Quick-fire Q&A with Richard Flack

Richard Flack is the Managing Director of Sureswipe

Describe your leadership style
I don’t believe in leaders of one and thus believe great leadership is exercised by a team of people. No one person is a perfect leader but a well set up team can get darn close. Buy in and ownership is important to me and I like to know that we are on the same page and pushing in the same direction regarding our purpose, vision and strategy. I also desire high levels of authenticity and accountability, as I believe this is necessary to be a team that wins.

Your top tip to beat procrastination?
Structure your days around priorities that add the most value to the business (and hence its people). I find that it helps to regularly prioritise my deliverables/work efforts and weigh them up against each other. When I know something is important and will add value to the business, it makes it much easier to get it done.

Favourite getaway destination?
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with my family. Our love for the outdoors, wildlife and serenity make this one of our favourite places.

Who or what inspires you?
Making a difference in the lives of South Africans (and specifically my community, colleagues and clients) inspires me to keep going.

Your one wish for South Africa?
Two wishes… a thriving economy and the end of corruption.

If you could have any 3 people over for dinner, who would they be and what would you serve?
My mom, dad and sister (sorry Troydon; my sister’s husband, they only allowed 3). Fillet steak on the braai with a blue cheese and pear salad, and ice cream for dessert. Note: I assumed my wife and little boy were there already 🙂

What five pieces of advice would you give to aspiring young business starters?
Where to start. As Winston Churchill said in a very short commencement speech to a group of students: “Never give up, never give up, never give up!” I value perseverance as one of the most important characteristics when it comes to success in business. Sometimes you get some luck or favour early on in a business venture, but normally it requires a lot of faith in what you are doing and true grit to make it to the finish line.

I also think it is good to recognise that failure is part of life and business. No matter how good you are, there will come a time where you will fail. And it is good to acknowledge that this is not a bad thing but if handled positively is actually a good thing that helps you grow and develop as a leader. When I was in my twenties someone told me that you couldn’t raise startup capital in New York unless you had failed at a startup previously. Whether this was true or not, I took encouragement from it when I failed miserably at a mobile payments start up.

Linked to the above, I believe it is important to learn from your mistakes. This is one of the things that failure enables. You can work out what you did wrong and ensure you don’t do it twice. I realised early on that excel spreadsheets are amazing tools, but what they project from a profitability and break even perspective, is not necessarily reality. You can basically get them to tell you what you want, but you need a way early on to test the assumptions and ensure you have a business model that works. This can save you a lot of money.

In most cases you don’t have to build the Rolls Royce of products to test whether they can make the business money. Minimum viable products and early stage pilots can go a long way to getting you the answer you want.

Finally, I would encourage anyone thinking of starting a business to define their why. What is the purpose behind the business? What difference is it going to make in the world? Something really special happens when you can align selfish ambition to a purposeful objective.

What is the one thing most people don’t know about you?
I have situs inversus viscerum (Google it)

What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
Spend it doing one of my non work related passions; my family, my faith or wildlife photography. Managing my energy levels is really important to me.