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Embracing change and challenges for your business, also means embracing failure, as you set up growth for your business in the years ahead.
“Don’t shy away from failure. Embrace failure and learn from it.”
This was one of the key messages for business success that was shared by three business entrepreneurs and leaders at the 2019 FPA Professionals Congress.
“If we’re not failing, we’re not pushing the boundaries and growing – both personally and professionally,” said Simon Costa – the former CEO of Costa Group of Companies. “Failure is brutal, but you need to learn from it and get on with it. We need to be honest about failure, which allows us to learn and recalibrate.”
In a time of rapid change and transformation for the financial planning profession, Simon said the risk of failure was ever present, but change also provided the industry with opportunities.
“Change and challenges are happening in many industries and sectors, not just financial planning. I dealt with challenges at Costa by positioning and clearly differentiating ourselves from our competitors, and that’s something I believe financial planners can do,” Simon said.
It was a view supported by Radek Sali. In his previous role as CEO of Swisse, Radek responded to challenges in his industry by pioneering the use of brand ambassadors to promote health and happiness as a way of life. By doing so, he increased Swisse’s profit from $500,000 to $250 million and ultimately assisted in the sale of Swisse in 2015 for over $1.6 billion.
“But change also requires leadership,” Radek said. “Leaders in business need to be like coaches. You need to train, inspire and encourage your people to become better. And at the heart of that is the way we talk to people and behave with them.”
Simon agreed, adding that change can be “fun”.
“If change is embraced by everyone, you need to make change fun. How? By using milestones along the way to celebrate as a team. You need to show appreciation for what people are doing and recognise their achievements,” he said.
However, for Dr Catriona Wallace, the Founder and Executive Director at Flamingo AI, to be an effective change leader, you first need to work on yourself. Importantly, this means to continue a journey of self-development and improvement.
“We all need to spend more time working on our brains,” Catriona said. “Mindfulness and meditation is hugely important for effective change management. You only need to give yourself 10 minutes a day to still your mind and separate yourself from the present, in order to see positive results.
“But with change comes fear and excitement. Remember, fear is a natural human function that we all need in order to survive. There’s nothing wrong with fear. So, when you’re terrified and excited, you’re ‘terri-cited’. Use it. Embrace it.”
Are you ready for business growth?
The three business leaders were also asked for their top tip in how to grow a business by 25 per cent by June 2020.
For Radek, the answer was thinking about your offering and how you can diversify it.
“For example, you might not be getting some clients, or reaching some sectors of the community, because they are more environmentally and socially focused. So, find those products or develop those services that address these ethical and social aspects of their needs,” he said. “It’s all about creating purpose and connection for your clients.”
It was a view shared by Simon, who also believed “connectivity” was the key to business growth. “By becoming more connected with people, you also significantly grow your support base, who will refer your business to others.”
But for Catriona, the path to business growth is all about automation and artificial intelligence (AI).
“Automation and AI can amplify your existing systems and augment your people. By automating a lot of the manual processes within a business, it frees up your people’s time to get new business and better serve the clients you have.”
For Catriona, any business growth needs to be underpinned by automation and AI, which she said, can be done for about $20,000 per annum.
How do you build culture?
When it comes to building the right culture in a business, Simon believed it was all about “character”.
“Hire for character, train for skill,” he said. “At Costa Group, we have Company First, which is an initiative where we highlight a particular character or trait each month. We use that opportunity to concentrate on that particular character/trait for the month to help change people’s approach to that character.”
For Radek, culture centres on ‘values’.
“Values are incredibly important. At Swisse, our four values were: People, Principle, Purpose and Passion. Get those four values right, and ‘profit’ will follow,” he said. “But your values must mean something. You need to live them in everything you do.”
It was a view supported by Catriona, who added the key to building a culture was all about ‘shared purpose’.
“Both women and Millennials are looking for purpose and meaning in the work they do. And as more businesses increasingly look to develop diversified teams, these are important considerations to keep in mind,” she said. “Without purpose and meaning, you’ll lose women and the Millennials.”