At a recent function Sarina was asked about the best advice she received in her 38 years of business. Sarina shared . . .
What was the greatest piece of business advice you received?
To stop paying rent and buy my own CBD property to run my business.
Who gave it to you and when? What were the circumstances?
My accountant said `Sarina, you are paying so much out in rent, you should buy your own building.’
I said, `But I love it at the top of the TLC Building [Brisbane, CBD]. I love the view. The students love being on the 26th floor of the smartest building in the city.’
He said, `No, Sarina, when you are looking out from your own building. That is the best view you can have.’ With those words, I was convinced.
Why was it the best advice?
The purchase of a high-rise CBD building elevated my thinking, responsibilities and accountability. We only needed three of the 12 useable floors. We needed to fill the rest?
We expanded our thinking and recruited multi-lingual staff with academic and marketing skills to teach English to students from Latin America, the Soviet Union, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and South East Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The Federal Government were privatising the CES’ job matching and job search training activities. With our background in job skills training and job finding we successfully tendered and won a Job Network contract.
The decision to buy a CBD building allowed my training school to blossom into a large campus, teaching students from around Australia and the world. We also launched into a second major business – a fully-fledged recruitment and job-placement network.
How quickly did you act on it?
We executed with speed and urgency. All of a sudden we were CBD landlords. My competitor thought I had just bought a floor. I said, `No, I loved it so much I bought the building.’
What were the benefits of doing so?
It created momentum. Since the purchase of 82 Ann Street, Sarina Russo Investments bought three more CBD building including the jewel in the crown 100 Eagle Street.
Would you give the same advice to others?
I am a huge fan of real estate as a wealth building strategy. Regardless of whether it’s property, shares or anything else, it’s all about cash flow and being able to service your banking facilities. Cash flow is king and the capacity to make sure your investment gives you a return. The greatest failure of entrepreneurs is they go out and borrow big and then don’t have the capacity to repay their debt if things don’t go to plan.