Australian world-champion swimmer and small-business owner Michael Klim understands that reaching out to others doesn’t always come naturally for leaders. “When you create your own business, it’s either your own invention, or your own investment — or both,” he explains. “It can be a struggle to let go and put your faith in other people.”
But teamwork can lift personal endeavours to a whole new level of competition, and finding a common ground is an accessible way for any leader to begin. “Everyone on the swim team used to fill out a questionnaire about their personal values,” he says. “We knew there was always a level of commonality in the team, whether it was friendship or fulfilment. We’ve now built a similar culture in my business, Milk & Co.”
A values-led approach can enable small businesses to build strong and supportive networks whatever their budget. Sometimes, people with the right mindset and passion for the job can be of more value than their more experienced counterparts.
Either way, drawing more deeply from the pool of talent around you can help you build your business capacity. “I remember the day we relaunched as Clean Bar Milk & Co,” Klim says. “Our bottle samples arrived only half an hour before the event. Things were disappearing and coming together within the last few hours. But at no point was anyone panicking.”
“If I’d tried to do everything by myself — the logistics, the press, the marketing — there’s no way it would have come together.”
Michael’s top tip for using your network to your advantage: