How I Succeeded: Champagne Dame's Kyla Kirkpatrick

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How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Kyla Kirkpatrick, CEO and founder of Champagne Dame and Emperor Champagne.

Current gig: CEO, Champagne Dame and Emperor Champagne

Location: Brighton, Victoria

Current mobile device: Google Pixel XL

Current computer: MacBook

One word that best describes how you work: Fervent

What social network do you find the most useful?

I follow and interact most frequently with the Facebook Group, Like Minded B’s Drinking Wine! Its’ a page chock full of small business owners or women looking to startup, who offer each other differing levels of skills and experience, and it is a great platform for sharing and learning. I rarely have time to physically attend networking events so digital is my only social refuge.

What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?

  1. The first and most important lesson is that it takes three years of absolute dedication before you turn the corner and business becomes organic. Do NOT give up within the first three years as they are your hardest and you must remain vigilant. Don’t take money out of your business unnecessarily before this point; after you have paid yourself put every spare dollar back into your business.
  2. Seek Advice. Speak to as many people as you can. Use your network and your network’s network to take people who are experienced in your field or heads of industry out for coffee. Garner information from as many successful people as you know without paying for it and start gathering and process data on how to run a business successfully. You will be amazed at how willing people are to give you advice if you ask kindly for a coffee and an ear. Just listen, process and apply what feels right for you and the golden rule is that you don't have to take all advice. When launching Emperor, my new e-commerce platform for champagne lovers, I reached out to people I knew, and many that I didn’t, and asked if I could present my brand, my numbers, my strategy and asked for feedback. This advice was invaluable. I changed my strategy multiple times from this feedback and it didn’t cost me a cent.
  3. Ultimately you must be persistent and consistent. Successful people are not lucky they are dedicated. Take everyday like it’s a challenge on a game show. Set yourself goals and push yourself to achieve them. Get up, get moving and get into it. Don’t take the failures personally - it’s really good for your growth, if you get knocked down, get up, dust off and keep going.

What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?

My lack of satisfaction with my own success. I’ve realised that I’m guilty of saying “when I achieve this I will be satisfied” only to look back and realise I got there, that I moved the target to something bigger! You have to visualise what you want, you have to believe and you have to want it but when you get it there you have to celebrate the win and I’m not great at that. Besides this, I am surprised at how the journey has transpired into new projects and opportunities within my core niche.

I’ve become really broad in my niche which is something I highly recommend to entrepreneurs - pick a field or niche and own it but go broader in your field over time developing multiple business lines that feed one another. I never thought I could build such a big business just from my love of history and Champagne!

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Delivering - I’m a dynamo at getting things done. I know that most women think I have the most glamorous job in the world drinking champagne and travelling to Paris and Champagne for work but believe me we are a super busy little team. I’m a classic swan, all cool, calm and collected on top but my little legs are paddling a million miles an hour underneath the surface.

I have learnt to be efficient. I work religiously to a to do list that I write every morning and rank in priority. A few helpful tips for time management, I don’t take personal calls during business hours, I don’t do physical meetings (unless its absolutely necessary) and I try not to look at incoming emails when I’m working on a task.

What's your sleep routine like?

If I get less than 8 hours sleep I don’t function properly. For many years I didn’t have a TV - I was totally out of tune with popular culture, not to mention the news, but I have Netflix in my room now and it’s a magical switch off from my business-brain which ticks wildly. I try to shut down lights and TV by 10.30pm and I’m up at 7am.

What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?

Think about your end goal and dream big. Do not let anyone rain on your parade - especially your partner or people really close to you who can sometimes be critical. Get the big vision in your mind first, then behave and believe like you're already there; you can figure out how to get there later. You have to believe in yourself - this is crucial. Do whatever is in your arsenal to believe that you are going to make your big dream a reality then let nothing or know one stand in your way.

Anything is possible with hard work and determination, and just in case you were wondering, the four-hour work week is a myth. You need to work hard, and just when you think you can’t push any harder, push some more. Do not see failures as a road sign that you are heading in the wrong direction, this is just a learning you needed to have, embrace it and keep going - you will get there!


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