What does it mean to be successful?
This was the question facing Katrina McCarter – founder and CEO of Marketing to Mums – in her presentation at the recent Financial Executive Women (FEW) Leadership Conference.
For Katrina, success comes in many shapes and forms, and differs for everyone. But through her personal journey from corporate business woman to stay at home mum to successful entrepreneur, she was able to identify seven key learnings that has helped her redefine what success is.
1. It’s okay to be different
The first key observation from Katrina is that success need never be black and white. She says to be successful, you don’t need to follow the norm or accepted practice.
“My mum taught me how to budget at an early age. So, when I was 13, I was responsible for doing my own budget and cashflow reports for school. This really taught me a lot about the value of money and the importance of sticking to a budget.
“So, while my friends were drawing on their pocket money or allowances, I was taught fiscal responsibility, which has served me well. It might sound a little odd for a 13-year-old girl to be doing her own budgeting but I never saw it as being a problem. It’s okay to be different.”
2. Get comfortable with being different
According to McCarter, this learning is all about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.
“By forcing myself to have lots of ‘coffee dates’, it helped me to improve my business pitch, to the stage where I secured my first four investors to launch my online shopping website – Bubbler.”
This led Katrina to write her first book – Marketing to Mums – which she says wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t believe in herself and her own uniqueness, by pushing herself outside of her comfort zone.
3. Stay relevant
With technology moving so rapidly, often competing for the same clients you have, the importance of keeping up with technology in order to stay relevant with your own clients has never been so important, says Katrina.
“It’s vitally important that you stay close and connected to your market,” she says. “You also need to spend time looking at ways to stay relevant. If you lose relevancy, then you won’t get it back.”
4. The power of partnerships
According to Katrina, partnerships are a very effective way to get things done, including reaching your goals and targets.
“Partnerships require you to think creatively about who you can partner with to grow your business,” she says. “For example, different companies can leverage off each other’s skills to grow their business, just as we’re seeing with some financial planning and accountancy practices.”
5. We must be customer driven
Katrina emphasises the importance of focusing on as many different touchpoints with clients as possible to ensure you are delivering a great customer experience.
“Everything can be going along well with your client but it only takes one bad experience for everything to unravel. By focusing on your client touchpoints from start to finish, you can significantly decrease the chances of your clients receiving a bad experience.”
6. Dream big. You will find a way
As an accomplished author, entrepreneur and speaker, Katrina isn’t content with “thinking small”. Instead, she believes you can make something happen, if you’ve got a “big dream”.
“As we get older, we get set in our ways and our dreams and ambitions get diluted. That’s why it’s so important to look beyond the mortgage, and to look beyond your family and work commitments. Avoid the distractions of the everyday and keep your dream alive.”
7. You can’t do it alone
Katrina says few people are truly successful on their own. Instead, a key to success is having a support team behind you.
“This support team could be your family, your friends, the crew from work or a network of colleagues and peers,” she says. “Regardless of who your support team is, you need to surround yourself with people who believe in you and can support you. This is your support team who keeps you accountable to achieving your success.
“So, be careful who you choose to spend your time with and avoid the naysayers. What you want is positivity, and it’s your support team who will provide you with that.”