In early 2010 Michael Holtham and Will Noble discussed, after a few beers, why it seemed impossible to find a business telecoms provider with a reputation anything other than dreadful. They couldn't think of a single telco people actually liked doing business with. Even the darling of the moment, iiNet - whose CEO was quoted at The Domain in Sydney saying "in the Australian telco market you don't have to be any good to make money, you just have to be not as shit as the rest" - was simply the best of a bad bunch. The guys thought that was pretty depressing.
That conversation, and a few more beers, led to the formulation of a mission: "Create a telco small and medium business loves to work with and where staff love to work." Sweet was born.
Later that year, on Monday 6 December 2010, Sweet Telecom officially opened its doors after a period of planning and brand definition. This afternoon the Sweet team and a handful of key vendors, foundation customers and friends of the business will share a few drinks to celebrate 3 successful years in business and a bright future ahead with a committed fabulous team.
Eric T. Wagner writes in Forbes "According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn." So what makes Sweet part of the lucky 20%. Firstly, we don't believe in luck. Sam Goldwyn the Hollywood producer famously said, "The harder I work, the luckier I get". We're with Sam.
Wagner suggests five reasons businesses DO fail - here's why Sweet HASN'T:
Reason #1: Not really in touch with customers through deep dialogue
From day one Sweet has maintained a policy of NO telemarketing, spam or unsolicited direct mail - choosing instead to grow only by referral and recommendation from satisfied customers. Sweet has built a loyal customer base of advocates and referral partners based on a profound understanding of the needs of small and medium business.
Reason #2: No real differentiation in the market (read: lack of unique value propositions)
The Sweet differentiation is in the service it delivers - and allowing that service to speak for itself through the value its customers place on it when they commit to a sweet managed service agreement, pass referrals and recommendations.
Reason #3: Failure to communicate value propositions in clear, concise and compelling fashion
Best telecom products available, refreshing Sweet Service. That's been the simple message from day one, and still is today - but even simpler: "business telecoms, refreshingly different".
Reason #4: Leadership breakdown at the top (yes ¯ founder/founders dysfunction)
The key to success in the Sweet leadership team is a clear understanding of strengths and complimenting skills. Michael brings exceptional project management and operational skills to the team - and a great ability to translate the business purpose and brand to build and motivate a team, wow customers and manage vendors. He's also mastered the art of marshalling Will's big picture enthusiasm into manageable business deliverables. Will provides many years of strategic experience, creative marketing direction and is a ferocious guardian and promoter of the Sweet brand.
Reason #5: Inability to nail a profitable business model with proven revenue streams
Nailing a revenue model is easy, but scale is required to turn that into a profitable reality. Even harder is pinning down profit whilst staying true to a core purpose to delight customers and have a motivated team. After three years of testing, refining, tweaking and polishing - Sweet has developed and perfected a model that not only delivers and will continue to deliver profits, but also exceptional customer experiences and satisfaction - and a happy team.
Will and Mike wish to thank all those who have been instrumental in bringing Sweet to life, creating a telco business loves to work with, and where their team love to work - on this milestone birthday.