Welcome to THE LEAD ICON’s inaugural blog post. As the CEO and founder, I am incredibly excited about this journey my team and I are embarking on. We have big plans and look forward to sharing the work that drives us, the success stories of our customers, the innovations and causes we support and the opportunity to shine a light on key issues that affect founders and company leaders globally. We thank you for your support and welcome you to THE LEAD ICON.
Being my third venture, I know a thing or two about starting, growing, scaling and exiting a company. I have experienced incredible highs and dreadful lows. Some of my choices have been on the money, for instance; building a highly innovative operation where information flowed seamlessly throughout the business and designing a health offering that had a 90% success rate. Then there were the not so good choices; purchasing overvalued acquisitions when cash flow was not projected to grow and avoiding taking leadership with a team of investors where the deal ended up failing.
I have been a solo-founder, co-founder and company executive for two decades. I understand the constant worry leaders have around growth, cash flow, managing interests (investors, boards and management), delighting customers, and making the right choices. I understand that deep desire to leave a legacy and produce meaningful impact and I also understand how important it is to hire, motivate and partner with the right people.
The idea for THE LEAD ICON came to me in 2016 as I was completing my MBA. I started to explore and develop a process that would transform the way businesses grow and innovate. From my own research, I discovered that approximately 80% of businesses surveyed are experiencing consulting and software fatigue. Behaviourial economists are calling this “choice overload”, which then causes the individual to either take no action or select the wrong solution. My hypothesis then became:
“How can I create an offering that truly helps a business grow and scale sustainably and at the same time be an enjoyable, collaborative and rewarding process for leaders and teams?”.
The combination of my experience, lessons learned from the contentious exist of my last company, my commitment to continual learning, working with mentors and my devotion to turning business challenges into opportunities, has taken me to a whole new and exciting level, which I am now thrilled to be sharing with you.
Developing New Moves
We all know sustaining and operating a sizable business is no walk in the park, however, it has never been more exciting to grow, replicate or scale a business than it is today. The current entrepreneurial and business ecosystem inspires incredible discoveries, diverse collaborations and new ways of making all our lives better, faster, cheaper, safer or more affordable. Take for example Canva, a rising star that has revolutionised graphic design where even the most challenged professional can connect with their inner designer and produce zero-low cost reports, presentations and advertisements. Then there is Lexxe, a clever sentiment search engine that will help organisations monitor and manage their reputations and for consumers dramatically reduce decision-making processes when purchasing products.
Despite the success stories there are many more enterprises that are struggling and unable to materialise their objectives and vision. How is it that even with capital injection, a buffet of software solutions, digital processes, management strategies, consultants, coaches and programs on offer:
1 in 5 companies in Australia do not make a profit (ABS)
Only 9% of US SME’s and start-up companies reach over USD1 million in annual sales (SBA) and,
In the UK the average mid-size company generates annual profits under £200,000 and the average small business generates profits just under £50,000 (Merchantsavvy.co.uk)
As unlikely as it sounds, The Rolling Stones may just provide the answers. The Rolling Stones is the world’s third longest serving rock band of all time. With all members well into their 70’s, they are still producing, writing and touring the world. Having formed in London in 1962, collectively they have made over $1.5 billion in sales, mainly from touring, album sales, song rights, sponsorship and merchandising.
Now let’s find out what’s their secret sauce!
1. Positioning & Make the Competition Irrelevant
The Stones understood the importance of how to differentiate and position themselves which lead them to choose the edgier road of blues and rock. They unknowingly created their own Blue Ocean Strategy and established their own market space that promoted rebellion and self-expression. In comparison their rivals, The Beatles positioned themselves as a pop band in a very crowded space which constantly required them to produce hit after hit to stay relevant.
2. Adapt, Change and Keep Innovating
From inventing iconic riffs to disco grooves, The Stones music adapted with the times. Their lyrics told stories that pushed boundaries.
3. Develop a Valuable Brand
Every member of the band has a strong and identifiable brand that has been consistently developed and publicised. Up until a decade ago most individuals in the world who are over the age of 12 recognised Jagger’s sardonic tongue, this image is now etched in pop culture history.
4. Cash is King
Although the band members are creatives, they run their operations like a large global business. Jagger understands how important it is for him to be all over the business by monitoring; costs, multiple revenue streams, business models, business structures and a family of companies. The band has a sophisticated team of business executives who make sure the company is performing on all fronts; financial, legal, marketing, talent and partnerships. The Stones also surround themselves with smart business advisers who have been a part of their journey for more than 30 years.
5. Vision and Alignment
There is no doubt that The Stones would have had their fair share of disagreements however, the four band members always found a way to handle conflict and put their egos aside. The vision of the band permeated throughout all levels of the business.
What Does This All Mean for You?
The Stones have been rocking audiences for over 57 years and by comparison the oldest company in the world Kongo Gumi has been building Buddhist Temples since 578AD. This longevity is a true inspiration, especially in today’s favoured climate for anything disruptive. Interestingly, Credit Suisse in its 2017 report forecasts that most companies today will not last the next 20 years. The main reasons why are due to acquisitions, automation and the transformation of B2B and B2C relationships and processes.
How do we then build enduring and adaptable enterprises that can survive disruption and is there an alternative path? My next post will explore this possibility, and in the meantime, there are 5 key insights that will help you reshape your future which you can immediately start incorporating into your own business.
Ready to “move like Jagger”!
1. Big Scary Vision and Focus
Think to yourself;
What is your big scary vision?
Why does your company exist?
What value do you offer?
If the thought of your vision does not make you even slightly uncomfortable, you’re not thinking big enough. Now write down your answers to these questions.
Another important piece to this equation is that many founders and leaders struggle with focus. Focus on the business model, core business and innovation. Distraction is a deceitful threat to the survivability of many companies. During my MBA I was fortunate to be accepted into Dr Peter Fuda’s progressive leadership program where we discovered that a large proportion of companies are operating on a burning platform, where a culture of chaos prevails, and the thought of change is both avoided and unimaginable. How can good decisions be made from this vantage point? Consider for a moment are you feeling the heat from your own burning platform? What steps can you take right now to stop operating from a burning platform.
2. Cash & Cost
Review how often you conduct an internal financial audit and financial strategy sessions which includes your key leadership team, accountant or CFO? If you are not reviewing your financials on a regular basis and cannot quote your sales, costs, growth rate, life time value of your customer, debts and cash at hand, schedule a time immediately with any of your key people and go over all your financial statements for the past 3 years. Determine where you are overspending and if your sales growth and profit are not consistently increasing, figure out a strategy in how you will make your cash go further whilst minimising your costs.
3. Surround Yourself With the Best People
Pablo Isla CEO of fashion giant Zara is ranked as the world’s best performing CEO by Harvard Business Review. It all has to do with surrounding himself with passionate and self-motivated people, whilst his own leadership style is humble and collaborative. He has established a culture where the strength of the company is due to the right combination of people. Management guru Peter Drucker invented the expression “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and there is a direct correlation between a healthy, productive culture and company profits. What this means is that strategy, capability and culture need to be aligned and designed together.
Consider your own people and culture;
Are your company values clear and collectively lived?
What are the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of your entire team (across the whole organisation)?
Have you mapped out both the desired and undesired culture you and your team want?
Do your people find their work meaningful and do you lead with desired behaviours
4. Content is Queen
If cash is King, content is Queen. Content provides direct access to targeted audiences and gives customers the opportunity to engage and connect with their favourite brands. Great content requires a deep understanding of what your customers needs, wants, concerns and interests are.
Think for a moment:
What role does your service or product play in your customers lives?
What are your customers searching for that would make their lives better?
Does your current content engage, entertain, inform or even transform?
Is there alignment and consistency across your various content and platforms?
Consistency is key, especially when it comes to building brand equity. Make sure your value proposition(s), brand story and messages are clear, consistent and targeting the correct audiences.
5. Emotional intelligence (EI)
Recent research conducted by Deloitte predicts that by 2030, EI will be the most important skill. It holds the key to professional and personal success and making better decisions. The ability to express and regulate our thoughts, words, emotions and reactions is essential, so is our ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the words, emotions and reactions of others.
When you reacted inappropriately or handled a situation badly?
What would you do differently next time?
Your leadership style and where you could improve?
In order to take your business to the next level it will require a shift in thinking and a change in behaviours. I recommend daily commitment of 2 hours on the above 5 points and in no time, you will start to see noticeable improvements in all areas of your business.
What’s Your Big Scary Vision and what will your next steps be to make it happen?
Leave a comment below and let us know. Remember, share as much detail possible in your reply because it will help everyone in THE LEAD ICON Club. Your story just may be the very thing someone needs to hear to make am important shift.
Thank you so much for reading and sharing your story.
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