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The entrepreneurs selling a blueprint for success

They’re the management consultancy team dedicated to ensuring your business has what it takes to succeed.

XGAP co-founders Martin West and Mark Bragg come from high stress, high performance backgrounds where implementing a plan and sticking to it can mean the difference, not just between winning and losing, but life and death itself.

Martin, 46, is a former fighter pilot squadron leader while his XGAP co-founder, Mark, 56, is a former NBL basketball coach. Ultimately, both men were motivated by the same goal – to instil the rigours and discipline of their former careers into the development and implementation of sound business strategies.

“It’s almost like our DNA put us in a very strong position to do what we’re doing now,” says Mark.

Over the last decade they have advised CEOs and senior executives across Australia on how to succeed.

Their key objective is to facilitate success and equip companies to map their own short-term goals, delegate responsibility and track their own progress through the development of their XGAP platform.

The platform empowers business leaders to measure progress against a few simple benchmarks that both Martin and Mark have spent their careers promoting.

Having fused their business concept with a mobile technology, the pair are now on the verge of breaking into an exciting new period of growth.

“We want to get to that point in four years or less where we have $10 million in revenue,” Martin tells Dynamic Business. “Our dream is to get to $100 million ten years from now.”

The men initially went into business after Martin subcontracted Mark in the early 2000s to help advise a pharmaceutical company after hearing him present at a seminar. The job went for a year, with the pair quickly striking up a business partnership. They have since worked with about 420 different companies.

Initially, they would work intensively over extended periods with clients to help them execute their business plans according to their three-pronged strategy.

The three steps are generic and can be applied to any business. In practice, however, the steps play out differently depending on the kind of business involved and the challenges it faces.

The first step is to set short-term business goals to be achieved within 9 months to a year. The second step is to ensure that members of the organisation know what part they need to play to achieve these goals. The third step is to have regular weekly meetings to track progress. Together, this is the XGAP concept.

Surprisingly, this kind of rigour is lacking in many businesses and can lead to many failing unnecessarily.

“It’s like the AFL team playing a game of football but not examining their performance through the week,” says Mark.

Both men are now more specific about the clients they take-on with their business having attracted attention through word of mouth and a “short and sharp” newsletter sent to four or five thousand managers. About 35 per cent of clients are based overseas.

Clients are more likely to be taken-on if they are highly ambitious and focused on meeting a particular challenge or achieving a unique objective. Usually, both men will be handling between ten and fifteen clients between them at any one time.

Like any smart business owners, Martin and Mark have been forced to evolve and adapt their concept to maximise growth opportunities and deal with challenges.

One of the major challenges emerged several years ago when they began to adapt their concept into a technological solution for business owners through a form of software. This reduced the need for the same level of ongoing hands-on engagement.

“Initially it was bad, because our engagement halved in size,” says Martin. “Up to that point we had been growing, for that year it went flat backwards, maybe 30 per cent. But clients loved it. That’s when we said ‘this stuff works.’”

Efforts then focused on turning their concept into a commercial product with real potential. All of their consulting clients now use the software to apply the XGAP concept to their business.

“We did two things. One was forced upon us. Rather than pitch or propose an 18-month to two-year engagement, we immediately could tell they wouldn’t need that. We changed it to about nine months. For a company of more than 250 it might be a little bit longer than nine months,” says Martin.

“But the discipline is embedded, they have a miniature version of us inside the company. We then invested a bunch of money in building a better version of the app.”

Over the last four years, nearly $1 million has been invested in developing the technological application and perfecting the XGAP platform. Currently, the business employs a chief technological officer, an operations manager to support clients with technological questions, an accountant and it has two contract facilitators.

Efforts are geared towards packaging the concept into an efficient smart-phone compatible app. “We’ve got a goal. Our dream is to put our methodology into as many peoples’ hands as possible,” Martin says.

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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly is a writer for Dynamic Business. He has previously worked in the Canberra Press Gallery and has a keen interest in business, the economy and federal policy. He also follows international relations and likes to read history.

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