- Document what you are learning and use this as a reference tool
- If you have a good story, share it!
- Make powerful choices for your own life, instead of letting life happen to you
As a ‘Shark’ on Network TEN’s Shark Tank and Founding Director of RedBalloon, Naomi Simson is living proof that passion, purpose and persistence for an idea can launch a global business.
Entrepreneur, director, mother, author, blogger, innovator and now TV personality, Naomi founded RedBalloon in 2001 with her business partner. RedBalloon went on to become one of Australia’s tech success stories. What started as an idea has led to the sale of more than 2.5 million experiences.
Naomi speaks passionately on how innovation can happen anywhere, and is excited by the abundance of ideas out there. Her tales of real-life business experiences – her own and others – will arm you with the fundamentals you need to amplify your passion and make your ideas come to life.
In this interview, Naomi shares her experiences on starting a business:
When did you first start blogging?
I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years, which sounds like an awfully long time. The reason why I started was because I was learning so much throughout the start-up phase of my business and I wanted a platform to document it all. The blog was a reference tool for myself so that I could remember what I had learnt, who I had met and what I had discovered. After a few months and a whole lot of content, I decided to publish it and share it with other people.
Over those 10 years, the space has obviously changed quite a bit?
For me blogging isn’t a business, it’s an outlet. It’s a way of amplifying the conversations that I’m having and sharing them with others. If people want to get to know me they can look at my blog and get an insight into my thinking. It helps them understand what I stand for and what I believe in. It’s kind of like a very rich business card.
With so many digital formats available to choose from, would you recommend a particular platform for small businesses wanting to get started?
It doesn’t matter what the media is, it all comes back to who your customer is. The questions always remains the same - who is your customer and how involved do they want to be in your life? The media you choose to consume, generally relates to where your audience is likely to be. A lot of businesses are on Facebook, but that might not be the sort of relationship the customer wants to have you. The customers wants news that’s important in their lives coming up in their feed.
Are there any innovative stories you’ve heard recently that have stuck in your mind?
HEGS Australia was one of the businesses I invested in through Network TEN’s business reality program, Shark Tank. It is a peg with a hook! The reason why I love it so much is because the innovation was literally staring this guy in the face. He was at the clothes line trying to hang up his wife’s little black dress when he thought – ‘this peg needs a hook’. Most people would just go back inside and make themselves a cup of tea. Instead, he went to an industrial designer, got it drawn up and patented it. Now the business is doing great and he’s winning a heap of innovation and design awards.
Do you think sharing a story was a good way to start his pitch?
Oh absolutely. He had us from the first minute he opened. He told a story, we were in his world. We all understood it. You don’t have to be an expert in manufacturing or pegs to be able to make an investment in a peg company. I promise you.
What about some of the weaker pitches you’ve heard. What has let them down?
Most of the poor pitches I’ve seen have been because they underestimated who we were as investors. If you’re going to ask people for money, the least you can do is show them respect. There is a reason why we were sitting on that side.
When looking at creativity and self-expression, do you have any advice for young up and comers?
I wrote a whole book on it called Live What You Love. I was given a topic by LinkedIn to write something to my younger self and I started writing. Usually a post is 600 to 1000 words and at 30,000 words I knew I had a problem. The book is about making powerful choices for your own life, instead of letting life happen to you. If you don’t know what your passion is, you’ll miss opportunities when they show up to you. It’s important to understand how you want to contribute to the world so that you can align each choice to your ultimate purpose.
What are three resources that you look to for guidance or inspiration?
I like to read Inc. magazine for its broad topics and Smart Company because it gives me a good overview of what’s going on in the Australian business community. I’m also in the Entrepreneurs Organisation which provides peer-to-peer education and has been an amazing resource for me over many years.
Why should people come to Amplify Their Success?
Every person that comes along will take away something different that’s relevant for them. It might just be one thing that completely tips them on their head regarding how they think about customers or how they think about their employees. But if you don’t show up, you’re never going to get that gold.