Promoting from within is a great motivational tool for your team – and a fantastic way to retain your best people.

But, when taken too far, it can create a culture that is insular and nepotistic.

Striking the right balance between promoting from within and bringing in outside talent with fresh ideas is key to any business’ success.

Here, I’ve covered my top five reasons why looking beyond your in-house talent pool can add value, whether you’re looking at a new hire, or working with expert contractors on a regular basis.

Fresh perspective
External hires and contractors, such as trainers and business coaches, can bring fresh ideas and perspective. Likewise, hiring leaders outside your business can have many benefits. University of Missouri-Columbia research found that while 78 per cent of new CEOs are hired from within an organisation, external hires “spend more money on research and development” and showcase a greater commitment to innovation. This is particularly important where a business is struggling or in need of rejuvenation. Let’s be honest – regular, constant rejuvenation is a reality for any business that wants to be relevant and grow into the future.

Multi-industry expertise
When sourcing outsider talent, choose experts with experience across multiple industries. The scope of their expertise is a major value-add. In fact, outsiders with expertise far-removed from your industry can offer more value still, since like for like expertise often does not allow for new idea generation.

Challenging the status quo
Outsiders bring new insights – and can challenge group thinking that can come from knowing each other too well and feeling too comfortable. When done right, outsiders will challenge the status quo, including relationships and team behaviours that inhibit growth and innovation.

This is particularly true of business coaches. The right business coach will immerse themselves in your business to gain a full picture. This might include interviewing staff and observing your business in operation. Working with outside experts also brings a level of accountability that can see ideas be executed rather than merely spoken. This minimises waste and, in turn, can increase morale and staff buy-in.

Cost-effective support
In addition to their expertise, working with contractors is a cost-effective approach for many businesses. In-house help in areas such as business coaching, finance or marketing may be cost-prohibitive to many small to medium businesses. At the same time, uneven workflows may make working with outsider talent a more attractive approach.

Cultural shake-up
Outsiders – and hiring outside leadership – can also be useful when a business is in need of a cultural shake-up.  One prime example is the banking sector, with the big four currently under intense scrutiny as a result of the royal commission that is underway. Hiring outside leaders to overcome a culture of mistrust is one effective way to signal a new beginning in the eyes of the public.

So whether you’re after a fresh perspective, in need of a multi-disciplinary expert to bring external expertise and challenge the status quo, or it’s time to reset and refresh your business, outsider talent can add huge value to your organisation that should not be overlooked when it comes to your hiring practices and contract work.

How often does your organisation refer to its strategic plan? Is the document front and centre? Or is it sitting in a filing cabinet gathering dust?

If yours falls into the latter category, it’s time to take your strategic plan and bin it!

Writing strategic plans is like a disease of modern management. But while the art of writing a plan might make us feel better, we need to question its purpose.

Binning your plan may sound extreme, but time and again organisations invest in expensive consultants to complete this work, only to find that the execution phase (points 4-7 below) has been overlooked.

How do I know this? Because I’ve witnessed it firsthand across numerous organisations we’ve worked with, and through interactions with the 1700 people Kiikstart has mentored to successfully change and execute ideas.

Every organisation needs a compelling and actionable strategic plan that can be relied upon day-to-day. A good strategic plan should anchor your organisation and not only support your objectives, but lay out the path, actions and timeframes to achieve it.

Below, I’ve covered the seven must-include elements for your strategic plan.

  1. Clearly defined (and prioritised!) objectives

Be as specific as you can regarding your organisation’s objective/s. Consider the end game for your business if they execute on these. Then prioritise your agreed objectives in the best order to achieve this result. Question throughout the process what matters to your stakeholders – both internal and external – and why. 

  1. A Set Strategy

Your strategy, or strategies, covers the ‘what’. From past experience, many strategic plans stop with only a list of what needs to be done, but without laying out the further steps. Read on!

  1. Supporting tactics

Your supporting tactics cover the ‘how’. As Nell Edgington from Social Velocity asserts, “A good strategic plan includes a tactical plan so that the broad goals are broken down into individual steps to get there.” Ensure you’re really clear about the specific actions you must undertake to achieve your end objective.

  1. Task assignment

Ensure that you assign the right people to each tactic. Consider your team’s skills, experience and expertise to find the person who will add the most value when executing that part of the project. Also ensure you involve your key players in this process. Writing for Forbes, Aileron says one of the most common strategic planning mistakes is not involving “those charged with executing the plan” from the start.

  1. Identify supporters

Be sure to also identify your broader network of supporters. Look beyond your organisation and consider your broader networks, and prospective partner opportunities. A well-conceived strategic plan can be a compelling resource for prospective funders.

  1. Set timeframes

Strategic plans have a limited shelf life, so ensure you set achievable timeframes for each strategy and tactic. You should allow enough time to keep your team focused and on their toes, but not so little time that the quality of your work is compromised.

  1. Track your progress

As part of your plan, be sure to also identify how you’ll assess and track your success against each objective. Consider accountability mechanisms and the programs and people who will do this work and keep your team on track.

My final piece of advice is to avoid overcomplicating your plan. This is your roadmap for success, but it doesn’t need to be a particularly lengthy document.

Keep it concise and stick to these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to strategic supremacy. Happy planning!

A certain amount of ego is needed to build any successful business. It can bring you the confidence and resilience to persist, even when the odds are stacked against you, and to pick yourself up and keep going after failures and setbacks.

But too much ego can have a converse effect. In extreme cases, it can even kill a business.

Writing for entrepreneur.com, Virtugroup chairman Neil Petch says big egos are responsible for poor financial performance, equating to an estimated loss of 6-15% of annual revenue.

At Kiikstart we like to say that if you want to get stuff done, you need to get out of your own way! But the line between a healthy sense of self and an ego that is negative and counter-productive can be a fine one.

Below I’ve outlined a few of the ways that your ego could be damaging your business – and ways to turn it around.

Failing to listen
Too much ego often means we think we have all the answers, and can come to think we’re right regardless of the facts. But as Neil Petch says, “a one-way, top-down communication style will also mean that there are missed opportunities”. It creates a culture where your team may stop sharing and generating ideas.

Turn it around: Be open-minded and receptive to new ideas. Good leaders ask for insights from those who add value – and take this feedback on board to make better decisions and get better outcomes.

Hiding from failure
To quote Eckhart Tolle, “The ego is very vulnerable and insecure, and it sees itself as constantly under threat.” So too much ego can lead to false pride, causing us to avoid – and even refuse to acknowledge -our failures.

Turn it around: Talk about your failures and learnings. Be open to reviewing your personal performance, and own your mistakes, even if that means acknowledging your mistakes in front of your team and clients. Great business takes courage!

Overlooking your team’s successes
Leaders with too much ego spend too much time looking inward, and not enough time giving credit to others where it’s due. This can cause some leaders to take undue credit for others’ ideas and efforts, or fail to recognise the efforts of others in their team.

Turn it around: Getting the best out of your team means openly acknowledging, celebrating and rewarding their success. Be sure to give credit where it’s due.

Making it about ‘me’ not ‘we’
Personal ambition is fine, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the business. The primary focus should always be on building your company and responding to the needs of your team and your customers. When taken too far, career and workplace expert Patti Johnson says a “drive for personal recognition and success … can distract you from doing important work that’s much bigger than you”.

Turn it around: The best leaders are open to new ideas, happy to seek input, and willing to share their knowledge. Sprinkle useful insights like fairy dust to those that are open to it – and put your team, your customer and your mission as a business ahead of personal interests.

An inability to recognise personal skill gaps
This is a particularly dangerous shortcoming that business leaders with an inflated ego face. An inability to recognise our own skill gaps means we won’t take the advice we need on board, and can also fail to delegate effectively. Consequently, some leaders can underestimate challenges that their business faces.

Turn it around: Remember that no-one has all of the answers, and no-one excels at everything.  I don’t like the term weaknesses, but we do all have skill gaps, so undertake an honest and insightful critique of your skill gaps, and outsource to people who excel in these areas. Be prepared to invest money in responding to these skill gaps where it is relevant to your business and wellbeing. Also be prepared to say no to opportunities that aren’t the right fit.

So keep your ego in check and get out of your own way!

Remember that a leader’s personality and ego is a powerful tool. Cultivate positive working relationships by listening, putting your team first, and acknowledging success. Stay humble, and recognise your own failures and skill gaps. Your business will see the benefits.

Dave Willson knows the Clare Valley. Having lived in the region all his life, five years ago he turned his knowledge of Clare into a business.

Clare Valley Tours was born from his passion for his home’s natural beauty, history and hospitality.

Mr Willson has been working with Kiikstart over the last few months to grow his tour business, and says that director Ali Uren’s “progressive and creative” approach has been very beneficial.

“Ali will drag you by the jock straps when you’re slacking off,” he says with a laugh. “She’ll initiate change in your thought process and your business culture.”

Sharing Clare’s gastronomic, historical and natural wonders comes naturally to Dave, who says it’s a discovery experience for him too.

“I’m sharing the love and creating feel-good experiences for people,” he says. “The more I do it, the more I love it!”

We asked the Clare local to share seven of his favourite spots in the region to explore this winter – and it’s not all fires and romance, although there’s plenty of that to be had!

1. Sevenhill Cellars

Find them at: 111C College Rd, Sevenhill SA

What makes them special: Their story and the history of building St Aloysius Church. The winery was established by two Jesuit priests in 1851 to produce sacramental wine, while the church is home to the only crypt below a parish church in Australia. Many of the early pioneering Jesuits still lay in the crypt.

Winter drawcard: Enjoy a glass of red by the fire, and pat the local winery cat.

Fun fact: Sevenhill Cellars still supplies 95 per cent of Australian altar wine.

2. Spring Gully Conservation Park

Find it at: Sawmill Rd, Sevenhill SA

What makes it special: The picturesque conservation park offers great walking trails and lookout spots that overlook the Adelaide Plains. The view is fantastic! On a good day, you can see the head of St Vincent’s Gulf and beyond.

Winter drawcard: While the park is particularly renowned for its beautiful patchwork quilt of colours in spring, winter has its own charms, including a stunning seasonal waterfall.

Insider tip: Listen for frogs near the creeks, especially after local rains.

3. Burra

What makes it special: Located on the edge of the Outback, the historic mining town is a unique township that was once home to the largest metals mine in Australia.

Winter drawcard: Discover the town’s quaint hospitality, including the local pubs and fantastic antique shops.

Fun fact: The town was once home to Diprotodon – Australia’s largest marsupial and a species of megafauna.

4. Hill River Estate

Find them at: Quarry Rd, Polish Hill River SA

What makes it special: A cellar door with a difference, this is a story of farmers-turned-winemakers who run their farm alongside the winery.

Winter drawcard: Buy a bottle of wine, sit by the fire and sip away on a winter’s day.

5. Skillogalee Winery, Restaurant & Accommodation

Find them at: 23 Trevarrick Rd, Sevenhill SA

What makes it special: Set on 60 hectares, “Skilly” – as Dave calls it – is home to an iconic cottage restaurant nestled into the side of the hill with beautiful vineyard views.

Winter drawcard: This is a long lunch destination. Sit by the fire, sip on a muscat, and enjoy their fantastic hand crafted wines before, during or after lunch.

Insider tip: Skillogalee also offers B&B cottage-style accommodation.

6. Bungaree Station

Find it at: 431 Bungaree Rd, Bungaree SA

What makes it special: Settled in 1841, the site has been home to six generations of the Hawker family. The magnificent 1860s heritage buildings have been transformed into local accommodation. Stay overnight, or visit for a walk through farming history.

Winter drawcard: Unique country accommodation for a cosy winter break.

7. Destination Clare

What makes it special: The region of Clare is packed with natural beauty, history and hospitality, so much so that Dave says it’s impossible not to mention the region as a whole. It’s also quaint and relatively uncommercialised.

Winter drawcard: It’s the perfect time of year for a little indulgence. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cosy accommodation, and fine food and wine experiences – well-suited to those relaxed winter hemlines and layers!

Fun fact: Clare Valley makes up just 1.5 per cent of the national crush, but wins more than 20 per cent of national wine awards.

Visit www.clarevalleytours.com or contact Dave on 0418 832 812 to book a tour. Group and bespoke tour options are available.

To find out more about working with Kiikstart to benefit your business, visit www.kiikstart.com.

Last month I joined local and international presenters, including Mainstreet America’s Matt Wagner, at the annual Mainstreet SA State Conference.

Today I want to share some key takeaways from two very thought-provoking days of discussion.

This is a useful read for those in the tourism or local government spaces, or anyone with a business on a mainstreet. Some of these points also apply more broadly to businesses, so read on as I share my key takeaways from this year’s event.

Give them quality and they will come
Despite the international move away from brick and mortar businesses, there are still plenty of opportunities on our mainstreets. However, generic products simply won’t cut it in 2018. Matt Wagner from Mainstreet America says 77 per cent of consumers are loyal to brands that give top quality experiences, while 50 per cent would pay more for experiences they value.

Do: Create niche, short-term offerings that focus on exclusive products or experiences to drive visitation.

Don’t: Compromise on quality. This will have a negative impact in the longer term.

Mix it up
A diverse but cohesive offering is key to success for any mainstreet. According to Matt, there does need to be influencers and hero businesses on any mainstreet to drive innovation. And while you need to mix it up with your offering, if the region is known for a particular theme, such as food and wine, it makes sense to also play to these strengths.

Do: Create a mix of innovative businesses and include hero businesses in the mix.

Don’t: Assume you need ‘big name’ retailers or chain stores. Boutique players can ooze quality and be just as powerful as drawcards, especially where your region has a particular niche.

Develop skills, not just infrastructure
While developing infrastructure is a fantastic way to draw people to mainstreets, their experience of the local businesses will determine whether they return. Service delivery is an opportunity to create a real point of difference from the likes of your local Westfield. Building real capacity from a business to business perspective is one potential key to success.

Do: Constantly work to develop your skills, and collaborate with other local businesses to improve service delivery.

Don’t: Invest in infrastructure alone. The quality of a customer’s experience is key to success or failure.

Business must drive change
There is much that can be done at a local government level to drive innovation on our mainstreets. Decision makers need to develop projects around mainstreets that engage and involve not only businesses, but local communities. At the same time, Matt says the evolution of mainstreets must also be driven by business. Having an organic plan that reviews and responds to markets, as well as measures in place to assess its success, is essential. Engaged consumers spend 60 per cent more with a business.

Do: Have plans and measures in place to engage consumers in a constantly evolving marketplace.

Don’t: Leave it to Local Government alone. Business must drive innovation to remain relevant and competitive.

Focus locally, think globally
At the conference I spoke about the need to think big and overcome a scarcity mindset. But this shouldn’t come at the expense of a local focus. Allow your region’s values to shine through in your product and service delivery. Matt advises you should ensure your offering is real and authentic, and isn’t simply a manufactured focus, as can be the case in larger mall environments.

Do: Focus on authentic, local product and service delivery.

Don’t: Think small. Renowned local products and services can be global contenders.

Thanks to my co-presenter Glen Christie from Port Pirie Council and everyone who came along to listen to us and the other Mainstreet SA presentations across the two days.

I look forward to seeing more of our mainstreets across the state grow, flourish, and continue to be authentic marketplaces showcasing the best of the local communities they serve.

Want support growing your mainstreet or business? Get in touch with me on 0428 593 400 or email enquiries@kiikstart.com to find out more about how we can work together.

Finding a professional development coach that’s the right fit can be a challenge. But a chance meeting with Kiikstart Founder Ali Uren at a function in Adelaide proved fruitful for Christian Van Niekerk.

The financial services professional had recently been promoted from Senior Manager to Director, and wanted tactical support in his new role.

The Grant Thornton Director describes how working with Kiikstart led to professional and personal growth – and a fantastic ongoing relationship with his coach.

When did you start working with Ali?
I met Ali at a Brand SA function and I was talking to her about my career. I’d been recently promoted from Senior Manager to Director, and I was moving into a more client-facing role with a focus on business development. We started working together mid-last year.

Why did you decide to work with Ali?
Ali has a unique approach. She was able to tailor a program that suited my needs and goals. She pushed me outside my comfort zone to explore areas that needed attention. Through our initial meeting and discussions, I felt that Ali took a genuine interest in me and my needs. Her ability to build a deep, trusting connection helped me to make the decision to work with Ali.

How long did you work together?
The program consisted of six sessions that were spread over a few months. They were one hour sessions with activities for me to complete in between. Ali was also available for ad hoc queries and discussions.

What was the focus of your work together?
Ali was able to talk to me and come up with a plan to address some of the areas I wanted to improve from a business development perspective. Part of this work was about articulating what I bring to the table. I knew it in my mind, but Ali was able to flesh that out with me.

How has working with Ali helped you?
It’s increased my confidence to go out to the market and talk about what I do. Normally I’d go out there and say that I’m an accountant, but now I frame it in more exciting terms. It’s also made me change the way I approach my work – and it’s helped to inform a new service delivery model at work. The model that I’ve built with Ali now is part of our national approach. It’s also reignited my passion for what I do. I’m excited about who I am, what I can achieve, and my approach to client services.

What sets her apart from other business coaches?
Ali provided an environment that was safe and encouraging; there was no negativity. She still calls or emails me at least once a month to touch base, so we’ve kept in touch ever since.

How would you describe Ali’s approach?
Being coached by Ali was different to other courses I’ve done in the past. This was tailored specifically to my needs, and the one-on-one delivery allowed me to be more open, which led to a highly rewarding and enjoyable experience.

 

Head to any successful mainstreet throughout the state and you’ll find it bustling with people. There’s the rich aroma of coffee in the air, people walking laden with bags filled with produce and other local goodies, and possibly even a few art galleries or cultural centres in the mix.

Mainstreet SA describes our mainstreets as “the beating heart of our communities”. They’re where locals and visitors alike come together at the pub or bakery, and where local products are showcased and sold.

But how can we ensure that our mainstreets are sustainable into the future? And, in a regional context, how do we innovate visitor experience and servicing to capitalise on infrastructure growth and other local advancements?

Next week I’ll be speaking at the Mainstreet SA conference in Port Pirie from May 10-11, addressing these key questions.

Co-presenting with Port Pirie Regional Council, I’ll be speaking about innovation in visitor servicing – and its role in future-proofing regional mainstreets.

My experience within the mainstreet space was largely shaped by my 13 years of leading retailing practice in Australia, Canada and Ireland. I’m  driven by smart, cost effective but visionary approaches to the places, people and product underpinning modern mainstreets.

Ahead of next week’s talk, I wanted to share a few little nuggets of wisdom to get you thinking about the future of regional mainstreets.

 

1. Infrastructure is only part of the equation

New infrastructure really is only part of the equation when it comes to creating a successful and sustainable mainstreet. Visitor servicing is equally, if not more, important. When the two work together, you’ll get the best result. A study by Walker – a customer intelligence consulting firm in the US – noted that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator.

2. Generic product and service delivery won’t cut it

So we know that generic product and service delivery simply won’t cut it with discerning shoppers in 2018. But how can we avoid the generic? My presentation will highlight many ways to do so, but these include authenticity and storytelling. Increasingly, customers are favouring quality, but they’re also seeking products and experiences that are authentic and unique to the region they’re visiting. Therefore, interaction with the product or service and its maker will be key. Deliver a high-quality product or service in an interesting and authentic way, and you’re on to a winner. Mainstreets need to be curating the opportunities that showcase the new and emerging artists and talent of a region.

3. Think big

On the day, I’ll be encouraging businesses and communities to think big. It’ll be about overcoming a scarcity mindset, or a mindset where, if I’m paying my bills, I’m doing okay. Thinking bigger and executing a plan that celebrates unique, artisan product, and experiences that are intimate and local, presents both a challenge and an opportunity for our mainstreets and local businesses.

 

We’ll be considering how to best capitalise on your region’s infrastructure, and delivering a modern, innovative service experience that will position your business and mainstreet for great success both now and into the future.

You can find out more about the Mainstreet SA State Conference and view the full program here. I hope to see you there!

People often talk about “organisational culture” like it’s a silver bullet. Get the culture right in a workplace and, before you know it, you’ll be breaking sales records and winning awards, right?

Wrong.

Many organisations are investing huge money and effort into getting their company culture just right.

It’s a fantastic objective, but one that’s potentially flawed when organisational culture is viewed as a homogenous mass.

So here are a few insider tips to consider when looking at your organisation’s culture. Take these tips into account and you’ll ensure you get value from your review.

Tip 1: Organisations aren’t limited to one culture

This is a common misconception, but there are many cultural aspects that create both your clients’ and staff’s reality. Often, numerous organisational cultures are competing for attention. While your culture relates to your team and staff processes, it’s also expressed through customer experience.  Motivational speaker Simon Sinek cites Starbucks as an example, saying “Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores.” He says the brand created a comfortable space for people to come and work without pressure to buy. “The coffee was incidental,” he continues.

Takeaway: Remember that while culture is often seen as relating to your internal team, how you’re perceived in the marketplace by your customers, as well as the wider community, is another measure of your organisational culture.

Tip 2: A culture of loyalty can be damaging

I want to debunk a long-held view that staff loyalty is always essential to a positive organisational culture. I’ve worked with dozens of companies and organisations who have proven that loyalty – often viewed based on length of service – can be counterproductive. At times employees can become so “loyal” to an employer that they don’t make their own future and wellbeing a priority, with disastrous consequences. Loyal employees can feel disengaged if they’re overlooked for promotions, while employers might conversely place too high of a regard on loyalty, rather than finding the best person for a particular role. Loyal employees can stop employers from making the hard decisions they need to. At the same time, employees might miss out on the opportunities they want, resulting in a lose-lose.

Takeaway: Modern businesses need to create a culture that places respect for each other and our clients, hard work and genuine output ahead of loyalty.

Tip 3: Review your culture – regularly

Think you’ve already got a great organisational culture? It’s still important to review your cultures, as your internal culture influences how your customers perceive you and your organisation, and impacts on the quality of your service delivery. This, in turn, will impact your KPIs and the overall performance of your organisation. Steve Jobs once famously stated that the real return on culture at Apple “happened when we started getting more deliberate about it”. He said this was done “By writing it down. By debating it. By taking it apart, polishing the pieces and putting it back together.”

Takeaway: Your organisation’s cultures are always a work in progress, open to review, change and growth.

Need support reviewing your organisational cultures? Kiikstart can help. Get in touch at enquiries@kiikstart.com or phone 0428 593 400.

Opening her eyes to “new possibilities” for two iconic Outback hotels saw General Manager Jo Fort engage Kiikstart last year.

What’s followed is a “quiet little revolution” at both The Birdsville Hotel and The Innamincka Hotel that began with an idea for a business makeover and evolved into staff development work involving all staff.

Located in Outback Queensland and South Australia respectively, Kiikstart’s Virtual Scholar program has enabled staff to undertake remote training with our director, Ali Uren.

General Manager Jo Fort explains the shift.

Kiikstart: What services have you engaged through Kiikstart?
Jo: I had heard of Ali prior to meeting her at the 2017 SATIC Conference. It was generally agreed that the Kiikstart approach was refreshing, and that she was potentially a consultant who could assist us with staff development and improving customer service, particularly at point of sale.

Why did you engage Ali and how has she helped the Birdsville and Innamincka Hotels?
Jo: When I met Ali I had a vision of empowering management to think like entrepreneurs – that way I imagined I could step back from my already overloaded role. I knew that work needed to start at General Manager level first.

What changes have been made and what changes are underway for your businesses?
I can honestly say there has been a quiet little revolution that has resulted in a makeover in what we do and the way we present to our guests. Ali has helped our businesses by assisting us to deal with the tricky issues, and helping our team to come up with ways to do the job better. Choosing to live and work in the Outback can place people well out of their comfort zone and, while it may seem exciting, it’s like any job; it can be mundane and repetitive. Living close together and having to work on relationships at work, as well as outside of work, is challenging.

She’s encouraged us to think imaginatively, to be creative, and to question work practices. If the actions don’t fit with our values and vision, then they have no place in our life.

How has Ali helped to streamline the change process?
The development process is streamlined to suit individuals. Ali is persuasive, but she also understands that some concepts take time, and that from little ideas, big things grow. As a group we are excited, inspired, encouraged and motivated to stand out from our competitors and to be notably excellent in general.

Ali guided me in the early phase of our plan to get myself and then our team to think outside the box. Once I was happy that the foundations of the business were strong under her guidance, the business strategy, roles and responsibilities were fleshed out.

How would you describe Ali’s coaching style?
Ali is a tenacious, tireless trainer who works from her heart. She is 100% authentic and what you see is what you get. She is as terrifying as she is inspirational! I have used the word ‘terrifying’ because it’s the only word I can think of when your tasks aren’t done and you have a session booked with Ali. She is not up for ‘the dog ate my homework’! Ali believes in what she says, and she has the experience and background to back up her teaching. I understood from the beginning that it was my role in my learnings with Ali to set aside the time to do the work and set the tone.

To what extent have you relied on technology throughout this process?
Heavily! Technology has enabled us to learn with Ali through the Virtual Scholar program. That’s been the great strength in the way we’ve done things. Simply parachuting in to learn in one hour will not grant the paradigm shift we’re now seeing unfold. We have the technology, so we use it!

How valuable do you think your investment to date has been?
I believe I have invested wisely in engaging Ali. Not only is she a fantastic resource, but she has become a friend, and I look forward to continuing our journey. Sure, it’s a business decision to invest in staff development, but already there are outcomes and a level of maturity on-site that was not seen before. We are thinking before we act, and we are empowered and confident as a group.

To find out more about coaching options for your business, including our remote Virtual Scholar offering, get in touch with Ali at
enquiries@kiikstart.com or phone 0428 593 400.

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.