Tag: business coaching

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Combining his background in marketing and graphic design with a fast-growing passion for wine, Daniel Hill is on favourable ground at Seabrook Wines in the Barossa Valley. The Tasting Room & Wine Club Specialist, who says he fell into a career in the wine industry, is using his skills to help grow the brand. Daniel’s approach includes exceptional end-to-end customer service that begins when customers enter the cellar door, and extends beyond their visit.

The family-owned Barossa Valley winery is run by Hamish and Jo Seabrook. Hamish is a first generation winemaker, but comes from a family of wine merchants and educators with deep roots in the industry. It’s a rich and unique story – and one Daniel says is worth telling.

We asked Daniel to share more about his background, Seabrook’s approach to telling their story, and how the brand is elevating their customers’ experience.

What’s your role at Seabrook and how long have you been with them?
Technically my role is ‘Tasting Room & Wine Club Specialist’, but my position within the company is multi-faceted so in addition to the day-to-day workings of the tasting room, I manage the website, social, digital and print media, investigate new marketing and sales opportunities, and look after local trade accounts for the Barossa region.

Seabrook Wines’ story is an interesting one. How do you articulate the family’s story about the shift from wine merchants to makers?
There’s definitely a wonderful history behind the brand and why we do what we do. Seabrook is a first generation producer and Hamish is the first winemaker in his family, and the first to be making wines under his own label. However, the wine merchant business dates back to 1878.

Hamish’s dad was the last to run that business, but due to the evolving market he decided to conclude that business in the late 1970s and move to the Barossa.

In your storytelling how much do you focus on this history?
We’re up-front about the fact that we’re a young producer and a new kid on the block despite that history. The brand is still quite unknown to today’s younger market, with a lot of the older generation familiar with the W.J. Seabrook & Sons releases.

How is the wine industry changing?
From my point of view, there’s been a cultural shift in the way people consume alcohol. The focus has shifted to quality over quantity, with more people enjoying better wine, spirits and beers.

How do you set yourself apart in a very busy market?
Our Tasting Room offers gorgeous views from our deck, where guests can take in the surrounds of our estate vineyard. Guests that visit Seabrook are welcomed, and provided with a relaxed, fun, and informative wine discovery experience. We want people to slow down, take in the surrounds, enjoy our products, hear our stories, and be entertained with our company; all in a comfortable and welcoming environment. Making guests feel at home is key to what we do.

The three most important factors to the Seabrook customer experience are the product, the experience, and the service. If any of these falls short of exceptional, we would have failed to create a memorable and life-lasting experience.

How do you elevate customers’ experience at cellar door?
The customer experience begins the moment they walk through our doors. Visitors are welcomed with a warm greeting, a handshake, an introduction to our tasting room, and most importantly a glass of Riesling! From there, we seat the customer like you would in a restaurant; seat them, pour water, ask them questions about themselves and their journey, and explain to them how the experience will run.

Each visitor is treated like family, with the hope that they feel welcomed into our extended family, and begin a lifelong relationship with Seabrook as people and a brand. This doesn’t change after they’ve left our Tasting Room either. Personalised emails, phone calls, and invites to offsite events allow us to strengthen the wonderful relationships that we forge in our Barossa Valley home.

We also continue that personalised service once they’ve left. I usually grab their order form and jot down their names so I make sure that I don’t forget. We place a card with a photo of our winery and a handwritten thank you note into their box; it doesn’t matter if they’ve bought one bottle or 10 bottles. We want our customers to feel appreciated, and that reciprocity and personalisation is key.

Why is it important to go the extra mile for your customers?
I remember when I began visiting cellar doors on a journey to learn more about wine. The overall experience was quite daunting and left me questioning whether wine was for me.

When I sat with Hamish to discuss how we could create a unique and tailored tasting experience here at Seabrook, I needed to ensure it was welcoming, relaxing, and fun overall. I don’t want anyone to walk out of our doors and feel the way I did many years ago.

Wine IS for everyone. It shouldn’t feel pretentious or exclusive, and people shouldn’t feel daunted by it.

Visitors to Seabrook should leave with a lasting and positive impression of their time with us – and then be transported back to that moment every time they open a Seabrook wine.

The idea for thank you cards was conceived by owner Jo Seabrook at one of Kiikstart’s customer experience workshops. To find out about future sessions, or to work with Kiikstart, visit email enquiries@kiikstart.com.

Increased competition, diminishing consumer trust, and fast-moving tech innovation… There’s no doubt it’s a competitive moment to be in business.

But with every challenge comes opportunity, and in this case, to the changemakers come the spoils. In other words, if your business is investing in innovation and forward-planning, there’s no reason it can’t be successful, whether you’re in hospitality, brick and mortar retail, or professional services.

The Kiikstart team have rounded up nine key consumer trends that we think will be big in 2019.

Personalised & client-centred
For your business to succeed, more than ever you must be client-centred in everything that you do. The days of a one size fits all approach to customer service are long gone, as savvy customers seek out brands that are willing to go the extra mile. Personalisation is one example of this. Nowadays everything from your Nutella jar to your handbag can be personalised, and Australian brands such as The Daily Edited have capitalised on this trend. Consumer trends sight TrendWatching say “mass hyper-personalisation is just around the corner”. They cite examples such as Albertson’s & Genomind recently introducing custom genetic testing by pharmacists in-store to assist with more tailored medication recommendations.

Be inclusive
While premium brands have long-focused on exclusivity, now brands that create a sense of inclusivity will benefit. While quality of end-to-end offerings is essential, customers still want a brand to feel accessible. Marketing strategist Sonia Thompson says exclusion marketing – “..when companies serve the masses, without making accommodations for anyone who may have different needs” has consequences for business.

So whether it’s providing for a range of dietary requirements on a restaurant menu, or celebrating cultural diversity through an advertising campaign, inclusivity presents opportunities for your business. Examples include Rihanna’s makeup line Fenty Beauty, which launched with 40 shades of foundation to accommodate women of all colours, and Nike’s Pro Hijab line of performance sportswear for Muslim women athletes.

All about the experience
The shift to a focus on experiences rather than physical goods in part reflects the views of millennials. A Harris Poll study found that 78 per cent prefer to spend money on events and experiences rather than objects. Social media is in-part credited with this shift. TechCrunch describes how “You can only snap an item once, but a worthy lifestyle encapsulates hundreds of shareable moments”. Brands that create Instagram-worthy experiences will reap the rewards.

But creating a memorable experience extends beyond the physical, to what you can smell, hear, touch and taste. Even for brands that are selling physical goods, there are opportunities to create a memorable and different experience on the shop floor – check out my recent post on future-proofing your retail space for more tips.

Encouraging interaction
One important element of your experience is interaction and immersion with products. Whether you’re a brick and mortar business providing education opportunities about your products, or a brand like Jacob’s Creek who are inviting their customers to make their own blend of wine on-site, discerning consumers want to interact with the brands they support.

Less salesy
One element of this more experiential approach to engaging with consumers is a less sales-focused attitude on the part of business. In 2019, businesses need to create an environment that is based on exploration and discovery, rather than a quick sale. Caroma’s Norwood showroom is one example of this. The interactive space provides clients with an opportunity to engage with their products and interior designers to generate ideas and interact with products. There is no option to buy on-site, so the sales element is eliminated. Customers are instead provided with a helpful introduction to the brand, a swag of ideas, and the details of retailers who can sell them the products at a later date.

Multi-purpose venues
While brands can’t be everything to everyone, one tourism and hospitality shift is the trend towards multi-purpose spaces. Brick and mortar venues that offer food and beverages as well as products for sale are well-placed for success as long as they remain consumer-centric. New Adelaide Hills venue Lot 100 brings together four local companies, creating a “mega booze destination” according to Grace Schneider. The cellar door, distillery and brewery are all on-site, as well as a restaurant that can cater weddings. The venue also offers masterclasses in brewing, distilling and cider making, bringing an interactive and educational element. Increasingly, venues must offer a range of options to consumers, but at the same time they must remain authentic to the people, the region and its history.

Utilising technology
This one might sound obvious, but businesses that embrace technology – and employ it in a focused, customer-centric way – will benefit. UK fashion retailer ASOS’ decision to use augmented reality (AR) to create an app that lets customers see how an outfit will look on a range of body types is one practical example of this that keeps the customer front of mind. Convenience and interaction are key.

All hail the start-up
Remember that consumers love discovering new and boutique brands. After all, everyone wants to be seen as a leader rather than a follower! Whether you own a restaurant or a large department store, complacency is a killer. Product must remain fresh and contemporary, and supporting start-ups and smaller brands makes good business sense. KaDeTe took this theory to the next level recently when they opened the world’s first ‘startup supermarket’, bringing together recently launched food and beverage brands. (Such a cool concept!).

Responsible business
As consumers become more aware of sustainability issues, there is an expectation that businesses will reduce their waste wherever possible. It simply isn’t in a company’s long-term interest not to be socially and environmentally responsible. Whether it’s a business decision to do away with plastic straws, or a luxury label’s decision to finally go fur-free (Burberry did so this year), companies will be rewarded for responsible decision-making.

So there you have it – our round-up of the consumer brands your business should take to stay competitive and keep kicking goals in 2019 and beyond.

Need support with your company’s innovation strategy? Get in touch today at enquiries@kiikstart.com to find out how we can work together.

Across the world, minimising waste is a hot topic. The decluttering movement is gaining ground, and the world is waking up to the environmental implications of our waste.

In business, there are many examples of waste– and all of them can impact on our bottom line and our psyche.

While many businesses are good at minimising physical waste, business and staff inefficiencies can have an even greater impact on your bottom line.

Here are six ways to minimise waste at work with the potential to whip your business into shape in no time flat (with a little hard work, that is).

Clear communication
Despite more methods of communication than ever before, this doesn’t prevent some messages from getting lost in translation. When communication breaks down, this can have a serious impact on your business, impacting staff morale, your team’s output, and ultimately your customers. There are many ways to improve your team’s communication. Choosing select mediums for communication is one important way. For example, consider platforms such as Slack to streamline your workflows, and minimise the number of emails you send and receive.

Avoid over-servicing
Under-servicing can lead to dissatisfied customers, but over-servicing can be just as costly. While it’s great to be accessible to your clients, remember that this comes at a cost to your business. TopLine Comms CEO Heather Baker says over-servicing is the number one profitability killer for service businesses. “We created a level of expectation that simply wasn’t feasible,” she says of her own experience. Utilise a time tracking system, such as Toggl or Clockify, to identify areas where you are over-servicing, and pass this information on to your clients to take back control.

Flexible roles
Having defined roles, especially as your business grows, is essential to avoid the duplication of services. But Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School, Dan Cable, says job titles must be flexible and play to each employee’s strengths. “Nowadays organisations need innovation and agility from employees,” he says. “This opens the door for employees to use their personal skills to adapt the job, and the job title, around their strengths.” Strike a balance by continuing to set KPIs, but taking a less rigid approach to the job descriptions of old.

A matter of priorities
Time management expert Peter Turla says, “Managing your time without setting priorities is like shooting randomly and calling whatever you hit the target.” It can be the difference between success and mediocrity. Your business needs to clearly define what high value work is for your brand, and ensure your leaders are setting clearly parameters and direction around this. Consider how you’re using your time and talents, and be strategic when prioritising your tasks to minimise waste.

Act on ideas
A company culture that promotes not only idea generation, but also idea execution, is crucial. Without the latter, your team’s talents and ideas are wasted. While experimentation is not without risks of its own, chief innovation officer of Rightpoint Greg Raiz says embracing risk must become part of a company’s “long-term culture” if it is to remain innovative. “The overnight disruptive success of the iPhone, Google, Amazon and Netflix all took more than a decade,” he says. Failure to leverage new ideas and networks in real time can create a culture of living in the past and doing what is safe, to the detriment of your brand.

Plan your events
While there is a strong push for more investment in professional development and marketing opportunities within many companies, it is important that these opportunities do not result in financial waste. When considering expos, tradeshows, workshops and other profile-raising and professional development options, consider what you or your employees will take out of this. Ensure that you clearly define and plan out how you will leverage your attendance in the real world. Where you can’t define these benefits, such opportunities are best avoided.

Minimising any business’ waste in a meaningful and holistic way requires work, but consider the far greater cost of not doing this work. This work should begin with a review of your business in order to identify the greatest areas of waste. Nevertheless, small changes count. Ask yourself: What is one small change I can make to my company’s operations to minimise our waste? Then, make the switch. Take the small wins, and plan for a bigger overhaul that incorporates all of these steps.

Christian Van Niekerk is passionate about business innovation. The Grant Thornton director – who commenced with the company in 2003 and quickly worked his way up the ranks – has recently been recognised as a Performance Inspiring Awards finalist by the company for his work on a reporting model he created.

Christian says his work with Kiikstart led to the development of reporting templates that are changing the way the company presents to its private advisory clients across Australia. We asked him to share more about his journey to a Grant Thornton directorship, and his views on leadership.

Kiikstart: Congratulations on your award nomination for creating a new approach to reporting at Grant Thornton. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt about leadership during your career?
Christian: Thank you. Probably that true leaders need to stand up and make tough decisions. You don’t get into a leadership position because you’re friends with everybody. Sometimes difficult things need to be done and said. I’ve had to make a few tough decisions along the way. If you don’t make them, you can’t truly be a leader.

And the other lesson is around the importance of looking after yourself. Leaders tend to just go on and on and not stop and look after themselves – and we should. You need to have your own time and preserve your own mental and physical wellbeing in order to be an effective leader. I have three children under five at home, so balancing it all is important.

Did you always aspire to a leadership role or end up here by chance?
I like to think I’m your traditional introvert who doesn’t go looking for attention. At school I was the kid who’d rather get an F than stand up and do an oral presentation. Having said that, I ended up being school captain in year 12 and chose accounting because I thought I could be in the corner and do numbers and not interact with people. I didn’t go looking for a leadership role, but as I got more responsibility and started training the junior guys, I kind of fell into leadership.

What do you love most about your role?
I enjoy the responsibility that it brings; and feeling like you’re making a difference to people’s lives – whether it’s the client you’re looking after, or your staff. I’ve trained and mentored so many staff through the CA program. You become a go-to person to give them advice about where their careers end up going. I enjoy the challenge of helping them through that.

Who do you look up to in business?
Leaders who inspire me include Richard Branson. I’m inspired by where he came from, how he built his empire, and the way he views life. His philosophy around caring for your employees because they look after your customers is so true. I really align myself with that thinking.

How important is it to be passionate about what you do? And how do you maintain that enthusiasm for your work?
If you’re not passionate about what you do, then you shouldn’t be doing it. I think people can see through you if you don’t believe in what you’re delivering.  At times it can be difficult to maintain your enthusiasm. I’ve often found my enthusiasm rejuvenated by the younger people coming through; their passion tends to rub off on you. It’s fantastic sitting down with them to discuss their own career trajectory, and how I can support them in that journey.

In the last five years I’ve been given more free reign in terms of what I want to do, and how I want to do it – including interacting with clients at a different level, and presenting to them differently. I’m extremely passionate about innovation.

How has Kiikstart supported your work at Grant Thornton?
I engaged Ali personally one year ago in an informal mentoring role. We went through a 10-week one-on-one training program, which pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I’m so glad I went through it.

From there, we developed a program called GT Grow in Adelaide to help our staff understand what it is to have a career and grow it. Ali has been a key part of that. Her sessions around owning your career and what that means are designed to stop people from expecting their employer to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to their training and development. The underlying premise is that your learning journey belongs to you.

What are some of the key takeaways from your work with Kiikstart?
The work I’ve done with Ali has been amazing, and resulted in some great changes. One of the key takeaways for me is around doing things differently for clients. Working with Ali challenged me to consider how tax results delivery should change for the client. The reporting model we’ve moved to as a result ensures that we don’t get bogged down in technical language. We used to deliver results to our clients by going through financials page by page, and pulling up detailed excel spreadsheets. Now, we explain the outcomes, and don’t get so caught up looking at the financials. It’s very visually driven. We started by rolling this out in the Adelaide office, and it’s since been rolled out nationally.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I think I’ll still be a partner in an accounting firm, continuing to focus on self-improvement, and looking at the ways we develop and deliver results to our clients, ensuring we’re continuing to innovate. For me, a focus on work/life balance and family is key. At the start of my career it was all about the corporate tree, and I never really appreciated having a family, and that’s certainly changed in the last few years. I want to make sure that balance is maintained.

Having your team behind you is essential to any brand or business’ success. Big or small, not-for-profit or corporate, if your staff believe in your brand and love where they work, this will shine through.

At Kiikstart, I work with brands of all different sizes all over the country, and creating healthier company cultures is one of our key areas of work.

Here, I’ve covered nine ways you can improve staff buy-in. You’ll not only create better cultures, but your brand will thank you for it too.

1. Regular team meetings
This might sound obvious, but busy companies caught up in the reactive daily grind of demanding workflows can sometimes forget the basics. As American baseball manager Casey Stengel famously said, “Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.” The same is true of all workplaces. Bringing your team together for regular meetings is essential to creating a culture of open communication where everyone feels included.

2. Set the agenda
Once you do bring your team together, ensure this time together is efficient and purposeful. Clear meeting agendas with defined outcomes will mobilise buy-in from your team. Ensure that everyone in the room has action items to their name at the end of each meeting to keep them accountable. And also ensure you set timeframes for delivery and future follow up.

3. Create a culture of idea-sharing – it needs to be a given
Company cultures – yes, there can be more than one – usually start at the top, so working to create a culture of idea-sharing is essential to achieving staff buy-in. If your company’s CEO or your team leader proves to be a good listener and creates a supportive space for idea generation and exploration of ideas, staff will be more inclined to share their thoughts. This might include acknowledging and drawing on the particular expertise of front-facing staff who deal with customers day to day, who may offer important insights into your brand or business.

4. Change up your job descriptions – be prepared to re-design roles
Every member of your team needs to understand their place in the business. This is why redesigning job descriptions to focus more on outcomes and less on processes is essential. Staff also need to understand the elements of each other’s role so they have a full picture of how each role fits together. Personal attributes and attitude should also form part of each job description – not just technical expertise.  Ensuring that attributes such as respect, enthusiasm and helpfulness are included will likely be more useful to your team than a long list of tasks.

5. Encourage experimenting with ideas – across all roles
Creating both formal and less structured opportunities for idea generation and experimentation is one important way to improve staff buy-in. Making work fun, team building activities and creative events can all boost morale and encourage your team to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset.

6. Change the look & tone of performance reviews
To get the best from your team, performance reviews should be treated not only as an opportunity to ensure staff are meeting your KPIs, but also to see how you’re faring as their employer. A recent report entitled ‘State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia’ found that only 52 per cent of employees feel that their workplace is mentally healthy, while 21 per cent had taken time off work in the past 12 months because of stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns. Employers should view performance reviews as an opportunity to check in with their employees and consider ways to create a happier, mentally healthy workplace environment.

7. Create opportunities for growth
As part of performance reviews, staff should also be given an opportunity to help drive their professional development opportunities. Giving staff opportunities to upskill not only benefits your business, but also keeps them interested and helps them feel valued. Consider developing learning plans with members of your team to help facilitate this work.

8. Share the love
Ensuring that employees feel valued and credited for their work is absolutely essential to achieving ongoing staff buy-in. Incentive programs, team recognition and bonuses are some of the ways to share the love. Creating a supportive culture where good work is recognised and rewarded will encourage staff to share their ideas and consistently put their best foot forward.

9. Measure your success
Finally, ongoing assessment and review of measurable actions will not only help to avoid confusion, but will also encourage action, both as a team and from individual staff members. Opportunities for self-reflection need to occur more regularly than at annual performance reviews, so consider other internal measures beyond your company’s financials. From balanced scorecards to anonymous surveys, consider a range of measures to ensure your team is performing – and identify areas for improvement.

Then, share them with your team to ensure everyone is part of your brand’s continuous improvement journey!

As major retailers like Sears fall like very large dominos, you’d be forgiven for thinking the death knells have sounded for brick and mortar retail.

Closer to home, Myer is grappling with its own downward trend, with the retailer last month posting a $486 million annual loss.

So how are things going wrong for such significant retail players? And how can brick and mortar retailers’ future-proof their market share?

While there’s no overnight solution, there are reasons that some brands are able to buck even the toughest of economic conditions.

Take these five tips into account and you’ll be on your way to ensuring you have a thriving brick and mortar retail space both now and into the future.

  1. Be customer-centric

Brands can sometimes go wrong by trying to be everything to everyone. Knowing your customer and talking specifically to them, rather than utilising generic messaging, is key. This relates to your physical retail space and fit-out, as well as your other engagement touchpoints, such as a user-friendly website and your social media presence. M.J. Bale founder Matt Jensen is quoted saying that customer service is what sets his high-performing brand apart. Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman agrees, saying that creating a seamless customer experience includes an easy returns process, and good product pick-up and delivery options.

  1. Change it up

Product also must remain fresh and contemporary. Limited edition products and designer capsule collections, like those employed by high street brands Uniqlo and H&M in partnership with the likes of J.W. Anderson and Erdem, create a fear of missing out – and the market responds accordingly.

  1. Show, don’t just sell

In 2018, a brick and mortar retail space must be more than just a place that sells product. Retailers need to be much more interactive, and really showcase their products. In my recent blog postabout my time working at The Body Shop under the leadership of Dame Anita Roddick, I touched on how the company was ahead of its time by encouraging people to not only see but also touch and smell their products. Successful retailers will take up the opportunity to act as showrooms where customers can interact with products in beautiful surroundings. Liberty London, is one example of a destination department store that lovingly curates its products, showcasing artists from around the world, and acting as a launching pad for emerging and undiscovered artists. No wonder the brand has enjoyed success since it opened its doors in 1875.

  1. Encourage interaction

Encouraging interaction and discovery for guests must go further still. Brick and mortar retailers have the opportunity to educate consumers, and provide face-to-face opportunities for interactions with not only products, but also their designers and makers. Retailers must get savvier about how best to do this, and build a real community of supporters. Examples include internal pop up stores within a larger department store, a calendar of travelling artists and producers, and regional roadshows. The key is a space that is always changing and evolving. Matt Jensen of M.J. Balerefers to the “theatre of shopping”, saying, “You’ve got to entertain people as they part with their money.”

  1. Quality is key

Still, repeat sales increasingly come down to quality. Trends suggest consumers are growing increasingly discerning, and are turning away from products that are lacking in quality and ethics. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why trusted brands such as Swarovski and Tiffany & Co. are continuing to open new brick and mortar storesin a volatile economic climate. Thankfully the trend is not only prompting many retailers to clean up their supply chains, but also to ensure they’re providing real value to customers.

 So whether you’re selling food, homewares, fashion, or something entirely different, remember that outstanding customer service, fresh, quality product, customer engagement, and an interactive retail environment will all help to future-proof your brick and mortar retail space.

 To find out more about Kiikstart’s business planning and coaching offerings for clients in the retail sector, get in touch at enquiries@kiikstart.com.

“A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future, and believe it can be obtained” – Shawn Hitchcock.

Mentoring is powerful. Some of the most successful people in the world, from Mark Zuckerberg to Sir Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey, say their mentors had a hand in their success stories.

Over the past 12 years I’ve personally mentored more than 2000 people across Australia, including people in our cities, regions and the Outback. Many of these people are business leaders and influencers, or people looking to step up in their career.

As someone who’s seen firsthand the transformative power of mentoring, here are five tips for getting the most out of your mentoring journey.

Acknowledge the benefits
The first step is to recognise that you’re never too old, too young, or too experienced to have a mentor. I recently wrote about how ego can impact your business, but it can also impact your personal career trajectory. A 2017 Deloitte report found that people who are mentored experience greater job satisfaction, progress further in their careers, and are better paid. Writing about his mentor, Sir Freddie Laker, Sir Richard Branson addressed the benefits of mentoring: “Understandably there’s a lot of ego, nervous energy and parental pride involved … Going it alone is an admirable, but foolhardy and highly flawed approach to taking on the world.”

Look beyond your industry & network
When seeking a mentor, don’t assume that you need a clone of yourself, or even someone from within your industry. A mentor outside your industry will help you to expand your network, and expose you to new ideas. People who don’t work alongside you each day are also more likely to be honest and ask questions that will challenge you to truly self-reflect. Founder and CEO of BIG Labs, Jyoti Bansal, says entrepreneurs “..should always select a mentor that fills the gaps in his/ her experience and skill set” so they can supplement the strengths that you bring to the table.

Find the right fit
Someone might look good on paper, but this doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for you as a mentor. Just like matchmaking, the mentor/mentee relationship doesn’t always yield a great fit. Even mentoring software app Mentorloop admits matching mentors and mentees isn’t an exact science: “Humans are infinitely complicated creatures… Using a spreadsheet simply doesn’t give you the scope or flexibility required to make matches across experience, skills, personality, preferences, and relationship goals.” Sometimes it’s only once you’ve formalised your arrangement that you’ll work out whether it’s a good fit. So how do you know whether it’s right?

A great mentor is like a colonic irrigation. They’ll help you find new ways to respond to your current frustrations, and move forward. The right mentor will respectfully question how you think and act, while providing guidance on how to find solutions to roadblocks and self-limiting behaviour. They’ll keep you accountable, but also provide a safe, supportive environment to have an open and engaged conversation.

Ensure it’s outcome driven
There’s more to this relationship than sitting with someone who dishes out advice or acts as your sounding board, although this advice is important. Ensure you’re both assessing and reviewing your progress. Set a co-created agenda and adhere to co-created milestones to track your relationship and keep you both focused during sessions.

Illumio CEO Andrew Rubin says when it comes to mentors “you get out.. what you put in”. The best models are based on measurable action. Remember that this is an equally accountable relationship, where you both need to do some of the heavy lifting and work in between sessions. On my part, for my mentees this has meant extra follow up and idea sharing between sessions, as well as introductions to industry networks that lead to new, undiscovered opportunities.

Pay for the pleasure
Remember that mentoring is an investment in yourself and your career. While you may be lucky enough to find a mentor who will help you for free, paying for the service ensures you’re working with someone who has the time and energy to invest in you. They’ll also be more inclined to establish an outcome-focused program, which will yield much more value for your efforts. Remember that your time is valuable, so invest it wisely when selecting the right mentor for you.

Are you looking for a professional mentor? Get in touch with Ali to find out more about Kiikstart’s tailored, one-on-one mentoring offering. Email enquiries@kiikstart.com or visit www.kiikstart.com to find out more.

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.

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.