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How To Grow Your Business And Maintain Relationships

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at September 17, 2021

Kim Kaupe describes herself as an accidental entrepreneur. She was under no illusions when, at just 25, she took the opportunity to start Bright Ideas Only — which offers fan engagement strategies for music, sports, events, and brands — and knew the vast majority of startups fail. However, against those odds, her business succeeded.

She has also become an educator, and is launching her first LinkedIn course, ‘Career Capital’ and Host of Coffee With Kim Podcast. The course helps people identify the capital they have earned throughout their career, and how that can be used to engage others, whether it’s looking for a new challenge or persuading a boss that a pay-rise is deserved.

But whether as an entrepreneur or when using career capital, difficult conversations are inevitable. Kaupe shared some of what she has learned over the years about having those conversations with co-founders, loved ones, and with others when things go wrong.

Co-founders

If she could start again, divorce would be the first thing Kaupe would discuss with her co-founder. It might seem counter-intuitive, when starting a new business, to think about how it might all end badly. However, as Kaupe realized when she started, the statistics suggest that, just like marriage, many businesses will see their founders part ways.

“They are like the burpees of business,” Kaupe jokes. “When you hear a trainer tell you to do burpees, it’s the last thing you want, but you know it’s going to make you better and stronger.” When it comes to a business, there are many things that can change the dynamic, from a tragic accident to a founder just deciding it’s time to move on.

Often these conversations are put off because it feels like times are good and there’s no need to rock the boat. Besides, there are plenty of other worries and challenges when you are starting a business. But they are best discussed before things get rocky. “You really need to have these conversations when times are good,” say Kaupe. “I always tell people get a nice bottle of wine or their favorite snack and dig into these issues.”

Friends and family

Running a business means investors, staff, and customers will all demand your attention. But often, it’s those closest that lose out, usually unintentionally. You might never have decided to drop that weekly night-out with friends, but while you face a different problem each week, your friends only notice that you never meet them anymore.

However, being open and honest with them from the start can avoid a lot of pain. Kaupe uses an example of a weekly brunch with friends she avoided when, in her early days, money was tight. It wasn’t until she explained to her friends that they realized that she wasn’t just ignoring them. Once she’d explained, Kaupe recalls, “my friends were so sweet. They said, ‘Hey, instead of going out to brunch, every single Sunday, why don’t we pick a couple of brunches and all make pancakes at home.’ They found a way to include me that didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or feel like I was putting anybody out.”

The lesson is to think about not just about the decisions you take, but how those close to you might perceive them, and address it early. “You need to have those conversations with people to say, ‘hey, I’m going to be starting this new business, and I might not be as available as before. We need to come up with a system where you can help me prioritize.’”

When things go wrong

There will always be unforeseen obstacles in business. Kaupe has two suggestions on how to manage those difficult discussions. First, communicate in the way they communicate, and second, remember that you can always pause.

Hard conversations are made harder when you aren’t communicating the same way. This might be as simple as considering the medium: your email culture might not work when dealing with investors who want to deal with things face-to-face. But this cuts across every aspect of communication. Making sure you understand the other side, from how they like to do business, to how they process information, will make the discussion clearer and easier.

And, when you are having those conversations, remember that you can always take a moment, or even a day. “Sometimes it’s really powerful to take a pause and say, let me get back to you on that. There’s power in the pause,” says Taupe. Taking the time can help you better understand the position, and avoid a quick reaction to a situation.

Finally, be part of a community

Kaupe’s biggest tip, though, is to find people like you for support. Whether that’s finding people in person, or joining a virtual group with people around the world, having a supportive network can make a huge difference.

“For me, confidence comes with community,” she explains. “When I am surrounded by other founders who are going through the same things, or leaders that are going through the same challenges as me, it gives me assurance and confidence that I can get through it too.”

Listen to Kim’s full episode here.

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