Wow, what a weekend! As most of you would know, I have just returned from a 12 day trip to Melbourne - to speak at the Reed Gift Fairs on Saturday 6th August, and attend the 2016 AusMumpreneur Conference, including their national awards night last night. And squeeze a little bit of family time in before the arrival of my second baby in November.
So I’ll start with the Reed Gift Fairs - what an incredible event! I was so pleased to be invited to speak at the inaugural Retail Therapy program, which brought together a range of different experts for the event attendees to learn from. This encompassed visual merchandising, social media, marketing, trend forecasting, and my specialty, business planning. Arriving at the event I was just blown away by the sheer scale - this event was spread over two of Melbourne’s biggest and most iconic venues, the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre and the Melbourne Showgrounds, and featured over 800 exhibitors over the 5 days. As I walked into the MCEC the thought “Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore!” ran through my head, what a seriously epic event! For those of you that don’t know, Reed Gift Fairs are run by the same team that brings us the hugely popular Life InStyle events, and are held twice a year in both Melbourne and Sydney, focusing specifically on the retail industry.
I’m always honoured to be asked to speak at events and again was asked to share the One Small Step Top 6 Business Planning Basics (read more in a previous blog post here if you’re not familiar with them!) with the workshop attendees. I was blown away by the enthusiasm and participation of the people there, and as I always do walked away feeling incredibly energised by the people and the inspiring surroundings of Melbourne.
After squeezing in four beautiful days with my family down on the Mornington Peninsula, it was back to work for this hustling mama, and Saturday kicked off the two day 2016 St George Group AusMumpreneur Conference at the Crown. As a first time attendee of the conference (and a first time finalist in the awards), I didn’t really know what to expect and walked in feeling a little unsure. Well, before too long I was blown away - the 3 hour afternoon session was a live judging session where we would hear from all ten of the finalists for the big category, AusMumpreneur of the Year. I hadn’t done much research/Google stalking on this category, but if you can, do yourself a favour and check out the list of finalists here and prepare to be amazed. I can’t recall ever being in the presence of such an inspiring, powerful and dynamic group of women. These brave and seriously talented women effectively had 10 minutes to convince the judges, in front of the whole room, why they would be most deserving of the AusMumpreneur of the Year award, by sharing their business journeys with all of us.
So whilst I would love to give you a blow by blow account of every finalist story we heard that afternoon, in the interests of finishing this blog post before the plane lands in Perth I won’t! What I will do is share with you the key takeouts I got from listening to these incredible women - I hope they serve as inspiration to you in your businesses.
Dream big. No, really big.
The thing that struck me about all of the finalists was that they had seriously big goals, and goals that were set 5 or even 10 years in the future. Otherwise known as a BHAG (or Big Hairy Audacious Goal), this is something that I think even the most motivated and capable of us can forget to do. And yes, this was the biggest takeout of the whole two days for me. I certainly have big dreams for myself and my business. But in terms of attaching planning to anything past the next 12 months, it’s not something I’ve allowed myself to do. Primarily because of the impending arrival of my second baby - there is so much unknown in terms of how much time I will have to spend on my business and how successfully I will be able to return to work. But also - and this may sound a little odd - because rather than being scared of failure, I’m scared of success. I’m scared that if my business succeeds beyond my wildest dreams, that I will be unable to also succeed in being a good wife, mother and friend. There, I said it. It was even hard to admit to myself. But it was a huge wake up call for me - and something I am so thankful has happened in the first twelve months of my business. So I am setting about getting really specific about how I am going to get to my BHAG - and allowing myself to really open my mind up totally to the idea of big success for my business.
Don’t waste time or energy worrying about your competitors.
This is as relevant in bigger businesses like those led by the finalists as it is in small businesses and startups - and something that I know will be relevant to many of you reading this. I don’t want to minimise the pain, hurt and worry that goes along with being copied, particularly by someone bigger. This seems to be particularly concentrated in market segments like handmade and children’s products. I have experienced it once myself. But another thing the finalists had in common was that their success had come down to staying true to their why, and expanding their businesses based on their original mission and vision. And you can’t hold your ‘why’ top of mind in all of your decisions if you are focused on what other people are doing.
You need to take responsibility for your self-promotion
This is something that I deal with a lot with my clients and it is something I am going to spend a lot more time on in 2017. Quite simply, the success of your business comes down to YOU. And part of that is getting comfortable with, and getting good at promoting your own business. Yes, this means having a strong sales & marketing approach. But it also means taking responsibility for your mindset in such a way that you truly believe in your own success, and the success of your business. Many of the finalists had stories whereby a turning point in their business had come down to one gutsy move. On paper, it looked ridiculous. But these ladies had the balls to back themselves and do the unlikely. What this all boils down to, is knowing your vision and your mission, your why, your point of difference and being able to communicate your value. Next week’s workshop is all about this and I would strongly encourage you to come along if this is an area of your business you feel you need help with.
The role of letting go in empowerment and achieving true growth
Another common theme that came through with the finalists was that to empower themselves and their businesses to really grow and thrive, they needed to let go. They needed to trust other people to carry the load, share the vision, and in turn gain back their own power to look objectively at the business and get closer to that elusive work life balance. So whether this means outsourcing, hiring staff, growing your team or even empowering your team members to make decisions within your business where they haven’t had the authority before. The issue here is being able to trust others, and essentially stop trying to do everything yourself. Your business will never be truly scalable if you don’t at some stage, make the decision to outsource and trust others.
There was definitely a lot more but these were the big key points for me, and those I thought were most relevant for all of you. Shelley Craft also referred to us (i.e. the self employed) as pirates - which I love! A little bit rebellious, a little bit dangerous, but comfortable sailing the wild seas! Finally, I’d love for you to stay tuned for more of what’s coming in 2017 - whilst I can’t share all of it with you at the moment there is some I can share - and I promise, it’s all very exciting! Right, I’m off to go and DREAM BIG.