Christalla Drougas | Leading a Team of a New Breed of Brokers - Australia Wide
We interviewed the insightful Christalle Drougas, a successful Australian Entrepreneur who has taken the brokerage market by storm. She has such a motivational and Inspirational story to share, she is a true survivor, overcoming serious obstacles to get to the top. Read how Christalle changed her life and in the process the face of financial services.
Name: Christalla Drougas
Industry: Financial Services
Business Name: Lending Store Australia
Favorite Quote to live by:
If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ―Martin Luther King Jr.
1. Please give us a bit of background on who you are and what you do? (what is your backstory/your business)
In my youth I wanted to study law but was discouraged from this into a more gender appropriate role of fashion. By 24 years old I was Victorian Area Manager for a clothing chain responsible for 30 staff and launching the company’s flagship store and Chadstone Shopping Centre which was the top performing store nationally but from there I felt I had nowhere to go.
My husband and I purchased our first business when I was 26 which was 26 years ago with no idea on what it meant to be an entrepreneur and business owner. That was when my journey began.
We purchased a number of businesses, built them and then sold them at a profit. We also built a body corporate cleaning business whilst holding down full time jobs and raising 2 children.
In my thirties I decided to study accounting. I was in a executive management position, leading a team and responsible for 2 interstate offices. It was my dream job where I was able to bring together formal studies and my experience in business building and management. The universe had a different plan for me, however, and I was involved in a motor vehicle accident that destroyed my career. I lost my job, my marriage broke down and I hit an all time low whilst I still had to recover my health.
I worked as a contract accountant and floated around a little trying to find my place. It was through this that I identified a gap in the market between business owners and their accountants. I figured that if the work force no longer wanted me that I would create my own job opportunity. I had no options but evolve and adapt and accept my limitations and build something different and new. I had done this before and I could do it again.
One of my clients in finance loved my vision and asked me to come on board as a partner. I knew nothing about finance brokering but I knew business. I also knew people and how to think outside the box. I had to learn fast, re-educate myself and apply everything I had learned up until this point in my life.
Just like that, I became a finance broker in 2005 and I then understood that you can be anything you want in life with the right mindset. I built a profitable business but once again I was struck down by ill health and the business fell apart. I was lucky to be alive and grateful for the life and opportunities that I had, but was bedridden, ill and in financial ruin. This is very common for finance brokers, when you a sole entrepreneur, you are the business and if anything should happen everything falls apart. There was an important lesson in this. I understood that as a leader and entrepreneur I had to create leverage and a new idea and vision was born.
I decided to create a brand with a system that supports brokers. We are automating our systems, taking care of compliance, providing leads, providing a social media footprint and teaching our team to work smarter not harder. All in under 12 months!!
I am super excited because most brokerage firms barely survive. We are cash flow positive and creating a future for our team as well as providing our clients with an awesome customer experience
2. What are three business & life lessons you have learned throughout your journey?
That you are the master of your destiny and have the power to be whatever you want to be just DECIDE| COMMIT| and SUCCEED!
You must be able to open your mind, to adapt and change with the peaks and valleys… the ups and downs of life and business: EVOLVE|ADAPT|EMBRACE
You must create a system and procedure for every part of your business, so whether you are there or not the wheels keep turning : PLAN |DO | CHECK |ACT
3. What advice can you give other entrepreneurs that is struggling to breakthrough the glass sealing in reaching their goals?
You must start to believe that change is an opportunity for your company to capture or redefine a market. Change is the enemy of the current market leader. Your aim must be to evolve, grow and prosper, not just survive.
If your business is facing stress from the market OR to function efficiently, it has 2 choices.
It can change or
It can have people to absorb the stress.
Successful businesses embrace change as a competitive opportunity, instead of a threat. In an effort to keep up with changes and challenges involved in running a business, opportunities are missed and job velocity is sacrificed.
With the business owners’ workload growing exponentially you begin to realize that you are not running the business, the business is running you. The goal is to create a business with leverage, profitability and sustainability. The idea is that it is your business that is the true product, and not the product or service you deliver. This a foreign concept for most business owners.
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