The Top Takeaways from Our First Kick.Start.Smart Session

Surrounding yourself with the right people is vital to your business success


It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at with your business dream – from the ideas incubator or the realisation realm, there are takeaways aplenty from our first Kick.Start.Smart session.

Featuring the business wisdom of BlueChilli’s Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, the Founder and Director of creative umbrella agency The Jacky Winter Group, Jeremy Wortsman and the General Manager of advertising powerhouse M&C Saatchi, Mim Haysom, we learnt the value of the company you keep at our opening session at Sydney’s Kick.Start.Smart event.

As an entrepreneur, the people you surround yourself with is vital for success – whether it’s your business partners and those personally invested in your endeavours, the agency you’ve employed as part of your official growth strategy or invaluable advice and guidance of a mentor, there are some key lessons in each area of support that can lead directly to success.

Here are our top takeaways and biggest lessons from this morning’s “The Company You Keep” session…

Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin (BlueChilli) on navigating your path with business partners:

BlueChilli’s involvement in the program Club Kidpreneur was a major source of inspiration for the Kick.Start.Smart audience: Sebastien laid out the simple yet effective approach to partnership that the kids involved in the program implemented into their lemonade stand business.

The 4 key aspects of partnership, Sebastien reiterated could be found in the early business model of his kidpreneurs.

Be very clear what the rules are. Even for the kids on the Club Kidpreneur lemonade stand, there were clear on the partnership rules. “Whether it was sell this, bring this, you’ll get $5,” Sebastien pointed out, “it was very clear.”

Write it down. “It doesn’t have to be a legal papers,” Sebastien says, ” it can be a token signature”. The important part of partnership is an acknowledgement of shared commitment.

Invest in the legal. When things start to take off, it’s important to make sure the partnership is made legal. Sebastien stressed it was “worth the money” to document any formal partnerships – it was save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Make good lemonade. There’s no partnership without a good product, so make sure you’re all investing in creating something special and unique.


Jeremy Wortsman (The Jacky Winter Group) on the benefits and limits of umbrella groups and creative representation:

As Jeremy points out, when you hire a plumber and it takes 30 second for them to fix a tap, it’s not the half-minute you’re paying for. “You’re paying for the 40 years that taught him which tap to twist,” he says.

One major benefit of representation Jeremy pointed out is the advantage of having someone to negotiate those minefields an independent entity can’t be well versed in: what does a freelance graphic designer know about copyright law? How does a small time artist stay firm on pay?

Not only can an agency can act on your behalf in lighting the grey areas of law and negotiation of pay but there’s an additional benefit in being part of an umbrella group that facilitates a community with like-minded peers to help support your endeavours even further.


Mim Haysom (M&C Saatchi) on the value of a good mentor and how to get one:

A passionate advocate for mentorship, Mim stressed it was just as important to set guidelines for the acquisition of a mentor, as it is to find one in the first place. Here are her tips for securing a mentoring relationship that will be mutually beneficial:


You need to have a clear ambition. There’s no point having a career mentor if you’re not clear on what you want from your own career. Mim suggests having a clear ambition for 1, 3, 5 years because you need to be guided in the right direction – how can you be guided in a certain direction, when you don’t know where you’re going?

You’ll also need to have a clear ambition for the kind of leader you want to be, Mim explains. Ask yourself, who do you want to be? Then you’ll have a better chance of finding someone to follow.


Do your research. Before you can find a mentor, Mim says, you need to ask yourself the simple question: “what are you looking for in a mentor?” It doesn’t matter if it’s someone you know, or someone you’ve admired from afar but you do need to know what they’re like and how they approach their industry.

Also, knowing the type of mentor that’s right for in their approach. “Will you be comfortable with something you know? Or outside of your network? Patient? Kind? Direct or uncompromising?”


Establish relationship and set expectations upfront. “Be clear on why you chose them,” Mim says. Telling them why you picked them will give them a better understanding of what aspects you admire and want to emulate yourself.

Talk about how often you want to meet and what you want to learn. It’s not a one way street – let them set expectations as well – what do they hope to get form mentoring relationship


Be prepared. Mim advises setting a specific agenda for your mentoring sessions: clearly set out areas of development with questions and topics and also have a few specific scenarios to ask them when you’re in session. “The more specific you can be,” Mim stresses, “the more you get from each session.”

Mim also advises sending a discussion outline before your sessions to give them a heads up on the things you want to talk about. You’ll show your mentor you respect their time by preparing well.


Be open to change. “Your mentoring relationships will go on a journey, what you need and want from your mentor will evolve and change: when those changes happen, just let the relationship evolve.”

Sometimes a mentor will give you a shove in the right direction – you have to be open to their advice that getting you out of your comfort zone is a good thing.

Also, as you grow, your needs from your mentor will grow too and this doesn’t mean you can’t draw on other people for advice where you need it. “It’s a relationship… It’s not a monogamous marriage,” Mim jokes. Build a network of mentors that can help you across all stages of your business growth.

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