Table of contents
Hey Craig. What’s your backstory?
I had a typical childhood, growing up in a loving and supportive family with my twin brother and sister, who are 13 months younger than me. My parents did a great job of balancing their responsibilities, and we never went without. Despite the challenges of raising three children, my parents always managed to maintain a sense of calm and never let on about any difficulties they may have faced.
My story does not involve being left with just $100 in my bank account. Rather, it is one in which I am fortunate to have had two great role models in my parents. They were hardworking, fair, and loyal, and excelled in decision-making roles at work. In addition to their professional pursuits, they were also committed to community activities, such as supporting school committees and coaching sports teams, and to organising social outings with friends.
Through their example, I learned the importance of hard work, consideration for others, and understanding the impact we can have as humans, which has become my criteria for finding meaning in my work.
I first studied Sport and Exercise Science at Sydney University. I was a little lost, however, I was both good at and enjoyed sports and science, so it felt like the right pathway at the time. These studies saw me secure a role at the Australian Institute of Sport as a Biomechanist for Cricket Australia [2003-2004].
This role gave me exposure to a high-performance environment and allowed me to work with colleagues who were world-leading in their expertise. Operationally at the time, “the work” was both exciting and engaging. However, given the available technology at the time, I found for the most part, “the work” was lonely and administrative.
In 2005, I took a 12-month backpacking trip around the world, spending 3 months in Africa, 6 months in Europe, and 3 months in the USA. It was a time of significant personal growth for me.
Upon my return, I lectured at the University of Canberra in the Department of Health, Science, and Environment from 2006 to 2007. It was during this time that I developed a desire to transition to health and safety. I found that the opportunity to apply the skills I had gained from helping professional athletes improve their performance to helping people in the workforce work more efficiently and safely was personally more fulfilling.
I initially crafted my health and safety skills in "in-house" roles. This was important and allowed me to develop an understanding of how safety played a role operationally at a macro level.
I was fortunate to have had a phenomenal leader in my first safety role at a top-tier law firm; before, I led safety across 150(ish) Victorian and Tasmanian Coles Supermarkets.
During this role, I was approached by a top-tier insurance broker, where I worked as a safety consultant, supporting clients who had their worker's compensation insurance premiums placed with us. I started Action OHS Consulting 15 months into this role. Whilst the diversity of clients engaged me, I had a desire to work on bespoke and purposeful projects.
What does your company do?
Action OHS Consulting is a consulting business that supports businesses in managing workplace hazards, so workers can leave work in the same (or better health) way they started the day.
Last year we were awarded the Australian Workplace Health and Safety Award 2022 for Small to Medium Sized Enterprise: Health and Safety Excellence.
Safety Champion is a software business that supports businesses in operationalising their health and safety programs and assists business leaders in managing their legal obligations through our product.
How did you come up with the idea?
Action OHS Consulting
I founded Action OHS Consulting because I wanted to create a company that aligned with my values, rather than one that prioritised profit over purpose like the top tier consulting firm where I had previously worked.
At Action OHS Consulting, we are focused on providing meaningful safety support and making a positive impact rather than simply prioritising the highest bidder. The name "Action" reflects my desire to take action, while "OHS Consulting" makes it clear what we do. I included "OHS Consulting" in the name because I anticipated that our clients would find us through search engines, and wanted to make it easy for them to understand what we offer.
The logo, featuring four squares with one slightly offset, represents the idea that safety is just one part of a business's overall operations.
Safety Champion is a software company that was initially designed to support those who champion safety within their organisations. The name reflects this focus. The logo, featuring a wreath, is meant to symbolise winning and being a champion.
How did you go about building and launching the business?
During the first four years of Action OHS Consulting, we noticed that small businesses often found it challenging to implement OHS practices in their workplaces. While the leaders of these businesses placed a high value on worker safety, operational concerns often took precedence, resulting in safety being given attention only after an incident or upon client request.
In response, we conducted a market scan to find software solutions that could help small businesses manage their safety programs. We found that the options available were either too expensive, only supported one aspect of the safety program, or were not configurable. While we partnered with several software solutions, this led us to the idea of developing our own product.
In 2015, we approached final-year computer engineering students at RMIT and pitched our idea to them as a capstone project. Six students joined our team and spent two hours every second Friday for eight months building and iterating on the beta version of Safety Champion. Our first client signed up in December of that year. After the relationship with RMIT ended, we hired a backend and frontend developer to work two days a week for 12 months.
We saw continued growth as we shared the product with our clients at Action OHS Consulting. When we started receiving interest from national businesses in Australia, in 2017 I decided to fully commit to Safety Champion and rebuild the backend codebase to enable it to serve medium and larger businesses.
How have you grown the business?
Safety Champion has experienced consistent year-over-year (YOY) growth in annual recurring revenue (ARR) of over 100% in line with other high-growth B2B SaaS companies. Over the past 18 months, we have doubled our team in every functional area of the business, including Customer Success, Engineering, Product, and Sales and Marketing.
Aside from Engineering, Marketing was the first functional area to receive a dedicated team member, which allowed us to build a brand beyond our Action OHS Consulting clients and establish a sales funnel for the future. As we grew and our customer numbers started to scale, we added team members in the following order: Support, Sales, Onboarding and Implementation, Customer Success, and then Product.
Our marketing efforts have been primarily organic through our partners and reseller program. However, over the past 12 months, we have expanded to paid ads, sponsorships (we are currently a Diamond Partner of the Australian Institute of Health and Safety, our industry association), participation in trade shows, and hosting customer and prospect events.
Watch Spotlight Presentation at WHS Show Melbourne 2022.
In 2019, we released a Freemium version of Safety Champion, Safety Champion Light, which has attracted over 1,000 subscriptions. We have seen a conversion rate of around 3% without actively selling to this cohort.
We continue reinvesting in the business and have recently added Quality Assurance, Support, Sales, and Customer Success roles. Our next move is to add an Account Management team.
What's your biggest selling product?
Our software product is Safety Champion, which is available on our website at www.safetychampion.com.au.
The biggest services offered by Action OHS Consulting are our Audit and Assurance Services and our Secondment Services.
- Audit and Assurance Services involve working with clients to identify gaps or areas for improvement in their safety programs, taking into account operational efficiency and legal requirements.
- Secondment Services offer an outsourced model for both small and larger businesses, in which we act as their Health and Safety Manager or support their Health and Safety Teams in delivering specific programs of work.
Both of these services can be found on our website at www.actionohs.com.au
What have been some of your biggest failures along the way?
One of my biggest challenges has been learning to let go and trust in the abilities of others. As the founder of the company, I have sometimes found it difficult to shift my focus to the end goal and have felt the need to be fully informed about how it is being achieved. This has required me to understand that there can be many paths to reach a destination.
I am still working on this personally and have recently hired a Head of People to help me understand the importance of letting go for both employee engagement and the continued growth of the company. It has been a valuable lesson that has helped me become a better leader and has allowed me to focus on the bigger picture.
What do you do to improve the employee experience?
From the very beginning I recognised that our people are our business. I have always placed a bias on my team's happiness at work, over my own. As we grew to around 10 employees, as a collective, we started on a journey to define our vision, mission and values to ensure that our identity and the reason why we existed was clear to our current and future team members.
Wanting to ensure that we established a purpose led business, we lent on B Corp’s Impact Assessment to guide the development of our Employee Handbook. This ensured that the environmental, social and sustainability impacts of our operations have been explicitly considered. We became a certified B Corp 2022. View the details here
Appreciating that my focus was stretched across several functional areas, as we approached the next stage of growth 15-20 employees, I placed a Head of People role into the business to ensure that someone was always focused on our team. Our “people” role is very much “care” over “compliance” and ensures that our employee journey starts from the time that the position is conceived internally.
In line with the appointment of our Head of People, 2022 allowed us to introduce the following programs:
- “We Share” – our version of a profit share program
- “We Care” – a compensation and job security program designed to support workers who are impacted by ill health
- “Better Together” – our internal employee referral program.
- Feedback Loops – ensuring employees and manager conversations occur in both a structured and unstructured setting
In addition, we rolled out an HR Information System making it easier for our teams to apply for leave, manage personal and payroll information, and manage professional development.
There is more that we aim to achieve in this space, and we continue to work with our internal team to ensure our employee value proposition remains both contemporary and relevant to their needs.
What's next for you and your business?
For Action OHS Consulting, we are always working on expanding our team. This expansion includes extending our footprint of consultants on the ground beyond Melbourne and Sydney and in other Australian capital cities.
Additionally, we are exploring ways to productise our consulting services so that ongoing OHS support is more accessible to businesses through a managed services model (OHS Management as a Service or OHS MaaS).
For Safety Champion, we are in the process of refactoring our codebase to set us up for the next five years, enabling us to introduce new features and increase our enterprise client numbers.
What digital tools do you use regularly?
Here is a list of the digital tools we use regularly:
- MS Teams for internal communication and virtual meetings
- ZOHO CRM for managing inbound leads and opportunities, EDMs, surveys, website chatbot, and in-app Safety Champion support
- JIRA for managing software development
- Safety Champion for managing our safety program
- Employment Hero for managing HR practices such as onboarding, performance management, leave, and expense management
- OfficeVibe for managing engagement
- MYOB for accounting
- LinkedIn (primary), Facebook and Twitter (secondary) for social media
- ChatGPT (exploratory)
What books have been a great inspiration to you as a founder?
I haven't been one to read a lot of business books, preferring instead to learn from the shared experiences of a few trusted individuals.
However, the one book that I found valuable and has helped me build structure in both Action OHS Consulting and Safety Champion is:
Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It... and Why the Rest Don't by Verne Harnish.
This book covers four key decision areas: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash, and provides many practical tools and templates that can be easily implemented in a business.
Any podcast/websites that help you run your business?
Startups for the Rest of Us by Rob Walling is a great resource for bootstrapped B2B SaaS startups, offering valuable insights and guidance.
Another helpful resource is the Built to Sell Radio podcast hosted by John Warrillow, which covers the founder journey and strategic considerations for structuring a business to support investment and growth. This podcast covers the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of the journey and is a great way to learn from the experiences of others.
Any quotes you live by?
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching”
Ensuring that I do right by my family, friends, team, and clients is of paramount importance to me.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
I am in a constant state of considering and planning.
What do you love and hate about being a founder?
I love the obtuse challenges that are presented to me daily. I love that I am leading the build of a purpose-led business. It encourages all our team to be active contributors and think at an organisational level. I love seeing our team flourish when confronted by opportunities and challenges.
I am forever the optimist. I don’t “hate” anything. Yes, I can feel “overwhelmed” at times by the responsibility I perceive I have to both our team and clients; or “disappointed” when the trust I place is broken.
At times I “wish” I had more luck or things were easier; however, this drives me to reflect on the way we work, and what we can do to make this luck eventuate.
What do you do to look after your mental health while being a founder?
Over the past two years, I have focused on building a strong people function within the company by establishing an executive level management team and a management team within Safety Champion. This has been designed to allow me to share the workload and responsibilities.
In my personal life, I am fortunate to have a loving partner who supports me unconditionally. I also make an effort to run up to 100 km per month and maintain regular contact with my circle of friends.
In a few words, sum up what it means to be the founder of a business.
"A journey of responsibility"
What are the biggest pieces of advice you’d give to other founders?
Focus on action over perfection.
Roll up your sleeves and get to understand every function of your business intimately, then know what to let go of.
Treat your people and customers ethically. Having your team and customers on your side and working together in the same direction allows momentum and helps keep work fun.