Meet Mentor – Claire Smith
Meet Claire Smith
Business Model & Scale-up Expert
At the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast we are so privileged to have a diverse group of mentors to help our members. Whilst you can already read their professional bios via our mentors page we will be sitting down more often with our mentors in 2019 to gather their insights and sharing across socials and here, our blog. So, if you are an entrepreneur, small business owner or work within a startup and looking to be more strategic grab yourself a coffee and enjoy this read to learn more about Claire.
"I went and studied business but to be honest, it didn’t prepare me for the real world. Nothing replaces getting on and doing it".
How did you get to where you are today?
That’s a very interesting question. I suppose I would have to say by believing in myself first and foremost. Having the confidence to try new things, accepting opportunities and never listening to anyone who said I ‘could not do it’ (I’m quite stubborn) has always worked for me. That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes, because I have and learned from them. I was very lucky as a child. My parents always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. I truly believed it then, and I still believe it to this day. Self worth and a curious mind are my two best friends.
How long have you been mentoring businesses? What areas do you specialise in? And, what do you learn from the process of mentoring?
I’ve been helping businesses for almost 20 years, mainly here in Australia. I’m a bit of a trouble-shooter but I also specialise in Business Model Canvas, BD and my favourite, ‘Startup 101’ - helping to get young companies on the right track by understanding the basics of good business practice.
How do you approach risk?
It depends what the risk is, to be honest. Every business faces risk. If you’re not prepared to take a bit of a risk, then it’s unlikely you’ll stay competitive in the market. What I try and do for businesses I assist, is help limit their risks by suggesting strategies which make it easier to recognise & navigate through challenging periods. We all need a bit of risk - it keeps us competitive!
Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? How did you bounce back?
Without sounding arrogant, I’ve never felt like I’ve failed. Even when I’ve made mistakes, I’ve taken a huge amount of valuable learning from the situation. We need to be prepared to fail. It’s how we learn. I use my mistakes, and those of others, to help businesses achieve better outcomes. To be successful in business, you have to be resilient. Get back up, dust off, learn & try again.
Who mentored you, early in your career? And, what impact has it had since?
I wish I’d had a mentor! But I didn’t. I went and studied business but to be honest, it didn’t prepare me for the real world. Nothing replaces getting on and doing it. So, I went for it! I made some terrible mistakes, I lost money & I almost went broke, but I learnt valuable real-world lessons. Basic Business Principals are vital - access to professional guidance-gold.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learnt and how is it valuable?
Listening. Without listening, understanding and empathy, I’m not sure it’s really possible to be a good role model. To be of value to anyone I believe you must be authentic, trustworthy and patient. I may not have all the answers, but I will always listen and hopefully we can work it out together.
What benefit/s can mentoring have on a business looking to scale?
Having the right mentoring can help a business immensely when they are on the journey to scale. Scaling can be fraught with challenges, knock-backs, unchartered waters-having a scale-up mentor can help avoid this, and is especially important when growth involves commercialising overseas. Take advantage of their experience, it will save time, money and heartache.
Looking for more business insights or inspiration?
How do you manage risk? Who is mentoring you and supporting your businesses journey? We are always on the lookout to support our members, share mentor insights to support our growing community.
Community is everything to the Innovation Centre, as human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop. Join the Innovation Centre community and let us help your startup grow!
If you find yourself looking for a passionate community of startup founders and employees and want to know more about the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast, join us for one of our upcoming events, or apply for a membership here.