Given what an online giant RedBalloon is, it’s hard to believe that in the not-too-distant past their orders were taken on fax.
In fact, Naomi Simson reminisces about taking the leap and proudly creating a website for her new business, only to have her multi-media lecturer describe it ‘as the worst they had seen.’
In the years since, RedBalloon, its website and Simson herself have come a long way.
For Simson, success such as hers, starts with an idea and then building a team around you to realise that idea. ‘An idea may be staring you in the face. However, you need other people to realise that idea and get it to evolve into something exciting and to take it to that next level.’
But how do you ensure that you’ve got the right people and how can you guide them into creating their best work?
One of the hardest things for Simson was scaling her business. In the early days, that was harnessing her staff of nine and aligning people to her plan.
‘You want your team to bring their best talents, the right talents.’
Leadership versus management
One of the ways of getting what Simson describes as ‘the flow’ was to realise the difference between leadership and management.
Simson describes a leader as ‘the person who sets the vision, sets the purpose and ensures that her team is aligned with the purpose of the business.’ Whereas a manager ‘knows how to nurture people and get the best out of them.’
Nurturing your staff
Nurturing your staff is vital to the health of the business, because if ‘you can ensure the wellbeing of your people then they will look after the wellbeing of your customers.’
To ensure that Simson says you need to ask questions like:
do people feel connected to the business?
are they fit and able?
are they learning?
do we recognise people?
Simson argues that retaining the right people is integral in maintaining a competitive business.
‘The protection from disruption are relationships. Those who are adding value to a process. People still want to deal with people.’
Pick one thing (and make sure you love that one thing)
The other important factor when scaling is just to pick one key value and make your business about that. Simson says ‘establish what will make the difference, how you want to help. Keeping a focus on that one thing will make the rest easier, more fulfilling, more enjoyable.’
For Simson that ‘one thing’ was helping people cultivate their ideas. ‘I couldn’t actually speak to every single person about their ideas, so I decided to write a book, (Ready to Soar).’
For Simson, it’s also really important make sure that ‘one thing’ is something that you love and something you laugh. It also helps to surround yourself with people who understand that dream, and people you can have a laugh with. Simson reasons, ‘Why do something if you can’t have a laugh and have fun, it should be fun.’