Month: March 2018

There’s that natural sense of trepidation that comes with taking the plunge into business.

Unlike a cold dip, it can take quite some time before you come up for air. And, sometimes, longer still to feel like you’re not just treading water.

But as LA-based investor and entrepreneur Lauris Liberts says, “Don’t wait for the right moment to start the business. It never arrives. Start whenever. Now.”

While there’s a lot you can only learn through experiencing the inherent highs and lows of business firsthand, there are also many tips and resources you can draw upon throughout your business journey.

At Kiikstart I work with businesses ranging from start-ups to large corporations, supporting the development of their business strategy, tactics, skills, and capacity building functions.

Here, I’ve offered a few of my top tips for getting started. If you’re not a business novice, chances are these tips are a good refresher anyway!

Be Genuine
Of all of the tips I can offer, perhaps the most important is to genuinely believe in your product or service. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Maria Forleo advises, “Never start a business just to ‘make money’. Start a business to make a difference.” This comes down to knowing your why. Ask: how will my product or service enrich people’s lives? Your business is much more likely to succeed if you know your ‘why’ and have the passion to keep at it through tough times. Only a genuine belief in your offering will allow this.

Know Your Worth
Do your homework before starting out. How is your business of real value to people? Does it fulfil a gap in the market? Or are you doing things a little differently? Never start a business because someone else told you that you would be good at something. This is a disaster. To be able to make any business work you need to be able to quickly articulate why someone should spend money with you. This is not for the faint hearted or overtly humble! Know your worth, and be ready to spruik it!

Mind the Gap(s)
We all have personal strengths, as well as weaknesses and skill gaps. Get real about your skill gaps – and find solutions to these. Play to your strengths, and assess whether further learning is needed, or whether you’re better off having an employee or contractor do some of this work for you. It’s all about weighing up risks and opportunities. Over the past 12 years I’ve mentored 1700 people to lifelong change, including career change. When people say they want to undertake further study, I always ask how it will benefit them and their business. What changes will it make? And if they don’t do it, what is the outcome?

Choose Your Partners Wisely
Choose your partners carefully in business – and in life! There will be times when you need to lean heavily on your partner, so make sure you have someone who can be there for you when times get tough. Also be careful about who you partner with in business. Ensure this is a person you can trust completely, and that you have complementary skills to bring to the table. As Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, says, “Choose a business partner as carefully as you would choose a spouse.”

Master Your Time
A business isn’t a 9-5 job, so being disciplined with your time – and how you let other people use it – is essential. Starting a new business requires the ability to consistently set and meet deadlines, even if that means saying “no” to the demands and expectations of other people. Remember that for every client-facing hour, there will be just as many hours of work required behind the scenes looking at your business’ strategy, communications, financial management, administration and more.

Take Care
Self-care is a crucial element to long-term business success. So get your physical and mental well-being in order, and make a commitment to yourself. If this means working with a personal trainer and psychologist, then do it. Starting a business and pushing the limits will be the most enjoyable and stressful venture you can undertake. If you are not well in every sense of the word you, will not give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Stay Accountable
Ensure you are accountable to someone outside of your family and friends. Whether this person takes the form of a mentor, business coach, or comes via a formal business program, it’s vital you verbalise your plans and ideas to this trusted source. Choose someone with great business instincts and vision who will also call it as they see it.

Need an accountability partner? Kiikstart offers a Virtual Scholar mentoring program suited to both start-ups and established businesses throughout Australia. During the program, I’ll work with you either in-person or via technology to develop your business – and yourself. Working in partnership with you, we co-create your learning experience so our focus is on what’s most useful to you. Sessions are an hour at a time, and designed to fit in with your life, including over the weekends if need be. If you’re looking for an accountability partner in business, Kiikstart could be it!

Contact 0428 593 400 or email enquiries@kiikstart.com.

Courage. Look at most of the world’s successful business leaders and courage is a fitting word to describe their approach to business.

From Sir Richard Branson, to Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Anita Roddick, entrepreneurs take calculated risks to achieve results.

They’re dreamers and hustlers who prove that business as usual just won’t do.

In a global marketplace, it’s clear a ‘business as usual’ approach gets you nowhere. Today, business means being brave, challenging your thinking, consistently questioning whether you’re giving the market what it wants, and seeing risks as opportunities.

Here, I’ve outlined five simple tactics for combatting business as usual. So be brave and buckle up, because the life of an entrepreneur is one hell of a ride!

1. Continuous improvement

Undoubtedly a buzz term, when continuous improvement is done right, it’s a sure-fire antidote to business as usual. In a nutshell, continuous improvement is ongoing effort to improve all aspects of your business, from its productivity to its processes and people. Self-reflection is an important part of this. Seek input from your team, and think about what you’ve delivered to the market in the past 12 months, and how.

Why? Remaining relevant, responding to customers’ needs and leveraging new opportunities ensures you’ll continue to provide what your customers want.

2. Dispose of waste

Yes, minimising waste is key to business success, but I’m also referring to missed opportunities, under or over-servicing, duplication of services, errors in service transactions, and delays when working with external providers. One of the greatest sources of waste? How people use their time, and wasting energy pursuing “opportunities” that don’t eventuate. All of these scenarios impact your business’ efficiency. Consider the greatest area of waste in your business and its impact on your customer’s experience. Start small – address how you can minimise waste in this area of your business, and build from there.

Why? Waste not only impacts your business’ bottom line, but can also be a source of frustration to your team. Turn this around and show you care to your employees and your customers.

3. Innovate or perish

Innovation is defined as “the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), process, new marketing method or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations”. Innovation means doing something significantly different, which could take the form of a small or large change. Kiikstart recently worked with a national financial services firm to re-invent how they presented figures to clients so this information was more creative, interactive and led to more regular contact and increased revenue. The purpose behind this new visitor servicing model was to meet the challenges and opportunities of the ”new world”, where the next generation of leaders and business decision makers wanted a more exciting approach to facts and figures. Not only is the new model more visually stimulating, but it also creates opportunities to take financial figures and build real business capability that improves all aspects of business – not just the bottom line. It is user-friendly and creative, but most importantly, simplified and practical.

Why? Businesses that fail to innovate perish. Luxury handbag retailer Oroton went into voluntary administration late last year. The brands failure to innovate is one of the major reasons for falling sales. The brand failed to respond to the rise of “accessible luxury” brands, such as The Daily Edited and Mimco. The brand was sitting in no man’s land in terms of brand and offering, lacking the edginess to attract a younger market – and with nothing to drive back the customers who were already familiar with the brand.

4. Broaden your definition of innovation

Yes, innovation might look like sending a Tesla Roadster into space if you’re Elon Musk, but we should extend beyond technological innovation. It might relate to your style of communication and the way your messaging evolves over time. It could be about giving customers greater choice in how your product or service can be accessed. It might relate to price points, your hours of operating and how the product or service is packaged. Or it could relate to a partnership or a product offering or event that your customers would value as a special value add. Some brands, for example, offer cinema screenings of films they think their VIP customers will like as a ‘thank you’ for their loyalty.’

Why? While technological innovation is important, creating added value for customers and meeting their evolving needs over time takes a much broader approach. Brands that also innovate in other ways will reap the rewards.

5. Measuring performance

Finally, if the thought of business as usual is weighing you down, having the appropriate measures in place so you can identify the areas where your business is excelling – and the areas where you could do more – is key. All businesses have certain measures that are essential to their success. Focus on what is important to your business, and ensure these measures extend beyond financial measures. Carefully select your KPIs to ensure your business’ long-term success.

Why? As the saying goes, “what gets measured gets managed”. Setting KPIs will not only encourage your team to continuously improve, but also put in place useful measures for assessing your success and failings.

Need support combatting ‘business as usual’? Contact 0428 593 400 or email enquiries@kiikstart.com.