Tag: business

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.

‘Collaboration’ has long been a buzzword in the business world.

Companies recognise that remaining relevant requires not only internal collaboration and team work, but also collaboration in the form of partnerships with other organisations.

Defined as “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing”, collaboration makes good business sense.

Consider the success of fast fashion retailer H&M’s collaborations with luxury design houses such as Balmain and Versace, or Uber and Spotify’s value-add partnership that allows you to connect your Spotify account to your Uber car’s radio.

But with great reward often comes great risk. Collaboration can be seen as a smoking gun means to achieving greater brand awareness and financial rewards based on a partnership vision that focuses too heavily on the ‘what’ – the strategy – and not enough on the ‘how’ – the tactics, or fails to adequately recognise the risks.

In these cases, the results can be disappointing. Loss of autonomy, dilution of your brand, lost time and resources, or a negative impact on your brand’s reputation, are just some of the risks.

So today I’m challenging you not to mention the ‘c’ word without first taking these six steps to determine whether you or your business are really in a position to commit to a collaboration.

Do so and you’ll be well on the way to more successful partnership opportunities that yield better results for you and your partners.

  1. Time is of the essence

The first key question you should consider is whether you have the time and resources to nurture a collaboration opportunity. You should consider the potential drain on company resources, both in terms of the number of hours key staff would likely spend on such a partnership, and upfront financial costs. Remember that the drain on financial and company resources is often greater than expected.

  1. Identify your processes

Before entering into any external collaborations or partnerships, you should identify your processes for critiquing the value of your collaboration. Ask: what am I seeking to get out of the partnership first and foremost? Once you know this, you’ll be able to deduce how best to measure this  – whether it be greater brand awareness, a spike in sales of a particular product or service, or customer satisfaction levels.

  1. Leverage your strengths

When negotiating any partnership, be sure to know your strengths. Consider both your access to knowledge and people. For example, you may have a small team, but you could have expert specialised knowledge that is particularly valuable to a potential partner. Alternatively, you may have a broader organisational focus, but perhaps you have the people power to support this work and do more of the heavy-lifting. Knowing and leveraging your strengths before commencing negotiations with prospective partners will ensure you get a better deal for your business. Be prepared to ask yourself and your team the tough questions about what you bring to the table as an organisation.

  1. Mind the gap

Also be aware of your skill gaps – and ensure you partner with an organisation that doesn’t have the same gaps as you. Consider whether you have complementary skill-sets, and creative ways to bridge any skill gaps.

  1. Better off alone?

Finally, assess the ideas and opportunities that collaborations offer and weigh these up against the potential challenges. Ask yourself: am I really better off collaborating, or could I/we be better off alone? Consider what you could do with the resources required for your collaboration if you decide not to go ahead. Which option is more favourable from a commercial perspective? And don’t forget to consider brand reputation and PR risks. LEGO’s collaboration with Shell is one example of a company failing to recognise the PR risk of such an association, as attitudes to Shell’s environmental practices have shifted over time.

  1. Trust is a must

Finally, weigh up the ‘co-opetition’. The term, utilised to describe collaborations with organisations that would often be considered your natural competitors, sums up the need for trust. In order for partnerships to be truly successful, all parties need to be willing to share ideas and insights. At the same time, protecting your IP and business plans is essential to mitigate unnecessary risk.

So, be sure to exercise consideration and caution when using the ‘c’ word. While collaborations aren’t for everyone, successful partnerships can offer immense value to all parties.

I’m interested in your thoughts… Do you have a favourite company collaboration? And are there any other considerations you would weigh up before using the ‘c’ word?

In a pre-online shopping world, and before the Internet was mainstream, the retail sector seemed a much surer bet.

But even then, there were brands that didn’t rest on their laurels.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is The Body Shop. Under the stewardship of founder, Dame Anita Roddick, the company was innovative, and a tad rebellious.

Working for the brand on and off for more than a decade, my work in retail sales evolved into a training and mentoring role with the brand.

In 2003 I spent two years in Ireland developing their flagship store in Dublin, helping to improve outcomes and processes. It was my first foray into learning and development – and a path that Anita herself had influenced me to pursue.

I met Anita on several occasions and found her to be passionate and funny. I remember talking to her when I was at a career crossroads myself after starting a degree in Management, and finding it wasn’t the right fit.

Her words of wisdom helped bring me clarity, and it was this clarity that set me on a path to study PR and Communications – a fruitful course for me that’s led to my own learning and development business for brands.

There are many lessons I took from these conversations, and my experience working for this iconic brand, but here are a few of my top takeaways. 

Staff buy-in is key
The people on the shop floor, the franchisors and management have the power to shape an international brand’s reality, no matter how good it may be in other countries. The ‘90s and early 2000s felt like a real golden era for The Body Shop in Australia – and it was run very much in the spirit of Anita. She loved seeing what she could create, and having the right people working for her to bring the brand to life. We were proud to work for The Body Shop, and it showed. 

Make it fun
Anita was a fun person who attracted people who were smart and energetic. She led the way by creating an engaging and interactive retail space that changed the way people interacted with cosmetics. Customers could really engage with the products on the shop floor; they could smell and test the products on a large scale, making their shopping experience more fun and interactive.

Show you care
One of the most unique aspects about the brand is its clear social conscience – and its innovative and at times rebellious approach to community work and advocacy over the years. Our team worked on community projects in some pretty out there places! In 1993 I can remember working with people with AIDS at a time when there was still a huge stigma associated with the disease.

The public were looking for ways to get involved in community campaigns – and The Body Shop offered them that opportunity. We ran a lot of campaigns that fit with the brand’s values, such as a campaign to save the Siberian tiger. We sold soaps in the shape of tigers, took donations, and also offered people petitions they could sign. The public were buying our ethical products, but they were also buying into issues that they cared about; it was a feel-good, community experience that hasn’t really been replicated by a brand continuously on the same scale since.

Give people choice
I think choice is another major reason for the brand’s success. The Body Shop have always offered a substantial product selection and a range of size options. The company were also one of the first to offer the option to recycle your products, where you could bring your products back to be refilled. This was another way that The Body Shop showed their commitment to the environment. Good business is about giving people choice.

Great customer service will set your brand apart
While some blame the rise of online shopping for the demise of many businesses in the retail sector, if you have awesome bricks and mortar, I truly believe you can still be successful. Many brands are failing to engage their audience with the sort of humour and imagination that Anita championed. No-one gives money to people – or brands – that don’t make them feel good! Great customer service remains a key part of the story. Working for The Body Shop I learnt a lot about the human race: how to be respectful, how to make people feel comfortable, and how to involve customers with a product. The Body Shop achieved this, and taught me a huge amount about what it means to serve and understand people and communities.

Let your principles shine
Being a principled leader is perhaps one of the most important lessons I took away from meeting Anita, and my time with The Body Shop. Of course, the brand had to make profits, but Anita also asked people what they cared about – and reflected this through the company’s products, campaigns and initiatives. To this day, principles guide me, and the brands I work with too, in part thanks to those early lessons I learnt from Dame Anita Roddick.

 

Feature image: Daily Mail UK

As leaders, there are times when our courage and resolve will be tested.

Staying true to your personal values where there is a values mismatch with the company or organisation where you work is one of the most testing scenarios of all.

Being brave, and calling BS when it’s necessary, is an important step for leaders. This is especially true where a company’s brand promise and cultural reality differ.

The case for organisational health may seem obvious, but its impact on an organisation’s bottom line is significant. Worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company asserts that the top quartile of publicly traded companies who participated in their Organisational Health Index delivered about three times the returns to shareholders compared to the bottom quartile.

So what steps should you take to test and maintain your organisation’s health?

Below, I’ve outlined the essential steps every leader, and company for that matter, can take to ensure a healthy company culture. Remember there is never just one culture present. Organisations are like people, and have positive and negative aspects vying for attention.

Define – and benchmark – what success looks like
Being able to define your own benchmark for organisational health is essential. Without benchmarks, how will you know whether you’re heading in the right direction? This involves being able to define the type of products and services you want to provide, to whom, and in what ways. You won’t be the right fit for everyone, nor is everyone the right fit for you. By summarising your brand purpose, values and leadership culture, you’re defining what success should look like for your brand.

Assess the gap
Once you’ve determined your organisational benchmarks, you’ll need to work to remove the obstacles to the culture you’re seeking to create. Consider what you need to change and what has to be introduced into the organisation’s reality to be able to deliver on its brand promise. Too often the organisational cultural reality is totally incongruent with the marketing fantasy. And, as gothamCulture Managing Partner Chris Cancialosi warns, “when you brand promise doesn’t measure up to your audience’s expectations, you won’t just disappoint; you’ll lose their trust and loyalty.” He says embedding this culture in your organisation first is essential, and prevents this disconnect. Ask yourself how far the gap is between promise and reality in relation to your staff, clients and partners.

Get real insights
True assessment of your company’s culture requires leaders to not only look inward, but also outward. Davis & Company CEO Alison Davis recommends that you assess your company’s health at an individual, team and organisational level to get a true picture. Anonymous surveys and one-on-one interviews that give employees the chance to talk candidly about the environment are some useful tactics. It is best to bring an external person in to do this work and analyse and present key insights in order to get an independent and accurate picture.

Remove obstacles to long-term success
You’ll also need to be prepared to remove barriers to the cultural reality you’re seeking. This could involve saying good bye to staff members, or parting ways with a client due to a misalignment of values and purpose. Ten years ago I was personally challenged when our key client took on new management and asked us to provide a substandard product to its clients. The outcome resulted in us walking away and losing in excess of 90 per cent of our income overnight – not ideal! While this was challenging, I backed the quality of our offering, the reputation of our brand, and our genuine respect for the end user. I also held true to the belief that you can always get other projects, but it is damn hard to rebuild your reputation. As tough as it can be, I recommend constantly holding these cultural aspects to account and calling BS when they fall short of the standard you’re aspiring to. Take the action you need to say good bye and make the necessary changes.

Create your team
Finally, attracting the right talent will go a long way to developing a healthy organisational culture. Ensuring you get the right personality fits, incentivising staff, and creating an environment where teamwork is rewarded and recognised, are just some of the ways to build a positive culture for the long-haul.

As a leader remember that what you put up with you end up with.

Ask yourself: What am I tolerating within my own company that I’d like to call BS on? I’d love your insights.

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.

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!

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.