Purpose, passion, practicalities: GW Members on the art of entrepreneurship

A dose of inspiration is always welcomed as we start to wrap up the year. And who better to get inspiration from than our trailblazing entrepreneur members?

Carmen Vicelich, Rhonda Kite, Cecilia Robinson, and Rebecca Percasky joined our Chair Theresa Gattung in a lunchtime kōrero to discuss their inspiring whirlwind journeys last week. Our members generously took questions from fellow ambitious women and shared their unique experiences in the world of entrepreneurship — and we’ve recapped their top takes on the entrepreneurship ride for your inspiration!

Everyone’s learnings and trajectories are as different as their industries and ventures, however, one thing strongly unites them: a clear understanding of purpose, passion, and the practicalities needed to pull it all together.

Watch the full webinar on YouTube:

Purpose as a guide

Choosing which idea to pursue or sidestep as an entrepreneur comes down to one thing: purpose. And our four entrepreneurs have each carved out what it means to them.

For Cecilia Robinson, it’s about ventures that allow her team to work with people who they love and are able drives change for New Zealand while being scalable. Scalability is also part of Carmen Vicelich’s purpose, who says the idea “has to be something I’m passionate about, it has to make people’s lives better, and it has to be scalable, global and transformative.

Of course, scalability and legacy goes hand in hand: “Tend, for us, is our biggest opportunity to leave a legacy for generations to come, and that fires me up every day,” shares Cecilia Robinson. Rebecca Percasky mirrors this, saying that reflecting on the legacy being left is key when navigating the sacrifices, changes and sometimes challenges that come with life as an entrepreneur.

Rhonda Kite underlines understanding the social purpose of a venture — and expands that it’s about simply doing something better. For her founding Kiwa Digital, it was about giving people access to the Maori language that they may have missed out on in yesteryears. “I look at the social purpose behind this — and I then hold on for dear life and go for it.”

Uniqueness is a key consideration for Carmen: asking yourself “Will you be amazing at it? Why should you be doing it and is it a big enough opportunity?” If it’s not, it’s not a defendable path to go down.

Whatever your purpose is, Rebecca Percasky highlights that the values they create are valuable no matter which project you take on: “you can have the same framework of values, the way you want to treat your team, and your suppliers regardless of what your business is. You can put that on any business you want — it doesn’t matter, the values can be the same.”

“You can have the same framework of values, the way you want to treat your team, and your suppliers regardless of what your business is. You can put that on any business you want,” — Rebeca Percasky.

Gearing up to take the leap

So, when do you know it’s time to change gear and launch into entrepreneurship? It’s different for everyone — yet there’s some clear signs: A ‘fire in your belly to problem solve’ is Carmen’s signal, which Theresa co-signs: “You know it. You have the calling and you can’t not do it.”

This, paired with a clear vision of what you’re willing to give up and compromise and what you’re not, is an important next step for success. “Think about where you sit, what your risk appetite is like, what your emotional resilience is like and how you handle the good times and bad,” adds Cecilia Robinson.

“You’ve got to be well set up. Personally and professionally, with support because it does have dips,” — Theresa Gattung.

Following this is a kete of support tools. Our panelists shared that this includes everything from resilience, the ability to learn from your mistakes, being comfortable with uncertainty, to being able to look far down the track. “You’ve got to be well set up. Personally and professionally, with support because it does have dips,” shares Theresa.

Of course, entrepreneurship can be accessed in many different ways — and you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be along for the ride. Both Rhonda Kite and Cecilia Robinson shares that while not everyone may be built for it, some people can still contribute to it as employees. “You can’t find a job spec for an entrepreneur. It’s something that’s in you, that you cannot shake,” Rhonda Kite.

“You can’t find a job spec for an entrepreneur. It’s something that’s in you, that you cannot shake,” — Rhonda Kite.

Having it all = making it work

How on a practical level do you make everything work? The answer’s different for each and every entrepreneur, however our panellists had some key, practical and very valuable takes:

Learning to ‘let go of things’ was key for Rebecca, which started with her asking herself “what are the things that only you can do, and what are the other things that other people can do, and can backfill you? Even if it takes them longer?” Not only did this exercise help Rebecca gain clarity, it’s also a discussion that extends to her wider team to encourage productivity.

For Carmen, it was recognising that you’re going through phases in your life, and you can’t do everything when you’re building a business. From there, it’s about working out what works for you and your rhythm.

Fitting family into the equation

Of course, a key consideration for any mother and entrepreneur is how family works with the rhythm—or lack of—in your working life.

Carving out set time for your kids, as well as yourself to recalibrate is crucial. That could be a set dinner hour, a family movie routine, or a couple of hours for dedicated kids time ahead of settling into work as they go to bed – our panelists each have different approaches. For Cecilia, it starts with being fiercely transparent with the teams about how family fits in. This involves planning things around the family, not apologising for the things you have to do in your life and importantly championing this in front of your team to set the tone.

Another key point is to celebrate success with your kids: so they know why you’re doing what you’re doing. For Carmen, this extended to bringing her children —three of which are girls— to her 5-year celebration party with clients and her network. “When they’re part of that, they understand it and that’s really magic.

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