Posted: 27 Nov. 2019 09 min. read

Balancing act

Learning from Canada’s Best Managed Companies

What does it mean to be the best?

Is it the fastest growing business? Or the one with the biggest profits? Are you the most innovative? Do you put your people first? Or is it about mindset?

What I’ve learnt through working with some of Australia’s most outstanding private companies is ‘best’ isn’t a one-dimensional horizon. It’s important to be well-rounded across all facets of a business.

Private companies are the heartbeat of Australia’s economy. They create tremendous value, drive new industries and fuel significant growth.  But turning your entrepreneurial idea into a successful business can be an uphill battle.

It’s why we hear these questions – often. What makes one company profit and another stumble? How can a fledgling business grow into one of Australia’s great private companies and success stories?

Over more than 25 years, Deloitte has uncovered the traits behind Canada’s most successful private businesses with Best Managed Companies. And, as we launch our inaugural list of Australia’s Best Managed companies, we’re seeing similar trends here too.

Defining the best

Imagine a company with great financials and a solid product – that has no strategy for the future or mechanism for innovation. Or a business with a fantastic strategy and strong culture which is operating at a dangerous loss. No one aspect of a business can tell you if it’s being managed in the best possible way. Success isn’t a single ingredient – it’s a secret sauce.

That’s why Deloitte Canada developed four key pillars to measure a Best Managed company, honed by the program’s years of operation: strategy, culture and commitment, capabilities and innovation, and governance and financials. This program highlights the importance of each metric to the propensity of success. If a business is unbalanced across these areas, we recognise it is more likely they won’t have the right output.

The best in practice

These pillars cut across the key areas for success – and the proof is in the track record of our Best Managed Companies alumni. A report into Canada’s program, Outlast and outperform: Insights from Canada’s most successful companies, found just five per cent of Best Managed winners have gone out of business, compared to 72 percent of other businesses over the same period. They were 30 times more likely to be acquired compared to the Canadian average and three percent have gone public, compared to less than one percent of other companies. These businesses have dramatically outperformed their peers.

We’re excited to extend the legacy of this program with our first Australian cohort of Best Managed Companies. Private businesses are critical to Australia’s future prosperity. We aim to showcase the achievements of these businesses, and the measures their peers should be striving for. 

We have a number of exciting companies on our shortlist, ahead of announcing our winners at an exclusive gala event on 15 October. As lead partner on this program, I am inspired by the sheer brilliance, energy and outlook of our participants.  I look forward to sharing their approach with our Best Managed Companies blog series, bringing to life the best insights from our program.

Being the best takes a bold ambition. In uncovering the behaviours, drivers and passion underlying business success, we hope to spur more of it here at home.

Meet our author

Natalie Faull

Natalie Faull

Partner, Deloitte Private

Natalie is the National Leader for the Best Managed Companies program in Australia, with over 20 years in practice and 15 years with Deloitte Private. Natalie specialises in providing accounting, taxation and commercial advisory services to privately owned businesses, foreign subsidiaries and the families that own them. With the support of the Global Deloitte Network, Natalie is able to understand and solve for the complexities that exist in her client base for them to operate in foreign markets. Natalie is passionate about providing solutions that add value and tangible outcomes for her clients, while balancing a deep understanding of the family dynamics and challenges that arise as a result. Natalie's experience spans a variety of industries, with a focus and expertise in Consumer & Industrial Products and Agribusiness. Natalie is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Tax Advisor and a member of the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.