How to write a killer business case

One of the thing I've noticed working along side women with leadership aspirations is that sometimes they put other people's needs first - which sees them missing out when it comes to pitching for funding, investment in themselves or their team or pitching the value they deliver up into the business. While my advice will always be 'fit your own mask before you fit those of others' - it's not particularly practical when it comes to strategy and building a killer business case. 

So what happens when we're heading up a department and not skillful in the art of the killer business case? Our department or team runs the risk of becoming marginalised, lacking in resources and investment in people, systems and innovation. Or worse, our own leadership aspirations are overlooked because we're not contributing with entrepreneurial, business building ideas that will help our organisations flourish in the future.

So what can you do about it? Learn to write a killer business case of course!  To help you write business cases that really work - here are five experts who know a lot about it.


Annalie Killian is a serial intrapreneur building start-ups inside large business corporations. She is also the founder of the Amplify Festival and the Zululand Foundation Community Park.

Annalie’s #1 piece of advice:  The element of surprise/ radical creativity gets cut-through but you have to contextualise it in emergent culture/trends.  It’s about the principle of "Fascination" and appealing to the aspiration of the person who can make it happen.  It's worked for Annalie twice and she’s on the cusp of doing it again.

Annalie’s bonus tip: Rational and logical will only land you somewhere in the middle. Create moonshots.

Annalie’s suggested resources:

Connect with Annalie: LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Amplify Festival | Sparks and Honey


Kieran Flanagan has spent much of her career as one of the less than 3 percent of female creative leaders on the entire planet. She was the creative and strategic mind behind the most successful product launch in Australian history. Today she works with corporates and entrepreneurs helping them build their businesses. In her small business program run with Gruen's Dan Gregory, Stones for David, she helps small businesses create compelling offerings that can take on the big guys and win. 

Kieran #1 piece of advice: The key to building a brilliant business case is to focus on what's in it for them. Too often she sees businesses that spend all their time presenting how great they are and how amazing their idea, product or service is and too little time sharing what their customers, investors or potential clients get out of it.  Your ability to make something easier for someone is key. This begins with deep empathy and understanding. You can never know too much about who you are selling to. If you can solve someone’s problem simply and powerfully you can create a compelling business case. 

Connect with Kieran: LinkedIn | Website | Stones for David | Twitter | Instagram


Michelle Redfern is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has honed her commercial and business skills at an executive level for over 15 years in global and Australian blue chip companies.

Michelle’s #1 piece of advice: Be curious! In tandem with your curiosity, be clear about what problem you are solving, why you need to solve it, when it will be solved and above all, what is the ask? So many 'cases for change' omit these critical elements. More often that not, the problems are not clearly defined therefore the ask is not compelling. Whether the 'ask' is human capital, financial capital, time or all of the above, be clear and articulate.

Michelle uses the principles of Design Thinking to define the problem or the opportunity and to then design a solution which will underpin her business case. The three factors of Desirability, Feasibility and Viability are deceptively simple yet robust tools to use to build a solid business case. Human centred design (HCD) and empathy are key design attributes. Know your user/customer/stakeholder really really well and design your solution and your business case based on Design Thinking. It works!  

Michelle’s suggested resources

Connect with Michelle: LinkedIn | Twitter | Website


Jacqui Walford leads a team of marketing and business development professionals for a leading Australasian accounting network. She often needs to build a business case for new initiatives for the business. It can be a formal business case or it can also take the form of report accompanied by a proposal by a new supplier.

Jacqui’s #1 piece of advice:  Write a business case with your audience in mind. She works in marketing, but she work for an accounting network. This means she needs to show potential return on investment (where she can), but also the industry can be quite risk averse, so she also has to really highlight the benefits against any potential risks.

Connect with Jacqui: Linkedin | Twitter | Website


Jo MacDermott is a marketer with extensive experience working with Start Ups and SME clients including 8 years in her own business (Next Marketing) and 10 years in corporate marketing world.

Jo’s #1 piece of advice: Over estimate the time and cost of every element - and be pleasantly surprised when there are ‘extra’ funds and time left over.

Connect with Jo: LinkedIn | Website | Blog |


My advice? Make it easy for people to help you. Make it easy for people to see the why, the value and the connection with existing strategy. Use the language that your business is familiar with, use formats and systems they already understand and don't assume people will by easily able to draw those connections themselves.  This is the exact opposite of my Grandma's approach when she used to go to the doctor. He'd ask her what was wrong and instead of helping by providing him with her symptoms she'd say "You're the Dr. You tell me!"   So don't be my Gran. Instead, make it easy for your stakeholders to help you.

So there you have it. Six piece of advice today.

  • Build in an element of surprise, fascination or moonshots - Annalie
  • Focus on what's in it for them - and show some empathy for their problems - Kieran
  • Be curious and clear about what problem you are trying to solve - Michelle
  • Show potential ROI but also cover off on risk vs reward - Jacqui
  • Over estimate the resourcing- Jo
  • Make it easy for people to help you - yours truly

My mission is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence. 

And thanks to the generosity of my expert contributors!

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

5 Career Lessons for Women - from the online blogging world OR Linkfluencer Conference Highlights November 2015

Linkfluencer Annual Conference Highlights

Linkfluencer Annual Conference Highlights

In November, I attended the Linkfluencer Annual Conference hosted by Linkfluencer and run by Alex Pirouz.  While some conferences are theoretical and programmed to explore the problem - this one wasn't.  In fact, right from the get go we got onto practical, take home strategies that will help anyone to tap into and harness the power of LinkedIn better - particularly entrepreneurial and info-preneurial ventures.  

As some of you are aware - I've run or attended more conferences than most people have had hot dinners.  So I'm pretty picky when it comes to the program.


Thanks to the organisers for pulling together an awesome technical expert presentation team including Jeff Bullas, Robert Coorey and Andrew Wickham.

My one disappointment? No women on stage. I'm pretty sure that women are doing great things on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Would have been nice to see that reflected on the stage too. While I don't want to rain on their parade (because it truly was a value packed event and the lessons absolutely invaluable), given that women are AWESOME at connection, socialising, communicating etc there would appear to be a natural fit with the power of social. Surely there is some woman somewhere in the social media world here in Australia who is doing great things?   Conference organisers need a check list when programming so they don't fall into that trap by accident.  (Note: since first publishing this on my blog organisers have already acknowledged that they are looking at this in preparation for next year.)

So what did I learn that might be relevant to those who work in professional roles?  Heaps!!  Let's extrapolate.

1. Blog before breakfast.
So you don't blog?  Don't worry. Same same, but different. This is not a new idea, but it is a great reminder - even if you don't blog.   The early bird catches the worm.  Many highly successful and powerful people wake early and get started on their work.  And according to Top 10 Career Lessons From Powerful Women on Forbes Magazine:

“Starbucks’ President Michelle Gass wakes up at 4:30 every morning to go running. (Former) Avon chairman Andrea Jung wakes up at 5. LongtimeVogue editor Anna Wintour is on the tennis court by 6 every morning before work. These women have realized that success comes easier when you have a jump on the day.”

So what are you waiting for? Set your alarm. Establish a routine. Beat the commute and get something substantive done and out of the way BEFORE breakfast. You might just surprise yourself at how energetic you actually feel.

2. Systematise, automate and outsource/delegate.
We know that systems and processes help mitigate anxiety and increase productivity. However sometimes human nature gets in the way and we get stuck in the rut of wanting to do it all ourselves. To keep highly productive it's time to regroup and ditch that thinking.

  • What can you eliminate that might be cluttering your thinking?
  • Or perhaps you feel negatively about so its an energy drain slowing you down?  
  • Or what else is simplynot getting done because you don't really know how to tackle it?  

Once again in that great article from Forbes on career advice for women and delegation:

“If you think of your career as a juggling act of various balls, ask yourself which of those balls are made of glass and would shatter if dropped, and which are made of rubber and would bounce back. Give away the rubber balls.”

3. Drop old school thinking about connecting on social media. 
If someone you don't remember invites you to connect, do your due diligence (vet their profile) but keep an open mind. Stay curious and consider how you both might be able to help each other - it's a new hyper connected world where joined up thinking, connection and collaboration are the way of the 21st Century. In the old world we were more likely to operate in silos and structures. Now openness and curiosity are queens. As we lookfor new ways to solve old problems we just might need to think outside the square.  

“Today, the lightning pace of change means you have to be ever-curious, always ready to learn and adapt to the new environment around you. Anne Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, describes herself as “driven by curiosity” because “it gets people excited” and “leads to new ideas, new jobs, new industries.” She says, “The smartest thing you can ever do is to constantly ask questions.” Forbes

4. Done is better than perfect.
Not a new idea by any means but obviously we all need constant reminding.  Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good!  Jeff Bullas showed us his first tweet. OOPS!! Not perfect!  He showed us his first blog. Another big OOPS - and another "not perfect". However these first steps were the beginning of him building an amazing social enterprise.   

So what are you procrastinating on right now because it's not perfectly polished? What projects, what new ideas, what initiatives are on the go slow because you are feeling like it needs more work?  Take a good look and then hit the "play" button.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

5. The sooner you put scalable tools into place, the sooner you will grow. 
So how does this translate in the professional world?  Mentors, champions, coaches, sponsors, cleaners, VA's, outsourcing, systems and processes that free your thinking power up and allow you to keep growing -  and thinking bigger.  It's safe not to scale - but it won't get you very far very fast and in fact will eventually slow you don't.  Change gears and accelerate instead.

“Get comfortable with discomfort! And from there you will be far more effective”

So my question to you is - what can you do right now that will move you forwards?  What can you implement immediately that will help you execute your next bold audacious move?  Or what is the one thing you've been thinking about for weeks, but haven't yet done, that will land you the role of your dreams one day?  

And instead of thinking about it? Just do it.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution

If you like this article, sign up here for weekly inspiration! And get your free copy of The Ambition Revolution E-book while you are there.

PS - sharing most welcome. Let's spread the word and inspire a woman somewhere. Hit the little share icon at the base of the article.

PPS - want to see the Twitter highlights?  See below.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months