English poet William Blake famously once said, “Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but foresight is better”. And while I do think making mistakes and learning from them does help you grow as a person, wouldn’t it be great to just get everything right in the first place?
So, with that in mind, I decided to ask five professionals, all kicking goals in their career — from a PR expert, to two founders and a surgeon: in hindsight, what do you wish you’d known earlier or done differently?
Maz Coote — PR Professional and Founder of Coote Connex PR, Coote Experts, Coote Digital
I was fortunate that I had worked in a previous role in a capacity that gave me a lot of exposure to the daily running of this kind of business, although that was at the time, of course. So much has changed on an industry level and a technology and tools level that now you are talking about completely different businesses, and I’ve had to learn to keep adapting.
I have also learnt that activity — being busy, furiously paddling the boat — doesn’t necessarily equal growth or success. I have always been really good at paddling the boat and fast, hard work, long hours, missed social functions — that’s what I signed up for.
However, now I have learnt to look much more strategically at where resources are best placed. What is the value of this task? What is the value of the time it takes to execute this work? Now, looking at what each team member, including myself, is ‘busy’ with across the tiers of the business is really important.
Irene Falcone — Founder of Sans Drinks and Nourished Life
I started Sans Drinks 12 months ago and it has been a massive rollercoaster. While it is a huge thrill to build a business from the ground up, it is also a massive slog.
Through my first business, NourishedLife, I learned that the journey is every bit as important as the destination — so now, second time around, I remind myself every day that there is no need to rush — growing a new business is a marathon, not a sprint.
David McIntosh — Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon and Associate Professor at James Cook University
I spent years studying to get my medical degree and PhD in order to become a Paediatric Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon. I feel that all the studying really set me up to be able to work for myself. I just wish I’d set up my additional businesses sooner.
While I am still an ENT surgeon, I also have my fitness qualifications and have recently launched businesses Synergy Performance Institute, Ninja Jungle, The Forest Blend Cafe, and Agility Clothing. For me, these businesses align with a lot of the issues that people come to me with as an ENT surgeon.
What I know now is that working in a space that aligns with your values is always a good option. If you are passionate about what you do, you are more likely to be more motivated to make it work. You are also more likely to know people who will be happy to answer your questions and share their advice with you along the way.
Cameron Falloon — Founder and Joint CEO of BFT
My biggest learnings are as follows:
- Most overnight successes take 10 or more years to build.
- You will have far more knocks and doors closed than pats on the back. You need resilience.
- Find ways to work smarter. When you combine working smarter with a hard worker, you generally see great results.
- Invest in people. The people in your business are your greatest asset.
- Failing is OK. There are two parts to this. Day-to-day, you are not learning if you are not failing or making mistakes. But on a larger scale, I would much rather have chased my goals and dreams and failed than not tried at all.
Marie Enna-Cocciolone — Founder of InSkin Cosmedics, O Cosmedics and Ginger&Me
If, before getting started, someone had a crystal ball and showed me what the journey looked like, being sued before getting started …. right through to COVID, I am pretty sure I would have said, “Ah, thanks, but that’s not for me!”.
The bottom line is you will never know everything and you can never be prepared, so I would have to say, my hardest lessons turned out to be my greatest blessings.
If you have a unique product and concept, a sound business and financial plan, just get started! Think problem and solution, have an open mind, active ears and work each day to build your empire.