Protection from Disruption

By Naomi Simson

For business owners, life has never been more challenging. Customers seem more elusive and more expensive to find than ever, and the media is full of conversations about disruption. No business stays the same – and whatever the offering is, it must stay relevant to survive (and thrive). 

Having the ‘right team’ in place is critical to growth and profitability. Yet the competition for those people (and their discretionary effort) has never been greater. Every employee has a choice; anyone can become a freelancer. As such, the small business employment offering cannot stay static. 
There is no industry immune to disruption – the only possible way to protect one’s market position is through relentless customer experience (and innovation). Yet it is employees who create that customer experience. And when you have the right employees on your team, it is wonderful.
The concept of ‘customer loyalty mirror’ is not new. Those businesses with highly engaged people are far more likely to have loyal customers. It is well documented that people are more productive when they have a sense of belonging and are part of something bigger than themselves – which ultimately delivers commercial success for any business.
About 5 years into my entrepreneurial journey at RedBalloon I found that the turnover of employees had reached 64%… and it seemed like people were always on ‘sick’ leave. It was frustrating for me and I had to do something. I knew there was no one other than myself, as the leader of the business, who could take responsibility for that. I had to transform who I was as a leader of people. I had to realise that people were not there to work for me – I was there to support them. If I supported their wellbeing, then they could be there to support the wellbeing of our customers.
I also needed to create a system to support this… changing or creating a customer-focused culture is a journey and never ending which is why we invented Using the points-based recognition platform to inspire people, purpose, values and performance drove every conversation, it made us focus on the customer relentlessly – and we could see the results.
I’m known for my commitment to great workplaces and my passion for great employee experiences – I did it for two reasons:
  • I wanted to inspire people to do their best work, and be proud of what they do – I wanted them to go home feeling like a winner (and they would most likely speak well of us)
  • I knew that people would stay longer (retention), work harder (less absenteeism) and give more discretionary effort if they believed in their employer
I knew that my job as an employer was to serve the team – to provide them with the tools, and environment to get the job done.
I got real bottom line results… but it was a continual journey.


About Naomi Simson

We know her as the #redshark from Channel Ten’s Shark Tank or as that #redlady – the founder of RedBalloon and now the co-founder of the big red group. She is passionate about shifting the way people experience life. Her enthusiasm is infection, and she is a prolific blogger and author as a true business influencer with more than 2.5 million LinkedIn followers, she’s Australia’s most followed person on the business networking platform. She’s author of two bestseller books Live What You Love, and Ready to Soar.

Before founding RedBalloon, Naomi worked for big businesses including IBM, Apple, KPMG and Ansett Airlines – all of which influenced her views on workplaces.

Naomi’s received a number of high profile awards including the 2008 National Telstra Business Women Awards for Innovation, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Industry category winner 2011, and Lifetime Achievement Silver Stevie Award 2013. And in early February 2017, she commenced her role as a member of the University of Melbourne's Faculty's Business and Economics Board.


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