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Co-founders and entrepreneurs Briana Cicchelli and Annika Launay

Ten lessons I’ve learnt from starting 3 businesses with my sister 

In every business we’ve had, we’ve always focused on being nimble, adaptive and open to change.

Briana Cicchelli and Annika Launay

In the Australian workforce, there exists a notable gender disparity in crucial decision-making positions across various industries. 

Despite women constituting half of the workforce, only 19.4% of CEOs and a mere 22% of Boards and governing bodies in Australia have female representation. Furthermore, in 2022, merely 3% of venture capital funding was allocated to startups founded exclusively by women. And let’s not even delve into the disheartening issue of the gender pay gap.

Meet Briana Cicchelli and Annika Launay, the co-founders of Franc.World, who are not only sisters but also passionate entrepreneurs with a deep appreciation for diverse educational backgrounds, remarkable careers, and daring side ventures.

Together, this dynamic duo manages a thriving national marketing agency, has ventured into the culinary world by opening a restaurant and fromagerie (which is just a fancy word for a cheese shop), and has given birth to Franc.World – Australia’s largest multimedia platform catered to tweens and teens. This platform is a comprehensive exploration of education, empowerment, and future career pathways for girls and boys.

And what about Franc, you may wonder? She is the junior CEO, the sidekick, the muse, and the endearing face behind some of our most exciting projects.

“Having spent over a decade in the world of marketing and public relations, we were ready for a new venture,” Briana recalls.

“Having already started and run several businesses, we knew our path would remain in the entrepreneurial space, but we also felt very strongly about social causes that would create real, tangible change. With five children between us, Franc.World was a natural fit – showcasing career paths for all Australian youths, particularly girls, because ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.” 

A Distinctive approach

In their journey through various business ventures, the dynamic duo has consistently championed qualities such as nimbleness, adaptability, and a readiness for change. Their distinctive approach sets them apart, forging a path where few venture with such finesse.

Their extensive entrepreneurial endeavours have consistently placed a premium on agility, adaptability, and an eager embrace of change. Their business philosophy stands out prominently, marked by a unique fusion of these qualities.

Drawing from their extensive expertise in marketing and PR, these skills have played pivotal roles in shaping their comprehensive business growth strategy. This expertise serves as the bedrock of their operations, ensuring effective engagement with their intended audiences.

When asked about the pivotal choices and strategies underpinning their business growth, Briana underscored the significance of their strong foundation in marketing and PR. She stated, “With such formidable backgrounds in marketing and PR, it remains an integral component of our business growth strategy. Moreover, our foray into the multimedia arena, crafting captivating books, television, and digital content, has been highly engaging, inspiring, and educational. Working on such a noble cause has transformed engaging stakeholders and collaborating with vested businesses into an absolute dream.”

Challenges encountered

Over the course of their entrepreneurial journey, they have encountered a multitude of challenges and amassed a wealth of invaluable lessons. Among the most profound insights gained is the understanding that, in the realm of business, it’s rarely a personal matter.

“Throughout our entrepreneurial journey we’ve had so many challenges and learnt so many lessons!! The biggest lesson we’ve learnt is that it’s really not personal.

“Even with creative industries where you pour your heart and soul into a project, learn to remove your ego. You can be doing an incredible job for a client, they can love everything you do and then suddenly out of the blue BAM! You get an email stating they no longer wish to work with you. It’s not personal, it’s just business (and their budget!)”

Lessons learnt

One of the critical pillars of their entrepreneurial journey has been the establishment of a solid legal and financial foundation. This involved obtaining the counsel of a proficient lawyer and accountant who could navigate the intricacies of business laws and fiscal management. Their guidance has proven invaluable in steering clear of potential legal pitfalls and ensuring sound financial practices.

2. Numerical Acumen: Understanding the Language of Profit and Loss

In the world of entrepreneurship, having a head for figures is paramount. Even if one is not inherently skilled in mathematics, they stress the significance of learning how to decipher financial statements, particularly the Profit and Loss (P&L) sheet. This financial literacy empowers them to make informed decisions and chart a course toward sustained profitability.

3. Prudent Hiring and Swift Decisions: The Talent Equation

They advocate a cautious approach to building a team. Being slow to hire allows for meticulous candidate selection, ensuring that each addition aligns with the company’s vision. Conversely, they emphasize the need to be quick to make personnel changes when necessary to maintain organizational integrity and productivity.

4. Boldness and Intuition: Trusting Gut Instincts

Entrepreneurship often demands bold decision-making. Listening to gut instincts, honed through experience and industry knowledge, has been instrumental in navigating uncertain waters. They have found that trusting their intuition can lead to innovative breakthroughs and favorable outcomes.

5. Legal Safeguards: The Value of Water-Tight Contracts

The importance of well-drafted contracts cannot be overstated. These legal documents serve as a safeguard, protecting their interests and outlining clear expectations with clients, partners, and stakeholders. Such contracts have proven to be indispensable in avoiding disputes and ensuring a smooth business operation.

6. Financial Preparedness: The Safety Net of Cash

While financial stability is crucial, they have discovered that the commonly advised substantial cash reserve may not always be necessary. Sometimes, having an emergency credit card on hand can provide the flexibility needed to address unexpected financial challenges without overburdening the business.

7. Networking Power: Building Connections for Success

They have harnessed the incredible power of networking throughout their entrepreneurial journey. Establishing and nurturing professional relationships within their industry and beyond has opened doors to valuable opportunities, collaborations, and insights, enriching their business endeavors.

8. Self-Awareness: Recognizing Strengths and Weaknesses

In the pursuit of success, they have come to recognize the importance of self-awareness. Understanding one’s strengths is valuable, but acknowledging and addressing weaknesses is equally crucial. This self-awareness allows them to make informed decisions, seek assistance where needed, and continuously grow as entrepreneurs.

9. Trusted Allies: The Importance of Implicit Trust

The presence of someone they trust implicitly has been instrumental in their journey. Whether it’s a trusted team member, a second-in-command, a psychologist, or in their unique case, a sister, having a confidant who provides unwavering support and guidance can be a source of strength and resilience.

10. Self-Advocacy: Being Your Own Champion

Finally, they emphasize the need to champion oneself in the world of entrepreneurship. Recognizing that the path to success can be long and at times lonely, they highlight the importance of self-encouragement and self-motivation. Being one’s own greatest cheerleader can be the driving force behind achieving entrepreneurial milestones.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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