I have now left my employment with Ingenero. That ends my SolarPay adventure.
What a journey it has been. Here it is in shorthand.
Jan 2008 – desire to run a business that has positive impact on climate change
Feb 2008 – clarity of how I can reach people and motivate them to take action
March 2008 – support by my partner Hugh to think bigger (1,000 solar systems, rather than just 100)
April 2008 – incorporation of SolarPay Pty Ltd
June 2008 – first public appearance at World Environment Day
July 2008 – sale of the first solar hot water system
Oct 2008 – first part time employee, sales
Nov 2008 – additional full time employee (he took the full risk and worked on commission only – hit his targets spot on!)
Jan 2009 – employed admin support and starting to sell solar power (before it was just solar hot water)
Feb 2009 – 5 people in my home office is getting too small, so we rent sales office down the road
April 2009 – move into a single large office, about 12 employees
June 2009 – we reach the 1,000 solar roofs target with 20 employees, the government stops the subsidies
August 2009 – sale to Ingenero, I am marketing manager
December 2009 – I am moved aside as marketing manager
There was obviously the financial success of it all. There was also the success in motivating more people to put solar on their roofs and make a tiny difference to the carbon pollution. But the most important and most satisfying outcome for me is around the relationships that were formed and the atmosphere that we created in a workplace.
I kept feeling so much love for the people I worked with. And I think that it was shared by all (or most at least). All communication and interaction was based on deep respect and care, even if we had different personal world views.
I am not saying that no one ever was upset or angry at someone else. But these things were usually brought up and resolved or at least accepted for being there.
So the culture that we created was absolutely amazing. I am not sure how much of that stemmed from the products we sold (which are 100% positive for the consumer and the world) and how much came from my view that the biggest responsibility of a leader is to serve all employees.
It was their wellbeing (financially and emotionally) that motivated me to push myself further. Actually, the same for clients, not just employees.
In some instances that did not quite work out. The relationship with two of our subcontractors suffered as we grew. But apart from that, I am happy with all relationships.
One of the most important ones was with my business partner. How often is there talk about partners not working out together and that it is better to have one partner owning more than half. We went half all the way.
Here are some of the things that helped it work:
- We brought things up when they started to feel uncomfortable, rather than letting them fester (everything got resolved easily)
- I had absolute trust that my partner had my best interest in mind as well as his own
- My partner gave me a lot of leeway to do things “my way”. That was absolutely supportive and I wish that I can do that with others in the future as well.
So now we part ways. With the business I feel like I am done and can easily let it go. With some of the people, I deeply hope that we will work together again in the future.