5 minutes with communications and events specialist Karen Phillips
Photo courtesy of Fotoforce.
Corporate communications and events specialist Karen Phillips is the organiser of Australia’s largest women’s networking breakfast and is leveraging her business with Bartercard. We spent five minutes chatting to her about standing out in the marketplace and working more strategically.
Time and time again, Karen’s shown that agility and planning are key to success in a competitive market. Between her flagship corporate communications business (Karen Phillips Corporate Communications) and organising and presenting at Early Risers each month - attracting guest stars like Jane Fonda, Olivia Newton-John and Ita Buttrose - she also launched the Women in Business Awards in 2013.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing people in business today and how do we solve them?
“There are varied challenges from financial literacy to building a solid foundation, however the best way to overcome them is through education. We’re in one of the most confronting times in history as business owners - once upon a time we built a business and the customers would come, whereas today you need to be constantly reviewing your business environment and altering your business model to suit it. Regardless of the industry, you now need to provide effective solutions for your clients therefore an educated awareness of how to best serve your market is imperative.”
What led you to start your corporate communications business?
“I was 27 years old with a background in journalism, marketing and public relations. I saw a need in the market for business strategy so I took a leap of faith. It’s easy to look back in retrospect and say, what was I thinking taking on such a challenge? But in your 20s you have incredible belief that you’ll land on your feet and a knowing that things will work out. Little did I know what launching a start-up encompassed but in hindsight it has been an incredibly fulfilling and inspiring journey.”
How do you juggle everything?
“There’s no doubt it comes down to working more strategically and at the core is a great commitment and passion for the work that I do. I am inspired by our clients and seeing women in business empowered to extend themselves. Whether it’s addressing wage parity, leadership opportunities, financial literacy or support from institutions, the Women in Business Awards plays a part in nurturing and supporting our current and future women leaders and their local economies – and that’s important work.”
How important is personal branding?
“I‘m forever surprised at organisations who don’t value the role and importance of personal branding for their leaders and front line staff. Understanding the DNA of an organisation is critical both internally and externally especially as we now operate in a global economy. We’ve all seen great organisations where customers emotionally connect with a brand and become advocates, and in some instances champion for the cause – particularly on social media. In a world where every aspect of running a business appears to come with a price tag, the power of a brand should never be underestimated no matter the size or industry sector you are in.”
What’s your strategy for business?
“Critical aspects that don’t change with technology or global marketplaces are the fundamentals: figures, understanding cash flow and knowing your key market. My advice is understand the market in which you operate and review that continually because every industry is being disrupted and it’s critical to be able to pivot. Lots of leaders talk about working on their business, but the reality is many smaller entrepreneurs have no choice but to work in it and being able to effectively use Bartercard to leverage and support business upscaling is just smart business.”
Using Bartercard to leverage success
Karen said Bartercard, which she joined eight years ago, is a strategic business platform that connects more leaders. “Bartercard has provided marketing and financial extensions to our business. It’s helped us to grow in ways we couldn’t have imagined when we first joined. However, like any significant business tool, the key is understanding how to use it.”
Karen added that Bartercard has helped build the success of the Women in Business Awards by helping her organisation reach greater audiences. “We’ve been able to do this by implementing Bartercard in two key ways when organising the awards – firstly, using Bartercard’s business networks when developing partnerships and secondly, when sourcing and purchasing prizes and giveaways to offset cash expenses,” she said.
All in all, she shows that success is underpinned by a supportive community.
Visit the Women in Business Awards.