In her role as Founder & CEO of Paycheck Plus, Anne Reilly runs a rapidly expanding business. One of her many achievements is to have built the most decorated payroll bureau in Ireland with over 30 industry awards to her credit in recent years! Not only a CEO, Anne holds Diplomas in Company Directorship from the Institute of Directors, Neuro Linguistic Programming from the Irish Institute of NLP and is a qualified Executive Coach. She’s currently doing a Masters in Business Strategy. An industry innovator and thoughtful people leader, we invited her to join us at this month’s Leadership Corner to share her insights for fellow business owners.
What advice do you have for Founders launching a Startup?
Anne Reilly: There are so many things I’ve learned along the way but some of the key areas are:
- Passion – only work in an area that you really, really love. Otherwise, as you hit the bumps along the way, your business will become a chore. You need to really enjoy what you do.
- Don’t Try To Do Everything Yourself – Hire or outsource to professionals – it’s cheaper and much more efficient and enables you to focus on what you do best.
- Fail Fast, Fail Cheap – The advice that served me well on many occasions came from a friend in just four words: “Fail fast, fail cheap”. Before immersing yourself deeply, test and see if it will work. If it does, keep going; if not, you haven’t lost your shirt and you can always refine and test again with something different!
- Understand Your Customer – It’s only by understanding their world, taking their journey in their shoes that we really understand the issues, obstacles, trials and situations that they face. (interestingly enough, former interviewee Ann Campbell said the same, check out her interview for more)
- Customer Focus – Focus your efforts on what your customer wants, not what you think they want. If you’re not sure, ask them! There’s no point in having a brilliant solution that doesn’t match your customers needs or wants!
- Continually Develop Yourself – Attend courses, engage an executive coach, surround yourself with like-minded people who will help you realise your potential.
- Encourage Your Team – Further to the point above, encourage and support every member of your team to do likewise.
- Continuous Learning – To meet the constantly changing needs of our customers, we need to grow and develop ourselves as individuals, both personally and professionally. This requires us to be constantly learning! I believe that is what has equipped me to face change and complexity with optimism.
Who Are Your Leadership Role Models?
There are many amazing leaders in Ireland with whom I have had the pleasure to interact. The ones I’ve selected are all women – maybe that’s because our paths have crossed!
For her ability to succeed despite a variety of challenges, I respect Anne Heraty from CPl. For supporting female talent and entrepreneurship, I admire Paula Fitzsimons from Going For Growth and ACORNS. Mary McKenna from Tour America and Oonagh O’Hagan from Meaghers Pharmacy both excel at innovation. And last but not least, Louise Phelan from Phelan Energy demonstrates tremendous drive and determination. These amazing ladies have inspired and taught me so much!
Female business owners receive less than half the level of investments of their male counterparts. What is this due to, in your opinion?
The problem is that women don’t boldly ask. They lack the confidence to get out there because they don’t believe they deserve their success. They play down their potential, for fear that they may not reach their goals and objectives. They are more conservative than men, despite being more successful. If we were to focus more on emphasising our greatness and playing down the risk, we would probably inspire the funders to invest! Caution tempers vision and that probably comes across in fund pitches.
Despite the low levels of funding, businesses run by women produce more than twice the revenue. Any thoughts on why this is?
From my experience managing male and female executives, both have a variety of skills and competencies. Perhaps the reason why businesses run by females are more lucrative is because they consider the proposition more carefully, including the risks. Consequently when investment does land they are more prepared for the downside. Men are more confident so they present their business in a more optimistic light by focusing on the positives whereas women give a more balanced, rigorous view. They will have considered all outcomes and are better prepared to manage their businesses when the going gets tough.
Launching A Startup
If you are launching or running a startup we hope these tips and advice from a veteran of business like Anne are helpful. Integrate the advice into your planning from the get go and you will experience the benefits. And, make sure you subscribe to our newsletter below so you don’t miss out on future Leadership Corner interviews. If you’d like to get involved as an interviewee, or need help increasing your sales, then get in touch today.
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