We are so excited here at RuralScope. We turn 20 years old in 2020. We are celebrating by sharing 20 stories across 20 months. These will include highlights, lowlights and learnings. A unique insight into our development - personal and business for you. Our aim is to share learnings to support others who live and work across rural Australia.
This is our fourth story in the series - Claim Your Space - and it’s all about how having a mentor, thinking 10 years out and claiming your space in business both on and offline will contribute to your success.
It just hit me. I was the owner and director of a business and I needed to grow up and get myself sorted! This was 2 years after I left my secure senior executive role to follow my dream and work in agriculture. I had been so busy ‘doing’ projects that I hadn’t stopped to think about the future! And to be truthful it was easier if I didn’t. I was busy, happy and hitting targets in terms of salary, challenge and work / life balance. To be honest the latter wasn’t difficult given the incredible hours I had worked at TAFE Queensland.
Lucky for me I had a colleague and mentor who encouraged me to think 10 years out and set in place today what was needed to get there. I met Sue Wickenden through a friend who thought we would ‘hit it off’! Our friend was right. Based in Brisbane, Sue had a marketing and web development business. I learned quickly that she was super smart having developed her own web development software called I-smart (it’s like the current Wordpress). With a staff of about 15, offices in 3 countries and one of the best networkers I have ever come across, I learned heaps. And it was just what I needed.
I can easily recall our fortnightly ‘work’ breakfasts we had in Milton. We would support (this means question and challenge!) each other with whatever was happening in our businesses at the time. I was most challenged by the questions;
1. What’s my why?
2. What are my products and services?
3. What's my vision? and
4. What do I want to achieve – for me, for my clients and the agricultural industry as a whole?
These breakfast meetings and the support of a mentor were invaluable.- personally and professionally as it can be hard to separate the two. We became close friends and some of you will recall Sue as a mentor on our leadership programs.
Sue developed the RuralScope logo, was the creative spark behind our marketing and built our first ever website. It was a ripper. With business cards and an online presence, we began to claim our space. I employed my very first staff member and for the first time, I felt like I had a business (rather than a job) on my hands! I learned the skill of thinking 10 years out and started passing this on to others via our own mentoring programs. And lime green became the colour of RuralScope and always will be!
A special note. Sue died in a luge accident in December 2011. I was devastated. I and the RuralScope team will always hold a very special place in our hearts for her here. Our RuralScope logo is a constant nod to her skill and creativity and I often reflect on the questions she would ask – as relevant today as they were back then!
4 Key Learnings from this Time
Leaders think 10 years out. They make decisions today based on the long term.
A business is about so much more than creating a job for yourself, it’s important to know what your business is / isn't.
A quality mentor is worth their weight in gold.
Successful leaders claim their space – both online and offline.