Marcus Lethlean is the owner of Mediport, GoodBarTrade, 4Degrees Celcius, A2b Solutions and OneSevenOne. And with several businesses under his belt, you might think he’d mastered the entrepreneurial journey. Not so! Like many Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) members, he believes in continuous learning and improvement in order to take his businesses further and better serve the people that benefit from his services. He recently shared his story with EO Melbourne.
When asked why he started his businesses, Lethlean admits that he couldn’t see himself in the corporate setting. He likes to start something from scratch as it gives him the freedom to create, set his own directions and strategize his next steps.
“I have worked inside the corporate environment and there are some aspects of the hierarchical chain that can blunt people of their creativity. At other times, the system can teach people not to go out on a limb. And yet, every entrepreneur who I know went out on a limb, particularly founders. You don’t even think of the risk because you just feel like it’s going to work.”
Before he began his first business, Lethlean made several attempts at building a business, many of which faded away. When he was just 13 years old, he started selling door-to-door and, from there, went on to other business endeavors. Despite disappointments and low points, he persisted, eventually studying law and working at nights.
“The biggest lesson I have learned is to follow the feeling. If an idea makes you feel excited, then turn it inside out,” he says. “That little buzz is a real call to action because it means you’ve got to find the next stepping stone that edifies the original feeling.”
And in that journey, he found a beautiful loop of thoughts-action-effort-outcome that leads him to feel accomplishment.
As to the challenges that he faced in starting and sustaining a business, Lethlean admits these obstacles provided important lessons. Here are six lessons from his journey as a business owner.
THE ESSENCE OF A GOOD BUSINESS IS SIMPLE
“Good businesses are identified where someone has a need and the other person can satisfy that need. And both parties want each other to stay inside the relationship, so they treat each other fairly. They price the product and the service accordingly,” Lethlean explains.
In all his businesses, Lethlean ensures that they provide very good quality service to their clients, most of which are service-oriented businesses as well. They also use proprietary applications, software and systems that allow them to monitor and uphold the highest standards of service. With his company Mediport, which provides logistical support in transporting vaccines and pharmaceutical products, there is the potential to save lives using smart processes to ensure timely deliveries and well-maintained products.
SAY “YES” AND BACK IT UP WITH ACTION
“Say yes and then have an action that you have to follow through,” Lethlean says. He says he always finds ways to make sure that the customers get what they need from him. Even when there are bumps, he’ll look for alternatives to guarantee the promise they make to their clients.
WIDEN YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Experience has taught Lethlean how to handle adversity. He also credits his late father, who was his confidant and supporter.
Still, he keeps on adding to his knowledge by reading books that sharpen his thoughts and perceptions of doing business well with others. These are the four books he says have contributed to his growth as a business owner.
Johnathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach — A gift from his dad when he was 12 years old, this book offers many important insights about life.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo – “He teaches you to follow your dreams and never turn your back on opportunities as you cannot be sure they will still be there when you turn around again,” explains Lethlean.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason – “It’s an incredibly powerful book about a slave that had an amazing work ethic. The richest merchant in Babylon bought the slave’s freedom and taught him the 10 rules for wealth so he too could become the wealthiest trader in Babylon.”
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – “It’s a really good book because it allows you to tap into the mindset of the people who have been very successful.”
MANAGE AND TRAIN PEOPLE
With several businesses to oversee and a huge scope of operations, Lethlean relies on the people who work with him. Naturally, there have been staff challenges, but he was able to tap in to the skills and passion of those on his team to help him bring his businesses forward.
He stresses the need to make certain that people feel they are part of the team. “If people have it in their minds that the workplace is ‘them and us,’ it doesn’t work,” he says. “It’s a delicate balance every day to manage people and make sure that you are all on the same page and getting the best from each other.”
A SERVICE-BASED MODEL THAT PEOPLE RESPECT
Lethlean highlights the difference between humble service and servitude. He explains, “Setting up the relationship for service means you have the opportunity to let people know how well you are wanting to help them. I think that it is most important to identify their needs and emphasize your understanding to the person for whom the service is being supplied.”
“If people think that they are in a relationship where one party is taking advantage or in a relationship typified by servitude, it will dull their enthusiasm to provide outstanding service and, ultimately, it might fall apart.”
He also adds that it takes two good ears to be able to serve others better. “Whether it’s listening to your market or to a new person in your business or to people who know more than you, you’ve got to be able to listen,” Lethlean emphasizes. Such a service-based model enables entrepreneurs to become part of a solution. It leaves no lingering feeling other than goodwill.
TAKING THE WHEEL AND BRINGING IT FURTHER
Lethlean is the kind of business owner who is not afraid to take the wheel, literally and figuratively, and drive his businesses toward his goals. When he’s short on staff, he’s not above driving deliveries himself to fulfill his client’s needs.
He acknowledges that he still has a long way to go to expand his ventures internationally, which is one reason he joined EO Melbourne. “I’ve never had a business mentor. As such, I think the structure of the learnings that occur with EO can fulfill that mentoring role incredibly well,” he says.
Lethlean has started thinking of better skills to acquire in a managerial sense, a marketing sense, and strategizing sense. And with a young family, he hopes to see his kids grow up to become fine men. It’s something Marcus looks forward to in the future, including a better version of himself and several thriving businesses that will continue to serve his customers.
EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts.
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