Updated: Jul 28, 2021
Having been asked “What do you actually Do?” many many times given the apparent diversity and number of Roles I play concurrently, I thought it time to spend some time on developing a simple effective elevator pitch/mantra.
And came up with my new Mantra
And what does it mean?
Helping Businesses of the Present Understand the Future …
Some years ago when I co-founded See Global Medium – (SGM BrandConnectors) – a business aiming to connect businesses with markets in Asia (esp China) via new Digital forms of “advertising/marketing” using data and content as the keys to communication and connection.
I quickly realised there were great opportunities for new startup businesses (especially in digital media) because of the connections and trust (the currency of business in China) we were developing in business, media and the highest levels of Government in China. So I immersed myself in the rapidly developing Adelaide Innovation Ecosystem.
Here through mentoring, judging, lecturing etc at Universities, Incubators, CoWorking spaces I realised that existing businesses in Australia had much to learn and if they didnt start to learn they would be in decline at best and soon. And this was just before the major Disruptors like Under, Amazon and AirbnB rose to prominence.
My focus moved from Innovation to The Future of Work and much research on what the business world was going to need to do in 5 / 10 /15 years.
Almost 10 years ago I co authored “The Grumpy Old Managers Guide to Social Media” with my business partner and daughter Nikki to help existing conservative Adelaide businesses understand this emerging new media. Now I know that unless these same existing business embrace new Technology, Data and Trends they will at best stagnate.
In looking ahead five years as I did with the Grumpy Guide its clear almost everything will change. But there is very good news for those that embrace the opportunities by focussing on outcomes and information rather than the Technology as defined in Kevin Kelly’s fantastic book The Inevitable
Once open a time (5 years ago) we talked about Small/Medium Enterprises (SME) thinking like big businesses whilst retaining their agility and flexibility – but now with big businesses being Disrupted it is vital for the SMEs to think like startups. As Jeff Bezos of Amazon calls it “Treating every day like Day One of the Business”.
Learning how, why and where to apply the potential of new tools and technologies while leveraging relevant and emerging trends and market forces based on the data and existing knowledge (Information) within their business.
And quite often this leads to being asked where do I find the skills and how do I start to embrace a new approach. And sadly sometime it leads toireplacing existing people with a huge base of business knowledge with new people who have the skills etc but lack the business knowledge.
Thats where my mentoring of startups etc comes to play as they often could well be doing what they do inside an existing business that has many of the things they need but don’t yet have – Customers, Capital, Credibility etc
Helping Businesses of the Future Understand the Present
I have recently been collaborating with my first leader (he was a leader not a boss!!) in the Software Industry on his book on the History of the Australian Software Industry. In doing so I looked at what the “Entrepreneurs” of today did compared to what we did back then in the 70s and 80s, when there was no easy access to Government, Grants, Venture Capital etc and No Startup Mentoring programs, Incubators etc
And found many of the successful ones of today eg AirBnB, Amazon, Uber etc did many of the things we did – because we have not choice -focussing on the things that don’t scale. While many that struggle are relying on Grants, VCs, Incubators etc .
Amazon calls it Customer Obsession. In a recent letter to Shareholders Founder Jeff Bezos said – True Customer Obsession: Obviously this theme completely resonates with me. I love the line… “Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”
Brian Chesky – Founder of AirBnB talks about forgetting about growth/Scaleability in early stages and developing very significant customer interaction – even acquire customers one by one individually – The things that don’t scale
So … In helping startups I have them focus on current unmet needs of current prospective customers.
And that means understanding the Art of Sales – Being able to understand how to explain how you can solve a prospects specific problem/s and the causes by using your solution. This entails showing you have empathy with the Problem and can explain not only how and what aspects of your solution will solve the problem, but be ready to prove it.
And in doing so focus on those prospects as a potential source of funding by pre selling what they are doing or selling bits of what they have to fund the building of what they want.
And of course there is another option – One that I believe underpins all Innovation – Collaboration. That means finding an existing business that needs what they have and has what they need.
And the same advice goes to Uni Students I mentor – look to create a job whilst studying by selling what you can do to existing businesses that need it ….but maybe don’t yet know it. Offering yourself as an intern might be enough to get the ball rolling.
Which brings me back to the beginning –
SMEs don’t know what they need to do to embrace the future and focus on Innovation and when they are shown this in terms of potential outcomes by looking at the key components of Innovation
Creativity + Collaboration + Communications + Culture
where can they get access to the resource
s they need to create the outcomes they see as possible.
And the answer is Collaboration – With Startups, Incubators and Unis.