One of the key indicators of business success is growth. While the measures of growth can differ, the ideal is consistent, sustainable and infinite growth. Maria Pantalone is a remarkable woman who has built a unique business on exponential business growth. Infinite Growth is a framework delivered through one-on-one sessions including themes such as business writing, leadership and much more.
Speaking with Maria, it's evident she knows what she is doing, and further proof is in the abundance of prestigious awards she has received. Nicole Watson speaks with Maria about her journey, how she gets the best out of people and tips on entering awards.
How did your concept for Infinite Growth come about?
The concept came about from my belief that we’re constantly evolving and in the 21st Century change is a constant. So as professionals we need to be growing so that we can be at our best. Hence, Infinite Growth, as we’re growing infinitely and have the potential to do so.
Has Infinite Growth changed since its beginning?
Infinite Growth has evolved with the changing needs of its clients. At its inception, the company focused mainly on delivering tailored workshops. Now, through client requests, the company also offers one-to-one sessions. This enables the individual to have an in-depth session focused on their specific needs. In this way, their learning and confidence to overcome their particular hurdles are heightened.
The one-to-one sessions began specifically in presentation skills. They’ve now expanded to business writing, leadership and effective communication with clients and colleagues.
The sessions are delivered at a time and location that meet our clients’ needs. That could be before work, during work hours or after work. The flexibility of the delivery of the sessions has proven to be very popular.
The increasing need for online programs has resulted in the launch of a self-study business writing program. Clients like the variety of learning options that the program provides and many then follow up with one-to-one sessions, which add value to particular areas that they’ve identified during the self-study program.
How do you draw from your own experience of growing a business and to help your clients achieve growth?
No matter what industry my clients may be in, I emphasise the importance to communicate effectively with their clients as well as their support network. The support network may be team members or suppliers - essentially anyone who my clients rely upon to ensure that their services or products are delivered in an effective manner.
I provide my clients with a structure and techniques in effective communication to assist them to achieve their own growth.
You’ve been recognised in award programs and your finalist status is a valuable asset, how has promoting this helped your business?
I feel honoured that such prestigious award programs have recognised my efforts.
Promoting my finalist status in the Australian Small Business Champion Awards and the Highly Commended Award received at the Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence has increased my credibility in my industry.
My clients and potential clients see that my business approach and ethos are recognised which adds to the credibility of my products and services.
Can you share with us your most recent finalist experience?
My most recent finalist experience has been the 2013 Australian Small Business Champion Awards. I felt honoured to be in the company of the finalists from around Australia.
The Awards evening was held on 13 April in the Grand Ballroom of The Westin Sydney. The venue was at capacity level with 900 people in attendance. It was a spectacular night of entertainment from well-known Australian artists as well as the recognition of Australian small businesses from around the country. It was a memorable night!
Although I didn’t collect a trophy on the night, being part of the event was enough to inspire me to enter again in 2014.
Entering award programs is time consuming. How do you approach this and find the time?
It is important to know why you’re entering an award program. I look at it as an opportunity to review my business goals and achievements. It’s very easy to become caught up in the operations side of running a business. Making the time to analyse your business’ direction and achievements has multiple benefits in focusing on the business goals.
To make the time, I prioritise and schedule in time-slots to work on various aspects of the entry. I allow myself enough time to complete the entry form as well as review and modify it if necessary. So it’s about prioritising your time and looking upon the task as an opportunity to review and plan ahead.
How has your role as a mentor for the Women in Business Mentor Program enhanced your understanding of overcoming fears or hesitations in business?
Being part of the Women in Business Mentor Program was an amazing experience. After being in business for a while it’s easy to forget what it’s like for people who are first starting out.
By helping others in this capacity it has enabled me to have a more structured approach to the hurdles that I face in my business. It’s important to have a support network – whether it’s a mentor, coach or a business group or a combination of all of these – so that you can discuss ideas and challenges. Having a support network can help you to face hurdles that arise in business.
It’s also important to celebrate achievements however small they may seem. Celebrating small wins and focusing on one’s goals help to develop an inner strength and the confidence to overcome fears and hesitations.
You're committed to ‘tapping into’ an individual’s potential and your programs are tailor-made to suit the individual. How do you do this when working with many people?
It’s all about identifying the needs of the individuals. When a workshop is booked, the participants complete a pre-workshop survey. This assists me to focus on their specific needs. Many people have similar requirements so I have a framework that I then tailor to each person’s individual needs within the workshop.
When I provide individual sessions, I’m able to focus on my client’s specific requirements at that point in time. At these sessions, we work through their challenges in identified areas so that they can immediately apply it to their workplace.
The progress that I witness never ceases to impress me. The increase in confidence that my clients experience helps them to step up to the opportunities that they previously hadn’t thought possible.
Their success stories are the reason I love doing what I do.
How has being featured in online and offline media helped increase the awareness of your brand?
Essentially I’ve been able to help more people by being featured in online and offline media. I’ve been interviewed for business magazines and industry-specific magazines, which have increased my company’s profile.
In fact, I was recently interviewed on a national business radio program. This increased my ability to provide help to more people and in turn increase the awareness of my brand. This interview came about after the producer came across one of my articles online.
Many people now find information and learn using various technologies. Infinite Growth has evolved with the changing needs of its clients. As I mentioned earlier, a self-study business writing program has been developed that can be accessed online. This has also increased awareness of my brand.
Effective communication skills are an essential component of running a business so the opportunities both in online and offline media help me to not only assist others but also to increase my company’s profile in the business world.
What is your long-term vision for Infinite Growth?
My long-term vision for Infinite Growth is to be recognised as a leader in innovative methods to assist clients in achieving their business communication goals.
The company will maintain its personalised service and continue to provide flexibility in its programs to meet my clients’ professional development needs. I believe in listening to my clients and acting upon their feedback. As a result, the company will evolve with the changing needs of my clients.
I am currently writing a book: Conversations with Everyday Leaders and plan to launch it this year. The book is a compilation of interviews with people who may not be well known but are considered leaders in their sphere of influence. With the launch of this book, there will be new opportunities for Infinite Growth to increase its profile in the business community. These include speaking engagements together with the development of products and workshops.
I plan to write more books around business communication skills and leadership, which will provide a practical resource for clients. So my vision for Infinite Growth is to be recognised as a leader in the field of business communication skill.
You can connect with Maria via the community here or visit Infinite Growth at infinitegrowth.com.au
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