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Business is Boring #41: Wendy Thompson urges businesswomen to put themselves forward for recognition

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt.

If there’s one thing that there isn’t a shortage of on social media, it’s social media experts. You can’t tweet without meeting a maven or guru telling you it’s a two way conversation and about interacting. Yet even into this sea of experts there is room for a company to arrive and thrive by offering the kind of advice and support that leads to business results, advice worth paying for. Our guest today did just this. The founder and CEO of Socialites, a company that has won awards for its content and placed on the Deloitte fast 50 as one of New Zealand’s fastest growing companies. Wendy Thompson joins the podcast to talk about the social landscape, how you handle and create super-size growth and about her new SaaS style venture Start Social that provides online courses to train companies in all they need to know, from beginners on up, that already has happy customers and big plans.

Either download (right click to save), have a listen below, subscribe through iTunes (RSS feed) or read on for a transcribed excerpt.

Advertising and marketing is a great industry for saying ‘enter awards and get yourself the recognition’. But there’s probably quite a few people out there who have fast-growing businesses and good businesses and good ideas who maybe don’t put themselves forward for the Westpac Business Awards or for the PRINZ Impact awards.

I highly, highly recommend people enter them. The Deloitte Fast 50? Easiest one in the world to enter. Pretty much all you have to put in is your financials. It’s revenue, not even profits. You just put your numbers in. Either you’re fast-growing or you’re not. And also staff numbers. Things like the Westpac Business awards, which I’m actually running off to do the final judging of this afternoon, I’ve been a judge there for three years and it’s my favourite one to judge because they in-depthly go into all the business. Not only do you analyse your business as you write about it, you then get the judges come out – who are amazing business people – and as you talk about your business and to the business owners, you kind of give them all these hints and tips and stuff. It’s quite nice. As the marketing expert with the Westpac Business Awards I’ve had quite a few businesses afterwards say ‘hey that was really helpful. I put that strategy in place and it’s given me a 10% sales lift’ or whatever. And it’s like yeah, cool. So you kinda get this extra expert help which is pretty epic.

I’d also really like to take this opportunity to say to women business owners, I go to a lot of business awards and a lot of business functions and it is still, most of the time, 80% guys. And I know for a fact that 50% of New Zealand businesses are owned by women. We’ve actually got slightly higher revenues than the male-owned businesses yet we’re not at the awards and we’re not being represented. Come on, ladies, get out there! I just would like to encourage a lot more women to enter business awards.

A lot of people approach me to come on this podcast. Hardly any of whom are women. It’s about an eight to two ratio of men approaching and women are harder to come on the show as well. I wonder if it’s some kind of a cultural thing about not putting themselves forward that if only more men had a cultural thing about not putting themselves forward.

We talk about it being the imposter syndrome a little bit. I’ve just joined EO, Entrepreneur Organisation and it’s an incredible organisation. There’s about 80 of us in New Zealand, we all own significant businesses, but we don’t have many women in there. When I go along to these events I’m like oh my gosh my business is amazing but it’s so small compared to these other guys. But then I notice that the guys there don’t feel that at all. They’re just like ‘I’m here, I’m amazing’. We need more women just going ‘hey I’m doing something really cool’. Entering these awards, being on your podcast, getting some PR will only help your business. It’s never going to do anything detrimental to it. So just get out there and do it.