leadership

Shark Tank judge Naomi Simson: The one way to keep the passion alive in your business

Eloise Keating /

The life of an entrepreneur can be a gruelling one, with little down time and the weight of a company’s success or failure resting on your shoulders.

But RedBalloon founding director and Shark Tank judge Naomi Simson has a valuable tip for all business owners to keep the passion alive in their business: reading customer stories.

Speaking to SmartCompany earlier this week about her investment in eco-friendly eyewear business Grown Eyewear, Simson says whenever she has felt “overwhelmed” in her business, she reads customer stories.

“As soon as I read them, I work out that I made a difference to their lives,” Simson says.

Simson says taking time to revisit stories from Red Balloon customers helps her understand the impact her business has had on people’s lives and, in turn, this re-energises her passion for what she does.

And when it came to investing in Grown Eyewear with fellow shark John McGrath, Simson says she was attracted to the passion of founder Jeff Phillips, who is committed to only using sustainable woods for his products and uses part of the proceeds from the sale of Grown glasses to help fund eye care services in third world countries.

Simson has also recently published a book, Live What You Love, and she says the book has prompted even more customers to write to her and tell her the difference Red Balloon has made in their lives.

Launching the book at a Business Chicks event in March, Simson said the Shark Tank judges are ultimately looking for entrepreneurs with “deep passion” for their business – a quality she says she and her fellow sharks have in spades.

Simson and fellow judges John McGrath, Janine Allis, Steve Baxter and Andrew Banks didn’t really know each other before coming together for the show but Simson said she took the opportunity in the green room one night to ask the sharks if they could remember their company’s first customer.

“And all of us can tell the story about the person who believed in us,” she said.

“The other thing the five of us have absolutely in common is a deep passion. A passion for entrepreneurship, a passion for innovation, a passion for getting things done and making the world a better place.”

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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