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7 Questions with Craig Kinnersley
7 Questions with Craig Kinnersley
Name: Craig Kinnersley
Current title: Founder / Director
Current organisation: Cafiniti Coffee
I helped establish Red Bull and Tiger Beer in London. I built and sold an award winning SME (delivering world class Business Intelligence) and I’ve been the MD of a Fortune 500 Company - providing consumer loyalty programs.
In just over twenty years, I’ve transitioned from analogue to digital, with a deep understanding of both methodologies. I’ve been an employee, a business owner and a consultant. And I’ve achieved this on three continents - in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
The secret to my success is brutal honesty and the speed of my delivery. In other words, I’m not into BS, or wasting anyone’s time, especially my own!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
A constant challenge is finding people, clients, or other businesses that can work at my pace and meet my timelines.
I generally want 'something' today, not tomorrow, or the day after... in many cases, this pace of business and the expectation that it will be met, really does challenge people!
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was employed by a global market leader, to improve their sales and arrest the decline in popularity of some of their products. I developed a methodology, which achieved the core objectives and I asked for a big promotion on the back of my success.
More than anything else, my age was against me. And my request was turned down. However, I was offered an amazing alternative that most people would have accepted.
But I was (and remain) ambitious, full of self confidence and aware of what I'd achieved - this mindset gave me the impetus to leave my job and establish a company of my own, offering the same methodology to other businesses. This is how I became the leader of my first SME.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Each Friday afternoon, I consider what I and the business need to achieve in the week ahead. I then refine this into a timeline, which is applicable to each day.
If necessary, I can harness the weekend to complete or start large projects. Although, I prefer to keep weekends free (relatively, as replying to emails and taking calls never stops). Thereafter, I review each day just before going to bed and adjust the following day's agenda, to either catch up, or get ahead of the weekly plan.
I enter the ToDo list into my phone and this automatically transfers to my diary. I have a checklist to work to. My PA can see when I'm busy or free and it's a case of eat, sleep, repeat thereafter.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Trust your intuition.
Intuition plays a huge role in how you lead.
Under unusual pressure, such as COVID-19, it's easy to start reacting to the flow events and circumstances. But if the flow runs contrary to your intuition, you need to stop and debate both roadmaps - either internally, or with trusted colleagues etc. and make better decisions.
(In the case of COVID-19, I trust the official medical data. I apply my intuition to the business decisions, which may be affected by the pandemic).
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I'm generally skeptical about books, which offer advice about business or leadership... my feeling has always been that Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk etc. weren't sitting around reading books - they were out there, getting amazing stuff done!
On that same theme, I think while my competitor is inside reading a book, I'd better be out there taking his business.
However, I do occasionally read biographies and the one which resonated with me the most was Shoe Dog; A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, Phil Knight.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
My job is to have an utterly clear vision about where the business is going - on that topic I am a total expert.
In regard to all of the specific functions of the business, I know what they are and how they need to perform, but I am not an expert in each one. On that basis, I hire people who are.
However, because I have a specific working knowledge of those functions, (it's likely at some point or another I will have undertaken them for myself) people who I install to perform in those roles add to the 'voice' of the business.
The more vocal and logical 'voices' take on more responsibility and leadership and they empower me and my leadership value.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
In my fist business, my meeting requests and prospecting kept failing - I needed to refine my pitch and I needed someone to become a client.
After about 50 rejections, I made a little adjustment to my style and my pitch email and this unlocked some doors. I gave my first deal away - knowing that that client would become an advocate.
The story behind the failures and the subsequent success is twofold:
1. If you do the same things, you will get the same results
2. If you give up, you'll never taste any success. And it's often easier to give up!