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11 Steps Towards Launching Your First Business

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Have you got a business idea in the back of your mind that just won’t go away? Transitioning from daydreaming to action can be daunting but by taking things one-step at a time you can beat the fear that’s holding you back.


These 11 positive steps to launch your business can help you take your entrepreneurial dream and turn it into a reality.


1. Become an expert in your industry

Researching the industry you want to enter is key to understanding what works and what doesn’t. Some university libraries provide access to reports from companies such as Mintel. If you’re not a student, then this list of market research businesses will get you started. Trove also has historical industry information. Try and become an expert in your field – knowledge is power.

2. Research the market

Get inside the minds of your customers. Learn their challenges – what they like, what they don’t like and why. This information can help you develop your product and service offering, and find your niche. Read how Innocent Drinks did this in the UK.

3. Join networking groups

Hearing about successes and challenges that other entrepreneurs have faced can help you recognise your own success and pick yourself back up in hard times. It can also help you spread the message about what your business does and the products and services you want to sell. Inspiring Rare Birds is a global hub that’s dedicated to supporting established entrepreneurs and women who want to start a business. They hold regular networking events, provide entrepreneurs with mentors, and produce resources and information to help start and grow businesses.

4. Write a business plan

Business plans are great for getting your thoughts on to paper and will help you set goals, expectations and timelines. Not only does a business plan map out growth or prepare for bumps in the road, it can help you secure investment. Once you have your plan nailed down, the next step is to write a strategy for how you’re going to reach these goals.

5. Work out your UVP

What is your unique value proposition? How do your products and services solve your customers’ problems or help their situation? Defining why your offerings have a competitive edge is an important step in ensuring they provide better value than the competition.

6. Improve your financial literacy

Financial literacy is an area where many entrepreneurs go wrong. Making sure you are financially savvy early on will start your business on the right foot. Accounting software such as Xero can empower you to manage the finances yourself.

7. Decide what skills you need inside the business

Most entrepreneurs are the sole owner of their companies, but many aspiring entrepreneurs also seek out co-founders to help get their ideas off the ground, especially if they need tech founders inside their businesses. This is where incubators, networking events and platforms such as LinkedIn can really help you form the necessary connections.

8. Create a marketing plan

A clear marketing strategy is all about getting your brand out into the world and helping your audiences understand your products and services. If successful, the plan will help you increase revenue. If marketing isn’t your forte, seek the help of an agency or consultant.

9. Join an incubator

Incubators bring entrepreneurs together in one physical location so they can network and access resources, such as mentoring, lawyers and accountants to help their companies grow. Often those running incubators have money to invest and can also help founders access venture capitalists and angel investors.

10. Nail the branding

The name and visual identity of your business is a hugely important part of differentiating yourself in the market. Getting the branding right can help you portray what your business is about in an instant and attract the right customers.

11. Get your brand online

Once you are happy with your brand name it’s time to register for your domain name and build your website. Budgets may be tight so consider a platform such as Squarespace. There are customisable templates that are simple to set up, and you can secure your domain name easily. As your business grows you can look at doing a full website build with the help of a developer.

These steps are the foundations of your business journey. So what are you waiting for? Take the leap and get started.


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9 Brilliant Business Bloggers You Should Know About

From thought provoking and informative to amusing and controversial – these are 9 great business bloggers who inform and inspire


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1. Jane Copeland is a marketing strategist whose blog Coping With Jane, addresses how to build a personal brand while maintaining a balance between work and life. If you’re a woman looking to position yourself as an authority and leader in your niche, this is the blog for you. Unlike most other business blogs, it offers plenty of video content.

2. Founder of Red Balloon Naomi Simson, writes a motivational blog which provides practical business advice that can be applied to real life. She offers advice for new entrepreneurs and shares stories of her own personal successes and setbacks on the road to success. Her blog was rated second best business blog for 2016 by Smart Company.

3. Social media marketing is a core part of most businesses, and Donna Moritz’s Socially Sorted is a blog that addresses ways to improve your social presence. It’s an accessible and enjoyable to read.

4. Posse by Rebekah Campbell, is a timeless blog that follows the journey of a startup founder. It describes the rollercoaster ride of owning your own business and delves into how problems can be solved with technology.

5. Katrina Read is a creative strategist and her technical blog Kat’s Insight is perfect for business owners who want to understand and tap into the potential of analytics and big data. Content includes posts on budgeting and telecommunications, with real life examples offered.

6. Steve Sammartino is a published author and business technologist who writes content relating to startups, new technology, and data. With posts on everything from futurism to privacy issues and efficiency, Startupblog is a wealth of information for new business owners.

7. Kelly Exeter is the author of Swish Design – a blog garnered to small business owners with a desire to boost their business through digital marketing, social media, and great design. This blog takes some of the pressure off when it comes to needing to be a digital expert.

8. Small Paper Things is a blog brought to you by Kate Cook – a digital marketer who writes offering advice to entrepreneurs who wish to boost their online marketing results. If you’re doing your own digital marketing or you’re seeking a fresh outlook, check out this blog.

9. Rayn Ong is a Sydney-based start-up investor who writes on all things in this sphere. He is an investor with a tech background and mostly finances early-stage SaaS and marketplace businesses. Rayn has invested in more than 25 companies and writes on how to become an angel investor, what to look out for and how to pitch successfully.

Are you a founder with an established blog on technology, logistics, sales and marketing, leadership or human resources?

Rare Birds’ lead writer and editor Angela Gosnell would love to hear from you. Email her with links to your articles.


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18 Tips For Managing Your Trickiest Clients

We’ve all had one (or several!) clients who keep us working late into the night. Here are 18 ways to help manage their expectations.


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  1. Identify the stakeholders: Understanding the role your clients’ have within their organisation, such as their level of importance and sphere of influence, makes it easier to understand their needs and what impacts their decision-making process. Knowing their pain points will definitely help you manage their expectations more easily and effectively.
  2. Set goals: It’s really hard to manage success if you don’t have a strategy in place from the start. Explain your methodology to themand how you’re going to reach the goals. Set a timeline, showing them what you’re going to achieve and then do your damnedest to stick to it.
  3. Understand their budget: Provide detailed quotes, monitor how much you’re spending and stay within budget. When the job is done, provide invoices that are clear and easy to understand and don’t include nasty hidden costs that haven’t previously been discussed.
  4. Be transparent: Be honest, have guidelines and boundaries in place that are easily understood, and talk to your clients about both of your expectations.
  5. Be responsive: Stay connected, respond to their emails promptly and keep them informed at every stage of the process.
  6. Face-to-face contact: Phone conversations and emails only go so far in maintaining and building great client relationships. Meeting with your client regularly helps to deepen your connection, keeping them engaged and ensuring you and your business are top-of-mind.
  7. Listen to them, but hear what they say: Understand what they really want from you. This sounds like a given, but what it really means is listening carefully to their requests – even if these seem to be coming in a constant stream – and understanding their motivations.
  8. Know the challenges they face: Accommodate these with the services you offer. It could be technology you use in-house that helps solve their problems or individuals and organisations you partner with that can provide them with services they would struggle to find elsewhere.
  9. Build trust: Do what you say you’re going to do and let them know ahead of time if circumstances are likely to change.
  10. Don’t be a ‘yes’ person: Your client is paying for your skills and knowledge. If you think they are suggesting something that could prevent you delivering positive results, don’t be the shy retiring type – speak up and make recommendations that you know will work.
  11. Build detailed reports regularly: Reporting enables your clients to understand the impact you’re having on their business. Highlight your achievements in weekly or monthly breakdowns and make recommendations for areas where they could see improved results.
  12. Be innovative: Come up with ideas that will save them time, money and resources.
  13. Use your connections: Your personal branding can help grow your clients’ audience and promote the work you’re doing for them. Post, like, share and retweet their articles.
  14. Educate them: Your client needs to understand how you will achieve your results and what’s involved in the process. This is particularly relevant if it the process is new to them or if it will take you an extended period of time to achieve the results you’re aiming for.
  15. Teach your team: The relationship you have with your clients should be seamless, so make sure your team is kept up to date with the work you’re doing with them and that every touchpoint they have with them is a positive one.
  16. Be consistent: Be professional at all times, especially when you’re under pressure of deadline.
  17. Go above and beyond: Under-promise and over-deliver. Be conservative in your estimates, so you delight clients when you exceed their expectation.
  18. Be helpful: Send information, links, events and so on you think will help grow their business.

You’re on their side

Your clients are trying to achieve results that make them look good in their own organisation and – if they’re a founder – will help them drive a solid return on investment. Having an in depth understanding of the boxes they need to tick will help you navigate even the trickiest of relationships.

Are you a founder who is experiencing challenges with your client relationships? Rare Birds can connect you with a mentor who can help steer you through the maze of uncertainty, which may be creating problems for you and your co-founder.

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What It Really Takes To Scale Your Business


This Is What It Really Takes To Scale Your Business

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Reaching global audiences is a focus for most SMBs, but how can you tackle the challenges of scaling?


Rare Birds Founder and CEO Jo Burston describes what needs to happen to make scaling possible.


First, she says, you need to define why you want to scale – considering what scaling means from a build and impact perspective – and then how to go about it.

“We know that technology and the number of people we have within the organisation is scalable, but how do we apply our resources and the capabilities in a combination that creates the ‘how’? That is the secret sauce ingredient to entrepreneurship,” says Jo Burston.

She has successfully scaled three businesses, with her largest business Job Capital, forecast to turn over $40 million this year. She says to determine the size and impact of scaling you need to strategise and implement actions that enable it to happen.

“If I was starting my first business and I wanted to scale, I might think that scaling means reaching seven capital cities in Australia. But now, 10 years later, scaling for me is, ‘I want to be able to reach everyone on the planet who has the internet’.”

How to get started

One way to go about reaching “everyone on the planet” is to first test all your ideas about how to scale before building anything. Consider how time, costs and your resources impact these experiments.

“I put about six to eight months of thinking into how to do it… I anticipate five different ways of scaling a business and then look at it from a technology perspective first, a financial cost perspective second, a human capital and resources perspective third, and then an impact perspective fourth,” she says.

“If all those things line up for me and they all look like green lights, and I’m capable of resourcing those four areas, then scalability will occur.”

If one of those four things is missing though, it’s unlikely that scaling will be successful.

Getting the technology right

Jo Burston says she managed to scale Job Capital – an essentially bricks and mortar business – by automating parts of it. “I could see straight away that by removing the friction or removing the points of contact where a human could be replaced by an automated piece of technology that I would be able to scale the business much faster.”

With Big Data, a business she launched in 2013, she scaled it by building a platform for an entire contingent workforce. “It was a really complicated piece of work. We mapped out the process for the customer, the company and the candidate.”

She looked at who the customer was, what the product needed to be and how she could multiply the effect of that. She also considered how many sets of hands and decisions were being made during this long and difficult process.

It took a year to map out a technology-enabled, scalable product. Then the team started building the technology incrementally, testing if each piece worked before proceeding to the next piece. They also recruited a volunteer customer to test the platform for time-efficiency and the user interface.

“It was a long piece of planning and processing, and we didn’t actually build anything until we could see that it was scalable – until we had the resources; the human talent to help it happen, and the time that was required to do that.”

She says entrepreneurs often see scaling as a fast move. “For me, it has always been a slow, measured, carefully thought through strategic plan. It’s a big investment, so you’ve got to make it work and be prepared in that journey to iterate and pivot without a lot of cost or time being lost.”

Justifying the costs

If you’re struggling to justify the cost of developing a platform that costs, say $50,000, it helps to weigh it up against the cost of hiring someone for a year for the same amount of money.

“If I bought myself a $50,000 diamond ring in one year everyone would look at that and go, ‘that’s unbelievable, how can you afford that?’ But I was putting $50,000 people in my business without having the same ‘wow’ factor. So, I thought, ‘why don’t I replace this $50,000 of person, who is only able to deliver for one year and convert that into $50,000 worth of technology, which can deliver for me year-on-year and it’s repeatable, and scaleable?’”

She then worked out how to do that many times over, so it was hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of investment, “however, I knew the long term, scalable returns would also return to me, and they did.”

Technology is also depreciable and has research and development benefits. “When I pay an employee at that level, I’ve still got to pay tax and on costs, so add another 20 per cent for turning the lights on, so to speak. Whereas, with technology there are attributes that not only progress the business faster, but there are incentives, from a tax perspective, to do it as well.”

Sharing the vision

As the company expands, Jo Burston says you need to be clear about the vision, because it’s the businesses’ guiding rudder when things go wrong. She recommends sharing the vision openly with your employees, so they can decide for themselves if they can cope with the pressure. She typically shows her team the goals and workload for the next 12 to 18 months, “setting the vision for that growth pain before it happens”.

“People thrived in that environment or they didn’t. They would often leave, because it was just too challenging for them to be stretched and to be that uncomfortable.”

Those who embraced it grew as the company scaled. “They just did incredible stuff, because they didn’t know they could even do it,” she says.

“When you look back in 12 months’ time and really actually measure their success, and not in a numerical way, but what their behaviours were and what they learnt in the process… that’s got a really incredible ripple effect in a person. If they achieve something and they’re acknowledged for it, then they’re going to try to do a little bit better next time until all of a sudden they get to a point where they look at themselves and go, ‘oh my god, I’ve changed. Look how I’ve grown’.

She says employees also have a responsibility to understand the vision, because fast growth companies need people who can get in the door, reach benchmark and keep up with the pace of growth. “Individuals have a responsibility to ask themselves, ‘how am I going to stay relevant in an organisation that’s moving faster than I am at the moment?’”

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These VIPs Hated Public Speaking And The Thought Of Performing Made Adele Physically Ill

If the thought of speaking in public makes you feel sick to the stomach then you can probably relate to these entertainers and entrepreneurs.


They felt the fear too, but prove that you can develop winning tactics for overcoming it.



Many of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs and entertainers seem like naturals when it comes to networking, public speaking and performing. They can wow audiences and seem to connect effortlessly with guests at parties, and events.

Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret: many of the world’s most successful people struggled to become comfortable in front of audiences.

For small business owners as well as billionaire business tycoons and pop icons, setting aside fears can take an immense amount of effort, counselling and support. Regardless of the sizes of their businesses and fan-bases – and the popularity of their brands – there is a common thread among all the entrepreneurs and entertainers you’ll see below. Each person found their business and personal brand grew exponentially when they put themselves on stage for the entire world to see.

1. Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet, an investor worth $73.1 billion, used to have a debilitating fear of public speaking. In college, he’d plan his classes in an effort to avoid any course that might involve speaking in front of others. At one point, he tried to face his fear head-on by enrolling in a public speaking class, but he dropped the course before it had begun.

In his 2009 biography The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, he said he was so terrified of public speaking, “I would throw up”.

At 21, Buffet decided that he needed to change. He enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course with a handful of other participants who struggled with the same public speaking phobia.

The course helped him shed his fears of expressing himself in front of others. Of public speaking, Buffet has said: “You’ve got to be able to communicate in life and it’s enormously important. Schools, to some extent, under-emphasise that. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”

He overcame his fear of public speaking by finding a group of like-minded people to learn and grow with. Today, Buffet’s advice on investing and other financial matters makes headlines around the world.

2. Adele

Even veteran performers suffer from stage fright. Despite performing in front of millions of people during her career, Adele has struggled with being comfortable on stage and admitted she was “scared of audiences”.

“One show in Amsterdam I was so nervous, I escaped out the fire exit. I’ve thrown up a couple of times,” she said, during an interview with Rolling Stone.

The pop star opened up about her tactic for calming her stage fright. She said she found strength in Beyoncé’s alter ego Sasha Fierce. Combining Sasha Fierce with the memory of late country icon June Carter, Adele created ‘Sasha Carter’ – a composite that gives her a boost of confidence to take to the stage.

3. Richard Branson

The founder of the world-renowned Virgin brand is another example of an entrepreneur who had to overcome public speaking fears. The business icon says he, “loathes making speeches, and always has”. He recalls a school assignment where he had to speak in front of his classmates, and a bell would ring every time he stumbled over his words. Decades later, Branson says he still breaks out in a sweat when he remembers that task.

Now Branson has a few simple tips for people who struggle with networking and speaking:

• Imagine yourself in a comfortable situation, like being at home surrounded by family, while you are speaking onstage.
• Practice often so you can get comfortable with talking to large groups.
• Prepare before you speak to others so you are fully confident in what you are going to share.

4. Ana Flores

Ana Flores is the founder of the #WeAllGrow blogging network. Flores has to speak in front of others and network on a daily basis. She has had some major speaking assignments as well, such as the address she gave on gender diversity at the White House.

Like others on this list, Flores was once terrified by being in the limelight. Her advice for overcoming your public speaking fears? Never say ‘no’ to a speaking assignment on topics that you believe in and are comfortable with, and make sure that your passion for a topic comes from within so that your speech is genuine and moving.

5. Mark Zuckerberg

Even Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the world´s most popular networking website Facebook, had to face networking and public speaking fears. When Zuckerberg first stepped into the limelight he received criticism for being a poor presenter. In some interviews he’d sweat profusely or stumble over words to the point where it was distracting for viewers. As a young entrepreneur he had a lot to learn about getting in front of crowds.

Mark Zuckerberg at G8 in Deauville, France


Observant viewers noticed that Zuckerberg underwent a public speaking transformation after the Wall Street Journal’s D8 conference in 2010. He started radiating calm and confidence in front of crowds, and his messages became stronger and clearer than before. There’s no clear evidence about what he did to bring about the transformation, but as he relaxed more in public his personality has begun to shine through.

So there you have it – five accomplished entrepreneurs and performers who had to use creativity, courage and gusto to tackle their stage fright and to take their businesses to the next level.


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Minister Applauds Rare Birds For Its Support And Advice For Entrepreneurs

Women are starting and building small businesses in Australia in “staggering” numbers, but they can’t do it alone, said The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs during the launch of Inspiring Rare Birds’ Ambassador Program in Canberra.


Minister Bishop and The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Minister For Small Business were guest speakers at the event to welcome Rare Birds’ newly appointed ambassadors for Canberra: Stefanee Lovett, the Managing Director of Capital Hill Advisory; Amanda Whitley, the Founder and Director of HerCanberra, and Mick Spencer, the Founder and CEO of ONTHEGO Sports.

Minister Bishop said she felt sure the program would provide “amazing results” in the capital. “The number of women who are starting, running, building small businesses is absolutely staggering, but they do need support,” she said.

Rare Birds Canberra Launch

Photos from Inspiring Rare Birds Ambassador launch in Canberra. Selected images by photographer Martin Ollman. To book him for your next event you can email him at


The event was held in Parliament House and attended by more than 150 guests, including Senator Bridget McKenzie, Senator For Victoria.

Minister Bishop, who is also Australia’s first female Foreign Minister and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, said she had made the empowerment of women a pillar of the federal government’s foreign policy and aid programs. “We know that if women are given opportunities to shine they can drive economic growth, prosperity and stability around the world,” she said.

She applauded Inspiring Rare Birds’ Founder and CEO Jo Burston for creating an organisation that is, “committed to supporting and providing advice to female entrepreneurs through education and training”.

She said this aligned with what government was seeking to do through the national innovation and science agenda, “giving support to female entrepreneurs in the science, technology and mathematics fields, and beyond”.

“Women are by nature, by ability and capacity, great entrepreneurs,” she said.

Minister Bishop said she also believed “explicitly in the power of mentorship”.

“I’ve seen specific examples of how mentoring programs can lead to some extraordinary outcomes,” she said. “I know that your organisation is committed to providing female entrepreneurs with that level of support, will drive that spirit of enterprise, individualism, entrepreneurialism that I believe is the future of economic growth and prosperity in this country.”

Minister Michael McCormack said women were under-represented as entrepreneurs, in startups and tech fields, and in the investment sector. “The number of Australian women operating their own businesses has steadily increased over the past 20 years, but in line with other OECD countries, they remain under-represented as entrepreneurs,” he said.

He described Rare Birds’ vision to see a global community of one million women entrepreneurs by 2020 as “admirable”. “It’s inspiring to see both male and female leaders within the Rare Birds’ network building momentum and encouraging women to pursue their business and innovative ideas.”

“It’s this kind of vision which will make a difference and have far and wide-reaching benefits,” he said.