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Five things we’ve learnt from five years in business

By Kylie Harcourt, May 1 2018
We tend to think owning a business is glamourous – and yes, sometimes it is.

But then there are the parts no one else sees or understands – things like balancing the pressure to be at work keeping the cogs turning, with the pressure to be at home doing homework with the kids. It’s a constant pull when you’re a business owner and a mum.

So when I was asked what were the five lessons I’ve learned over the last five years, I definitely had something to add (apologies in advance to the faint hearted for my profanity).

1. Panic slowly

I’ve no idea where I heard this but it’s stuck well. Over the last five years, when things haven’t gone right, or someone’s made a mistake and it’s cost time, money or tears, we’ve pulled ‘panic slowly’ out of our repertoire of mantras.

Recently a job went very wrong simply because the one last (and vital) change wasn’t made to it. This oversight could have cost us big time and we could have succumbed to the hell breaking loose in our heads, but we remembered to panic slowly. We broke it down, compartmentalised, and you know what? It didn’t turn out so bad after all.

2. Being in a business partnership is no different to being married

There’s very little difference – except for the ‘you know what’ bits. Partnership means we’re in this together for the long haul. We both need to be patient, give each other space sometimes, pick our battles and be there for each other.

The best thing is knowing that someone else has your back. Having that support when presented with something challenging means you never have to face a problem, challenge, sticking point, or rebelling staff member alone (though we don’t have that many of the latter!).

Celebration is key – Jacqui and I have high five moments! Sometimes you’ll see us high-fiving in the car when we’ve walked out of a meeting knowing we nailed it. Reaching a financial milestone (like earning more than our husbands), or scoring a great client, or (this one is odd) at times when someone acknowledges us as successful and we wonder how they think this!

3. Seize the opportunity, be spontaneous

A hundred years ago I had the idea to make fresh bread and fresh bun/sandwiches and sell in a retail environment. Not long afterwards, Subway came along (dammit!). What if I’d seized on that idea back then?

HGB happy fifth birthday

Jacqui and I are known for shooting from the hip, setting our sights and getting things done – actually, this is on our wall in the office. Our minds literally never stop thinking of new ideas, some of which come into fruition, some of which don’t. But the point is that our dreams never stop. This year’s idea is to set up a business networking group for mums who own businesses, called The MOB. We’ve already registered the domain and set up the website – check it out www.themob.nz. But that’s not the only idea for 2018, so stay tuned!

4. Be authentic

Be real. This can be applied to any part of marketing and sales and be very relevant, but I’m specifically applying it to doing what you say you can do. And yes, we get shit done.

Jacqui and I do not in any world consider ourselves sales people, we are just enthusiastic, motivated and energetic (most of the time, anyway). When we approach a new client meeting and we don’t gel with them, then we don’t pursue it – it’s that simple. But look out if you’re amazing because we will move heaven and earth to sign you as a client!

Our approach in meetings with both clients and staff is very real. Yes, we laugh, tell tall tales about our children and sometimes we bring food if we’re hungry (keeping Jacqui fed is quite an undertaking). We’re just our authentic selves and our clients tend to like it.

hgb marketing values

5. Do what you love

There’s a reason why I’ve left this lesson till last – it’s the most important thing. And it’s not just an HGB lesson, but a life rule as well. We started HGB because we wanted to have a meaningful experience – every day, with each other, with our team, with our clients and in creating experiences for their customers. It’s so important for your own wellbeing that you do what you enjoy doing, and for us that means challenging ourselves:

  • in our profession – our goal is to knock off the old boys’ network
  • scoring the next great client – we only want to work with the good great people
  • employing the greatest team – seriously, our team is hands down the very best
  • in our health – becoming a CrossFit champ or simply surviving a Dave McLean training session
  • being the best of people – we try hard in this respect!

So that was five lessons learned over the last five years, in one hour of writing. I could come up with a whole lot more but this then becomes a book, not a blog. Oh, there you go – another idea for 2018!

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