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Izane & Larissa's story on... inspiring success

Naturally led by curiosity, Izane stumbled across the bid management profession amidst a different professional role.  She soon realised the value of getting to know the right people in this newfound industry, and she was introduced to a VIP community, the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. She also met key people, like Sandy Pullinger, a local guru and pioneer in this sector at the time. 

In a serendipitous event of a business acquisition at Izane’s employer, Larissa and Izane’s paths crossed.  Larissa found herself in a sales role, and it quickly became apparent that to sell, she needed to start at the beginning and learn everything there was to know about Bid and Proposal Management.  Izane was her go-to person, and sure enough, Larissa experienced the same light bulb moment as Izane and knew this was her future. 

Today Izane and Larissa help companies of all sizes win proposals and pitches more often because ‘bids are all about winning, there are no prizes for second place’. These Founders give us a great example of how, at the time of employment, we may need to realise that we are on the training grounds of our very own business in the future.  The structures, processes, templates, and overall discipline they were devoted to creating proved invaluable to their business success today.

“The bid office in the group was probably the best exposure and experience needed for what we do today.  We supported over 250 companies in that holding organisation and successfully implemented a best practice bid office function from the ground up, expanding into something quite phenomenal”.

In building this team, Izane and Larissa always led with gut instinct, only to realise, with some experience and research, that they were, in fact, approaching things in the right way.  They remind us of the importance of using our innate advantage of intuition and curiosity, especially when building something new where information on the best way forward may not always be accessible. 

Having found great success as what some might term ‘intrapreneurs’, Larissa and Izane never anticipated that they would find themselves in the position of ‘entrepreneur’.  This was an opportunity that somehow found them moving into Co-Founder positions at a firm that was once run by the best solopreneur in the business, Sandy.  They continue her legacy today, showcasing the unpredictability of relationships built early on in our professional careers and never underestimate the value these may bring in the future.

“We have always felt a strong sense of purpose in what we do and the value we add. We have also been deeply committed to promoting the profession of what we do. We are entrepreneurs passionate about proposals, tenders, and pitches because we know that winning work creates and retains jobs and ultimately improves lives.”

Izane and Larissa have built a strong team by bringing in both employees and independent consultants, revealing the options on the table when we consider growing our talent pools.  They talk about the importance of upskilling and dedication to learning as a requirement when hiring permanent employees.  For them, it ultimately means bringing more ‘wins’ to their clients.  If one isn't willing to invest in learning and upskilling employees, we should look more towards an outsourced skills talent structure. They believe bringing employees on board is a serious business move as we cannot overlook that we ultimately become responsible for people’s livelihoods.  

“As entrepreneurs, you're supporting more than just yourself but a much wider community. It's a little bit different from being self-employed, where you are responsible for just yourself. This makes our role as entrepreneurs much more stressful, but this duty to others also serves as a great motivator. We don't just want to inspire our own success but also success for those we are responsible for.” 

Their advice to fellow Founders is that while we hold ourselves accountable to certain behaviours and dedication, we must also remember that the people we bring into the business are not entering the business as Founders but as employees with their own set of expectations, which will be different, albeit somewhat aligned. They have learnt to check themselves in terms of their expectations from their employees, respect how they see themselves within the business and manage and lead them with this in mind.  

Regarding running a business, they strongly advise Founders to treat the financial function with the utmost seriousness and vigilance when bringing financial expertise. They have learnt the hard way that when this is off, it can bring a lot of damage to a business. Research and vet who you bring in, upskill your knowledge on the basic financial business requirements and ensure you always have access to and control over your financial systems.  They emphasise the fact that every month starts at zero as a Founder.  We don't think like this as employees, but as entrepreneurs, this is reality.  As the saying goes, revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is reality - a mantra they live by - where money collection, good governance and the like are non-negotiables.

“When this pitch and proposal world revealed itself to me, I just wanted to tell everyone.  I was completely bowled over. We thoroughly enjoy what we do.  When days are tough, we remember why we do what we do: to inspire success.” 

Izane and Larissa keep their ‘why’ close to their everyday mindset. They believe one’s personal and professional values cannot be at loggerheads. They are fortunate enough to be co-founders who share aligned values, ethics, and purpose—a prerequisite for a successful partnership. 

Their business vision is simple and powerful: to be the proposal pitch industry MAKERS that people want to work for, partner with, and invest in. These two Founders are constantly working towards this vision, innovating and driving a new frontier in the industry. They are an inspiring force that brings success to those fortunate enough to work with them.

“Solving niche challenges Founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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