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Business Insights – November 2021


Welcome to the first edition of my Business Insights newsletter.

With most of us largely working on our own in recent times, we have missed out on the creativity and energy that would typically flow from our personal interactions. More than ever, we want to hear about new ideas and success stories in our networks.

In this edition of the newsletter, we look how a retail business has successfully evolved their business model to thrive, not only during the pandemic, but in the new economic environment we find ourselves in.

I have also included a review of one of my favourite books, Talent is Never Enough, by Dr. John Maxwell. This book is a staple in my bookcase and is one I highly recommend.

I hope you enjoy this edition.

Best wishes, 

Forza Italia: The transition from bricks and mortar to online

Forza Italia is a retailer of Italian sporting, automotive and novelty clothing and I’ve been working with the business’ owner, Joseph Gerace, since 2018.

Setting things in place for the future

When I first started working with Joseph and Forza Italia, the first thing we did was develop a strategic plan to set a clear direction for the business, and at the beginning of each year we review and recalibrate the plan as required.

In executing our strategic plan, we ensure we always work with data and facts, rather than make emotive decisions. In our time working together, Joseph has become more conscious of margins and capitalising on opportunities to maximise margins by value adding and increasing efficiencies. And by changing his base factors, he’s seen a positive change in his business.

Through working with Joseph, I’ve gained a better understanding of his strengths and passions, in particular creativity, pursuing new opportunities and marketing. We’ve capitalised on Joseph’s strengths, while l’ve implemented a structure incorporating systems and follow up procedures.

With the structure and systems in place, we’ve then focussed on ensuring we have the right people in the right roles. I’ve supported Joseph as he’s progressively built a strong team both internally and externally, which has enabled him to gradually hand over much of the day-to-day operations and allowed him to focus on higher value tasks and growing the business.

Adapting to the COVID challenge
In late 2019, Forza Italia relocated to a new store on Lygon Street in Carlton – Melbourne’s Little Italy – but by the end of the first quarter of 2020, it had become clear that the business’ traditional retail model had to be revised.

We quickly realised that Forza Italia’s future laid online, which fortunately was an area that Joseph was already passionate about and eager to push.

Actions included: 

  • Upgrading the website (which continues to evolve) and significantly increasing marketing on social media
  • Introducing new products and creating more value-adding offerings such as picture framing, design and customised team wear
  • Revising job roles to better meet the needs of the new business model


  • Secured Victorian distribution rights to a major international team wear supplier
  • Pursued new market segments and formed a number of new alliances with various sporting clubs, motoring enthusiast groups and an entertainment group
  • Received orders from across Australia and even as far away as Canada.
  • Is on track to grow by 100% in 2021

While Forza Italia’s retail store will remain, going forward it will act more as a showroom to support the business’ thriving online activity. The store is currently undergoing a transformation and will reopen prior to Christmas. 

Book Review: Talent is Never Enough by John Maxwell

Dr. John Maxwell is an international authority on leadership, with Inc Magazine ranking him as the best leadership expert in the world. Maxwell’s numerous books have sold around 20 million copies worldwide.

In Maxwell’s book, Talent is Never Enough, he contends that the choices people make, and not merely the skills they inherit, shape their success. “It’s what you add to your talent that makes the greatest difference.”

Talent is often overrated or misunderstood. According to internationally renowned management expert, Peter Drucker, there is little correlation between a person’s intelligence and their effectiveness. This seems to be supported by the revelation that more than 50% of Fortune 500 CEOs had a C or C- average in college.

You may think that your talent gives you the edge, but that is not the case. Everybody has their own strengths, and to stand out, we need to find a way to maximize our potential.  

Maxwell presents thirteen attributes you need to maximise your potential and realise your dreams.

  1. Belief– is the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing.
  2. Passion– dream big, no idea is too outrageous. Passion energises your talent.
  3. Initiative– nothing will happen if you don’t actually do anything.
  4. Focus– directs your talent. A scatter gun approach dilutes your effectiveness.
  5. Preparation- your success is determined by your ability to prepare.The success of many expeditions was determined by the extensive preparation.
  6. Practice- Practice delivers continual improvement.
    Professional athletes don’t rely on their innate talent alone, they practice daily.
  7. Perseverance– Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realise how close they were to success when they gave up.
  8. Courage– every obstacle sharpens us.
    You develop courage by doing something uncomfortable once or twice a week for two months.
  9. Teachability– Learning to listen and embrace feedback is essential to success.
    Learning is a lifetime commitment.
  10. Character– If you don’t have character, your talent may be worth little.
    Talent is a gift- either you have it, or you don’t. Character is a choice.
    Honesty is not something you do. Honesty is something you are.
  11. Relationships– “Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions.” Mark Twain.
  12. Responsibility-People often believe that someone else is better qualified or suited than themselves to make a difference. But the truth is that most people who make a difference do so not because they the best for the job, but because they decide to try.
  13. Teamwork– Individuals play the game, but teams win championships.