Naomi Simson Columnist

Naomi is founding director of online retailer RedBalloon and has has a long career as a corporate marketer with companies such as IBM, KPMG, Ansett and Apple. She is a former Telstra Business Womens Awards winner and BRW finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year.

View more articles from Naomi Simson

Naomi Simson: How to reboot your planning

Published 14 February 2013 06:52, Updated 26 November 2013 18:35

+font -font print
Naomi Simson: How to reboot your planning

From the beginning, make sure you get clear on your purpose and where you are headed. Photo: Fairfax Media

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, goal setting and planning are essential to the notion of success (performance to plan is what a scoreboard is to football). Whatever that success may look like.

When I started out, success was about having a business that would pay the mortgage while giving me the flexibility to see and enjoy my two children growing up. These days my idea of success involves 60 other employees, 900 suppliers, 2300 corporate customers and 1.7 million consumers. The goals you set change, rearrange and morph along the way.

From the beginning, make sure you get clear on your purpose, get clear on your values and attract other people with those values and reward and recognise yourself and others for living those values.

Don’t make it about what you do, but why you do it

A clear sense of purpose is critical. No amount of money – whether you are earning it or paying it to others as a salary – will keep you or your people happy in the long term. You need to be inspired and your people need to feel motivated by your vision.

My original purpose was to change gift giving in Australia and New Zealand forever. Now that we are close to achieving our original goal, our purpose has shifted to creating a happiness revolution. We’re all about delivering good times and we know if a customer has had a good time based on net promoter score tracking. We maintain momentum behind our purpose via a “painted picture” document that depicts what we will look like in five years. It means we can create goals that stretch us beyond our comfort zone and keep us looking forward. You have to dismiss the voice in your head that will ask, “how?” If you let it drive your decisions you’ll never get to the “why”.

Stick to your values and find people who share them

At RedBalloon we recruit and reward based on our company values: leadership, integrity, generosity, being a little dog with a big dog personality; and having a sense of humour and fun. Our hiring process is dictated by our belief that skills can be taught but the right attitude is fundamental. We once had a candidate show up to an interview wearing a race car suit and helmet declaring “I’m ready for my RedBalloon experience”. She may not have been the most experienced candidate but she knew what we stood for and personified our values.

As American entrepreneur Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. This is no different in the workplace. Who you spend time with can elevate you as much as it can bring you down, so choose your accomplices wisely.

Set values to live and breathe, work and play by. They don’t have to be lofty, just encapsulate what you stand for.

Recognition and praise – small effort, big difference

RedBalloon’s Oscar program is designed to reinforce our company values. Employees are invited to nominate a peer for living one of the RedBalloon values each month. Winners are rewarded with an experience from their “Dream Catcher” list. I recently had my dream of salsa classes granted – much to my partner’s dismay. Each team leader also has a bank of points to award which can be redeemed for RedBalloon experiences.

They may be small things but they work. We have been on the BRW top 50 Best Places to Work list four years in a row. According to Gallup, up to 21 per cent of employees are disengaged across Australia – costing $42 billion a year in lost productivity. If RedBalloon reduces disengagement by even 1 per cent, imagine the difference we can make. I can feel a new goal brewing …

Naomi Simson is the founding director of RedBalloon

Comments