The Microsoft Store My Business Mentor program concluded last week. The five finalists travelled from around Australia to the Flagship Microsoft Store Sydney for a one-on-one session with me on business growth, as well as a session with both a Microsoft Store tech guru and an H&R Block Australia tax expert.
There was much excitement in the room and each of the participants were well-prepared. I’d asked all to read Ready to Soar (and complete the exercises) – and I also provided each with a workbook, so when they arrived the mentoring session would be focussed and productive.
Each of the business owners were at different stages of development – one was at the ideation and proof of concept stage; another had delivered a minimal viable product and was selling to family and friends as he refined his offering; another was gathering momentum quickly but needed to work out how to scale without having to deliver every service personally. Two were of material size, with numerous customers, a deep sense of purpose and eager to take the business to the next stage.
What united them all was energy, excitement and optimism
The one-on-one program worked extremely well – it was both a business power session, as well as an opportunity for the business owners to ask me about my experience. I challenged all the founders to play a bigger game, to look at where they spent their energy, to continually walk in the customers’ shoes and to be relentless in sharing their business purpose. I spoke of the importance of storytelling and having other people (especially customers) tell that story on the business’ behalf.
Ultimately, Cyber Safety Project walked away with the $10,000 cheque (thanks to H&R Block) and is now set with the funds to roll-out its program beyond the current 40 schools it works with in Victoria. But every mentoree said even the process of preparing their submission and doing pre-work had taught them something valuable about their business. It is essential for any business owner to set aside time to plan for future growth.
My advice to each of the My Business Mentor finalists:
- Purpose: Create a purpose that speaks to the ‘emotion’ of what you do. Make sure it is short – and check its validity by articulating your ‘I believe’ statements
- Values: How you do business, and how people talk about you is as important (if not more important) as what you do. The number one job of any business leader is to create #Trust. This is done by relentlessly living your values.
- North Star: Business is long (starting a business is relatively easy), but scaling one is much harder. Days come and go – there are good days and bad days and as a business leader, you must continually remind yourself of what success looks like. I have used a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) as my north star – it is time-based and can be counted. Remind yourself of success every day.
I really enjoyed my day at the Flagship Microsoft Store Sydney – the team are warm and welcoming, and I love the fact that the business team effectively act as an outsourced IT help desk to so many small businesses.
Keep going, keep growing – and do remember that there is help around you. Remind yourself that you do not have to do everything yourself – there are experts not far away.
Naomi Simson entrepreneur co-founded The Big Red Group in 2017 which includes brands such as RedBalloon, Adrenaline and Redii.com. She has been blogging for a decade at NaomiSimson.com, is a professional speaker, author of Live What You Love & Ready To Soar, and a “Shark” on business reality show Shark Tank Australia.
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Also published on Medium.