A warm welcome to the Entrepreneursheep site

What comes first: extraordinary deeds or extraordinary people?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is your start up finished before it starts?

STOC goodie bags for the launch party!
Like it or not, a good business does not just rely on good products or services. The success of your start-up will be built on whether people know about you, like you and trust you enough to part with their dollars. The key to achieving this is how effectively you communicate your products or services to your customers. And that's where all that marketing comes in!

Leaflets, billboards, posters, stickers, goodie bags, business cards, stamps, magazines, local newspapers, social networks, bus ads, giveaways, pens, word of mouth, radio Ads, TV Ads (I should be so lucky...)

All of us recognise the necessity of marketing. We are constantly bombarded by examples, after all! Good marketing builds a solid name and reputation for your business, creates leads, generates industry interest and customer attention and, most importantly, makes those sales! Whichever way you see it, marketing is a vital tool to help your business survive, make money and grow. With this firmly in mind, it is simply illogical to consider marketing an 'optional' part of your business. Sadly, many start ups commit business suicide in by thinking just that.

The reality is, most start ups venture out with more enthusiasm than skill. Unless you have a marketing qualification, or a generally prolific creative brain, there is a chance you need outside help with marketing. As a new business owner, you have to figure out all areas of your business, constantly switching hats, with no time to spend on vital strategic planning. Yet so many people devote so little time and effort to activities researching marketing and advertising, and spend little time thinking about how customers can actually get to know about them.

One option is outsourced marketing. Many small business owners are too intimidated to seek outsourced marketing, associating it with big billboards and even bigger budgets, risking leaving their idea to ferment in silence. Little do new start ups realise the true importance - and ease - of obtaining professional marketing help. With some outsourced marketing, such as Marketing Eye, an experienced marketing executive can help you build your business to a success from only $27.95 a day. If you are really stuck, you can get outsourced marketing managers that have been strategically headhunted as the best people to help you get the results you want, all at an affordable, small business-friendly price.

Without attention, there are no customers; without customers, there are no sales; without sales, there is no money; without money, there is no business. Whether you get your hat on and come up with all the creative ideas you can think of, or get outsourced marketing help, it is really your responsibility to provide clever and affordable solutions that will help you generate attention, boost those sales and save your business from death by cashflow.

95% of small businesses don't make it through 5 years. Most small businesses ignore marketing. Spot the link. If you do what everyone else does, you get what everyone else gets. So don't make the same mistakes and make sure your business stands out from the crowd! With the right marketing strategy, it can - and will.

With hard work and good advice, you can make it happen!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tweet tweet: the Twitter guide to awesome marketing

It may be time-consuming, a little overwhelming and, potentially, superficial, but the impact of social networking has revolutionized ways of doing business as the introduction of mobile phones did in the '80s. Like it or not, no one can deny the growing power of Twitter followers, Blog readers and Facebook fans, and yes, you can follow STOC tee shirts on all three

One of the most popular social and business networks of our time, Twitter is an international communication phenomenon. And what is marketing if not effective communication? We at @STOClothing have shared and learnt from thousands of other Tweeters, about everything from famous quotes to Victoria’s Secret! So what’s behind the Twitter addiction and what makes it such a success?

Here are my Top 10 marketing tips from Twitter that are really worth following:

1) A little birdy told me…
You’ve heard it before: word of mouth is the king of marketing. The key to this concept is trust: people are more likely to buy from businesses that their friends or contacts have already ‘vetted’ for them. So, get as many ‘refer a friend’ programs and bonuses as you can afford, get your customers to join your social networks and share them with their contacts, and run deals, promotions and offers to get your customers to spread the word, then watch your customers do your marketing for you!

2) Kiss, kiss, kiss
At the risk of disappointing you, KISS actually stands for ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’. No matter what you talk about, Twitter gives you all of 140 characters to do it. In our time-poor, attention-short universe, this is what makes Twitter such a success. The lesson is: keep it relevant, keep it quick. What’s your message? Your focus? What end result are you going for? If you haven’t got their tails wagging in 3 sentences, you are not going to get them at all.

3) Make your move
How do you get a Twitter follower? Follow them first! Twitter is bringing reciprocal relationships back into fashion. For others to take an interest in you, you have to take an interest in them first. It’s simple, easy and makes you look generous. In business, make a phone call to complementary businesses and suggest reciprocal marketing relationships. You never know, so go on and make the first move!

4) Build your network
It’s surprising who or what is going to prove useful in your business. So you might as well put it out there and show interest in as many relevant businesses, individuals and ideas as you care to research. Networking is essentially about expanding connections, so don’t worry about specifics. Link yourself with interesting individuals and see where it will take you.

5) Sum it up
Focus on what is important. How would you reduce your business to a one sentence summary? Some people are so wrapped up in the idea of their business, they forget what it is they are actually offering customers. Have a clear sense of what you do, who you are, and how people should contact you. How would you describe what you have to offer in one sentence? Keeping things clear and simple is a key to successful marketing.

6) Tweet away
Have you got an interesting view, opinion, or something you want to share with the world? Then tweet about it, put it in your newsletter or make a quick comment about it to your clients. Communication is not just about dry information exchange – nor is it about polluting the email traffic with comments about the weekend’ kite festival. However, a bit of personality and a sound bite about something other than last month’s sales figures for the inner west, might well be a welcome addition when it comes to talking business.

7)  What’s new?
When we think about business, we often think about reacting to what’s happened in the last quarter, or thinking about the next… what about now? The most relevant and exciting developments are the ones that are going on right now. These are the things that will affect, change, and define the business. So, buddy, what’s new? And are you telling your customers about it?

8) Stay regular
Like every relationship, the relationship you have with your customers requires maintenance with plenty of attention and care. It takes more than an occasional blurb about the weather to keep customers interested. Communicate simple, valuable and content-rich information to your customers through newsletters, web updates, direct emails, letters, bonus coupons, gifts, phone calls and other ways you can think of to make them feel valued, appreciated – and loyal.

9) Prepare to be surprised
The World Wide Web is an information playground where you can stumble upon anything you can – and cannot - imagine. Browse around and see what you can find – it may well prove useful. At the same time, don’t be afraid to put out content of personal and professional interest that may not be directly relevant to your business, and you never know who may be looking! Fishing enthusiasts need IT contracts, too.

10) Tweeting to yourself
One of the most under-rated advantages of social networking is the thought you have to put into it first. You have to define yourself, you have to share interesting and valuable information about your work, you have to communicate and take an interest in others, and you have to research about what is happening in the industry and in your work at large. This self-definition and self-analysis can yield enormous benefits as far as maintaining your focus in business goes. Marketing to others is about understanding yourself and your business first and that, perhaps, is the greatest exercise of social media.

Hope you found this helpful!
Something to say? Tweet me at @STOClothing and find me at STOClothing on Facebook!

Farewell, friends

Victoria A.

Friday, August 20, 2010

So, Julian Baggini, what's it all about?

What is happiness? For me, it's travel, cats doing funny things, taking action to improve the quailty of the environment and, of course, ice cream. For world-renowned philosopher and academic Julian Baggini, however, the answer is a bit more complicated (though I bet he is still partial to a choc chip cup.. mmmm). Anyway, he knows a thing or two about happiness, and he cares to share it in 'What's it all about: philosophy and the meaning of life'.

instant source of happiness:

Summary of Baggini, J. What it’s all about: philosophy and the meaning of life, (London: Granta, 2004), 97-105.

In the chapter entitled ‘As long as you’re happy’, Julian Baggini examines the meaning of happiness. The achievement of a state of happiness, he says, is an elusive concept, and not necessarily the best goal in life. In the ‘virtually happy’ section, he looks at different forms of feeling happy, and what makes for an ‘authentic’ happiness experience. Baggini suggests there are different quantities and qualities of happiness, based on current circumstances or needs. In the final section, ‘Seek and you shall not find’, Baggini warns against following vacuous advertising and magazine images in the hope of finding happiness. His central argument appears to be that it is up to the individual to define what brings them fulfillment, and the pursuit of this – rather than the shining promise of something called ‘happiness’ – will lead to a truly satisfied life. 
In Baggini’s view, happiness is important – but it does not necessarily take precedence over everything else. He questions whether the pursuit of happiness for happiness’ sake is really worthwhile if it’s just a product of biochemistry. There is a difference, he argues, between having the experience of a good life and actually having a good life, a life that is a product of hard work, ability and achievement. What is the difference between this, he asks, and spending your life hooked onto a ‘happiness machine’? It appears that happiness is a process, and an experience fuelled by effort, not just something we can pinpoint and then tap into.

People’s understanding of happiness depends on their value systems. A starving person, Baggini suggests, would easily accept bread as a source of happiness rather than a Ferrari. A person whose experience of ‘real’ life is torture, may also prefer to be hooked onto a pleasure-inducing machine rather than life in permanent pain. Happiness is not a universal concept, but something that depends on each individual in accordance with circumstances they are in.

The chapter also warns against separation of the state of general ‘happiness’ and the self. The media and advertising world would have us all believe that happiness is always somewhere else. Generic happiness comes packaged in a six pack, with an array of luxury goods and a promise of great sex on tap. However, as Baggini identifies, these advertisements are successful precisely because they are aspirational, and have nothing to do with reality. If people actually achieved this dream body and lifestyle, they would be busy searching for something else to fill their inherent void. We can’t put a face or a price tag on happiness. It is something that has to be achieved through a process of self-realisation and knowing what makes us feel fulfilled.

Baggini concludes that happiness comes in many ‘shades and tones’, and we have to develop resilience and a positive outlook. The ‘modern myth’ of happiness, he says, is nothing but just that – a myth, based on unrealistic expectations and the media’s desire to fuel our consumerism and need for satisfaction. A constant and complete state of joy is unnatural for human beings, and we cannot simply lay claim to things that we ought to never take for granted, such as a healthy body, loving family or enjoyable ways of making a living. First, we need to look within to find passion, vision and energy to commit to doing the things we love, and happiness will take care of itself. 

.....Which is all a fancy way of saying... DO WHAT YOU LOVE.

-Victoria A.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Be the nerve centre, not the nerves

But... it IS personal :-/

"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour."
                                                                                -William Blake
O.K., here is what I have learnt in a few short months of running my own business. No matter what 'The E Myth' (see previous 'business classics' post) says, running your own business IS always personal.

It doesn't mean you have to physically be there to dot the 'i's and cross the 't's on every single invoice. In fact, the failure of most small business owners lies in devoting time and attention to those time-consuming but unrewarding tasks rather than focusing on what really matters - i.e. brings PROFIT.

However, running your own business is always involving and always absorbing. It not only should not but MUST NOT demand every ounce of your time, attention and energy (otherwise, how can you stay energetic and inspired and produce more great goods?!?) But there always things your business does demand from you. These are: your energy, your vision and your values.

give give give to GET GET GET


One very important reason you cannot spend 20 hours of your day working, hugging a can of Red Bull: You have to have energy!!! Energy to inspire, create, communicate, drive. If you do not give your business this fuel, who will? Be the instigator and the engine of positive energy and see it reverberate through everyone you touch with your ideas. Be excited, be buzzy, and believe in what you do and watch the results. Energy and positivity are infectious!


By vision, I don't mean a floating reverie of you, a white fluffy cat, a beach and a margharita. I don't mean the vacuous image of a goal. I mean the PROCESS.

Think about
How do you want your business run?
What is the role you see yourself playing in your business?
What do you want this business to ultimately achieve?
How do you want people to think of your business?
What it is that you want to create with this idea that you have?
Why do you want to spend this money, energy and nerve cells on these ideas?
What is it that makes this business so important?

Write down some solid points and them commit yourself into living them out every day from the time you open your eyes. Then, the next time you ask yourself 'dear God, WHY?!?', you will have all the answers you need.


What are the values of your business? Why is it so important for this business to exist?
A business is an extenstion of you, and an excellent, unique opportunity to offer something of yourself of the world. Imagine your business as a human being. What values do you want it to have? What motivates it? What inspired respect from other people? What separates it from others? These are things the business can only get from you.

I try to spend every day analysing the health of my energy, vision and values. Being vibrant, visionary and living out your values is far more important than getting a sale or completing another receipt that day. I believe if I can really establish what is important and brings the most value to my business and do my best to not stray away, great things await!

Plus, it means you can have your business AND always have the time to say YES to a cofee break in Darling Harbour...

- Victoria A.

Business classics: 'The E Myth'

Business bible

'The E Myth' by Michael E. Gerber is a life-changing classic. It gets brandished as a business bible at the front of just about every business class I have ever attended.

For those unfamiliar with the book, the main contention is that small business owners spend far too much time working IN their business rather than ON it. Most people start their own business because they are craftsmen who love their craft and think they are doing it better than others. However, they are NOT entrepreneurs.

So, what they are essentially doing is buying themselves a job and falling into the following cycle:

- Baker loves to bake
- Baker bakes far better that their fat boss, goddamit! That guy spends more time stuffing pies inside his mouth than stuffing the shelves...sheesh
- Baker can totally do better
- Baker can TOTALLY go alone...
- So baker does

- Now, baker has to get up at 2am instead of 3am so they go and set up shop
- Baker has no holidays or days off. They spend all their time working in their business
- Staff are unreliable and noone can ever cover for them. They do not trust their managers. They are totally tied to the job.
- Now, on top of baking pies, they also have to strap up legal contracts, accounting sheets and pay the rent
- Family time and, god forbid, dating are all out of the window as this means spending time away from the oven which is, by definition, NOT ALLOWED in any circumstances
- Baker is sick and exhausted, and spends their nights sleeping in a pile of their own mince pies

- Baker develops a smoking addiction and stress-related hairloss
- Baker is so time-poor they cannot remember the last time they saw their own feet
- Baker is losing money as they cannot sustain productivity as productivity means them working harder. They are already at their maximum capacity.
- Baker hates it, moans about it, complaints, curses, eats too many cookies and HATES IT HATES IT HATES IT
- Baker closes up shop and vows to spend every evening of their life from then on eating Ajisen Ramen takeaway.

The moral of the story is that every business ought to be set up like a franchise models with a turnkey operation. This means that systems and procedures should be set up so that anyone could operate them and the business starts with that precise intention that the owner sells it. That way, the owner keeps distance between themselves and their operations and builds the business as a sell-able, autonomous machine. Anyone could walk into the business at any time and simply 'turn the key'.

Technician turn boss?!

There is a common assumption amongst small business owners that having a business is a 'lifestyle' more than professional choice. They see themselves setting the whole thing up in a month, doing it better and brighter than anyone else (thanks to those long years of industry experience). There is nothing about the job they don't know, so stepping up to owning your own business seems as simple as taking on the title 'boss'.

If only it was that easy...

The reality is that most people are simply 'technicians' who are not versed in the legal, financial and entrepreneurial facets of owning a trading operation. They assume that being manager mainly revolves around telling their employees who do all the work the whats and hows of the job. WRONG!

Turn key book

This book is really illuminating and famously life-changing. It reveals some really earthy truths about running your own business and the realities of being your own boss. About the challenges of being self-motivated, with noone to chastise you for slacking. About the downs of having no one to celebrate your success with but yourself. About the loneliness of being the only one responsible for oversights and mistakes, And the sheer darn frustration of improving your business one way possible: by even more hard, hard work and grind.

So why run your own business?!

Answer: read the rest of the blog :-D
- Victoria A.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The art of consumption

Image courtesy of fabulous illustration artist
 Julia Sonmi Heglund,
Consumption: what does it mean to you? If you are like most people, you are probably thinking of eating a Vegas-style buffet in a Hummer with a proud owner of a fresh pair of double Ds.

With all the (fully justified) negatives we have come to associate with excess consumption, it is time to speak in defense of the artful consumer.

A successful entrepreneur is a successful consumer. One of the key reasons why I am in business is because I am the ULTIMATE consumer. Food, literature, conversation, advice, sunshine... I soak it up.

I wake up in the morning to drown myself in coffee and stuff down my latest email intake of information and stimulation. I love to research recipes and get excited about gourmet food to the point of embarrassment. I bask in moments, hoard clothes, relish conversations and have been known to mistake random immobile objects for pie.

Chew on this: beneath the surface, and we are all animals, roaming for our next titbit of provisions. To see how deep this runs, just look at the language we use in daily life. We are constantly getting offered 'pieces of advice', are spending lazy Sundays 'devouring magazines', or 'gulping down' words. Consumption: we eat it up.
The natural instinct of a human being is to consume. We live in an over-stimulated world where large corporations have devised various mental and physical mechanism to enslave us to our needs. Our wants, needs and deepest desires now all come from magazines, advertisements and word of mouth gossips.
Rather than following our inner desires from 'within' we are now going 'without'. Without guidance, without direction, without satisfaction and without control. We are driven to fill a bottomless pit of emptiness with piles of nothing.
As business people, we have a corporate social responsibility to ensure that whatever product or service it is that we offer, it is creating something of positive value to the world, rather than just feeding more of its perceived 'needs' and 'wants'.
When I think of my label, STOC, I think of abundance. Abundance of products, abundance of creative design, abundance of sales, abundance of people to work with, abundance of friendships, connections and relationships that we make with everyone who is involved inworking with us. I think of endless supplies, endless creative and manufacturing processes, and endless customers to share our work with.
To understand the difference between overstimulated consumption and abundance we need to ask ourselves one question: Am I doing this because of INSPIRATION OR DESPERATION? If we are inspired to do what we love, abundance flows our way and there appears an infinite supply of all the things we need and desire. If we are doing something because we are fearful and desperate to avoid something (poverty, loneliness) we are immediately making ourselves victims of senseless consumption.
If you are in business to help yourself and others do more of what you love, congratulations! You have far to go. If you are in business to buy yourself a job - think again.
To consume well, establish your values and what is important to you and don't compromise. This simple piece of advice has served me in professional as well as personal life. Whilst it may not be perfect, it certainly works far better than the alternative! I've never heard anyone praised for being weak and confused.
An excellent speaker, Amir Zorghi, who runs a daily and weekly email of 'The Quest for Truth', advises us to give whatever it is that we lack, as this is what will give us what we perceive we need.
If you need kindness, give kindness wherever you go. If you are short on support, take care to consciously offer support and help to everyone you come across. Whatever you are seeking, you find it in you.
This applies in business. If you feel there are not enough reliable people in the industry you work in, always stand by your promises. If you feel the workers are often mistreated or underpaid, treat others as you want to be treated. If you feel there needs to be more independent suppliers or creative thinkers, become one!
Use the need for consumption as a tool to give, give, give more and more of your valuable product and service to servce the world. 
If that's not enough, here are the words of GOD: 'Give, and though shall receive'.
Now, be satisfied.
-Victoria A.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why be an entrepreneur??

Quick post on the pros of being an entrepreneur:

1) Create things you love

Not everybody gets into business because they love what they do. Just the successful ones.

It is your love for what you do that will give you inspiration to get up every morning, provide you with enlightening ideas to build and grow your business and help you persevere through the hard patches.

Moreover, people are far more supportive of people that are visibly passionate about their business. These people don't 'sell' their product or service. They simple share something brilliant with the world.

2) Serve your values

How many of you are frustrated about limits on the way 'business is done around the place'? As long as you are working for someone else, you are going to be working for a business that has a different set of values to you, and this translates in how things are run. For example, if the business is always cutting costs on customer service, and you believe customers come first, it will be a constant cause of friction which will be impossible to change.

Working for yourself provides a wonderful opportunity to right the 'wrongs' of your chosen industry as you see them, and paint a bit of the world with your own colour.

N.B. Dr John DeMartini is an excellent, life-changing international speaker on value systems and how they serve your life. His work is an absolute must read for anyone who intends to have a good life.

3) Live happy

If you do what you love, every day is an opportunity to grow, create and prosper. This doesn't mean filling in each invoice with a crazy grin on your face. This means seeing the seeds of happiness and contentment in everything you do. Even doing those boring daily tasks or dealing with difficult people becomes more manageable if you realise that all of this is serving your dream of creating more of what you love.

There is no 'good' or 'bad' - only how you see things. Being an entrepreneur, and being a boss of yourself, your time, money and attention, and committing yourself to what you truly LOVE can lead to nothing but abundance.

Why wouldn't you want to be an entrepreneur?!

- Victoria

Friday, July 30, 2010

Follow baa leader

What is an organisation without a leader? Dwindling. Leaders being as important as they are (and they will like that statement very much), I thought I would make a discussion about leadership the first extended entry on this blog.

Looking for an appropriate metaphor for an organisation, I think of pie. I think of pie a lot in general, but relating it to the topic at hand I can say this: leaders are like the cherries on the cake of the organistaion. They are bright, attractive (ideally), large (often) and high (don't get ideas now) for all to see. Many of the world's largest organisations are built by the blood, sweat, time, commitment, hard work and reputation of their leaders. Think of Brand Trump, or Richard 'Virgin' Branson. Branson is the only reason I always fly Virgin even if their Live Entertainment is always dead.

There are many opinions about what makes a good leader. However, in leadership - as in life - I think we can outline some general basic laws. 

1) Be the expert
Nobody wants to follow a person who is incompetent, clueless, and leaves others to do their dirty work. Going back to Branson, he will never have to sell another music magazine in his life (he also will never have to wash his own hair or light his own candles) but, equipped with a mini van and a change purse, I reckon he'd do very well.

It is impossible to respect a person who you feel is beneath you in competency and vigour. It is never nice to do somebody else's dirty work. Therefore, be the expert and command inherent control, rather than having to force respect from others.

2) If he works for you, you work for him
How you treat other people says more about you than it does about them. Frankly, I don't believe that everyone 'has potential' and rough diamonds are generally more of the former, and less of the latter. However, if you have made the decision to work with someone, it is your responsibility to follow through. Getting frustrated, angry or worse - personal -will only exacerbate the situation. 

Nonetheless, life is too short to work with people that you genuinely dislike or clash with. If you have made a commitment, keep calm and carry on. Then fire them.

3) Admit mistakes
It is a very attractive quality to be able to admit your mistakes. If you are in a pickle, you can't find a solution until you see the problem. Being brave enough to stare trouble in the face commands respect and has more potential for a resolution than hiding in the stationary cupboard muttering 'this isn't happening' to a ruler.

4) Be confident. Be honest.
No matter how hard the truth is to admit, it’s not as hard as having to maintain a lie. Sure, we have all told a white lie, and that’s fine. It is only when the lie gets so big it needs its own postcode that we must admit that we have to be honest.

One of the best decisions of my life happened as, aged eight, I stood up in the middle of a class of 30 and admitted that it was indeed I that stuck a mildly offensive pornographic sticker to a classmate’s diary. I thought it was going to be a joke and it turned out to be an intensive investigation. The teacher was heaving her ample bosom, talking of a declined state of morality in the world and threatening the police.

Following the shock of my confident admission, my classmates just relaxed and some, I felt, would have broken up into applause had the teacher still not been holding her finger to the morality police button speed dial. This taught me one of the most important lessons of my life: you don’t have to have everybody on your side. If you are lying, you are only ever really lying to yourself. Be confident, be honest. If you do the right thing, what can they say?

5) Have fun
Where would we be without fun? It may be a long time until you can retire in the Bahamas with a cabana boy and a funnel to a margarita tank. In fact, that will probably never happen.

Every day and every moment has the potential for fun and positivity. If more leaders realized this, more workers would too. It is the responsibility of leaders to improve the quality of life for their workers. And it all begins with FUN.

So what’s the best way to lead? Through example.

So less talking, more walking folks. Fun, anyone?


Leadership essay

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. But if you plagiarize, be creative, folks.

Leaders play a significant role in influencing an organisation’s culture.  Discuss.

Leader duck promoting use of feet to walk on water.
A leader is not just a manager. In Foundations of Management, the authors define a leader as someone who is 'appointed or [emerged] from within a group and are able to influence others for reasons beyond formal authority' (Bergman, Coulter, Robbins, Stagg, p. 568, 2006). There is therefore no doubt that leaders exert a great influence over company culture. Company morals, values and practices are often shaped from the top down by figureheads in charge of operations. From personal experience, we can all name times when we have been very influenced by the head of a business we were working for, and we can all name corporate figures who are synonymous with their business ethic. Leaders acts as good examples, human beacons in times of crisis and triumph and figures of authority to their employees. They can also be the face of a company to the outside world, and are therefore frequently synonymous with the company's reputation. Thus whilst the extent to which this statement is true does vary on a case by case basis, we can say with assurance that leaders certainly have the ability to be a driving force is defining an organisation's culture. Perhaps they cannot mould or dictate it, but it may even be faintly ridiculous to say that someone could be a leader without the ability to exert influence on the way their company is run. This essay will explore the ways in which leaders can be a force in influencing corporate culture. 

It is a paradox to say that a leader is an un-influential figure. If one cannot influence people, one cannot lead. Visionary leadership shapes company culture and is vital for corporate success. In 4 Pillars of Success, Dan Sanders discusses the importance of 'leadership with accountability' to securing long-term corporate stability. "we never get away from the responsibility part of it as a leader", he says. 'We delegate authority to folks to make decisions on our behalf...but the responsibility is still ours' (Sanders, p. 28, 2009). This supports the idea that a leader is not a detachable part of an organisation, but an intrinsic element of its success. Leadership style is integral to corporate culture as it influences how all the members of an organisation move together towards a common goal. A bad leader of people will earn no respect from their employees and the company culture will be correspondingly that of mistrust, hostility and caution.

We can begin by analysing some obvious cases of leaders shaping their organisations. Bill Gates of Microsoft, Richard Branson of Virgin and Donald Trump of Trump Organisation are all supremely successful examples of influential leaders. These individuals have incorporated their personal values into their organisations and they way they conduct business seems to reflect their personalities, attitudes and style. Through popular media, we are all aware of Richard Branson's fun, no-nonsesnse approach and 'can do' attitude, Donald Trump's resilience and shrewd business sense and Bill Gates' passion for innovation and commitment to responsible business practice that is complemented by his personal charity, the Bill Gates Foundation. Academics such as Scott Prudham have commented on Richard Branson's entrepreneurial spirit and his capacity for making personal interests or concerns, such as environmental responsibility, a driving force in his work. In 'Pimping climate change', Prudham examines Branson's commitment to extend his personal concerns about the environment to pledging 1.6 billion British pounds to fighting climate change. That is an excellent example of an influential corporate figure.

Visionary leadership of this kind is the easiest in terms of pinpointing a leader's ability to influence culture. Vision and charisma are not something that everyone in a position of authority possesses. However, few become leaders by accident, and whoever becomes a leader must, be definition, have a degree of ambition and drive to succeed, and is therefore motivated to make a difference and take charge of others. Even if leaders do not generate their own ideas for change, response to trends in management are still a way of influencing corporate culture. Individual leaders may not be responsible for the growing demand in the modern employment market to find meaningful work, for instance, but the ability ' "to provide and manage meaning" through leadership or organizational culture' (Lips-Wiersma, Morris, p.491, 2009) is a key concept of being a leader, and gives potential for influence. A leader can take an idea and perpetuate it throughout their organisation, affecting how their company does business. 

Occasionally, leaders do become trapped in their own bubble and seem to have little to do with the organisation or its culture on the whole. Do you have CEO disease? suggests that leaders can be too absorbed in the information vacuum around them to notice company changes, and are isolated from the overall company culture. In return, they begin to be ostracised, feared and disrespected. Leadership requires effective training, and relies on the leader's ability to exhibit integrity and loyalty to the workforce, which builds trust. Not everyone has the capacity for this, and these leaders may be less able to influence company culture than their more motivates colleagues. However, this does not take away from their capacity to do so - merely shows that they are not willing or able to exploit their opportunities. 

It is also important to remember that leaders don't just go from the top, they are spread throughout the company. Leaders in an organisation are not just the ones making the executive decisions, but all their helpers and subsidiaries throughout the veins of the business. All of these individuals have the potential to feed company culture. In Where do we go from here? (Craig, Charles, Henry, 2009), the authors discuss strategies for effective team leadership which may lead to more success than 'simple downward influence from a hierarchical leader' (p. 234). They argue that teams 'consistently outperform' centralised leadership companies, as all team members are engaged and everyone has a say in making decisions. This leads to a healthier, more egalitarian company culture. Thus we need to challenge our traditional conception of one, single, executive leader and accept a more broad-minded view where an organisation may have multiple leaders, all playing a hand in shaping company culture. Indeed, shared leadership may the very culture of the company in itself.

Leadership is also not limited to decision-making, delegation of responsibility or going towards a goal. It can, importantly, take the form of motivation, support or spiritual guidance. Company culture is more than just about how the company goes about its operations and includes the ethos in the workplace, issues such as work-life balance and lifestyle habits, and spirituality. 

Trust is a major issue in the workplace. If employees feel that the company and their leader have their best interests at heart, this leads to far more productive and committed work. In his book, 'Perspectives on Leadership: From the Science of Management to Its Spiritual Heart', Gilbert Fairholm states that 'Leaders play a major role in helping us shape our life. Leaders define business and its practice. They determine the character of society. They define our teams, groups and communities. They set and administer government policy. In all walks of life, leaders' behaviours set the course others follow and determine the measures used to account for group actions". Thus the author suggests that, whilst it's easy to think of leaders in terms of authority, it is also important to think about the 'total task of leadership', with the leader as a trust figure, guide and support for their inferiors.

Personal experience would tell all of us that brusk, hostile and incompetent leaders cannot help but affect the culture of the workplace. Leaders are, first and foremost, people - and like all people, they exude positive or negative qualities that affect the environment around them. As the most prominent figure in the workplace, the scale of this influence is magnified by a leader. 

A leader can achieve much if they know how to translate their personal qualities into company culture. DAY & Zimmerman CEO, Harold Yoh explores this in his article, 'From Values to Leadership: Translating a CEO's Personal Commitment into a Company Culture'. The article details Yoh's determination to make 'safety, integrity, diversity and success' paramount in the company, breaking down the components of maintaing the system-wide change can't happen from the bottom up,' he says. 'For values to truly permeate the company culture and become the foundation for decisions that power our vision, they must live and breathe first and foremost in the CEO's office, and expand throughout the senior leadership and the balance of the organisation'.

As in the DAY & Zimmermann example, company culture can directly apply to company performance. Authors Yong and Pheng talk of the importance of organisational culture in implementing total quality management of Singapore building contractors. They argue that firms with a strong, comprehensive structure tightly implement the TQM elements of top management leadership, which can be crucial in setting the quality of work. Firms with a strong influence of management over the ethos of the company may therefore produce better work in this particular industry. 

Welcome to the Entrepreneursheep blog

The intention of this blog is to be a ‘grazing patch’ for budding entrepreneurs, business students, STOC Clothing fans and fanlets and the generally curious. It is half entrepreneurship reflections diary, half events and seminars diary and round-up, all topped with a heady dash of the fabulously random.

Each entry will be a marker in the development of my own business ventures, STOC Organic Clothing and Exotic Voyage Models, a thought or reflection on business events going on in the locality of Sydney, or a snippet of an academic thought.

Enjoy and happy grazing!