Teamwork is critical in bringing ideas to life. Anyone in the company might be able to offer a good idea that will help us become even more successful.
Larry Simonetta of the Simon Etta Group is the Operations Manager of Simfresh. It is a family owned business founded in 1991, supplying high-quality citrus produce to Australia and the world. Larry Simonetta started in the produce business in 2006, after graduating with a degree in small business administration and management. Simfresh has expanded to the worldwide distribution of citrus fruits. The produce business has changed and developed a great deal since the company was founded, but the principles of quality and client service have remained the same. Larry Simonetta has been an integral part of his family business while supporting the growth of the Simon Etta Group.
Where did the idea for Simfresh come from?
Simfresh started as a small family fruit business. The Simonetta family founded the company in their garage. They saw a market for high-quality citrus fruits in Australia and decided they wanted to fulfill that need. It was indeed a family affair with all three brothers, Joe, Tony, and Mario working together.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I walk around the plant in the mornings and see what the staff there might need from the central office. In the afternoon, I spend time looking for new opportunities for our company. I stay productive by avoiding distractions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I collaborate with my coworkers to put together an action plan. Teamwork is critical in bringing ideas to life. Anyone in the company might be able to offer a good idea that will help us become even more successful.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited about the way technology helps us streamline our process. We have recently started using software that helps us track our suppliers and clients and helps us discover new opportunities and areas for growth.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m always willing to put in the extra time to make a project work. I don’t stop because the clock says it’s time to go home. I often need to work outside regular business hours because there are a lot of things that demand my attention.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be hesitant to go into the family business. It can be stressful working with family, but knowing they have my back is so important.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
A lot of people disagree with me on this one, but I believe that it’s less important to know the business you are in than it is to understand the world of business as a whole. You can transfer these principles to whatever business you wish.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I feel it is crucial to make sure all of our employees know how much they are valued, even at the lowest levels in the packing shed. This has helped us grow and retain employees. We have gotten great ideas from the people who are working on the front lines of our business every day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We have kept a close eye on trends and pushed into markets where we had little exposure. Our expansion to the United States and Canada comes to mind. Understanding the produce market helps us know where our efforts will be the most successful.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
This is not a failure, but it’s something I would change if I could go back. I was hesitant to get our company into technology, thinking it would push us further away from our customers. That hasn’t turned out to be true, and I’m glad I saw the light.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have often thought that it would be fun to have a business that combines a bar or restaurant with an exciting activity, like a bowling alley or a bookstore. Give people a reason to walk through the door and a reason to stay and spend money.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought a turntable. Sometimes, I feel like life has gotten too high-tech, and it’s better to step back and do things the old way.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack has been a huge help to our business. It helps us stay in touch when we are not in the office and gives us a way to organize our thoughts as a whole.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recently picked up Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt. It’s revolutionalized the way I think about personal goal setting, and it’s helped me become more productive at work as well.
What is your favorite quote?
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs
• Understanding your market is a crucial step in growing your business.
• Use new technologies to expand business opportunities, but don’t let them become the sole focus of your business.
• Make sure that your employees know they are valued, from entry level on up. They can be sources of great ideas to expand your business.
• Working in a family business, teamwork is vital. Letting people have input on all levels is very important.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.