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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Protect Your Reputation

Errol Pollnow (below)  and John Stockbridge have had their ups and downs.  When John failed in his first venture, he made sure it taint his name.  Errol says, "We're a very small business, we're in a remote part of the world... and we decided to target the whole planet ..."

Key Question:


Pay your debts and keep your promises.

In describing what had happened to John's first venture, he said, "I shut the company down and paid off all the debts myself rather than declare bankruptcy or wind up owing anybody -- you know, having people out of pocket because I still wanted to live in Perth. So you have to clear your name, get everything aboveboard and then come back from it."

Q: What do you learn about this man when you read his statement?

A: He is more interested in his name and reputation than he is in money.

Q: Why is it essential that every business owner be a person who is willing to take responsibility for his or her own actions and do the hard thing even when so many around are not?

A: To build a business, or a life, that brings value to those around you, the leader has to face down the difficulties with honor. John and Faye lost everything they had accumulated so that the people they owed money to would not suffer. As a result, he found a good job and worked his way, "back to the top." Business leaders with good character attract employees, customers, vendors and suppliers with good character. And, since business is built on trust a circle of good will is put into motion which produces quality products, services and relationships that will endure the test of time. Walking away from debt or lies or deceit is impossible. You may leave a city, a company or even a country but you leave a wake of destruction behind you. We've seen many other business owners who, like John, did the right thing and they can sleep at night.

Think about it

What do business people in your community and industry say about you when you're not in the room?

Clip from: Brookstone Technologies of Australia

Run Your Office From Your Pocket.  Be anywhere!  Be everywhere!

Perth and Sydney:  Meet the folks of Brookstone Technologies. They created virtual office software so they could be anywhere and still have their entire office with them.  

Perth is the most remote, largest "big city" on earth (three hours by airplane to another city over 1M), yet it is in a time zone that is home to half the earth's population!  It is known as GMT+8 (Greenwich Mean Time plus 8 hours). This time zone includes Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, and more.

John Stockbridge and Errol Pollnow merged two struggling information technology companies to form what is now a strong, creative enterprise with customers all over the world.

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Brookstone Technologies (EP)

Errol Pollnow, Founder

20/443 Albany Highway

+61 (0)8 6467 7788

Visit our web site:

Office: +61 (0)8 6467 7788

Business Classification:
Information Services

Year Founded: 1987

Protect Your Reputation

JOHN: This is my second time around, if you like, so -- What do they class it -- a serial entrepreneur. I started my first business in 1981, and we were reasonably successful and went for five years. It was a software development company. And we got involved in some financing overseas which fell through, and I wound up having to close the company down. So what I did was I shut the company down and paid off all the debts myself rather than declare bankruptcy or wind up owing anybody--you know, having people out of pocket because I still wanted to live in Perth. So you have to clear your name, get everything aboveboard and then come back from it.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) John's wife, Faye, remembers.

FAYE: Probably, too, you feel a little bit for your creditors and whatnot. So you don't really want to alienate anybody that doesn't need to be alienated because you might meet them down the track somewhere. So, you know, I mean, if it's a little bit of hard work and you get through it, yeah.

JOHN: So in 1986 I was married with a family, sold my house, sold half my furniture, had four children under the age of five. When I looked at my bank account after it was all done, I had $4.30. It was my total net assets.

FAYE: I think it was sad because the children were so small and I really thought, `Well, what am I going to do to help?' because I've got four little kids. And then I took in children and got money from that and we worked from there. So, yeah, we came through it and John got a good job and he worked his way through it and he came back up on top again. So we got there.

JOHN: I was fortunate enough that my name and reputation in the industry was very good. (Voiceover) So I was able to get quite a reasonable job, and you work your way back up again. And then, you know, you get to the same situation where now I'm getting offers to go to the Eastern states, I get offers of jobs in Singapore. What do you do? No, you want to stay in Perth still. So you start your own business again.

HATTIE: How long did it take you from that moment that you got the idea until you made money on that idea?

ERROL: It was about a half a decade, I guess. People used to ask me how the business was going, and I used to say that we had an enormous cash flow; in fact, it was an embarrassingly large cash flow. The only problem is it was all out.

JOHN: You learn by your mistakes, so the first business around, no planning, no budgets, no controls. You know, the expense is sometimes out of the window, varying cash flow. And that was always a problem. And so, you know, these mistakes, you have to learn by them, you have to experience them, I guess, sometimes.

HATTIE: You started a business because you wanted to stay in Perth.

JOHN: Yes.

HATTIE: And you failed in business... John: Before, yes.

HATTIE: Perth.

JOHN: Yes.

HATTIE: But you didn't allow the failure to hurt anybody because you wanted to stay in Perth.

JOHN: That's right.

HATTIE: You invented a product, Virtual Office...

JOHN: Jointly with Errol, yes.

HATTIE: ...that makes it easy for people to do work anywhere...

JOHN: Yes.

HATTIE: ...because you want to stay in Perth.

JOHN: That's right.

HATTIE: You are one stubborn guy. Is that what it takes to make a business work?

JOHN: I think persistence, yeah. You've got to have a belief in what you want to achieve.

ERROL: We're a very small business, we're in a remote part of the world called Australia, down under, and we decided to target the whole planet. And our technology has helped us to do that.


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