Cheryl Royle has 25 years of experience running businesses and educating, supporting and coaching thousands of business owners, executives, freelancers, consultants, artists and entrepreneurs across Australia. She’s also the Co-Founder of the Lone Rangers Business Network for solo business operators in the Hunter.
Cheryl has owned four businesses including Hunter-based coaching and consultancy firm, The Finer Line.
She is passionate about supporting futurepreneurs and has been selected to run the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurship Facilitator Program in the Hunter.
- What makes a great business leader?
I’ve had the privilege of working with many really fantastic business leaders in the past, and I think there’s some key traits that they all have in common. Some of those traits include their ethics – they’ve all been highly ethical – and they all have a very clear vision of what they want to achieve.
Also what I’ve found is that they have the opportunity or they have the ability to actively listen to what’s happening and be quite observant within their business.
The other thing I love is courage. I think great business leaders need to be courageous, because there’s a lot of tough calls and decisions they have to make across the board. And sometimes those decisions require a bit of courage and putting your ego aside and basically saying, “hey, this is what I need to do and I need to do it.”
- Why does the Hunter need more entrepreneurial leaders? What’s a futurepreneur?
The Hunter region is really well known for heavy industry and mining, which is fantastic if those particular industries were gung-ho and were booming at the moment. But as we know, the mining industry is in a little precarious position.
The Hunter is really ripe for an opportunity to reinvent itself. And entrepreneurship is a way to do that. I think we’re a really innovative city and region and we have a great opportunity. We’ve got a fantastic university and we’ve got many really great innovation hubs.
If you remember back when BHP closed, everybody was in dire straits and thinking “gee, what’s going to happen?” But we’ve pulled together as industry business leaders and looked at new opportunities. And I think that’s what’s happening now.
We’ve got to start to look at new opportunities; we’ve got to see entrepreneurship as a way forward because if we don’t, there’s not much work for us. We are an innovative city; lots of great things come from the Hunter region. So I’d really like to push that whole innovation component and entrepreneurship component.
What’s a futurepreneur? They’re our budding entrepreneurs. I’m doing a lot of work in schools at the moment, because I think it’s really important for us to start to engage our kids at a very early age. I call them our futurepreneurs. But it’s also those people who are just in that start-up mode with their business. They’re not quite entrepreneurs, but that’s where they’re aiming.
- How can we make leaders more entrepreneurial?
We need our leaders to start to look at being more innovative. To be entrepreneurial is really about starting something and then developing it to a point where it’s a great opportunity for others then to take it on board.
So, to me, it’s about education; our leaders need to be more educated in those entrepreneurial skills, as well as develop a capacity to mentor that through to other people as well.
- How important is mentoring and networking for leaders and entrepreneurs?
We’re not an island within ourselves, are we?
For networking especially, we need to start to engage and collaborate with other people. Firstly, it gives you new ideas and often it generates new passions and things that you can talk to other people about,such as business challenges and opportunities that you might have. So I’m very keen on networking.
If you don’t network, you’re working in a little silo environment.
When we’re talking about mentoring, once again, it can be a lonely place being a leader, being an entrepreneur and being a small business owner. It can be quite lonely; so that mentoring opportunity of working with other people who have been there, done that, experienced it and makes things…I suppose it gives you an opportunity to find support. Also, engaging with the connections and resources that that mentor may have.
To me, both of those areas are hugely important. The more that we engage with other people and the more that we collaborate, the more knowledge you gain, the more experience you gain and the more opportunities you gain.
- Which Hunter entrepreneurs inspire you?
There’s a lot of fabulous people that are doing some great things in the Hunter region. But one that comes straight to my mind because I’m doing some work with her at the moment, is Jennifer Holland.
Jennifer is incredibly inspiring to me. She is an amazing woman who took her sick child to a doctor one day and saw that there was a gap in the market for a product. She was trying to make things a little bit easier for all of our kids by coming up with an amazing idea that she sold worldwide basically.
She jumped through lots of hoops and put herself totally outside of her comfort zone…it wasn’t like she had been running small businesses or running the business that she is now. So she’s incredibly inspiring.
And she’s inspiring for our youth as well – you can have an idea and that idea can turn into an incredible business.
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