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08 Feb 2023

50 lessons of 50 years


6 min

This year we celebrate 50 years of giving people a pathway out of difficult financial situations, with a genuine focus on their wellbeing.

Our founding principal, Ivor Worrell presented his 40 lessons of 40 years at our state conferences in 2013. The following lessons are some of his 40 lessons coupled with our new lessons from the last ten years.

We hope the Worrells Way resonates with you or generates new concepts for you. We know we could be always doing it better, but some things just get better with the benefit of time, and a generous amount of hindsight! 


1.    Balance sheets and budgets beat bankruptcy.

2.    Banks don’t operate on sentiment. Remove it from the business equation.

3.    It’s easier to borrow than to repay. Think and think again before borrowing money.

4.    Flashy offices/business assets are not the benchmark of good business…but no one appreciates grunge.

5.    Think exit plan long before you plan to exit.

6.    Avoid going to court if possible. A tough compromise is usually better than a good court win.

7.    Stability and growth are complementary notions—not opposing.

8.    Tax only comes with profits. Concentrate fully on earning profits, not saving tax. Pay your proper tax otherwise you lose in the long run.

9.    Don’t mix property investment and business structures. 


10.  Say no to work if you can’t do it on time and to requirements.

11.  Give your business excess capacity. Work will come in to take up the slack.

12.  Promote from within wherever possible. Your people are the best ambassadors for the business.

13.  Getting consensus beats voting, hands down.

14.  Staff are just as important as customers. Look after them and always be gentle when suggesting that their future lies elsewhere.

15.  Be willing to let others make decisions, young managers probably know more than you think, and will definitely know more than you in the end.

16.  Having a positive staff culture is critical to success.

17.  Emotional intelligence is imperative, if it doesn’t come naturally, get some training and external resources. 


18.  Developing business is better than buying it.

19.  Confirm everything in writing. Even your memory is fallible.

20.  If possible, build your own software/applications in-house or customise off-the-shelf products to fit your business. Our proprietary technology controls, manages, and enhances everything we do. The risk and overheads associated have paid off beyond our expectations.

21.  Have a set of guiding principles. That is a conceptual framework for how decisions and behaviours are modelled.

22.  Regular principal meetings are a must. A formal agenda and proper minutes are necessary, but no voting. 


23.  Speak up for what you believe in even when it is contentious. If for nothing else, you’ll be noticed and that’s a marketing plus.

24.  Don’t hesitate to use marginal pricing, but only as an adjunct to other marketing initiatives.

25.  Competition will always be there. Don’t ignore it but do your own thing and let the competition catch up.

26.  Develop and maintain excellent communication skills.

27.  Be prepared to spend on quality marketing.

28.  Never disparage your competition. If they are good, they don’t deserve it. If they are bad the market will find them out.

29.  Stick to what you know.

30.  Establish a reputation for being reliable; keep secrets to keep trust.

31.  Don’t be tempted to rebrand the business’s identity (logo etc.) through low-cost third-party designers and thinkers. Your brand must reflect its current value and evolve to achieve new value and market appeal through proper evaluation and expert input. 


32.  Demonstrate integrity in all things.

33.  Success comes mainly from hard work and perseverance. Never give in.

34.  Long-term vision takes a while to develop; in the beginning just concentrate on making next year better than the current year, and the rest will happen organically.

35.  Be generous to staff, to clients, to partners, and even competitors. You’ll be repaid in the long run.

36.  Business expertise is more important than technical expertise.

37.  Be easy to deal with. Return calls the same day. Don’t hide behind a receptionist or secretary, you are not that important.

38.  Relationships are more important than price, than convenience, than technical brilliance. Usually.

39.  Don’t keep bad news from your business partners or spouse.

40.  Experts are usually only expert in narrow technical areas. Listen to them but trust your own instincts.

41.  Sack accountants, solicitors, or other experts who don’t perform. Even if they are your cousin.

42.  Widen your customer and/or product base, and then widen it some more. 

Culture/Change management

43.  Adapt as quickly and consciously as possible. The COVID pandemic proved agility was key to having business resilience; and compassion for everyone’s position and personal experience created better outcomes in all spheres (emotionally, physically, mentally).

44.  Plan to keep exploring new ways of working beyond the traditional channels and expectations. It’s a powerful recruitment tactic. Remote work in our business was possible before COVID, and now proven beyond our wildest imagination.

45.  Ask for feedback liberally and often—it will help you find your blind spots.

46.  Be authentic. This is the new currency of leadership and meaningful business relationships. People won’t be fooled.

47.  Know people's communication preferences. Know who likes to email, who wants the face to face. Don’t force a communication style that doesn’t work for them, despite how frustrating.

48.  Keep detailed records and ‘narrative’ of strategies and decisions. History tends to repeat itself—if records go unchecked, then money and energy is wasted on arriving on an old dead end.

49.  Be present and celebrate the achievements and wins. Tomorrow’s business challenges await us all.

50.  Be grateful for people’s support and contribution, a heartfelt thank you can be the biggest gift for you and the person receiving it.

Business can be tough

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