Corporate Careers Boost A #LeapersEdge

BKindred Founder Penny Locaso shares what can be leveraged from the land of giants into small business.

Ever experienced that feeling of Imposter Syndrome? You’ve taken on a new job, still trying to rationalize the fact that you actually got it. You’re a week or two in and you think to yourself someone will soon work out I have no idea what I’m doing and expose me.

That’s exactly how I felt when I leapt from a high-flying career, in a global giant, into my own business dream BKindred. As a seemingly confident woman there was a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.  My 16 years of managing multi million dollar businesses and budgets seemed irrelevant as I clearly had an inability to value my accomplishments in the context of what I was now trying to achieve.

18 months on and I have come to realize that my time in the corporate world has provided what I term a #LeapersEdge. There are so many valuable lessons to be learned from the skills and experiences provided in the corporate world that can be easily repackaged and scaled down to support the sustainability and growth of a new business venture.

So here are my #LeapersEdge Top 6 Insights on what we can take from the land of giants into our own businesses.

1. It’s All About People

My last manager in Shell told me that my strongest skill was “making things happen”. When I thought about why this was the case it all came back to people, I had always invested heavily in relationships, making time and listening. Actively, seeking out those who wouldn’t agree with me because I new they would look at things differently and add further value to an idea.  This approach meant that when I needed to draw on these relationships to make something happen people would step up, avail their time and help me out because they felt valued.

This approach transcends into small business. My entrepreneurial connections were minimal when I started out.  In the first six months I reached out to over 80 strangers doing amazing things in small business and just asked them to have coffee with me.  I spent hours listening, seeking to understand their dreams, motivations and challenges.  Many of these founders spent days alone isolated in their business and often overwhelmed so my reaching out and conversing seemed to help them as much as it did me.

Tip – Make time for people, listening and growing relationships with your key stakeholders including customers, peers, suppliers and your community. You never know when you will need to draw on them or what opportunities may present themselves that you never imagined.

2. Start With The End In Mind

Every time I commenced a major project or reset a business strategy in the corporate world I started by defining what success would look like in specific detail.  This task placed a clear stake in the ground that I could measure against and it also provided a tangible view for others to grab onto and believe in.

Tip – Before you begin a plan or new initiative right down what success looks like. Describe how it feels, what it looks like physically, financially and how it looks for those who you are wanting to impact.

3. Not To Plan Is To Plan To Fail

No matter how you cut it you need a roadmap that outlines how you are going to achieve that vision of success. This is a great way to get clear on the “how” and to be able to engage others around what it is that you are doing and why.

Tip – Draw a road with a start and finish line. Place a couple of the big deliverables you need to achieve sequentially on that road with timeframes. You can use these as markers to indicate that you are on the right track. Then work out what actions, resources and timings you need to take to hit those markers and bullet point these under each deliverable.

I’m a big fan of simplicity and keeping a plan to 1 page. There’s this misconception in business that a good plan is 5- 10 pages long. It’s about quality not quantity and allowing a little flex as things evolve.

4. Measure & Reflect

The term KPI (Key Performance Indicator) is common in big business but not so familiar to those at smaller end of town.  KPI’s are just a flashy term for how you will measure success. Some examples include increase revenue by x%, grow social media following by X% or perhaps increase mailing list subscriptions to X.  Taking time out to review at the end of a significant delivery is critical to enabling sustainability, growth and avoiding the same mistakes.

Tip – Once you are clear on what success looks like for your plan or new initiative try writing down 3 to 5 ways you could measure whether you have achieved that success at the end of delivery.  Then create the space post implementation to review and reflect. Often an hour or two is enough. Look at how you performed against your KPI’s, consider what worked well, what didn’t and what you can do differently next time. Not a long task but a powerful one that enables a focus on continuous improvement.

5. Processes Matter 

Big businesses are very good at documenting processes and creating templates for tasks that will recur in business over and over. Whilst this takes time at the start to set up it provides economies of scale and improves operational efficiency as your business grows.

Tip – Start a small business with a big business operational mindset. What do I mean? I mean if you are creating or doing something that you are going to need to do more than once in your business then create a simple documented process or a template to support it. This will make you more efficient and effective in the long run as when you grow you won’t be recreating or scrambling to recall what you did and if it’s documented another person can easily step in to support you.

6. Communication is King

Whether it’s sharing ideas, engaging others in change, sharing why you do what you do or building your brand, how you communicate determines how you are perceived. Investing time in how you intend to communicate to your stakeholders is critical in ensuring your success.

Tip – Try creating a Communications Plan on a page. I love to work in 3’s because it keeps things simple and focused.  List your top 3 communications goals (what do you want people to do or think as a result of your communication?), who you need to engage with to achieve those goals, how will you engage with them (social media, face to face, print etc.) what are your 3 key messages you wish to share (keep them short and punchy) and lastly how and when will you communicate.

So if you are a potential corporate leaper who is on the edge. Teetering with a great business idea, but not sure where to begin.  Perhaps it’s time you realized you got this, your not an imposter you have amazing skills to make this happen, you just need the right support to believe in yourself.  You may well find the support you are looking for already exists.  Take a look at my new #GameChangeHer Program designed to empower purpose driven and fulfilling career transitions.