How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Tessa Court, IntelligenceBank.
Current gig: Founder and CEO of marketing operations platform IntelligenceBank
Current Location: Melbourne, Australia
Current mobile device: iPhone X
Current computer: MacBook Air
One word that best describes how you work: Efficient
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
would definitely have to say IntelligenceBank. It’s always great when your product is something which your team is able to use daily as it allows them to experience it from a user point of view. I also use Zoom Video Conferencing which keeps me connected to our US team and Notes in iOS for when I am stuck on a plane have an idea that I want to remember.
What social network do you find the most useful?
While I use LinkedIn for Business – I’m a strong believer of a ‘physical’ social network. There’s a small group of CEOs who I got to know at Springboard, a tech incubator for women led, high growth companies and as we’re on similar journeys, we meet regularly over great coffee and dinners to share our experiences navigating the challenges and thrills of scaling businesses. They are my sounding board, my confidants and as a bonus they are all hysterically funny.
What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?
When I first started IntelligenceBank, it was with a core team of five people who were good at everything and able to just get things done. But then as we went from startup to scaleup, it became clear to me that to do this successfully, I had to make sure the right people were in place to get us to the next stage of growth.
It meant reviewing at how the team was structured, going from generalists to specialists, as well as making sure we brought in talent who had ‘been there and run that’ and could share that experience with us.
It also meant that as the CEO, I had to change and evolve as well. I had to move from doing most things to focussing on the vision, the culture, overseeing operations and thinking about what IntelligenceBank will be doing 2-3 years from now.
What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?
I love working at IntelligenceBank more and more every day. After 10 years, some investors that have approached us ask if I’m tired, and my answer is a categorical ‘no’ – the more successful we are the more fun and intellectually rewarding it gets.
What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
As a CEO, you have to be able to do three things exceptionally well: Have a crystal-clear vision forward, be able to unpack problems and quickly find solutions, and being able to multi-task is always a bonus.
What’s your sleep routine like?
I go to bed relatively early around 9 to 10pm, sometimes I’m up in the middle of the night and I try to not check email from our team in the US but this doesn’t always happen, and I’m up at 5 or 6am either on calls with our US team or hitting the gym. While I need a lot of sleep it gets in the way of what I want to do.
What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?
To succeed, you need to start. And to start, all you need is an OK plan and a lot of drive and hustle.
While having external funding can catapult a startup on the path to high growth, I believe it’s important for startups to also look into how they can quickly become cash flow positive as it will give you a lot of freedom when you’re not strapped for cash. It will enable you to think long term and make more strategic decisions instead of being limited to a narrow funding runway. You never want to only be as good as your last round of funding.