StartSpace Business Book Chat with Fiona Killackey
Ingrid Josephine: Hi everyone my name is Ingrid and I'm the events producer at StartSpace. Welcome to the first event in our new series Business Book Chat with today's special guest Fiona Killackey who I will introduce shortly. I'd like to begin our event by respectfully acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pay my respect to their elders past present and emerging. And I'd also like to extend our acknowledgement and respect to the traditional owners of all the lands you're joining us from today. So now, to firstly introduce StartSpace. We are a support service
for early stage founders and business ideas. For free, and for everyone. We have a range of programs to help you develop your business including: talks. workshops, mentoring and networking events as well as hot desks within the State Library of Victoria for those who are looking for a place to work and connect in person. We also have a virtual community that you can loop in with us via a slack channel. Whatever your background. age, industry or experience and even if you're only just starting
out with an idea we want to hear from you because we know that great ideas can come from anywhere. Find out more and join us at startspace.hq.com. So now on to today's special guest, Fiona Killackey. Hi Fiona! Fiona Killackey: Hi Ingrid, thank you so much for having me. Ingrid: Such a pleasure to have you. So Fiona is the founder of My Daily Business Coach which offers online education business coaching, creative ideation and consulting. Fiona is also the author of Passion Purpose Profit so i set the hustle and build a business you love, which was published in September 2020 by Hardie Grant books. What Fiona has created here is a resource, it's a set of tools that are
incredibly practical with plenty of insights and advice from her journey building her own business and also insights into how she's helped many clients build their own successful businesses too. The activities diagrams and worksheets are all super easy to follow and help business owners or business owners to be get to grips with what they're doing with their business, clarify their ideas and their strategies to build a clear path to success. Fiona also interviews business founders from a range of different industries at the end of each chapter, which I found was a really enjoyable way to shake it up before getting on to the next topic. So now it's time to turn the tables and have Fiona answer some questions for us today. So thanks Fiona for sharing your knowledge with us. Fiona: Oh thank you for having me, I'm super excited and also thank you to the State Library Victoria for everything they do. I know that I spent many times in there
studying when I was at RMIT and it's just such a great place and I think the fact you've got somewhere that people can go especially after lock down you know outside the home to to really work on this idea that they have is awesome so thanks. Ingrid: Amazing. So Fiona, what made you get out every day and put to pen to paper or hands to keyboard to write your book? Fiona: So firstly when I wrote it I had a pretty short timeline i think it was about four months from the time we had locked in the contract with Hardie Grant and then the book was due and I had a newborn and an elderly father and so I literally had four hours a week to write this book and I had my husband and I decided you know this is a really big goal of mine and so we hired a nanny for four hours and that was my time. So I didn't really have a choice, it was like that's the time and if you don't utilize it you're really going to be behind. So yeah I just, I got up, I had a excel spreadsheet of literally how many words each chapter, every section in the chapter and so I might get up in that four hours be like okay today you just need to knock off these two 300 word parts and so I just did it very methodically and but I think to answer your question what really made me get up was that it was just a business goal and a life goal I always wanted to publish a book and it was big enough that I could put other things you know on the back burner to get this stuff happening.
Ingrid: Yeah, great, so it was really about having a vision or a dream to do something but then also you really set a structure and priorities and made space for that and you weren't going to waste time and money because you had that nanny or you had just that gap in your schedule and you had to make it work and get it done. Fiona: Yeah, totally, totally and I had feeding and stuff so it was that four hours and that was it for the week. Ingrid: Amazing. So put putting some real structure and creating almost like a a timer or some some pressure around it is the way perhaps get get something like this so big done in four months. Fiona: Yeah, I think it was, I mean I've
written before you know been a long time writer and for articles and newspapers and stuff and I, and I know myself and I tend to procrastinate procrastinate procrastinate so having that short deadline worked for me but for other people you know maybe 12 months is a better timeline. Ingrid: Yeah for sure I think like in business everyone maybe has a different way of working or a different mindset but in the end you've got to do what works for you to get done. Fiona, what's the critical thing that founders need to do first when starting their business? Like what are the really important things to learn how to do yourself or to focus on? Fiona: So the biggest thing is and it sounds so simple but why are you doing this are you starting a business because everyone around you thinks you should start a business or you kind of see all these people on Instagram and you're like oh I should start a business. Why are you doing it? Because you just actually hate the people that you work with right now but you actually don't need that job or the industry you just don't like the people you're working with and so I think it's really getting clear on you know why am I doing this and besides money you know why am I doing this? I'm getting really clear on the values that are going to guide you and then really important and I talk about this a bit in the book is getting clear on where is your money going to come from like really clear and for some people you know very small amount of the society they don't have to worry about money but for most of us we do and we have bills to pay and I know for me when I started my business I did, I didn't have the luxury of like I'm just going to take 12 months and see what I want to do, it was I needed clients from the day I finished my last job to be paying the bills straight away and so I had to actually map that out what's it going to look like what's my absolute survival income what's the least I could get by on and then I also told myself I'll give myself a year if it doesn't work out I'll go back to the job but at least I know I tried. So I think those three things super clear on why you're doing this, outside of money, understanding your values you know what's going to guide you and then the third is how are you going to make money like what are those revenue streams? Where are they coming from? Ingrid: I mean in the end, the business is meant to bring in money or if you're a non-profit you do need to bring in money to help those causes or those organizations that you want to support.
What kind of person do you think makes a successful entrepreneur or startup founder? The book title alludes to the hashtag hustle culture the obsession with productivity and just relentless work is having their nose to the grindstone. What makes a business owner likely to succeed in those early days or in the first year ? Fiona: no and I think this is quite you know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I do not think that. I don't hustle and that's why I've said sidestep the hustle. I can't stand hustle culture, I think it's really been hugely detrimental to people's mental health and I think particularly people starting out, young people seeing this rise and grind and here I am working until 3am that does nothing for your mental health or physical health or your spiritual health so I definitely don't think that I think people need to be open-minded they need to be developing a thick skin because you will get told oh why are you doing that or you know why are you qualified to do that you'll get the negatives, you'll get naysayers so I think having some sort of thick skin but I also think just having an open mind and being curious. I always say stay calm and curious because if something comes and it's negative if you can be curious about oh why is that happening? Or what could I have done differently? Or what might I say to my friend if they were in the same position that's going to alleviate the stress and overwhelm and often the whole I say in the book you know running a business is like going to psychology sessions or psychology therapy where you are the psychologist and you are also the patient because you're going to just have so many conversations with yourself, why am I doing this? Why are you doing it and then go through those things so I think just being really open-minded staying curious knowing that it's not the end of the world if the business fails. So many businesses have failed and people get back up they build another business or they go back and get a job you know it's not we are in a very privileged position anyone who can even consider starting a business so I think just taking that on board and staying calm and staying curious.
Ingrid: Yeah that's great advice and for people starting their own business. I mean the stats say that usually it's someone's third business idea that really does take off so all of what's happened before that if you've had another business or you've changed your product offering or done something different and you ended up at a different point than you thought when you started the business all of that's a learning experience and you can only really learn that yourself and in a practical way when you're in it. Fiona: I totally agree and this is my third business. I used to sell earrings and fashion stuff way back in my early 20s and then I started a copywriting business and like a website branded content and then and ghost writing for celebrities and then this is my third business so entirely true the third one stuck Ingrid: the third one's the one that really flies maybe. So there's a segment in the book about setting your inner marketing hater free and lots of businesses today are founded with goals to have an impact and to be driven by purpose beyond just making money they want to be ethical, they want to be sustainable. So is it possible to sell your vision and follow your dreams without selling out? Fiona: Totally. I mean of course it depends what your goals are and if your goals are like oh my gosh I want to
get to 23 million in 12 months maybe there'll be some kind of, I don't know compromises you might be making, but for most people definitely it's about finding who's your audience like who's the niche if you're creating ethical products who wants to buy them and then talking to them in a real transparent way and making sure that when you're talking say about this ethical product you're not just talking about the features of the products but you're talking about the benefits. So in the book I talk about this as well there's an idea of kind of this ladder mentality of people knowing what the product does why it benefits them and then how it actually relates to what they you know perceive to be the values and beliefs they have around the world so if you have a value of belief that you know we should all be a community and we should all look after the planet that might seem very out there if someone's just trying to sell this you know bamboo toothbrush but if you can connect what you're selling to that belief and that value system that your audience has then you can mark it well and you can sell well but I think sometimes people are scared to actually sell in that way or they get fixated on just keep talking about the product just keep talking about the color and where it's made as opposed to the emotional benefits of somebody buying into that product or service. Ingrid: Yeah, amazing, and if that bamboo toothbrush ends up being stocked by the biggest supermarkets across the nation as long as well as your local you know organic shop and the farmers market then that's reaching so many people and doing so much good. Fiona: Totally. There are two businesses that have done this incredibly well, both out of the US, but Warby Parker is one. They started you know four guys in college they started trying to sell glasses. They were thinking like wire glasses so
expensive they're basically just plastic and so they investigated that and they have turned that idea in less than 10 years into a billion dollar product a billion dollar company but they're also giving back so much to communities with you know eye exams with reading programs with one for one kind of program and the other one is Ever Lane and they create really beautiful basic pieces and actually you can go to their website and they'll show you exactly how much it cost at the factory, where their factories are, and again they're a huge business they've done really really well but though both of them have stayed true to that initial question you asked me, you know, what are we trying to do? Why are we in this? What are the values we want to live by and then how are we making our money? Ingrid: Amazing. So it's really exciting to have a new business idea. You know inspiration strikes in the shower or over the summer break people have been away from their desk at work and been you know perhaps at a barbecue and chatted with some friends about a great business idea but it's common for business owners after that excitement to run out of energy or or just to face lots of business stress as things start to get more complicated. So what is your advice for people to keep motivated and push through when they're facing challenges to actually thrive and grow in a business? Fiona: I think, and it sounds a bit twee and people be like oh that's such a cheesy thing, but I think it really does come back to your values. Like what how do you want to live your life? And keep coming back to those... so I actually have, I'm literally not deciding the stage this, this is on my computer at all times these, are my values and I, it's family freedom, education and kindness and so if I get an opportunity or if I'm getting stressed about you know oh my gosh there's too much work on and I will keep coming back to that and then I'll learn how to you know set boundaries say no turn down work set up better systems so that I've got my time back so that I can be with my family.
Keep having freedom, there's definitely, there will be times in every single business owner's journey where the thought of going to work back for somebody else and just being an employee is so tempting it would be like oh my god why don't i just go back I get holiday pay, I get sick pay, I get you know so much stuff but for me I keep coming back to well I'm not going to see my family if I'm ahead of marketing at a big corporate. I mean, you know I'll be expected to fly here there and everywhere going to events. Freedom, it's not freedom for me to work for one particular company and so I'll keep coming back to those values I think that if you can let your values really guide you and also not just when we talk about brand values people often think oh how does it externally come across. So if one of your values is like empowerment it might be, oh I'm pushing you
know female empowerment, I'm pushing diversity, I'm pushing things on social media that is externally facing you need to make sure that your values are aligned internally so if you're if you're having a company and you've got staff and you're like yeah we're all about empowerment you know making sure that there's diversity in your staff making sure that you know if you're about female empowerment. What are your domestic violence policy leads, what are your leads around parental child care. Majority of it is done by women still so it's about really staying true to what your values are but also making sure those values are aligning externally with your brand and marketing and internally as well. Does that make sense? Ingrid: Yeah and you need to live that within your company and then bring that to life in the product. Fiona: Yeah and also I should say there will be times that you have to
work down hard like that's just it it's not like oh it's all smooth sailing from day one. There will be peaks and troughs but you just want to make sure that you're not consistently at this like, staying up till 3 a.m every day, it's just not sustainable for anyone. Ingrid: Yeah absolutely and really important going back to your discussion around like mental health and sort of resilience looking after yourself in those points where it's really stressful is super important. Fiona: And I should sorry, I know you're about to jump to the next question, I should also mention getting a group around you, you know cultivating --and talk about that in the book as well --cultivating a crew if you can you know there'll be times when my motivation dips and I've got some really good business friends I talk to each week and you know I might be down here but they're up here and they're like Fiona, what about this, what about this and I'm all excited again suddenly just from that one conversation so I think make sure you've got a good group of people around you as well to keep you motivated. Ingrid: Yeah, so it's kind of peer motivation but also maybe advice maybe you're stuck on something and you or even just you know a bit of a change in your mood or mindset could be able to get you through that that stress. Yeah fantastic so Fiona, what is one piece of practical advice that you want the audience to take away today? Either their career, their future business success or even some personal advice? Fiona: Oh goodness, I think, you know, this life is short and I know people say that all the time but you really want to be really clear on like how like what's the legacy you want to leave. What kind of life do
you want to have made for yourself and for your loved ones? Unfortunately in the last three and a half years I've lost both of my parents, both very suddenly, with no you know, my mum she wasn't feeling well and within 40 minutes she was gone. And so, that has really awakened again you know life is short and also you can have you can have all the money, you can make all the money, and then at the end of your life if you're not surrounded by people who absolutely love you and are going to be there for you in the harder part of your life when you know ill health and everything gets into it what's the point of anything really and it's kind of a hard place to be but I really do think life is short. If you're in a job right now and you're watching this and you're like I hate going to work, you have to think 30% of your life, and half of your waking life is at that job so is that really what you want to be doing you know is it worth spending a year trying a business or trying you know a new industry or a different type of job and seeing if you enjoy it. Like we don't have to, we're not our parents generation. We don't have to stay in a job for 47 years and get this great pension at the end. It's just you know life is
short. Do what makes you happy and have a go, just have a go. That's the best that can happen you know. Fiona: Amazing. You know and I love it how you don't say what's the worst that can happen it's what's the best that can happen? You know, to be optimistic and brave about what changes people could make and I think as well with starting businesses, I mean for those people who haven't started their business yet or they're you know working for someone and they have this idea on the side keep exploring that idea on the side like do your research, dive into resources, really think about your values and what you want to do with the business don't just throw away your income after you know Sunday night come down where you're depressed going to work the next day. You know, keep it keep it going on the side and then when when you have actually got that idea you know make make that leap and and try it. Fiona: yeah and there's nothing to say that you have to have
a full-time business ever. I mean you could still have that side hustle and work part-time. I mean that could work for you and your lifestyle as well yeah before I quit my job I spent a good six months you know planning it out while I was still getting this pay going and meeting with people on weekends validating my assumptions getting clients to like hire me getting contracts in place and really working through it all and so and each year it's been you know reiteration of what I thought I I'm, I'm not six years in, in the same place that I was in the first year. Ingrid: Yeah, wow thanks Fiona. So that's about all we have time for today but I'd like to just recap with some tips from Fiona, so some three tips from Fiona about what to do when you're first starting your business is to really understand your 'why' as a business owner. What is the purpose for what you're doing? Why is that product important? Think about how your values align with that business and the product or the service that you're offering and how are you gonna make money in revenue? I mean it's nice to have a hobby but the amount of work that goes into building a business you want it to actually have a payoff in money or as we said for those who might be working in non-profits to actually be raising funds to be able to make a difference to the organizations or the causes you want to. Some other things that are really important for entrepreneurs and founders is, one, both be open-minded and optimistic. Hope, you know hope, and and try what what's what's the best that could happen but then I think as well having having a thick skin that things might not always go right or people will say oh how's your little business going and and they don't really take it seriously or understand it but if you are true to your vision and you know stay without curiosity and and being calm in the face of everything that's to come it's a good, it's a good way to start and a good mindset to have. And the last thing Fiona's advice which I think is
really important for all of us, is, life is short and all of us know that we can't anticipate what's around the corner so why not give it a try and and try something new come out of your comfort zone and see what kind of amazing businesses you folk out there could create. Fiona: Yes, I'm excited. Ingrid: Thank you so much Fiona. So folks at home to read 'Passion Purpose Profit.' You can access the book in the collection of the State Library Victoria or you can buy your own copy from our friends at Readings bookshop, also in the State Library or online at their website. So Fiona, where can people head to learn more about you and to connect? Fiona: So um three places if you're on Instagram come and send me a dm and tell me what you loved about this talk I would really love to connec.t I'm just at my daily business coach or one word you can go to mydailybusinesscoach.com and forward slash free
stuff you can find a bunch of free stuff. It's also in the navigation and then I run a podcast and it comes out every single week twice a week with a bunch of tips and small business interviews and that's just anywhere that you listen to podcast, the my daily business coach podcast. Ingrid: Awesome, thank you so much Fiona I really appreciate you sharing with us today and for creating this helpful resource for business owners so once again so thrilled to have you and those out there in the audience let's give Fiona a virtual round of applause. Fiona: Thank you thanks so much for having me, I really really appreciate this. Thanks for your time too Ingrid. Ingrid: Thanks Fiona, have a great day. Fiona: Thank you.