Issue 223, March 2015
The all-female company designs and delivers practical workshops, seminars and one-on-one sessions that give young women the tools to develop clear strategies to run their career like their own business. Their motto, because ambition is not a dirty word, highlights their mission: to foster the entrepreneurial spirit among young professional women, and create ‘intrapreneurs’ to build innovative thinking and new ways of working inside companies.
Co-founders Erica Davis and Fiona Triaca were working in the banking sector in London when they met. Both found themselves at a loss for professional development opportunities that had a meaningful impact on their careers.
‘We found that, while our employers were spending a lot of time, money and resources on our development, there was nothing that was truly hitting the mark,’ said Naked Ambition Director and Co-Founder, Erica Davis.
‘We were also very aware of two trends: a growing entrepreneurial spirit amongst Gen Y and dire rates of attrition for women as we move up the ranks within Australian companies. So we designed workshops and seminars specifically to address these issues.’
Naked Ambition has been operating for two years, and now employs four people. Their clients span a range of industries including banking, technology, real estate and finance. The company is currently working on delivering its programs through a digital platform so they can operate globally and connect their clients with each other.
As entrepreneurs themselves, Davis and Triaca found that the process of creating Naked Ambition was a case of ‘learning by doing’. They advocate seeking out mentors with experience in a similar market as the best way for young entrepreneurs to gain both practical advice and information on the most relevant education, support and training options available to them.
‘While there are countless programs, accelerators, incubators, and education platforms available to entrepreneurs, we found sometimes the biggest obstacle is that you don’t know what you don’t know,’ said Ms Davis.
Based on her own experience, Ms Davis said that the best way for young entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and build their business for long-term survival is to view the business from the perspective of an outside investor.
‘Even if you are never going to seek outside investment or don’t need it, it’s always good to have a sound structure that sets the business up for long-term growth,’ she said.
‘If you think of yourself as an outside investor, as you continue to pour your time and money into your business, you want it to be the best use of your own resources.’
Ms Davis believes that it is vital for young people starting their own ventures to ‘learn how to maintain a clever balance between a risk-taking mentality and perseverance’.
‘It’s important to not be afraid of failure but at the same time, be measured in the chances we take when it comes to building a business,’ she said.
‘If you can create a checklist of non-emotional criteria against which most decisions need to stack up before moving forward, it will make the decision process easier, more logical and set you up for long-term growth.’
In spite of the current youth unemployment problems in Australia, Erica Davis says that there are many advantages to being young when it comes to developing new enterprises.
‘Being young and fresh-faced used to be a disadvantage when it came to the world of business. These days, it represents being in touch with technology, being dynamically innovative and possessing an ability to disrupt old ways of thinking that we may or may not see in our more senior counterparts,’ she said.
Ms Davis believes that it is vital to connect the innovative perspectives of young entrepreneurs and ‘intrapreneurs’ with the experience and best practice of more senior members of the workforce.
‘It’s important we connect new and innovative perspectives from young people with the experience and best-practice of our more senior workforce. The result of the businesses we can create will be world-changing ideas that push societies forward and solve big problems.’