CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Craig West, CEO & Founder of Succession Plus

Craig West is a strategic accountant, and the CEO and founder of multi-discipline consulting practice Succession Plus, Australasia’s largest business succession and exit planning advisory firm.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am an accountant by background and worked with multiple business owners preparing to sell or pass on to their family. What I saw was a number of very poor exits, coupled with a personal succession plan that went horribly wrong.

This led me to study exit planning and develop a 21-step process to help business owners maximise the value of the business and achieve a successful exit – hence I founded Succession Plus. 

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Most of my days are busy – both internal and external meetings (often online these days ).

I really enjoy working with clients, but as Succession Plus continues to grow I now have 23 advisers around Australia and businesses in both UK and NZ and so I now spend as much time internally as with clients.

I also read a lot (including academic research, case studies) to keep up to speed with the latest trends and tools.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes, we allow and encourage both. Business owners should be focused on outcomes, not hours or the location where the work is done. Flexible working hours and location allow us to attract high quality people and provide an environment for them to learn and grow personally and professionally.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I love my work so in many ways it is not really “work” in my head. The day I stop enjoying it, I will get out! At the same time, I have been married for 33 years and have two sons in their 20s who I am very proud of and I love hanging out with my family. I have a close circle of very good friends and we walk and have coffee at least 3-4 times per week.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I used to travel 1-2 days per week, mostly interstate to our other offices or advisers. I have had only one flight in the last 18 months – that’s a significant change, a huge reduction in cost (and time away from home) but no change to business. If anything, the business has grown more these last 12 months – it’s a great excuse to question how we do things and why?

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I read a lot of academic material (I am currently just completing a doctoral thesis) and before that I read 2-3 books per week – I love to learn.

Podcasts are a fantastic way to cover a lot of material. Apart from my own podcast (Mid-Market Matters) I also like Adam Shand at Large, The Howie Games, Radical Candour and Think Like an Economist

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My son works for Apple and everything I own is Apple based – synced, linked – the ecosystem works well for me. I am also a bit of a gadget guy – home automation, keyboard shortcuts. I use voice dictation all day long from emails to articles and I think it saves me about 2 hours a day. Most people can talk much faster than they can type!

8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

One thing I have done for a very long time – since my boys were in primary school and used to play sports on Fridays – is that I don’t schedule any client meetings on Fridays.

It used to be so I could watch them at sport. I still do it 20 years later, but now I spend the time working on my business (or more recently on my thesis) and hopefully having a nice lunch with some of my close referral partners.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.