By every measure, consulting firm Rubik3 is a successfully established business. But founder Guy Earnshaw is determined to retain certain start-up characteristics.
Namely, the business remains agile and exposed to innovation.
It might seem an odd choice given the processes already built have catapulted Rubik3 from start-up to mature business at break-neck speed – why not double down?
Because learning is the north star of any good consultant and what you’ve done is never as important as what you’re going to do, Guy explains.
“We’re only seven years old but we went from zero to $32 million in revenue and from two founders to 180 staff. But what I really want to do is create an organisation that changes the game,” he says.
“We want to shake up the business landscape in Australia and make this country one of the strongest places to do business.”
Rubik3 has an office in Canberra, but its Melbourne branch operates from the Victorian Innovation Hub via tech start-up incubator Stone & Chalk, through which it also has “footprints” in Adelaide, Sydney and Western Australia.
The arrangement suits Guy’s ambitions for Rubik3, which has established itself in the public sector and now wants to inject its expertise into the private business landscape. The aim is to help mobilise a revolution that taps into Australia’s creative class and lures business and manufacturing onto Aussie shores.
“Sovereignty is a matter coming to the fore in Australia,” Guy says. “Instead of relying on other nations, let’s build our own tech, innovate here, manufacture here.
“There are businesses on our home turf that have concepts to take the nation to the forefront of so many industries that matter – ones that will help the environment and the economy, address growing concerns around cyber security and so on.
“Hanging around start-ups passionate about growth, it feels like the next step is to help these small businesses survive and thrive.
“We have tools and expertise that we can package up for them that will pave a yellow brick road for them to follow to profitability and scalability.”
It all feeds into what Guy calls the ‘Rubik way of business’ which requires moving away from traditional models that encourage consulting firms to keep their cards close to their chest to maintain a competitive edge. Instead, he wants to see collaboration and “bigger picture” values geared towards collective success.
The concept raises eyebrows, particularly when he talks about Rubik3 having industry partners instead of competitors and advocating for a shift in focus from competition to an environment in which clients get the best possible advice – even if it means referring them on or admitting past failures.
“A lot of businesses make it about them, but achieving the best outcome for the client is about sharing knowledge – and not just the successes but also ‘this is what we sucked at, this is how we fell over and this is how we rectified it and what we put in place to ensure it never happened again’.”
Guy says it requires a shift away from a laser focus on profits and to a higher purpose of transforming businesses, being socially focused and using environmentally-sustainable practices.
“Once, we were doing work for a state government, and we put in a proposal for a price we thought was fair,” he says.
“It was to conduct a survey about how police departments engage with victims of domestic violence. They liked our proposal but the price was out of their budget, and they asked if we could reduce it.
“If you discount your work, it takes away from its value. But this work was important. So we said ‘let’s do it for free, and let’s knock it out of the park for them’. I don’t think a consulting firm has ever taken that approach with a government tender.”
The Rubik way of business also takes a different view on the latest employment trend known as ‘the great resignation’, which has many employers scrambling for staff retention solutions. Guy invites people to ponder the merits of what might be “the shake-up some businesses need”.
“You can’t have your whole life experiences in one organisation. It’s good for those people to go ‘what’s next?’,” he says.
“You wouldn’t read the same book repeatedly if you want to grow and learn new things. You can’t skip `leg day’ at the gym and not expect to have weak spots.
“I say let those people go, let them grow and take their experience and proliferate it through the Canberra economy.
“It’s a big marketplace; we can all be successful.”
Rubik3 offers tailored strategic business solutions.