We are so excited to announce that Brad Smith will be joining our panel for the Young Business Hustler competition! Brad is the founder of braaap Motorcycles, a multi-million dollar company selling the world’s first Australian-owned and designed motorcycles.
Here Brad shares with us his philosophies on business and life, and his advice for young entrepreneurs!
You founded Braaap, the only Australian owned and designed motorbike company. However, you faced a lot of setbacks when trying to get the company off the ground. The Duke of Edinburgh’s award program fosters resilience and problem-solving skills amongst its awardees. How did you face these setbacks while maintaining focus on your larger goal?
I think the first thing to remember is that rejection is a part of growth. We have a society where we’ve become too focused on avoiding failures and ‘negative’ experiences. But I think it’s really important for young people – and in fact, everyone – to remember that we need to go through setbacks and failures to grow as people and entrepreneurs. It’s all part of the learning curve in business and life. If you have a team, it’s also important to remind your them that rejection and failure are a part of growth. Once you understand and accept that setbacks are part of the natural course – of everything – then you just get on with it, and keep moving in the direction you want to go.
That’s how I deal with setbacks and failures. The second thing, is that, you’ve got to have a vision that overcomes your challenges. This has always been part of our focus. We have a clear vision of where we want to go and why we want to get there, and a strategy on the ‘how’. So, we don’t really take notice of all the shit that happens and all the setbacks. We just keep moving towards our goals.
You have found a way to turn your passion for motorbikes and riding into a successful career. What advice would you give to young people looking to do something similar with one of their passions?
This is an interesting question. I seem to always be asked about turning [your] passion into your pathway. To be honest, I’m the biggest sceptic on this type of thought, because I think you should be a passionate person regardless of what you do, and also be passionate about whatever is it that you do.
I’m a strong believer that passion comes from growth. Passion doesn’t come from what we do, it comes from how we do it. In my observation – and you guys can think about it based on your own experiences – the time in our life when we are most passionate is usually the same period when we are focused and doing our best.
This is why I like to say to people, “Just get very commercially focused and moving forward in whatever the hell you are doing, then you can go and pay to do what ever you love to do; what fills you up.”
By following this philosophy you can become passionate about anything you do. That’s a big part of what I speak about; just making sure that people know it’s really important to remember that business is business, and passion is passion. They are two separate things.
However, I wouldn’t do a business that wasn’t fulfilling for me and didn’t make a difference to the customer.
I love our product and I love the thought of our business making a positive experience in people’s lives. I love making people happy and making people feel alive. And I love motorcycling.
You were just 17 years old when you began exploring options for manufacturing dirt bikes in Australia. Do you think your age was an advantage in any way when pursuing this dream?
I think age is totally irrelevant unless you believe it is. I don’t think you should let age guide your path or hold you back. Sure, initially some people might be put off by your age, but from my experience, people put value in your skills, experience, ideas, and your drive to succeed, than they do on your date of birth. Remember, people will value you on the value that you bring to whatever it is that you are going to deliver. I think that age can be either a disadvantage or an advantage – it depends how you play it out.
If you’re growth-focused (and passionate!) person, you are going to overcome more challenges in business than your age. If you think that age is your problem, I guarantee that’s not your problem. I guarantee it’s the value you are offering. I guarantee you’re not delivering on the things need to be delivered or that you’ve promised. No one really cares about when someone was born. All they care about is: ‘Does he/she do what they said they were going to do; have they delivered what they’re supposed to deliver?’.
Mostly just to be the best version of what I can be.
I think I’ve got a lot to do, and a lot to learn. I want to become the best version of myself and Braaap is my platform to that at the moment. I’m really passionate about making sure we are
the best in the world at what we do.
A lot of the progress that we’re making is because we’re challenging the status quo and looking for greater opportunities to leverage what we’re creating or doing. We want to create a phenomenal experience – that’s what Braaap is all about.
Of course, I love making a difference to people’s lives because we can get them riding motorcycles and feeling alive. Our products help our customers feel as sense of ‘escape’ and exhilaration. I really do get excited about our customers being excited about our motorbikes – this just drives me harder to create the best experience possible.
What do you believe is your greatest achievement in life so far?
That’s a hard one.
It’s definitely not material or anything like that. For me, I’m proud of stuff you can’t even see or touch. It’s my personal growth and my personal journey.
I’m proud of what we’ve created. I’m proud of the team of people I work with, and who all share the same vision as I do. I love that I am in a business that makes a difference to people’s lives. Our product makes people happy. Honestly, I feel a huge sense of achievement anytime I see people on our product having a good time.
The other day I went into the track. There was a kid there with his dad and they were riding. The kid pulled up on his Braaap and high-fived his dad and just said, “Thanks Dad.” That was pretty cool.
Anytime I see someone happy or feeling alive because of our product, it makes me feel as though we’ve done our job well, and delivered on our promise. That’s what its all about for me. That’s when I feel the greatest sense of achievement.
To find out who the other panelists are for Young Business Hustler please check out the website: www.youngbusinesshustler.com
Young Business Hustler 2015 is a new competition for young entrepreneurs. Candidates will pitch their existing business or business idea to a panel of expert entrepreneurs, with two winners selected to receive 12 months of mentoring in the BIGthink! Baby Booster Program valued at $12,870 each.