7 pearls of business wisdom from rockstar women entrepreneurs
At a glance
Advice from our interviewees:
- Figure out what you can take control of, and do it
- Don’t underestimate the power of consistency
- Make like a laser beam when it comes to focus
- Be part of the community come back
The challenges of 2020 haven’t put a damper on New Zealand’s entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, it was a record year for new business registrations.
To celebrate this spirit and to mark International Women’s Day, we’ve invited some of the country’s most impressive women in business to share their tips for small business growth in a post-COVID market. With a fresh emphasis on building resilience into your business, this is the kind of advice that will help those new business owners successfully navigate the new normal.
1. Take control to weather the storm
“The best bit of advice I’ve had was to optimise the channels I own,” says Joanna Lehndoft, Founder and CEO of botanical skincare brand Loveskin. “Having a robust system for communicating with your customers in a way you can control under any circumstances, means you can keep your business front of mind all the time.”
Automating your email flow is even better. “Then they can just work away in the background, generating returns.”
Joanna Lehndoft, Founder and CEO of botanical skincare brand Loveskin
Jessica Anne, Founder of The Key Planner, agrees. “Digital marketing and social media platforms are changing all the time. They are great for building awareness, but we don’t own them. We do, however, own our email lists. Build them and create trust and a community of fans by sending consistent, valuable content.”
2. Consistency is key – and sometimes underrated
Ava Wilson, Founder of Baroness Brewing craft beer company, says the piece of advice that has really stuck came from her stepdad.
“He’d say that people work really hard to get to the top and once they’re there they don’t realise that it can be even harder staying there. So keep doing all the things you did when you started out – don’t rest on your laurels.”
Ava Wilson, Founder of Baroness Brewing
Ava’s top tip for business growth takes its lead from that advice.
“Value consistency,” she says. “We sometimes focus too much on the next new thing but there’s something pretty special in doing something consistently perfect every time.”
3. Don’t lose focus – but do look around
Jessica Anne says establishing a laser-like focus on one persona and the main problem they want solved has been critical to her business growth. For the Key Planner that means “targeting ambitious professionals who want to be more productive but maintain a balanced life.”
The next step? “Find the leaders, influencers and other businesses who serve that audience and seek out collaborative opportunities. Think giveaways, bundled sales promotions and guest posts.”
4. Know your numbers
Tara Lorigan, MNZM, is the Founder and CEO of Co.OfWomen, an organisation which champions women in business and provides practical support. She says “really understanding the economic engine of your business is crucial to small business growth.”
“A lot of us go into business because we are passionate about something and have some skills to add to that passion. But a lot of women don’t bring financial skills in with us… there’s a tendency to think it should all be outsourced to experts.”
Tara Lorigan, MNZM, Founder and CEO of Co.OfWomen
While expert help has its place, Tara says “if we fail to really understand the details of the numbers in our business, we are actually putting it at risk. The good news is that it can all be learnt and when you do have that knowledge and competence, it’s really powerful and helps our businesses reach their full potential.”
Loveskin’s Joanna Lehndoft’s experience of outsourcing, albeit in marketing, supports Tara’s advice. “I learned a hard and very expensive lesson in 2019,” she explains. “A disastrous experience with a full service agency cost me a lot of money.” The painful – but useful – takeaway? “You can’t outsource what you don’t understand yourself.”
5. Use EOFY to look back – then move forward
“Evaluate and assess lessons learned,” advises Joanna. “What do you intend to carry forward into the new financial year and what no longer serves you?”
Jessica Anne, Founder of The Key Planner
The Key Planner founder, Jessica, echoes this advice. “A lot of us have experienced some hard lessons in the past year. We can’t move forward until we process the events of the past year. Take some time to reflect on 2020. Get feedback from customers, employees, contractors, co-workers to help you get a really clear picture of where your brand stands. Then you can really nail down what you’d like to achieve in 2021.”
6. Thriving is the new surviving
How has Beer Baroness, Ava Wilson stayed inspired over the past year?
“I haven’t! And I think that’s okay too,” she says. “I was really just surviving, and survival mode turned off my ability to inspire and create. Changing my mentality to thriving, not just surviving has been huge. I’ve finally let go of that ‘we’ve just got to get through’ state and am now genuinely inspired and excited about adapting, growing and changing in this new post-COVID world.”
Connecting with community is a critical part of maintaining that momentum. Ava also runs a pub, cafe and brewery, so her whole business is about community on all levels.
“Our little team, our supporters, the industry and the neighbourhood community. COVID really knocked that around. But community connection is our business lifeline so more than ever we are really focused on nurturing it.”
7. Start thinking and don’t stop
“My biggest tip for keeping your business resilient in the face of uncertainty is to always remember we live in an ever changing world,” says Tara. “Expecting things to be the same is a fatal flaw. Get into a habit of doing regular frontier thinking – the thinking that looks for where the changes can come in your industry and in our world. This will best prepare us for inevitable change.”
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