Getting to $1 million: Naomi Simson

In the second of this Friday series we talk to Entrepreneurs’ Organization member Naomi Simson, RedBalloon founder, about cracking the $1 million revenue mark.

Why did you start it?


I wanted to create a business that gave me the flexibility around my family that I was no longer able to find in the corporate environment.


Plus the internet was just starting to gain traction, so that also inspired me to invent a business using this emerging technology.


I wanted to create a business that could be flexible and fun – my original vision was to change gifting in Australia forever, with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of selling 2 million experiences by 2015 – which we have already exceeded.


RedBalloon was not the first business idea I had – but as I look back now I realise that of all the ideas I had, it was the one that inspired me, that I was passionate about, that I could see myself making a difference with.


Why are you different?


At RedBalloon we recruit and reward based on our company values: leadership, integrity, generosity, being a little dog with a big dog personality; and having a sense of humour and fun.


Our hiring process is dictated by our belief that skills can be taught, but the right attitude is fundamental.


We once had a candidate show up to an interview wearing a race car suit and helmet declaring, “I’m ready for my RedBalloon experience”. She may not have been the most experienced candidate, but she knew what we stood for and personified our values.


And it’s working – we have been listed in the BRW top 50 Best Places to Work list five years in a row. We also practise what we preach; helping to lift employee engagement by rolling out bespoke reward and recognition solutions for corporate customers across Australia.


What are your top tips for reaching the $1 million mark?

  • Don’t make it about what you do, but why you do it;
  • A clear sense of purpose is critical. No amount of money – whether you are earning it or paying it to others as a salary – will keep you or your people happy long term. You need to be inspired and your people need to feel motivated by your vision; 
  • Set values to live and breathe, work and play by. They don’t have to be lofty – they simply have to encapsulate what you stand for. By giving yourself the discipline and the freedom to follow them, you will always have a compass to guide your decisions and you will always be delivering the very best version of yourself.


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