Beata Koropatwa believes in small acts of kindness. She recalls entering a trade fair in Melbourne and seeing a person struggling to carry too many things. Beata, CEO of Auslaser Business Solutions, immediately helped carry the load into the building. The person turned out to be the executive assistant to the CEO of one of Beata’s clients.
"They said, ‘You’ve been a supplier of ours for 12 years. You are now a lifelong supplier’," Beata tells The CEO Magazine.
"I think kindness should extend outside of the room, outside of the boardroom. It should extend to everything," she adds.
Beata and her business partner, Mark Gibson, built Auslaser Business Solutions from scratch, providing full-service, end-to-end IT solutions to Australian and global companies. "We are approaching 30 years in business," Beata says.
Corporate kindness is my key phrase. You’ve got to have corporate kindness.
They built the business on more than an ability to provide technical expertise and top-notch solutions. They built Auslaser on an ethos of service, core values and building customer relationships that last for the long-term.
"We really care about the customer, we actually become an extension of their business," she says. "We care about ensuring that we have excellence in the way that we do business and upholding customer relationships."
Beata has become well-known in the Australian business community as an entrepreneur, executive coach and board member – a leader who believes success "comes from the head and the heart". Beata is also known for her philanthropic efforts, a figure always open to sharing her "time, treasure and talents".
"Corporate kindness is my key phrase," she says. "You’ve got to have corporate kindness."
Beata’s achievements didn’t come easily. She rose from humble beginnings – "one of the poorest suburbs in this country," she says – battling every step of the way.
"I had a drive to always excel," she recalls. "I thought I had to prove myself in everything."
Her turn toward entrepreneurship started in the early 1990s. Beata was working for a photocopier company, when she had an epiphany – and took action.
"I thought to myself, ‘If I can do one-tenth of the revenue of what I’m personally doing in the company and really look after customers and run it as my own company, I think I’ve got the secret to success’," she says.
She had very little money – just A$1,700 – and did not own a home. But she had suppliers, with whom she had developed strong relationships, and to whom she turned for credit. She also used a diamond tennis bracelet to obtain credit.
Beata and Mark started Auslaser Business Solutions in a spare room. They established supply relationships and became successful within a year.
"We were so successful that we couldn’t keep up with the orders because we didn’t have sufficient credit. So that diamond bracelet was used a lot as collateral," she recalls. "It’s kind of my little good luck charm."
Auslaser Business Solutions has focused on organic growth, without becoming overextended. Much of its business comes from where clients take them, along with word-of-mouth referrals.
"Five new customers per annum is our target because our clients tend to be large, they’re enterprise customers whom we service very well," she says.
There have been challenges, to be sure – including the COVID-19 crisis. Beata and Mark confronted the pandemic by assuring staff, "You have nothing to worry about in regards to your jobs".
"No matter what, my staff won’t go without," Beata explains. "You’ve got to have that balance between thinking about your people and thinking about your cash flow.
"It can be a difficult balance during times of crisis to make sure your business stays afloat but, at the same time, it is imperative to not let your people, your good people, go. Because when things come back, you want them to still be with you."
Supply chains also presented a challenge. But she notes, "We actually overcame those challenges because our strengths are in supply chain management, warehousing and forecasting."
We look after our staff and they look after us, many having been with us for over 10 years.
Central to Auslaser’s services, Beata points to her staff, who don’t work on commissions, as a key difference in the market. "We look after our staff and they look after us, many having been with us for over 10 years," she says.
A long-term approach
Beata recalls telling a customer that a solution offered by a competitor "is not going to be right for you long-term". The customer purchased the proposed solution – only to realise within months that it was the wrong solution. "We were able to rectify the situation and get the client back on track," she says.
"That’s now made us a client for life. One of our core values is doing the right thing," she says. "You can’t keep clients for life unless you are doing the right thing, it’s the only way to earn trust and respect."
The same long-term approach applies to staff and supplier relationships.
I think being a great leader is to not just lead your company, but to be socially responsible, to give back and most importantly, to do the right thing in business.
"I think being a great leader is to not just lead your company, but be socially responsible, to give back and most importantly, do the right thing in business."
"Our philosophy is to look after our staff, our clients and our suppliers," she says.
Beata also believes in looking after the broader community through ‘giving back’ – the true mark of leadership and success, she says.
"A lot of people and companies don’t give back enough," Beata adds. "I think being a great leader is to not just lead your company, but to be socially responsible, to give back and most importantly, to do the right thing in business.
"Success is only success if it is shared. If you make a lot of money and you can’t do good with it, then it’s not really success, it’s just accumulating wealth. This philosophy is what I believe will take us through into the future."