got to back yourself. That’s it! I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing entrepreneurs and one very common theme amongst them is that they don’t see downsides, they are so driven by their purpose, they just keep going for it. So it’s generally a belief around your purpose.  

    What’s the most effective daily habit you possess?

    My favourite habit is going for a run in the morning. My alarm goes off very early in the morning and almost everyday, unless I’m travelling, I get up and go for a run. I just clear my head and think about what I need to do that day. It’s all about prioritising and making sure that my mind is focused on the things that are really important.  

    Finally, what’s the best part of your role at Xero?

    I think that there are so many great parts to my role but the best part and thing I love the most is being surrounded by so many smart, motivated and purposeful people.


    We will be chatting more on Xero with Anneliese Urquhart, the Small Business Director at Xero and one of our very own Think BOLD mentors, towards the end of the month but if you want to find more information on Xero in the meantime, please visit: