Dr Guy Turnbull: Unlikely UK hero here to inspire SA on a new way to do business

The Advertiser | Rebecca Baker 29 June 2018

Dr Guy Turnbull is, by his own admission, an unintentional entrepreneur: In his 20s, he just wanted to teach geography – at 55 he’s become the UK Entrepreneur of the Year for his work at the helm of an enterprise with an annual turnover of more than $30 million that is changing the way the world is looking at doing business.

If that’s not remarkable enough, Dr Turnbull was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just two years old, his parents initially told their son would never walk.

Dr Turnbull, who is here to share his secrets of success at Entrepreneurs’ Week, says he is evidence successful businesspeople can come from all walks of life – they simply need determination, resilience, patience, focus and motivation.

“If you get knocked down, you have to get up again,” he says. Risk management is also key. “You have to take risks but you don’t take silly risks – they need to be managed risks,” he said. Dr Turnbull’s area of expertise – and passion – is social entrepreneurship, which he describes as being good business focused on fixing social problems, creating social franchises (or co-operatives) which operate similarly to commercial ones.

“I got inspired by how co-operatives can change people’s lives and how business can be ethical and democratic and purpose driven … that has inspired me to get involved in business,” he said. He founded his business. Care and Share Associates (CASA) in 2004 on the premise that employee ownership generates greater employee engagement and delivers higher quality care — opening social franchises in the care industry across the UK. “We would identify an opportunity for a care co-operative, recruit people to that social franchise and over time migrate them to ownership of it,” he said.

“If you give workers a stake in the business, they are going to be engaged and we know a more engaged workforce delivers higher quality care … which makes the business more profitable and in turn you can improve worker conditions. So it is kind of a circle of good, in a way.”

It is a model he sees working under Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“In South Australia with the ageing population and range of other economic drivers, the workforce is going to be a huge challenge going forward,” he said. “When you ask government, when you ask providers, when you ask disabled people separately what they want, they all want the same thing – value for money, quality, safety … surely by combining these stakeholders into one business model you can create something that is mutual.”