‘Culture eats strategy’: 5 entrepreneurs reveal their business fundamentals


Ahead of World Mental Health Day, five entrepreneurs discuss some of the less visible challenges of being in business for your self.
Key Takeaways
  • Isolation can be a challenge for many small business owners
  • Sharing stories through joining an organisation might be helpful
  • Feeling connected to your business peers can help with stress and mental fatigue
Joining a business or entrepreneurs organisation can help as a support network.

Some of the less visible challenges that come with being in business for yourself include managing people well – creating a strong, supportive and supported team; making large, difficult decisions alone; managing your own stress levels through the inevitable ups and downs and connecting with your purpose as your business grows and takes on new forms.

Sometimes, it can seem quite isolating, with no close network of support that can bring challenges, but there are organisations that you might think about joining.

By sharing experiences, members of Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Australia find it can help mitigate feelings of isolation as an entrepreneur and offer a sounding board for challenges. Sometimes sharing similar challenges faced can be invaluable.

Five members of Entrepreneurs Organisation in Australia sat down to share their business fundamentals:

  • ‘Your business should be a vehicle for the life you want to create’ 

Kym Huynh, founder of Executive Assistant Institute

How can you create a business that acts as a vehicle for the life you want to create or design? In order to answer that, you need crystal clear clarity on what that life looks like. This clarity is crucial in building out that north star, so that the foundations—and then the supporting pillars—of your business are aligned to support the life you want to create or design.

For example, my business partner and I see ourselves as global citizens, and to us that means not being tied down to any particular city but rather to live our lives chasing summer around the world. I call it Chasing 23 [degrees].

When we translate this North Star to business foundations, it means our business needs to be location agnostic i.e., that it is not beholden to a single location. The desire to be global citizens drove our decision to make Executive Assistant Institute a global business from day one. Today, Executive Assistant Institute works with clients all over the world, which means we can travel anywhere, anytime, and have complete freedom with respect to where we operate. Having the clarity of global citizenship influenced and drove many of our fundamental decisions in every aspect of Executive Assistant Institute.

  • Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Shannon Semenikow, CEO and founder of Education and Migration Services Australia

Having a team culture that fosters people feeling like family (both in what they’ll do for the company and the company will do for them) leads to an organisation where people look forward to coming to work. Creating, living and breathing organisation values is key to this. Long dead are the days of authoritative management styles that rely on punishment as a motivator. Empowering your team members to take ownership and leadership of their work, while connecting at a human level in an organisation where they feel supported, fosters not only a more pleasant but also productive and connected workplace than any fear-based culture could.

  • One conversation can change everything

Ben Simpson, founder and CEO of Collective Shift

One thing I always have in the back of my mind when making decisions is that one conversation can change everything. By this I mean connect, network and learn with an open mind – you never know what opportunities might come your way. For example, I recently met with someone in Sydney through business connections and a week later his friend, who runs one of the biggest conferences in Dubai reached out to me asking me to guest speak at their event, off the back of one conversation. I’m passionate about prioritising learning, attending different events, trainings and networking. It can seem like a lot sometimes, but knowing the impact one conversation can have makes it well worth the effort. Put yourself out there and just try to take as many opportunities as you can.

  • Understand Marketing

Jahan Kalanter, TEDx speaker, lawyer and entrepreneur

You might not think that legal advice is particularly click-worthy, but having amassed a 300K+ audience on TikTok I’m here to prove that wrong. The appetite for bite-sized, easily digestible legal explainers is enormous. However, understanding marketing is the key. The difference in being lost in a sea of constantly created content and going viral is knowing what will grab attention and hold it. A unique appearance, like my curled handlebar moustache certainly contributed to capturing attention, but what held it and drew others in was giving quick and interesting legal advice with newsworthy examples to back them, referencing other viral videos or prominent news stories as case studies for legal advice. For example – one of my most viral videos was an explainer on what it means if you’re caught on camera damaging police property, referencing another viral video of a sedan ramming a NSW Police vehicle to push it out of the way in an underground carpark. The fact that I’m obsessed with the law and excited to share my learnings helps others connect with my content as well.

  • Build mutually beneficial business partnerships

Alexandra Ormerod, managing director and co-founder of Luxico

In today’s interconnected world, collaboration is more crucial than ever before and can help both parties achieve business outcomes that they may not be able to alone. Collaborations are all about adding value for both partners. You need to demonstrate the value you can bring to the table. And you need to make sure your partnering businesses are adding value to you as well. You might have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the collaboration, but your partner may not have a clear idea of what they’re getting out of it. If you don’t explain what you’re bringing to the table, you could lose the opportunity. You also need to be aware of what you’re getting out of the collaboration in terms of value. Are you getting what you need? If not, why not? What can you do to get what you need?

Ultimately most entrepreneurial learnings are done on the job, however with peer support networks you can avoid making some mistakes others have made. Starting by connecting with the life you want to live and building a business from there, means every other step helps support your vision for your life. Keep dreaming, creating and learning.

To find out more about entrepreneurs and business owners in your local community visit https://www.eoaustralia.org/