INVESTOR, entrepreneur and managing director of a private investment business, Jason Titman, has helped start and sell a number of hospitality businesses. 

With a few business partners, Titman started to invest in Queensland businesses through Integr8 Investment Group. This vehicle helped start and sell businesses including Regatta Hotel, Chalk Hotel, Hotel LA, Scarborough Hotel and Due East Bar and Grill.

A co-founder of and heavily involved with Consolid8, Titman has now turned his attention to e-commerce business Neto, for which he holds down the roles of chief operating officer and director. In a few years Neto has transitioned from a startup to an Australian tech success story.

Telstra took a 51 per cent stake in Neto in 2015. The business now has over 100 staff and thousands of Australian retailers using the platform. The new point of sale system allows retailers to run both their online and physical stores on the same payments platform, making it easer to manage inventory, tax and fulfilment, while delivering a single overview of total revenue and cash flow.

Brisbane local Titman formerly held senior management roles at companies including KPMG, Comalco (now Rio Tinto), Norris Motor and Finance Group, and Stewarts Hotel and Property Group. He was also heavily involved with legislative reform in the liquor, gaming and property industries.

How do you assess new business opportunities?

My core philosophy to investment is to approach business opportunities like a master card player approaches their craft. It's important to know when to 'hold them and when to fold them'.

Most weeks I get presented with opportunities - whether it's to invest in a hot new business or put more money into Neto itself. I approach opportunities by following a three-step process:

  • Size up the opportunity and get a feel for whether the market is ready for the idea
  • Understand how marketable the idea is, and how receptive the market is to receiving this idea
  • Determine whether the idea is being pushed too hard in a particular direction. Does it need to change course so it won't get caught up in the law of diminishing returns? If it does, are those involved in the idea able to put aside ego so the necessary changes can be made?

You have started and exited many ventures. Do you always enter business with a clear exit plan in mind?

I firmly believe in having a clearly defined exit plan, and only going into business opportunities with that clearly in mind. I always ask myself: Why am I getting into this business? Is it for lifestyle, to make the world a better place, or to make a significant financial return? 

While your exit plan will often change, you need to stay true to why you got into the venture. Keeping that in mind will help you with the tough decisions that you will inevitably need to make along the way.

With the view of having an exit plan, you should also get to know other businesses in your industry very well. Make sure you are getting to know your competitors, those who might buy your business, and those who may wish to invest in your business. Opportunities are often under your nose, but unless you are focused on that exit plan, you will often miss the opportunity to pursue your ultimate goal - even when it is right in front of you.

What should be the number one priority for any entrepreneur?

Most accountants don't make great entrepreneurs. However, most entrepreneurs don't end up being as successful as they could have been because they don't manage their numbers along the way. 

The first goal of an entrepreneur needs to be to get sales and cash flow happening, but after they get turnover they need to start managing the gross margins and all those other costs that absorb cash as a business grows.

Without knowing your numbers along the way, not knowing when to change direction, and not having an exit plan (and potential investors lined up), your world-beating idea can come crashing down pretty quickly - or at best you will likely limp along, make a living but never realising the full potential of the business (let alone becoming the next Google or Facebook).

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