Q&A With Luke Lazarus, Startup Consultant

Luke Lazarus

Luke Lazarus  is a startup consultant based in Melbourne with a steady track record spanning two decades of successful partnerships building business plans, managing growth and offering insights to CEOs around Australia’s southeastern coast. Lazarus’ work as a consultant brings clarity in executing decisions for a brand’s next steps, helping to offer seasoned perspective while prioritizing important decisions. Luke Lazarus knows that business leaders need partners able to bring this outlook that shapes trajectory along with the ability to focus on what’s important in the moment: identifying, defining and addressing the issues vital to the success of your business today.

 

A graduate of Melbourne Business School, Luke Lazarus earned an executive MBA at only 24 years old and went on to start and sell four successful firms before his 33rd birthday. Now, almost ten years later, the esteemed executive spends his time in short intervals with new or waning businesses, identifying issues with the perspective and insight of a seasoned veteran, delivering value to start or regain momentum. Lazarus defines his strengths as a startup consultant in broad parameters as the key to getting a business started or bringing a startup back on track, helping business leaders define or redefine their plans and projections:

 

  • Business Plans – for any startup, launching or restructuring a new product starts with defining the vision, limitations and financial models. The key in a winning business plan is outlining a product story that can be told very simply to investors, to partners, to employees and customers. “If your product or brand is synonymous with its story, you’ve set the foundation for success,” says Lazarus. Keeping the story simple and flexible allows for growth inside business plans, and Lazarus’ clients can attest to his unique ability to quickly pinpoint the heart of a winning brand or product story.
  • Investor Presentations – Lazarus has taken his consultancy to the boardroom for dozens of startup clients, identifying the needs for financial support and linking those needs to compelling, personal brand stories that resonates with these early audiences. With millions of dollars in startup seed money gained through investor presentations in his tenure in consultancy, Luke Lazarus is a proven asset, developing the perfect blend of industry savvy with easy-to-understand, relatable storytelling.
  • Market Research Insights – Lazarus helps his clients by identifying segmented markets and customer influence points before launching, citing his strengths on the ever-growing presence of eCommerce as it relates to scalable business models. Using specific primary and secondary research models, Lazarus can help startups to establish buyer personas and analyze competition.
  • Go-to-Market Plans – compiling a coordinated and cost-effective strategy for taking a product or service to market requires a thorough outline for organized sales and marketing programs. Lazarus helps his clients by setting timelines and budgets, outlining project lifecycle from conception to market strategy.
  • Financial Projections – projecting profitability and monitoring the management of cash flow throughout a project is a key component to a startup’s success. Aligning these metrics with the visions outlined in your initial plans ensure consistency and transparency while giving leaders and investors a clear picture of future success.
  • Operational Improvement – Lazarus’ own tenure at the helm of multiple startups make him uniquely qualified to assess and diagnose issues centered around business development. By prioritizing these issues and offering key metrics to progress, Lazarus helps startups thrive in new directions, positioning for growth and stability.

 

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day starts before the sun is up – I try to meditate for the first ten or fifteen minutes of my day in order to completely clear my head and alleviate some stress. Once I’m up and running, I’m constantly multitasking: checking emails, making my first cup of coffee, walking the dog, mentally making to-do lists for the day ahead. I head to the gym for a quick morning workout – I discipline myself to hit the gym 7 days a week no matter what, and that structure carries over into my work. When I take on a startup project for consultation, it’s usually a brief opportunity to make big moves for a company, whether I’m hired on for an 8-hour work day or a couple weeks, so we must make the most of our short time together, requiring me to be extremely organized and set a clear agenda. To stay productive, I write everything down or keep notes to myself in my phone, whether it’s an idea for a part of a business plan I’m writing that day or just a grocery reminder, it’s all in writing. I like to take some time in the morning to review notes from the previous day and transcribe and prioritize a fresh new list of action items for the day.

 

How do you bring ideas to life?

If your product or brand is synonymous with its story, you’ve set the foundation for success. The best thing you can do to startup with a new brand/product/service/company is to tell a great story. Find a need in the marketplace and fill it but make it completely your own and tie an idea to an emotion. If you can make this product feel a certain way, that impression will always resonate with consumers as the most memorable piece of your company.

 

My best business ideas have always come from my own personal problems in which I look to build solutions that fits in the marketplace.

 

What’s one trend that excites you?

The rise of the experience economy is exciting, and watching companies meet the demand with fresh and innovative ideas has already changed the marketplace and consumer spending. More than ever, customers expect an experience and an emotional connection to the places and people and products on which they spend. Customers look for businesses with shared values and expect your organization to speak to their own personal reason and emotions – they want your brand to tell a story, and they want that underlying brand meaning to have a connection with their own agenda. More than ever, brands are taking this in stride, creating experiences in business plans, through marketing initiatives, and more than ever in market. It’s no longer enough to have a quality product, we must prove how a product can make you feel and align our story with that of our target consumer. It’s a really exciting trend to tap into from the perspective of a startup, and I’ve always had success in translating initial ideas into broader, meaningful brand stories.

 

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I record everything – whether jotting in my notebook (that I have on me at all times), taking a photo of a note as a reminder, voice memo-ing myself a prompt or punching a note into my phone. This quick journaling method helps me to keep a clear head and always have reminders of to-do items along with their priority.

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

I grew up in Perth but moved to Melbourne, Victoria as soon as I was able to start moving. A ton of my friends took a few years before moving to Uni – travelling on holiday or just taking some time off to work – but I pushed to fast-track school as I was always anxious and eager to make big moves. I earned an MBA at 24 years old, and I think the best advice I could have given my younger self was to let the worry go. I was a pretty anxious kid, and always thinking ahead, but that kind of worry didn’t serve any purpose. My drive and my success would have always prevailed, I just may have saved some headaches along the way. Looking back at that kid in his 20’s, I would have loved to have been able to tell him – “you got this” because I would make myself sick trying to cover all of the “what if’s.”

 

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Luck and network are equally critical indicators of success as are passion and perseverance.

 

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Believe in my own success. There will always be a certain amount of apprehension for the outcome of every project, but I’m confident in what I can bring to the table as a consultant, and I bet on myself every single time. At this point in my career, I’ve been through so many different startups and faced so many unique challenges that I know I can take anything in stride and be an asset to any business that needs an expert consultant.

 

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Every project I’ve ever been a part of – whether starting my own businesses or helping startups to reach their potential – is centered around a story. I truly believe that first and foremost you must create the identity of what you’re selling, then you can build on growth models, financial projections and sales strategies. But if you have a refined, winning story, you’re set for success.

 

I also find it to be necessary to surround myself with the right talent to get the job done. I ask around, I use networking and leverage all of my professional connections to operate at my highest capacity.

 

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One of my first businesses was with my childhood best friend. We’re still close to this day, so this isn’t a dig on him, but we had a dream and went for it, but had conflicting ideas in execution. It took longer to work through the “startup” phase of our business because we didn’t agree on the initial plans and the brand story. I learned that a collaborative vision can work if those decisions are made before there’s money and investors on the line; and, in the future I may be more hesitant to start a new business with someone I love.

 

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers? (this should be an actual idea for a business, not business advice)

I think there is a lot of space to revamp the medical industry and bring it up to speed with the same convenience that we do everything else – like an UBER for doctors. Less expensive healthcare possibilities and an easier system to “order” medical care and get prescription drugs. I hope someone takes this and turns it into the next big thing!

 

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)

Spending on clients or possible network opportunities are the best investments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made a deal or have been offered a new project over something as simple as a cup of coffee. Take the right people out to lunch – talk strategy and put it all on the (figurative) table. Expanding a network has been crucial to my years of success as a startup consultant. Being able to put key players in front of new businesses is mutually beneficial and continues to grow my network for professional collaboration.

 

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

G-suite – Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail and Google Calendar. I use these all personally and professionally. When I consult with a new company I recommend switching everyone onto G-suite and sharing calendars between the entire organization for transparency and functional communication.

 

Also, not sure how we lived before UBER! I use the app daily for moving around the city.

 

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Sinek looks at the two ways that we’re able to influence human behavior: either through manipulation or through inspiration, arguing that inspiration is more powerful and sustainable. Starting projects with a sense of purpose and figuring out how to answer the “WHY?” first and foremost really forces a business to tell its story.

 

What is your favorite quote?

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking.”

 

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