Written by Irina Belsky
For some, becoming an entrepreneur is like learning a new language. It’s foreign territory and help is a must.
This is where The Frank Team roll up their sleeves and get to work, providing entrepreneurs with advice and practical skills to help them along the way. The entrepreneur focused education and training company began as a startup ten years ago and like any startup it was born from a need.
“While we were at university someone gave us a brief to do an event and when we started we realised that we had no skills to put an event together,” says Natasha Munasinghe, director of The Frank Team, “That was a bit of a light bulb moment when we realised that when it came to practical skills and life skills, there really wasn’t much training.”
The desire to help others avoid the same pitfalls motivated Natasha and co-founder Jessica Schebesta to continue growing The Frank Team. It is now a fully fledged company with partnerships in the government, public and private sectors.
Natasha spoke to us about her involvement with The Frank Team and about the opportunities offered by the organisation.
While Natasha graduated with a law degree, she realised early on that practicing law wasn’t something she actively wanted to pursue. ”So I tried everything from stakeholder engagement, to marketing, to fundraising. They were all really good jobs but I guess they just weren’t hitting the spot.”
The solution? “In the middle of the GFC I quit my job, put on a backpack and traveled around India, Dubai and Sri Lanka for a couple of months. I guess I just wanted to see what the world was like and have a bit of time to figure out what my next steps were.”
As of 2010 her next step was to take over ownership of The Frank Team from Schebesta who had been running the business. “I’ve always thought of the Frank Team as having the potential to do much more than we were already doing” Natasha explains.
The Frank Team
The potential of The Frank Team lies in its innovative approach to education. A combination of online video tutorials, events and practical skill workshops signals a shift from the traditional classroom method of learning. “We focus on three areas: entrepreneurship, graduate training and staff training for companies” explains Natasha.
As well as teaching business and personal skills through online courses and face to face workshops The Frank Team is also involved in entrepreneur community building initiatives such as the Global Entrepreneurship Week and The Young Entrepreneurs Meetup.
“I guess the main aim is to raise the profile and awareness of entrepreneurship in Australia and to create entrepreneurship as a viable career path for people, not just something people try for a few years then give up and go to work.”
As part of their mission to support entrepreneurship in Australia The Frank Team will also be running The 2012 Sydney City Young Entrepreneurs Mentoring Program with the support of the Department of Trade & Investment.
2. Graduate Training
The Frank Team also collaborates with universities to enable graduates to get high quality jobs through skills delivery and mentoring. ”There are a lot of universities now reaching out to the community and wanting to do things differently because the whole field of education is really changing very quickly so universities need to know how to change their business models because if they don’t, they risk losing a lot of students.”
3. Staff Training
Natasha says that one of the reasons companies reach out for training services is to motivate and stimulate their staff, who desire to be more challenged. “We work with companies to get their staff productive, to get them engaged, to teach them about the latest technology trends or social trends.”
Growth and people management are on top of the list when it comes to running The Frank Team. “We are really expanding what we do and working with different client bases and really getting the system together to accommodate that has been tough.” And when it comes to staff ”you have to pick the people who are super committed, really proactive and don’t need to be micromanaged…when you find them you hold on to them because they are gold.”
Find the right team: While a lot of entrepreneur hopefuls focus on finding the time and money to start their own venture, Natasha says that “the first thing you should do is get a good team together, give it a go and then you can start looking for the cash and the investors.”
Be realistic and take calculated risks: Planning ahead plays a crucial role and can set you up for success instead of failure. “Make sure you aren’t just jumping in without knowing what’s going to happen. Plan (financially) for at least for six months or a year ahead and then decide.”
Get support: Doing it on your own is always tough, so get help. “It’s very daunting when you have an idea and no understanding of how to make it happen. When you have a bit of a pathway and a support system that you create, it makes that journey a lot easier.”
While there are many online learning platforms out there, The Frank Team stands out with its entrepreneurial focus and the powerful collaborations it has formed with universities, departments, associations and companies.
“We really want people to know that entrepreneurship is something that can enable people to live very fulfilled lives,” concludes Natasha.