March 2018 marks an incredible 10 years in business for myself as Founder and Managing Director of Manning and Co, and sister company, Gemstar. As such, it is a time to celebrate, and press forward with the knowledge and insight gained, as much as it is a time to reflect on what I have learned and the challenges I have encountered along the way.
As a businessperson responsible for two organisations, I have found that business is not unlike a marriage. Your business is something that – whether you like it or not – you are tied to. You are in it 100%.
This can be a confronting realisation for some, as your responsibilities accumulate and go beyond what you initially planned – but it can be helpful to think of your relationship to your business as something to be nurtured.
So what does it take to create the relationship to your business and see it grow? As a leader, these are my top three attributes for navigating the give-and-take:
1. Lead with passion and purpose
As a business leader, a single day can contain many twists and turns. To navigate these, you have to keep a level head in dealing with extreme moments that can take a considerable toll. It’s all part of the journey as you constantly grow and learn alongside your company.
It’s important to know that you don’t always get it ‘right’, as hard as you may try and plan. You may be the leader, but you will be constantly challenged and humbled. Relying on your own inner strength can promote resilience and the ability to ride the wave.
However, when things do challenge you – possibly to a critical point – you can always check in with your purpose. Why are you doing this? What are you trying to achieve?
2. Place unparalleled focus on nurturing relationships
People are everything in business. From your relationships with your staff, clients, business partners and mentors, all the people in and around your company are crucial. You need to put a lot of energy into relationships, which is a key factor in success.
On the other hand, you need to also consider the impact of your business on the other relationships around you. While your business may seem to take over at times – it’s a 24/7 commitment – there may be others close to you who also need you.
The long days, late nights and weekends all add up and, unfortunately, sometimes it is just too hard to go on that extended holiday and forget your business’s demands. You need to be prepared for the loneliness while also learning to reach out and connect to your network, trusted friends and family, when you need them. I get great comfort from my close friends and family and it is often what sees me through.
3. Try and be mindful and as present as you possibly can
When I was at the CBA ‘Women in Focus’ conference last year, as an exercise, we were asked to write down 50 things that we’re good at. Not surprisingly, a lot of people struggled to think of attributes outside their business.
Your business, like a marriage, invariably becomes part of your identity. It moulds you. When you are so intertwined with it, it can be hard to lead a fulfilling life outside of the business. The learning here is that you need to be present and aim to elevate and prioritise the relationships outside your company.
Business can be all-consuming in many ways. There may be positive effects in terms of being creative and making opportunities for people, but it can also have an impact on those who need you outside the business.
In the end, there is no ideal solution, beyond being mindful and trying your best to create balance. There is no ‘happily ever after’, but instead a dynamic and ever-changing journey ahead.
The challenge is to remain dedicated to the journey, being 100% prepared for the roller coaster ride, and to never forget your purpose and passion.