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Career Change Entrepreneurship Personal development Start up

Five steps to a successful start up

You have a software application written and you are excited by the opportunity to start your own business. Launching it is not enough, to successfully secure sales you need know your market.

History has proved that marketing is the key to launching a successful business, you can have the best solution, but marketing wins. Once that stands out for me was SQL and Nested database. The latter is superior for scale, simplicity, yet SQL won the business. The alternative is a slow burn of referrals, which can work, but takes time.

So here are the steps:

Target market: Who are you selling to? What is their demographic? How do you get to the target audience(what do they read, what apps do they use)? Why are they buying?

Knowing how you reach your target audience is critical and knowing why they would buy your product?

How to?

1. Get a database of your target audience. There are many options to gaining access to a database:

  1. Utilise a company with same target audience: ie customer segmentation, industry segment and/ or regional. Set up a referral fee in exchange for using their database. If B2B business to Business then buy a list: Illion, Core logic, listing company Or: Building your own database, utilise the internet for research
  2. Dont proceed to step 1 without knowing who is your target audience. You will waste money and time, both precious.

2. Whats your message? Why are your target audience interested?

  1. Why use your product?
  2. Testimonials from exisiting customers
  3. Referrals. Will your customers refer to other customers
  4. Social media, connect with Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
  5. PR; utilise a PR company in your sector, to get the message out their.
  6. Note: Educating a new market is not for the faint hearted, definitely for organisations with deep pockets. If people don’t get it and you are not making sales, relook at the offering and your target audience. Jeffrey Moors book “Crossing the Chasm” describes early adopters in his book. Basically you need to look for risk takers

3. Easy to buy from

  1. Once you have steps 1 and 2 nailed, can your target audience order your product simply and easily. If its too complicated, then you will not secure the business even if step 1 and 2 are executed well.
  2. How many prospects have abandoned the process in coming on board, as it is to complex.

4. Build a business plan and cash flow and take it out to your network to test the above. Is the target marker large enough? Sold some niche products in my time and one the target market in Australia was 400 companies, only 10% come to the market annually and have a 10 year lifespan. Even if you won 100% of 40 Companies is that enough revenue to deliver the profit you are looking for?

This is a great opportunity to tweak your plans before going ahead for real.

5. Press the button, register the company and execute your plans.

Categories
Career Change Career planning Leadership Networking

7 steps on how to network?

networkingFriday morning mentor walks I was asked how to network, before I address the how lets look into why? Networks are important for support, advice, opportunities (job or business) , helping others, connecting people with similar interests and having fun!

7 steps on how to network:

  1. is all about being open to meeting new contacts, going to events and meeting new people. Just say “yes”
  2. Your mind set need to be open, don’t go with a purpose of finding a job for instance, think about the person you are speaking to and how you can help them. Don’t think about yourself.
    • Who in your network could help them?
    • Is there a book you have read that could be helpful?
    • Do you know about a job opportunity they may be interested in?
    • Do you know about an event that they will find useful?
    • They may just want to sound out an idea
  3. Don’t think that a certain event will not be useful, as you are always going to meet people who knows someone who is not at the event, but you need to meet.
  4. Treat Internal networking the same as external networking
  5. Take business cards or if you comfortable use apps on your phone to share contact details.
  6. Remember to connect on linkedin.
  7. Thank you is a must if they have helped you out in some way

There are many events out there, here are a few in Sydney and Melbourne that I have found informative and great mix of women of all ages and industries:

 

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Career Change Career planning Coaching Collaberation Influence Intrepenuership Judgement Mentoring Personal development

How do you prepare to move from Small business to Corporate?

I thought I was alone on the need to find out how large companies work. After 20 years in tech start ups, small and medium sized business, I had a desire to understand how large business operate, how they scale, how they manage the volume of business.  I secured my first corporate gig in Salesforce.com  in my 40’s!intrepeneruship

7 years on I have no regrets, I have personally grown, I am still an entrepreneur at heart and love the opportunities that present themselves daily. The transition is the hardest personal development opportunity I have ever been through, but worthwhile.

In preparation to going into corporate from a small business here are the five skills you need to perfect:

  1. Stakeholder management:  In small business can you can afford to be dismissive and intolerant of others. In corporate you have to work at every relationship and interaction. If you don’t you can earn the reputation as “throwing others under the bus”, “difficult to deal with” .  The key to success is understanding what your stakeholders want from you, how you can help them through insights and sharing information and working as one.
  2. Judgement: Let go of it. It has no purpose and gets you into a heap of trouble.  Move from thinking about the persons annoying habits to how you can help them.  Build great relationships across the business. you cannot afford to have anyone who speaks negatively about you, as that will stop your career and find it difficult to achieve the results
  3. Job descriptions: In small business you need a versatile team that work across multiple disciplines, Job descriptions are a guide.  In corporate the need for clarity around roles and responsibilities is critical to the growing empires. In rapid growth the land grab is part of the political positioning by leaders.  Be careful when stepping over boundaries that you do it with consent.
  4. Influence: ability to change others thinking. In small business, energy and passion does the trick, in corporate asking great questions is critical to influencing.  You cannot influence by telling. You will fail fast, so learning to ask questions every day in every situation is the key to success. Collaboration is critical to working together
  5. Intreperneurship: your greatest asset to a corporate. Your ability to create and build from nothing. You are not hung up on turning the titanic, Job descriptions, perceived limitations, you bring the can do attitude, glass half full  that makes things happen.  You will inspire others by your enthusiasm and people will want to join you on your expedition. Sell this attribute as this is of great interest to corporate.

Startup opportunities in corporate is the best of both worlds. You can utilise your SMB skills whilst developing many new ones that will accelerate your development.

Today many people with startup businesses at the next stage of growth come and speak to me about how to tackle the transition from small to medium, medium to larger business. Some want to take a step up and don’t have the skills, others want to step back in the business, others want to be on the board and leave exec leadership to transition in to non exec roles. What ever the transition is you are looking to achieve, each needs a transition plan and a coach/mentor to enable the change.

I chose a business coach to prepare for corporate. Without the coaching prior and in the early years I could not have made the transition. Your new leader in corporate may have never experienced a small or medium business so the responsibilities are with you to address your gaps fast, so you can operate effectively.

As a result of developing the skills, I have definitely become a far better leader and coach.  You never stop learning, which is why career opportunities are so much fun and stimulating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Career Change Career planning Leadership Mentoring Personal development

Your Next Career Move

Preparing for your next role, can be daunting. It is certainly a journey not a destination. Here are 7 steps to take charge of the next career move:

1. Take Charge Of Your career pathOwn Career – seek support from an executive coach, mentors and work with people to help you get that next move

2. Stop Over Thinking – take action, fix the situation and move on – over thinking is a waste of time and energy

3. Public Speaking – you can’t avoid it, practice practice practice. Invest in Toastmasters. Start small with internal stakeholder opportunities – put your hand up – put yourself out there and don’t wait to be asked!

4. Step Up – step into the gaps and find the opportunities

5. Be Fearless – be prepared to make the tough decisions and take stakeholders on the journey – face into fear and build resilience

6. Expertise – soft skills and ability to communicate are more important than expertise – don’t rely just on expertise. 70% of women believe expertise alone will secure the next role according to New York Think tank 77.

7. Gravitas – learn when to speak and when to be silent – stop fidgeting and chattering! Have a Julia Bishop moment.

Continue to work on all of the above and opportunities will come your way.  All the best with your next career move.

 

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Book Quotes Career Change Leadership Legacy Personal development

Don’t park to long or change will find you.

Julie Alexander a professional coach speaks on “Don’t park too long or change will find you”. What a great saying!  When I heard Julie deliver this it resonated on so many levels.

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The pace of change in the world that impacts on personal and business life is speeding up. Yet it is human nature to search out certainty. When we hold on to certainty we think we are doing the right thing for our survival, however we find our resilience is at risk, as we are not constantly adapting.

The harder we hold on to comfort, the more difficult we become for people around us to deal with, as we are resistant to the help or guidance that will ensure we make the transition.

When we challenge ourselves continually, we are happier, more fulfilled and our resilience increases.  This helps us to understand and deal with anxiety.

For me self deprecating humour is something I find really useful, as when we laugh at ourselves others connect and understand our pain and opportunities.

Today one of my team reminded me when discussing change in business of that great book “who moved my cheese?” By Dr Spencer Johnson which is all about adapting to change. A must read for anyone who is seeking comfort in a fast changing world.

The greatest skill in the 21st century is constantly adapting to the world as it evolves at a faster pace than any time in history.  When we embrace the changes we can enjoy and evolve, when we resist we become obsolete with no relevance.

Don’t park to long or change will find you.

 

 

 

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Career Change Career planning Leadership Personal development

When do you compromise your values?

Our values are challenged everyday in the business environment.  When we cross the boundaries which we all have, we question our very existence. We become resentful of the factors that influenced the breach of values and this results in stress and poor sleep.image

Earlier in my career I did not respect my own values, I just did what was needed to get on.  Not sure if maturity has helped and/or a gap year in my forties, but I now know the price we pay for compromising our values.

When we know and understand our beliefs we can be confident about who you are and what you are.  It is the foundation for happiness and contentment.  

Have the courage and conviction to protect your values in all situations.  As a leader your team and peers will see you for who you are.

So the answer to when do you compromise your values? The answer is never. Always stay true to who you are.

 

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Career Change Career planning Leadership Personal development

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

This is one of the most common question I get asked. After making the decision to go from tech start up to Corporate five years ago I spoke to a number of business women who are doing non exec roles for ASX200 Businesses, my ultimate aim from going into corporates. Understanding their perspective on what I needed to do over the next decade was critical to my success.  I met three senior non execs who told me not to leave exec leadership before 55, many women do and they have insufficient leadership experience to secure board roles on ASX200.

Regarding education, I only have a BSC in Business and Computing, they advised me to do the AICD Directors course as the governance and risk component of the training was invaluable. With 25 years business experience the MBA had less value.  I followed the advice.

Here are my top tips on how to decide, do I do an MBA?

1. “What do you want to do in the next 10 years?” Once you are clear on this you can plan your life backwards to what you need do.

2. Find at least 3 people who are doing what you want to be doing in 10 years time. Meet with them, explain your dilemma re:MBA. Ask them what an MBA would do for you? What value would it add to your career?

3. Always ask those three people, is there anything you can do to help them, they will appreciate that you are interested in them, you will also be surprised that they have learnt as much from you, as they have shared with you!

4. If you decide to do an MBA because you want to do it for yourself and no other reason. Do it, learning because you want to versus need to is far more pleasurable.

If you have no Tertiary education, there are many companies that will not consider you for a senior role. I started my degree part time at 24, put on hold for a decade and finally completed at 39.  My boss of 20 years could not understand why I was doing the degree when I had been the MD of European business for over 15 years, he use to say you could teach the professors.

When I did the BSC degree part time, I did it for me. To prove I was capable of doing it. What I got from the experience was far more: learn to challenge thinking, models IE Porters five forces, Boston matrix and more.  I loved it. The only time I have needed it to secure a role was when working at Salesforce.com it was a minimum requirement. I use the models I learned on my  degree courses and reference them all the time.

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

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Career Change Career planning Leadership

Career planning: Where are you going? What do you want from your career?

For many people not knowing what they want to be when they grow up stays with them most of their life. Women in particular find it difficult as they are waiting to be selected for their next role based on other people’s views of what they are good at,  rather than being clear about what they want. This becomes the greatest obstacle for success and greatest source of frustration and disappointment.

I was in this situation 4 years ago and breaking a habit of a lifetime of saying No to roles that don’t fit your career brief criteria is really hard.  My third start-up was behind me and I knew I had to stretch myself in a new way and my eyes were firmly set on a corporate role, yet the first five opportunities I was offered were all tech start-ups for US corporates wanted to set up operations in Australia. It was so tempting, as it was what I knew, thank goodness for Phil Crenigan my business coach who kept me focused and challenged me when he had a sniff that I was even entertaining any start-up opportunities.   I am forever grateful for his council on being clear before looking about your next move, and saying No so that when the right opportunity emerged I was ready.

In contrast having a career plan for the next 10, 20 years even if it changes allows you to plan and prepare for your next move. It also allows you to socialize with your peers, mentors, sponsors and executives and gain their input and thoughts on the best options for your future and open up projects that give you exposure where you need it.

I enjoy being on boards of tech start-ups and the businesses I have run over the last 20 years, so I am looking to become a non exec director on ASX boards in the next 10 years. To achieve this I need to be a Senior leader in an ASX business. I spoke to many Senior leaders who were doing the role I am looking to do and all advised me the following: women leave exec leadership too early, you need to remain in exec leadership in ASX businesses until your 60. Many leave in their early 50s and have insufficient experience at a senior level. When asking about education all recommended the AICD course as a must.  Seeking advice of people doing what the role you aspire too is essential for preparing for success.

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. Alan Lakein

 Where are you going? What do you want from your career?

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Career Change

Why move from Tech Start up to Corporate?

Many people are inquiring about my move from start-up, entrepreneurial business

into corporate. Why? how? And am I enjoying it. The why: needed a new leadership challenge, something to stretch me and also to fulfill my longer term plan to get onto boards of ASX business. You cannot get into those roles without having Corporate leadership experience. Many non execs have advised me I need to remain in senior exec roles in corporate for the next 10 years in order to get the experience to be considered for a ASX Board role.

To make the move to corporate, I had to understand the missing skills needed to be successful. As I knew no one who had moved into corporate from tech start-up, I enlisted the services of a Business coach Phil Crenigan. The preparation was essential as I had only been in Australia at that time 3 years and my network in corporate Australia was insufficient to be sponsored into a role. When someone brings you into an organisation you have someone to help you navigate, when you are not known you have to navigate and network from day one.

Des Miller who I had worked for over 20 years recommended the book ‘in the first 90 days’ by Michael Watkins. A great guide to moving into a senior leadership role in a corporation.

The challenge of moving into Corporate was a chance to make a difference. When you have set up a business, that nobody knows about and built three successful business you have to be good at everything; marketing, selling, implementation, finance and growing a team. Taking that entrepreneurial spirit and customer focus in to Telstra has proved to be one of the most rewarding times in my career. The leadership and support is incredible. The strategy is well understood by all and the focus on Customer advocacy is in the DNA of Telstra, thanks to David Thodey’s phenomenal leadership.

Are you ready to make the change?

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Career Change Career planning Coaching Leadership Legacy Mentoring Networking Personal development

Help your team realise their dreams

There is a lot of discussion on finding work in what you love doing, is it a good thing or not?

I have had the privilege of working with Jane Ron and John (names changed) all had a passion and it was not what they were doing as a job.

John was a cloud specialist and well regarded by his peers and customers. Every hour outside work was spent filming and editing music videos. When I had my 1;1 s I would ask him how the videos were going and his eyes would light up. One day I said to him, I don’t want to lose you, but I sense you are not fulfilled by your role. John said I would love to make the filming and editing full time, but I am scared of giving up my job.  I said what if you could work 3-4 days a week and spend a day on your filming. John was over the moon, this would be perfect, I can see if this works out for me, whilst working in my role.  Within a month John was working 1-2 days a week on his filming business and 6 months late he was full time, doing what he loved.

As a leader there are many lessons here:

  • helping people realise their dreams is leadership
  • this is a true test of Trust between you and your team member, especially if it is not aligned to what they are doing today
  • other employees are inspired by the leadership as it is focused at the heart of any business the people
  • transitioning is easier to manage than someone resigning, you can plan and ensure the transition is seamless.

A few years later Jane worked in one of the sales teams I led and was a Environmentalist to the core. She was in a sales role and successful, but it was not wanted she really wanted to be doing.  In a mentoring session I asked her to bring some of her passions to the role IE getting everyone on board with recyclable coffee cups. She did many side projects but it was not enough to change how she felt. I encouraged to look at a number of organisations where her passion would be fulfilled and introduced her to people I knew in the field. She finally landed her dream job.  I lost a great sales person, but helped someone pursue their passion.   When I read Jane’s post on linked I am so proud of what she achieved and feel good that I was able to assist her on the journey.

Around the same time Ron one of the Sales managers told me he had been doing sales management for over a decade and was looking to the future where he wanted a operational role in the company. I connected Ron with a mentor in Operations, where I thought they would be an excellent fit in terms of personality and temperaments.  A year later Ron secured the role he wanted in  operations. During that time we worked through Ron’s replacement. A 12 month run way is plenty of time to ensure the successor is ready.

Help your team realise their dreams