At Xero, we use the power of technology to foster innovation, connection and entrepreneurialism. To create beautiful work that makes a difference. This is why, each month we’ll be speaking to business leaders within our like-minded community. We want to see how they apply similar values to shape their businesses, and their future.
This month, we spoke to Siobhán Doran, an energetic multiple-business owner. Her digital publishing company, Thread Publishing, exists to spark the conversation around business as a force for good, and to help companies communicate more meaningfully through storytelling.
Siobhán tells us in her own words why she is on a mission to support business as a force for good. And how people starting out in business can be kinder to themselves.
On Thread Publishing
“I started my second business, Thread Publishing, because I had an itch to do something that really mattered in business. To use our skills as journalists. To tell the stories of entrepreneurs who are using business as a force for good. I wanted to go beyond the public façade of these often high-profile people. I wanted to get to the heart of what makes them tick. To inspire others and build momentum around their noble causes.”
“We work in two parts. We run an independent digital publishing platform, where we tell these stories through our website. We also run a brand storytelling agency that works for organizations with a good mix of head and heart.”
“In our agency we work as brand journalists. We create written and video content that tells our clients’ stories. It goes beyond selling their products or services. Whether it’s through ghostwriting, book editing or thought-leadership articles, we focus more on the human stories that drive the spirit or values of a company. The more companies recognize that this is better than forcing products or services on their consumers, the better. That’s how you engage with your market more meaningfully.”
On doing beautiful work
“Everyone operates on a deeper level behind the façade of what we present to each other. As journalists we can get to the heart of what makes someone tick, underneath these everyday narratives.”
“In a way, we hold a mirror up to the person we are talking to, to show them – and others – frankly, how beautiful they are. We all have inspiring pasts, bold ideas and big hopes, but we don’t always recognize that beauty in ourselves.”
“We take people’s words and craft their message in a way they can’t do themselves, because they’re too close to their story. That’s something they can share with customers, employees, or people they’ve never met. This is what gets me out of bed every day – it’s humbling, educational and personally inspiring.”
On connection through technology
“We have never before seen such momentum where a group of people – whether they live in Australia, England, India or Iceland – can congregate virtually because of their shared beliefs. I love the technological age we live in. It holds such potential for positive change on a vast scale.”
“Our stories can be the tool to spark this connection between like-minded people in business. There’s such enormous power and potential in this, and in the opportunities it creates.”
“When shared values gather through the power of technology, they can create enormous positive change. That’s what we subscribe to at Thread.”
“I think many people equate the word “innovation” to ideas, but it’s the implementation of the ideas that is the true innovation. There are a lot of people with great ideas. The challenge lies in transforming those ideas into reality. Then doing it repeatedly and being able to scale that into something long-lasting.”
“At Thread Publishing, we innovate our everyday business practices to be enormously people focused. Whether that’s with our employees or through the style of our interviews. It’s about connecting with people on a level that’s beyond your own needs. You can’t afford not to have a 360-degree view of the people you work with. So we innovate around this. Whether that means flexible working practices for a parent, choosing our own work hours, working with our fantastic proofreader who lives in New Zealand, or creating remote work options for our intern who has just moved to New Orleans.
“No one is a cookie-cutter employee – and the same goes for your boss or your customers. The more we can bring humanity back into business, the better the outcome will be. We want to create new opportunities for the person to shine behind the role. That will make things not only better for businesses, but also every life that those businesses touch.”
On advice for others starting out in business
“You will grow as your business grows. Be prepared for personal growth to take the business to unexpected places. It will take you on twists and turns. As long as you always honor your personal growth, then your business will remain aligned to your evolving values. And it will benefit directly as a result. Don’t be too set on sticking to what your original vision was if it doesn’t suit who you are anymore.”
“Also, remember to go easy on yourself. Starting your own business is always going to be ten times harder than you expect. For a billion reasons. But it’s like an apprenticeship that money couldn’t buy. The more you can see it as an opportunity for learning and growth, the better for you and the business. Regardless of outcomes.”
“Respect the opportunity you’re giving yourself by learning hard and fast through the trials and errors of running a business. Especially in its early years. It’s worth it, so long as you are kind to yourself and prioritize your mental and physical health along the way. The old adage that it’s a marathon not a sprint is true, in my case at least.”
“Don’t just grow blindly for the sake of it – make your business reflect your own definition of success. Whatever that looks like. Bring like-minded people on the journey with you. Especially your family and friends. You will need them so you don’t get too blindsided in those early years when it feels like there is a lot at stake. You don’t want to be so busy and focused that you forget to have a life along the way.”