Inspiration: Naomi Simson founder of RedBalloon

The Australian today had an article by Richard Blandy. He says, ‘Business ownership among women is growing at almost twice the rate of business generally.’ Women are sidestepping the glass ceiling issue and taking the opportunity to shape their own work-life balance. He also identifies small business as a means of fulfilling ‘higher order needs’ (from Maslow’s heirachy of needs) as opposed to large corporations.

So I have begun reading “I want what she’s having: the experience of creating a pleasurable business”, an ebook by Naomi Simson, Australian female entrepreneur, founder of RedBalloon.

I’ve used 7 of her points to then reflect on my own experience so far with Stacey College.

(1) Extract what you’ve learned from past experiences to help you now.
This is something that I’ve really been enjoying about starting my own business. Everything that I have done and experienced in my past, seems to be helpful in shaping what I do now. Skills as diverse as photography, youthwork, being a ‘check out chick’, customer service, research, marketing, cold calling, have all been helpful. My experiences as a student, a mother, a wife, a consumer are all helpful to draw on as I shape my business.

(2) ‘NO’ provides opportunity to find an alternative way.
Already I have found this to be true. As we are struggling to find a premises I have come up with a plan to create a web of services across Perth that will eventually work in with a building and ‘hub’ in the city. It will be a great beginning with less overheads, and a way to begin to learn the business through hiring staff, renting spaces, and fine tuning courses.

(3) Business is just a game and its ok to inject fun into your day.
Two important and very different teachers of mine have championed this same principal of ‘fun’. The first was a theology lecturer, the second my trading mentor. The lightness this philosophy tries to bring sometimes clashes with the intensity and passion of a student or worker. We like to think that we are indispensable, and that brings with it a certain heaviness. ‘Fun’ on the other hand still feeds on passion, but a passion that knows that this opportunity may only be for today, that I could be helpful and of service somewhere else, and that life doesn’t demand perfection, but engagement.

(4) Make full use of the technology available to you.
Perhaps this is why GenY is the breeding ground of many entrepreneurs. They are willing and able to adopt any new technology that allows them to do the job better, more efficiently, more creatively, or just in a way that it hasn’t been done before. For those of us who are more technologically challenged (I am only a GenX, yet that means I remember a time before the internet and when having a mobile phone was a luxury not a necessity) it means diving in and learning, and learning about learning. It’s funny how the more you learn, the easier it is to learn more. Because once you figure out how to figure out a new technology, you are a little more confident, and a little more able to know where to look for help, and a little more understanding of the processes involved. Little bit by little bit. That way there will always be something to learn – because the new technology just keeps coming.

(5) Why have talented people if you have no intention of listening to them or nurturing their initiative?
This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I’m sure most of you would testify to jobs you’ve had when you have been neither listened to or nurtured. As a leader I don’t want to be intimidated by the skills of my staff, neither do I want to assume that I know better than them about everything. Surely if I hire talented people, I want them to contribute.

(6) You have great people being unproductive if they don’t have the tools they need.
‘A bad worker blames his tools’ is the phrase that comes to mind. And yet, without certain tools a job cannot be done. My husband is one who has taught me to invest in quality tools. Firstly they do the job better, and secondly they last longer, and usually end up costing you less in the long run. There is nothing worse than a talented teacher wasting all her time fighting a photocopier, or a salesman trying to use a payphone.

(7) It’s not the size of the budget that counts. It’s what you do with it.
This is great to hear for me – because I don’t have a huge budget. Like most start ups I am more time rich than cash rich. And it’s good to recognise this. A lot of things you can do for yourself, and bigger companies only outsource the work because they have too much else to do. Making my budget count means making wise decisions, being creative, making the most of what is available out there free.

So that is what I got out of the first bit of Naomi’s book. Please let me know what you think.

2 replies
  1. Katie Raspberry
    Katie Raspberry says:

    Absolutely love this post, and in start-ups these are so entirely true!
    Some reconize it others don’t I’m sure we can pin-point the ones who haven’t 😛
    Great post!


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