Business Advice

5 valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and founders

- June 27, 2023 4 MIN READ

 

This year my business, The PR Hub, turns ten and recently I have had the opportunity to practice what I preach and be featured as a guest on a couple of podcasts, including two I really admire – Grow A Small Business and The Inner Chief. It’s a seat I’d normally reserve for clients, but I remind myself being interviewed is also worthwhile for me as a business owner and someone whose own personal journey and early influences carry some interesting lessons on what to do – or not to do, writes Samantha Dybac.

My journey of working with entrepreneurs and CEOs goes back two decades to my university days. Little did I know then that it would drive my future passion for working in the corporate communications space, offering strategic counsel and public relations (PR) outcomes to some of the most motivated, driven and successful people in Australia.

But PR is not the sole domain of founders or CEOs, far from it! In my monthly Kochie’s Business Builders column, I focus on the key areas of crafting communications messaging, personal brand, public relations and marketing tips for anyone in business.

This month, as I reflect on my journey to date, I’ve compiled five of my own valuable lessons for business owners, whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just getting started.


1. Back yourself

I can count many times when I didn’t back myself enough or trust my instinct, or when I let myself question my own judgement because others challenged it. There’s a tendency to over-value those who are more experienced in business than you, simply because you lack conviction in your own ideas or skills. Don’t!

After years of running a successful fitness business, I returned to the corporate workforce and found myself surprisingly handicapped by childhood fears and inadequacies. I took a job upselling radio advertisers TV packages, something I felt ridiculously under-qualified for, but which ultimately proved a terrific learning experience and a shifting of the dial for me in terms of confidence.

2. Mentors are critical

I also lacked reliable mentors early on. There was one person who I trusted as a mentor, but turned out to be anything but. So as a business leader today, I do my best to give my team guidance and leadership as I can. I know how invaluable it is to have someone more experienced, and who you respect and trust, in your corner.

A good business mentor – formal or informal – will inspire you, help you stay motivated and on-track, and hopefully be a valuable sounding board when you are feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about a business (or even personal) problem or decision.


3. Build genuine connections

Networking doesn’t have to be cringey! Investing in authentic long-term connections will always pay dividends, but it’s a two-way street. Be strategic about who you introduce yourself to but instead of focusing on ‘How can this connection benefit me?’, ask yourself what kind of relationship you’re really looking to build, and what value you can bring to that.

In the early days of The PR Hub, I made a list of women in business that I admired, found a way to connect with them (usually email), and reached out. I also found suitable events to attend and joined an Australia-wide young women’s entrepreneurs networking group.

A special shout out to Marina Go, whom I idolised as a teen when she was editor of the ‘go-to’ girl’s magazine, Dolly, and Raelene Castle, the then CEO of ‘my’ NRL team, the Canterbury Bulldogs. Both were gracious with their time and agreed to meet me for coffee. Through Marina, I was given an opportunity to produce events and manage PR for a media publishing house, and years later, both women joined me as guests on my own podcast, Influence Unlocked.

4. Don’t be afraid of mistakes

Mistakes are part of the journey (I’ve made many!) and help you build tenacity, resilience and growth.

At The PR Hub, it took me a few years to recognise the value in getting the ‘how to’ out of my head and down onto paper. Building proper systems and implementing processes to streamline your business operations can often seem like time best spent elsewhere in those early days of building a business. However you can’t grow – and you certainly can’t scale – a business if it’s all in your head.

Make the time to truly understand what your business is about, who your primary customer is, and what you need from your team in order to scale.

When you’re growing quickly it’s easy to hire people just because you ‘need’ them. You don’t necessarily need people with all the skills; these can be taught. Instead, seek out people who are a good cultural fit; who are aligned with your values and what you offer as a business, and who are interested in delivering great results for customers along with constantly enriching their own personal growth.

5. Define your brand (personal and business)

I couldn’t write an article on tips for business owners without discussing one of my favourite topics – personal and business branding! There’s this misguided notion that promoting or ‘selling’ yourself is a dirty thing. It absolutely isn’t. It should be celebrated, especially if you are in business.

As brilliant as your product or service may be, it’s also vital that you clearly define what your brand looks, sounds and feels like, and what you as a founder or business owner stand for, and want to be known for. What’s your backstory? What stories can you tell to bring people along on your journey?

As a society we have come a long way in learning to authentically share our personal stories. In business, too. In fact, now, the personal stories of business founders and leaders – their challenges, failures and successes – are a vital part of the PR machine.


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Now read this:

How to embrace your business’ story to help kick your PR goals in 2023