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My experience working with a wide range of young businesses, from complex financial software through to artisan food producers says, it is easy to get distracted by products and forget that the underlying success drivers are the same regardless of what you make or do.

girl at wall

A visit to The Climbing Wall in Sandyford, a 3 week old fledgling business already packed with happy customers on a freezing January night made me stop to think.  What gets customers in this case to a business with no marketing or advertising budget?  What separates success and disaster for a young business in the early scary days?

“The wall” is an indoor state of the art climbing wall in Sandyford industrial estate. So, your business is very different, but the same answers apply and will help you succeed early.
  • Passionate attention to  all customers, including the ones future customers. I dragged along a friend who doesn’t climb, and had no intention of doing so.  She instantly felt welcome, even though climbing up the wall until then was something she only does at business meetings. Your customers may come in many forms and will have different needs. See the world from their perspective – are they confused? Scared? Stressed? Finding it hard to park? At the Wall you feel safe and at ease. And yes, of course, she climbed. And is now hooked.
  • Create a happy place where staff are as engaged as you are in looking after customers with care. Your staff must feel like a really core part of your baby business.  Get them on board and make sure to find ways of harnessing all their bright ideas about how to make your project a success
  • Know your customers intimately before you start. Alan and Brian really understand their market, and are well networked. They already understood exactly what climbers want and immediately ran simple high impact events that have built up loyalty, traffic to The Wall and loads of Word of Mouth publicity, always the most powerful form of marketing. This also helps you create a sense of community and shared values among your customer base, so your customers stay longer and believe in what you do.  Happy customers come back.
  • Be clever about how to position and communicate what you offer: .The Wall makes canny use of social media and press coverage to get the story out in a more targeted and dynamic way than any ad ever will.  Network, but be savvy about how you use that precious network.
  • Know your competition equally intimately, know when to compete (and how) and when to collaborate. Sometimes collaboration is the right strategy – work together and instead of splitting a new small market you can grow it together, creating greater awareness by acting as a group and attracting more people to a new service or product.
  • Good team - make sure all the practical stuff is under control.  The top team here includes a marketing whizz and an employment law specialist.  They have team skills to make sure the business is set up on a sound financial footing, property and planning skills and expertise to make sure design and operations are top class.
  • Finally – do something you love. The chances are you will be very good at it!
  Moira Creedon is a facilitator and consultant in Strategic Finance and has worked with both corporate and public sector clients worldwide helping decision makers at strategic level to understand finance and improve their ability to formulate and implement strategy. She teaches on IMI’s Diploma in Management and a number of Short Programmes including the Senior Executive Programme. See our Spring 2015 schedules here: IMI Diplomas Spring 2015 and IMI Short Programmes Spring 2015 [post_title] => 'Off the Wall' tips for early business success [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wall-tips-early-business-success [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:58:52 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:58:52 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7017 [post_author] => 32 [post_date] => 2014-05-08 15:28:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-05-08 15:28:31 [post_content] => [post_title] => 3 slick selling techniques you should take from the Time-share Salesperson [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => can-learn-selling-street-vendors [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:12:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:12:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19182 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2017-03-30 13:48:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-30 13:48:18 [post_content] => [post_title] => 5 Tips for Motivating Employees [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 5-tips-motivating-employees [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-18 07:59:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-18 07:59:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 4787 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2013-10-23 15:47:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-10-23 15:47:02 [post_content] => Top Dysfunctions of a Team In every organisation the top team is that critical component that is tasked with setting the wheels in motion. The way in which the top team operates sets an example for the rest of the organisation and can and should be a motivating example for the rest of the business.  But just how effective are top teams in setting an organisation on the right course? And how good are they in engaging and motivating employees to do what is needed?. Working with many top teams, observing their behaviours and listening to their conversations when they meet, I have noticed some interesting patterns. Common Top Team Dysfunctions... Turf wars Many top team conversations focus on reviewing large tables of numbers and explaining how they are different from forecasted expectations.  At this point the conversations shift to who is to held "responsible" and which department or function should take praise or blame. Cynicism Top teams often talk about how employees fail to "understand the gravity of the situation", the importance of the "drastic change"s ahead or even "remember that they are paid to do a job". Incongruence While many top teams are aware they need to be a team, they often believe that any time spent working on the team is time taken away from talking about important business issues. A dysfunctional top team cannot make good decisions let alone execute them. While each top team has certainly different group dynamics and many function well in particular areas, the above behavioural patterns seem to be quite pervasive.  Where the above dysfunctions are present they are almost undoubtedly at the root of larger business challenges. ...And how to overcome them Behavioural change begins with understanding of current behaviours and a clear picture of the desired behaviours. Overcoming the above potentially destructive patterns of behaviour requires the top team to be united, caring, and authentic. Be United Firstly, while each team member has a functional role and is responsible for a specific business unit, all organisations need a unanimous commitment to a course of action. This has little to do with consensus and much more to do with well defined success criteria, a clear sense of the priorities, and a well defined decision-making process. Everyone is responsible for the success or failure of a business through clarity of purpose, consistent performance feedback and mutual accountability. Be Caring Secondly, simply paying someone to do a job is not always enough to motivate them to do the job right. People are engaged in doing a great job when they are inspired to do so by leaders that walk the talk, are honest in their interactions and more importantly care about what's going on in the life of their employees.  Being caring is not a nice-to-have - it can make the difference between a deadlocked organisation and one that is engaged to deliver. Be Authentic Finally, for top teams to be effective they need to become aware of their influence on the mood of the entire organisation.  A top team must operate as a true team, working through organisational issues with candour, vulnerability and most importantly with mutual accountability. The visible daily behaviour of the organisation's leaders is a much more powerful message than any vision or mission statement.  When the words are incongruent with the behaviours, it is the behaviours that set the truth. Before an organisation's leaders can expect the rest of the business to operate effectively, it is important that they understand how they themselves work as a team to contribute to the common goal of delivering business results. If you are interested in having your senior team work with IMI contact us on +353 1 207 8400 or or read more about our approach. Fabio Grassi is Executive Learning Director at IMI. He is a specialist in the development of team performance, collaboration and motivation.  His approach involves the facilitation of tailored workshops aimed at the achievement of specific business outcomes. He is passionate about the development of ethical leadership through executive coaching. e-mail Fabio Grassi or call on +353 87 9183282. [post_title] => Are Mummy & Daddy Fighting? 3 Ways of Overcoming Top Team Dysfunctions [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => are-mummy-daddy-fighting-3-ways-of-overcoming-top-team-dysfunctions-6 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:29:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:29:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 11952 [post_author] => 65 [post_date] => 2015-09-25 15:20:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-25 15:20:30 [post_content] =>
sue cox
Sue Cox is a Learning and Development Consultant and a Tango dancer.  She has worked extensively with the public and not-for-profit sectors as well as the corporate world and has developed and led social inclusion projects across the UK. She is interested in how we develop our own potential and how we connect better with others in order to be more effective in our organisations and relationships. She will be a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference on 8 October 2015 IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be?

SC: Want better leadership? Develop your followership.

IMI: What does this mean? SC: Many organisations invest heavily in developing and recognising good leadership but give little or no thought to actively cultivating good followership. Leadership is, by definition, a relational process however there is no leadership unless there is a leader/follower dynamic. When we focus only on developing leadership, we give visibility and importance to one aspect only, neglecting the contribution of followership and the untapped potential of the relationship between the two.  How much do we lose by doing so? A powerful illustration of what this looks like in practice can be seen in Argentine Tango. There is a misconception in Tango that the leader is in control and the follower is relatively passive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tango is complex, improvised and co-created in the moment and it depends entirely on the leader/follower dynamic.  Good followership amplifies and strengthens leadership; good leadership maximises the followers’ contribution. The quality of their connection elevates the whole dance to a greater level of performance. Misconceptions about leadership and followership are seen as often in the boardroom as they are in the ballroom. If you want to release potential in your organisation and be resourceful and creative in the way you respond to change and opportunity, the challenge is to develop everybody’s ability as both leader and follower, so that each can play their full part in co-creating the dance. IMI: Where should we look for further information? SC: Visit my website at 


Sue Cox spoke at the IMI National Management Conference on Thursday 8 October. This event has now reached maximum capacity however if you would like to be added to the waiting list, please email your contact details and company name to [post_title] => "Want better leadership? Develop your followership" Six Word Wisdom from Sue Cox [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => want-better-leadership-develop-followership-six-word-wisdom-sue-cox [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:42:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:42:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25404 [post_author] => 139 [post_date] => 2019-04-12 15:09:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-12 15:09:34 [post_content] => [post_title] => Agility: elusive, but essential and the key to thinking differently [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => agility-elusive-essential-key-thinking-differently [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-07 16:16:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-07 16:16:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
David Cornick

David Cornick

17th Sep 2019

David Cornick is a faculty member of IMI.

Related Articles

'Off the Wall' tips for early business success
3 slick selling techniques you should take from the Time-share Salesperson
5 Tips for Motivating Employees
Are Mummy & Daddy Fighting? 3 Ways of Overcoming Top Team Dysfunctions
"Want better leadership? Develop your followership" Six Word Wisdom from Sue Cox
Agility: elusive, but essential and the key to thinking differently

Connecting Technology Leadership with a Growth Mindset

How to think about the Future

The future is impossible to predict, but it is possible to think about it in a way that will give you a glimpse into it. This way of thinking can be illustrated by the Fixed vs Growth Mindset theory.

With a growth mindset, an individual is much more likely to embrace change, treat failure as an opportunity and be excited by the future, not afraid of it. With a fixed mindset, the individual will be much more inflexible, see change as a threat and be afraid of failure.

A leader and manager must have the agility and flexibility to see opportunities in a world of rapid change, and a leader that leans towards growth mindset is more likely to spot those threats and opportunities quicker than their rivals.

With the proliferation of new technologies on an almost daily rate, the other thing a leader needs to lean on in the future is other people. It is critical to build your network because the way technology is evolving today means that you will need subject-matter experts in a variety of fields and, maybe even more critically, be able to create new opportunities by combining different technologies into a single solution.

New technologies are emerging on a daily basis
(Image Source)

For example, a major construction company created an incredibly efficient and sustainable HQ building using smart technologies – simple things like lifts being on the floors at the times they are most used, smart lighting for when rooms aren’t being used etc.

When it was calculated how much their work could save in terms of the future cost of running the building, they saw the potential for up to 7% per annum. In a hugely competitive industry like construction, a 7% gain can be game changing. One construction company is evaluating going into the facilities management business, knowing they can compete more aggressively on the design and build of a project, and then recoup the money back over a longer period.

So, by combining their traditional skills with new technologies, this construction company has the potential to carve out their own niche while impacting their competitors at the same time, who now have to race to catch up.

A Look Ahead
For companies and organisations, technology is fundamentally changing how they deliver their products and solutions, and for some, even what their core value proposition is.

The sportswear company, Under Armour, did what every other traditional sportswear company do; they sold sportswear. Their CEO, Kevin Plank, had a different vision – he wanted Under Armour to help athletes to reach peak performance.

This vision would, in the past, have been an aspiration – a mission statement to be guided by. Under Armour would be able to produce improvements in their clothing line to help athletes get better, but in reality there’d be no data to back it up and probably only elite athletes would get the benefits. With digital technology however, Under Armour saw an opportunity to become partners with every athlete in the world – both professional and amateur – on an individual basis for all aspects of their life, not just the hour they spent at the gym.

They started by buying three different apps – MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness and Endomondo. One tracks diet and exercise, one an athlete’s movement and one an athlete’s diet and nutritional intake. In other words, Under Armour bought apps that covered the entirety of an athlete’s life.

Today, 170 million people are using those applications.

‘All this is about gathering as much data as possible they can about their customers, and then feeding it back to them in a way that is easily consumable’ said David. ‘Examples? A forty-year old athlete could compare their performance with other forty-year olds in the database for a realistic standard, your nutrition app will feed into your fitness app, suggesting improvements, and will track your overall progress with motivational ‘pushes’ based on your past behaviour. Always skip the gym on a Monday? Your device will tell you to get off the couch’.

According to Under Armour, 2/3 of their growth over the next decade will be from their digital offerings, while the company is now predicted by analysts to be the 3rd biggest sportswear company in the world by 2020.

We’re still in flux
There is always the human temptation to say ‘well, this is as good as it gets’ or, at least, ‘someone must be doing that’. However, this is generally not the case. This is still the beginning of the technological revolution, and there are plenty of opportunities out there.

And it is the flexible, growth minded leaders that will be able to see these opportunities. ‘It’s all about people’ said David. ‘You have to attract, develop and retain the best people to succeed when everything is constantly changing.’

The robots may be coming, but it will be people that point them in the direction that they go.