Meet Mentor – Nigel Hall
Meet Nigel Hall
Entrepreneur, Startup Expert & Investor, Bonza Business & Franchise Sales
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 Nigel.
" Surround yourself with successful people who know more than you in their area"
How did you get to where you are today?
It would be great to think we all had a plan in life and the plan worked out. In reality I think life is a series of opportunities that you decide to pursue or not. What you pursue dictates where you then find yourself.
For me personally not overthinking things is key attribute, although many may see it as a weakness. Getting on with what needs doing and not suffering from “analysis paralysis” is a key part to any progress you make.
I started as an auditor and went into an early stage business after 3 years when I realised I didn’t have the focus on detail needed in this area and quickly learned to love the start-up space where I have been active ever since.
How long have you been mentoring businesses? What areas do you specialise in? And, what do you learn from the process of mentoring?
I started mentoring when I took some time off from a day to day business between 2000 and 2005 in South Africa and then when I moved to Australia I was lucky enough to become a “professional mentor” as the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Innovation Centre in 2006.
I am a generalist and have insights in all areas, but my focus is really on strategy, route to market and fund raising. How I can help a business often depends on their stage of progress and level of understanding.
How do you approach risk?
Managing risk is the key trait needed by an entrepreneur. Often people think of entrepreneurship as risk taking. Personally I feel it is about risk identification, management and mitigation. I have at times taken risks where others have said its too hard, but had the gut feeling it would work out. And it has until now…
Was there a time you messed up and felt like you’d failed? How did you bounce back?
In early stage there are often set-backs. Things don’t go to plan and sometimes companies fail. Is this your failure? I see this as part of the learning process. Some businesses just don’t work. It might be the idea, it might be timing, funding, location or team. Just get back up, learn from the mistakes, don’t repeat them and get back on with it!
Who mentored you, early in your career? And, what impact has it had since?
I was lucky enough to work with the head of a major VC group in Europe, who was an amazing smart person, and he introduced me to several mentors over the years, depending on what was needed at the time. Sometimes industry experience, sometimes function specific (sales, marketing) sometimes more psychology driven. A key lesson is that you are only as good as the people around you. Surround yourself with successful people who know more than you in their area. No-one knows it all. But keep your dream and be careful it is not hi-jacked by well meaning mentors.
More recently I underwent a 12 month programme focussed on “mindfulness”. This made me realise that part of something that I had been criticised for, making decisions based on gut instinct, was actually just being mindful enough to let your subconscious present the best alternative at that point based on your experience without having to formally analysis the decision. It validated an approach I had always had and reassured me in my decision making process.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learnt and how is it valuable?
Being a good leader is not being a good manager. They are often two different personality types and it is important to understand what role you actually take. This influences your recruitment and skill sets you need to surround yourself with.
What benefit/s can mentoring have on a business looking to scale?
Generally positive! Getting experienced mentors is always important, but check their credentials, get references and make sure they offer guidance and tools to us in business and not instruction.
Done right, mentoring can offer a far faster and less risky route to success, but there is no silver bullet.
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.