Coworking Space Sydney
I have just been appointed ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ at Gravity co-working space in Sydney – which is a very new experience for me. Since leaving the daily operations of RedBalloon some three years ago I have been very busy in the start-up community, not just with the businesses that I invest in as part of the Channel Ten’s Business Reality Show Shark Tank but also as an angel investor in a number of small businesses. But I had no real place to call my own – I was often working from home – which was not the best place to take meetings. I would often join the Redii.com team in their city offices – but when that suddenly came to an end with a minor flood – we needed new digs.
I have witnessed first-hand the challenge faced by many start-ups … Founders need to work on the business – as much if not more than working in the business. And setting this priority can often be difficult when someone needs to buy the milk, make sure the internet works and that the insurance is paid – and by the way why does the printer never work or is always out of toner?
There is no help desk when you run a small business.
It is one thing to know that you need to focus on the big picture – it is another thing to do it when the day just seems to get lost in administration – and as you employ people the problem just seems to get bigger.
I was recently interviewed by a journalist for an article on the ‘challenges’ of small business. And I reflected on some of the issues I had had as a leader and managing people. She responded ‘oh everyone has told me that people are the hardest thing about business’… I looked at her and said “that is because it is never fixed or finished – even if you think you are doing the right thing, you can be misunderstood or your intentions taken the wrong way.”
A friend of mine running a reasonable sized business recently lamented to me saying he was trying to do the right thing by thanking someone for a job well done so he jumped on line and bought a bunch of flowers for that colleague. Not realising that the bunch of flowers was delivered with a mug that was festooned in love hearts. Not quite the message he was trying to send… a potential ‘harassment’ claim or ‘inappropriate behaviour’ reprimand was not forthcoming. But it demonstrates how the best intentions can sometimes go horribly wrong.
Small business is busy, fun, chaotic, exciting and relentless. So when it came time to look at what next for Redii.com – I realised that we needed to take the stress of running the business away… our job was to focus on solving the problems for our clients, such as employee engagement, or helping them to reduce their employee turnover rate – being fixated on it. Everything else was incidental.
So we have chosen to stay at Gravity, they have made me Entrepreneur in Residence so that I can share what I have learned with other start ups….
The thing that the team love the most (apart from the fabulous space and refreshments in the kitchen) is the community – we get to bounce ideas off other small businesses to see if our software would work for them, we get to attend meet ups, and learning sessions and we are no longer alone. We are part of a community.