He is recognised as the number one business coach globally and has done business in 31 per cent of the world’s countries. Now, Bruce Campbell is turning his attention to training the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“I’ve got red dirt in my blood,” Bruce Campbell says, kicking his feet above the boardroom table to reveal cowboy boots tucked under his blue denim jeans.
Bruce grew up on an 80,000-acre sheep station in Cunnamulla, where his family tended to the 15,000 sheep on the property. His father was third generation to own and run the property and Bruce was in line to become the fourth, but when he was five years old, they sold it.
After high school, Bruce completed a sports medicine degree, but decided he didn’t want to go down that road, and instead devised a plan to go into primary production with his dad.
“I put this business plan together and said to Dad, ‘We’re going to go back to being primary producers, you have all of this knowledge and it’s generational’. But he said, ‘No! Bruza, I’ve got some other plans for you’, and to this day, each time we win another global business coaching award he says, ‘Remember that day?’ And I’m hugely grateful he didn’t allow me to go down that path.
“He saw a bigger game for me and he was right, what we’re doing around the world is unbelievable and if I’d been chasing sheep around paddocks I wouldn’t be doing any of this.”
Bruce embarked on a trajectory of education, obtaining an MBA from Aberdeen Business School in the United Kingdom, and has invested over a million dollars into his further education, complementing over 20 years of business development experience.
Fifteen years ago he opened his Entrepreneurial Business School, primarily working with business owners or people going into business, with the aim of creating social and financial change within the wider community.
“People who work with us wake up six months into the journey and go, ‘I’m a better person now, I think differently, I take more responsibility for my life, my marriage is better and from a financial point of view, people get richer,” he says.
“We are a pillar for change and an affirmation I say every morning is, ‘I am a life and business pillar of change’, and I shout that out to the world and that’s truly what we do.”
People who don’t have a business coach, may snuff the idea, but as Bruce points out, “I know zero people in sport who make it to the upper echelon and don’t have a coach”.
The beating heart of the business is in Mooloolaba, with satellite offices in Hong Kong, Dallas and now India. With thousands of clients on the books, Bruce’s annual Entrepreneurs Forum always attracts big numbers and this year’s event will see 350 people hitting the Sunshine Coast – providing a hefty injection into the local tourism market.
An affirmation I say every morning is, ‘I am a life and business pillar of change’, and I shout that out to the world.”
Having given his clients the tools they need to thrive, he is turning his efforts to their children, the next generation of entrepreneurs, through Business School 4 Kids, designed to empower 11 to 18-year-olds to think like an entrepreneur and develop the all-important critical thinking and decision making skills used in any endeavour they choose to pursue.
By the end of the six-month course, these inspired youth are committed to building a business for themselves – even if it’s a lemonade stand on the corner.
“It’s been five years in the making,” Bruce says.
“When I went to uni and school I was taught algebra, geometry and trigonometry, all of this stuff I don’t use. It would have been helpful being taught about money and taking responsibility for my own life, all of these things I’ve had to learn in my 30s – even my MBA didn’t teach me a lot of this.”
The first intake in January this year was more popular than anticipated and had to be capped at 50.
“My wife and I said one of the legacies we wanted to leave was to put 5000 kids through this program in the next 15 years. It’s amazing to see the young entrepreneurs who have emerged, one 12-year-old has an online business and made $500. It’s very exciting and we’ll see what the progression is out of this.”
With a headstart, Bruce predicts this next generation will launch even more businesses, which will see more money being made.
“But over and above the money is you’re going to have kids taking more responsibility – doing their chores at home, doing better at school, being better behaved and they will have more resilience through their teenage years.
“That’s the big thing, when we see people shift, that’s the drug for me, why would you not want to do more of that? It’s infectious.”
“Teaching children about business at a young age is important for the future of the business world as a whole. When kids are taught the specific lessons of money management and organisational skills, they can then apply those skills towards building a business for themselves and apply those same skills to their personal lives.”
How will the business industry change with the next generation?
The ones who are winning are becoming more innovative, raising the game. You can’t do that if you’re doing the same thing that you’ve always been doing – it’s the definition of insanity.
Did you know, 96 per cent of all businesses in Australia won’t make their 10th anniversary, and of the four per cent that survive, 80 per cent of them won’t get over $2 million revenue in sales. They never work out how to get big.
Everyone who fails in business is passionate when they start, but they don’t have the skill, so innovation is one thing, but skill development is the other and being taught by people who are worthy to do that.