Business In:Brief with Sarah Barnett (Brokermatch)
Founder of Brokermatch - 2019-present
Sarah is the founder of Australian self-funded startup platform Brokermatch. Brokermatch is a platform committed to matching prospective borrowers with the brokers who suit their specific needs, circumstances and preferences. The platform also provides brokers with an easier way to expand their digital footprint through Google-friendly, verified reviews.
Sarah is a branding and communications specialist, who has worked for years in some of Australia's biggest customer-facing companies and alongside the big banks. Find out more about Sarah's business insight, the Aussie business leaders she admires, and why she thinks that ignoring the haters isn't always the best idea.
What was your first job?
I was 15 and it was a daggy clothing store for women in the small town I grew up in. It was invaluable customer service experience, especially in getting to help such a wide range of people, none of whom were my peers. It also taught me a lot about peoples' relationships with money, their bodies and their partners.
What's your proudest achievement?
I'm a big believer in pride coming before a fall, so I like to cultivate a constant state of self-doubt and extreme humility. No, in seriousness, what I'm currently most proud of is every time a consumer uses our Match Me service. It's vindication that consumer-centric design really works. For context, Match Me is the only lead capture system for finance brokers that places the consumer's needs and expectations front and centre by finding out what they value (rather than seeing them as a dollar value). I'm also about celebrating the little wins, like when a broker gets in touch to say a prospective customer read their Brokermatch reviews and now wants their help getting a loan.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
I've learned so much about myself and human behaviour more broadly. People in business are essentially quite conservative and change averse. They want to maintain the status quo because it's making them money, or justifying their role, or confirming their biases. Consumers, on the other hand, are less likely to take that approach of "but we've always done it this way". They are open to new and novel solutions and so have embraced Brokermatch just as I'd (very optimistically) hoped. Also, there's absolutely nothing glamorous about being in business (yet?). I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I've been surprised at just how psychologically challenging it is. It's nothing if not resilience-building!
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
Everything we do in 2020 will be to make it easier for Australians to find the right finance broker, and to help good brokers build their brands online. Our marketing efforts will focus on attracting consumers to Brokermatch. Alongside this, we're looking to bring on greater numbers of high-quality finance brokers who want to attract new business, so that we can meet consumer demand Australia-wide. We'll also continue to expand our AI capability for the Match Me service, to improve its scalability.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
There are many. I admire people like Holly Ransom, who is an unapologetic questioner of the status quo and channels her indomitable work ethic and intellect to facilitate a more ambitious Australia. I'm particularly motivated by those leaders who move beyond rhetoric and are good corporate citizens in meaningful, measurable ways, like Cyan Ty'eed and Collis Ty'eed. I find the most life-affirming leaders are those with a growth mindset; who are optimistic and generous with sharing their insights. It's these people who inspire me more than the usual suspects – and the great news is you can find them all over.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Give it a crack. I used to work for a small (but mighty) behavioural change consultancy and this was a phrase my boss would often use when we were deciding on whether to go further with an innovation. There's only so much you can learn from modelling an idea, sometimes you've just got to dive in and do it.
What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?
A lot of people say "ignore the haters", but there's a lot you can learn from them. They're usually coming from a scarcity mindset and so if you can decipher what it is they're trying to protect, you often end up with insights that you can then leverage to refine your offering and market your business. Instead of being discouraged by the naysayers, realise that "Wow, this person/association/company is threatened by my business. I must be doing something right". A lot of the time they're pissed that they didn't execute the idea first. Also, critics can help to reveal your blind spots. There's no such thing as a perfect product, but if you're listening out for feedback and using it to get better, then you can improve it.
Last, you can't be all things to all people. If you try, you risk diluting what you are to those who matter most. Make sure you're delivering exceptional outcomes to them – everything else is a distraction. This seems so obvious, but it can fall by the wayside if you suffer from that disease to please, as a lot of women have been conditioned for.
Business In:Brief is a regular interview feature that profiles a notable business leader each month. It is also included as part of our business newsletter, which you can sign up for below.