Mentoring across continents

Founders across the globe share similar pain points – Trena Blair of FD Global Connections shares her insights

Sydney-based Trena Blair, CEO of FD Global Connections is recognised for her extensive mentoring expertise, both locally and abroad.  In September 2021, Ms. Blair was appointed as a Mentor for The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Centre (NEC) in the USA – a prestigious program designed as a global exchange of knowledge and experience in support of entrepreneurs.

Since her appointment, Ms. Blair has mentored 25 entrepreneurs’ from across the globe including the America’s and South Africa.  Irrespective of their geography, the founders Ms. Blair mentors all have similar pain points and seek guidance on how to scale a business globally – Ms. Blair’s core area of expertise.  Scaling challenges often discussed include: brand development, sales, operations, recruitment and the mental shift from leader of a startup to scaleup.

As part of the mentoring conversation, Ms. Blair starts each meeting by asking the Founder to describe their purpose.  “I ask them for their story – why did they start their business? What’s their purpose?”

Ms. Blair has observed that all of her mentees have been outstanding at telling their story – passionate, engaged and enthusiastic. However, it’s when they start diving into their solution, along with their business models and expansion strategies – that they lose some of their magic.

Maintain your passion

What’s the lesson?… Ms. Blair advises: “Maintain your energy and passion – not only for the problem you are solving but HOW you are solving the problem. When you’re pitching to prospects or investors, they want to know why the problem is important to you, and that you know the details of the solution.”

Confidence is key

Confidence is one area where Ms. Blair recognises a noticeable difference between U.S. and Australian business founders. 

 “We have all heard about the stereotypical American entrepreneurs – confident, and sometimes too brash. Yet that’s not always the case,” said Ms. Blair.

“What has been surprising as I’ve proceeded through the mentoring journey has been to observe the lack of confidence in many American entrepreneurs. They come into a mentoring session with vulnerabilities that are not ordinarily on display – raw and authentic feelings of anxiety and fear of failure,” she remarked.

“The truth is, those American entrepreneurs who we see pitch brilliantly have spent hours upon hours polishing and perfecting their pitch.”

Master the art of pitching

What’s the takeaway? As Ms. Blair said: “America is the original home of entrepreneurship and therefore offers to local mentees a plethora of entrepreneurs who have mastered pitching, so they know the standard required. Through awareness and dedicated practice, they aim for excellence and once achieved, they find their inner mojo and shine.”

“Entrepreneurs in other markets may not have the same level of exposure to role models, therefore struggle to pitch effectively,” Ms. Blair said.

“Ultimately, great pitching requires two elements: 1. Role models who demonstrate the pitch 2. Recognition that pitching is a learned skill. The 3P’s apply – Practice. Practice. Practice.”

“Trena Blair from Australia is an exceptional Mentor. It was fun to connect with someone from a different part of the world. Trena took the time to listen to everything a Board Member and I had to say and reviewed what we were working on.  What would it look like to scale the program locally, regionally, nationally… GLOBALLY? Trena is easy to talk to and really opened my eyes to what’s possible.”  Terri, USA Mentee

Scaling to new heights

Ms. Blair contributes to NEC’s mentoring program by advising entrepreneurs who are in the midst of scaling globally – utilising her professional area of expertise.  Many of the founders are either in early stages or have started to expand internationally.

The challenges they face are universal, ranging from their internal processes, hiring and leading teams offshore, identifying their target market and winning clients just to name a few.

As Ms. Blair states, “There is no shortcut to successfully expanding internationally. It requires deep research on the market, a realistic assessment of the company’s ability to support an international market and being pragmatic about the budget and timeframe to scale.”

Outside of her appointment with NEC, Trena Blair mentors through a number of networks, including her own PowerPlay Program – a bespoke three-month program for business leaders seeking independent, trusted and confidential advice on scaling their business.  Topics covered include Advisory Board establishment, Leadership Transition, Market Entry Strategies, Business Models for Global Growth in addition to areas requiring attention.

Trena’s strength goes beyond her intelligence, experience and strategic nous.  Her core strength is her relatability.  Her USA network is enormous, she’s universally liked and admired and she’s a natural connector. – Stacey and Lorraine, Minnow Designs

Market Complexity

Business Founders can feel better knowing that market complexities are a universal challenge.  Even American entrepreneurs struggle with the nuances of scaling locally across States – not to mention outside of the U.S.

“I speak with many American and global entrepreneurs all facing similar hurdles, such as: tax differences across jurisdictions, State industry regulations, HR & Admin obligations, as well as cultural differences.  Through mentoring, and programs such as my PowerPlay Program, my objective is to provide Founders a clear pathway to growth and structured roadmap so scaling doesn’t become overwhelming.  Anything is possible with the right support,” Ms. Blair ended.

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About Trena Blair’s Mentor Roles

Trena Blair has extensive mentoring experience gained throughout her Corporate International Executive Career and as CEO of FD Global Connections, being appointed Mentor for several important initiatives including;

  • Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Centre Mentor (USA) (2021 and ongoing)
  • Australian Federal Governments “Boosting Female Founders” Initiative (2021 and ongoing)
  • One of 5 mentors appointed to Australia’s first FinTech Entrepreneur Hub, Tyro FinTech Hub, a position she held for 5 years.
  • RMIT Women’s Entrepreneur Program
  • The Women’s Business School Accelerate Program

About FD Global’s “PowerPlay Program”

FD Global Connections mentoring program PowerPlay Program is for business leaders seeking independent, trusted and confidential advice on scaling their business.

Business leaders can expect a tailored, three-month engagement where they receive independent, expert advice to progress their USA strategies. Each engagement is custom designed but can include topics ranging from Board Creation/Engagement, Market Entry Strategies, Business Models, Budgets, and Sales Development.

Each company will have a custom virtual call program based on specific needs to get the USA business on a growth trajectory.

To register interest, visit: https://www.fdglobal.com.au/register-your-interest/

About FD Global Connections

FD Global Connections is a boutique consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. We have experience and success in preparing and successfully launching global companies in the biggest and the most lucrative market globally – the USA. Our passion for the USA comes from our experience of living and working in New York City – we get the cultural nuances, language differences, and business protocols.