1823 – The Importance of Strategic Thinking in Business with Katriona Lee

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO & Co-founder of Kaya, Katriona Lee.

Lee Wide

Kat introduced Kaya, a platform that ingeniously combines top-tier strategy consulting with the agility and tailored support that small businesses, startups, and scale-ups desperately need. Kat explained that in today's fast-paced business environment, making rapid, well-informed decisions is crucial, and that's where Kaya steps in.

Kaya's target customers are the entrepreneurs and decision-makers who often need more strategic support to navigate their industries effectively. Kat detailed how Kaya serves diverse businesses, from technical services to waste management and education companies. She emphasized that leveraging technology and innovation is critical to differentiation and success in competitive markets.

Kat stressed that entrepreneurs must be forward-thinking, considering their business's future and potential exit strategies. She highlighted Kaya's role in helping businesses expand and increase their valuation through strategic planning.

Kat passionately spoke about Kaya's mission to democratize consulting. By making strategic guidance accessible, even to businesses with limited resources, Kaya is changing the game. Their team of consultants offers personalized attention, ensuring a human touch and a tailored approach to each business challenge.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Overview of Kaya, a strategy as a service platform
  • Kaya's tailored strategy consulting for small businesses, startups, and scale-ups
  • Collaboration with private equity funds and target customer base
  • Kaya's approach to long-term partnerships and outcomes-driven strategies
  • Value of partnering with Kaya for effective execution and decision-making
  • Addressing blind spots in organizations and leaders
  • Kaya's accessibility and affordability compared to traditional consultancy services
  • Kaya's offerings, including starter plans and chief of staff support

About Katriana Lee:

Katriona Lee is a dynamic force in the business strategy landscape, expertly aiding companies from sprouting startups to established global giants in sculpting robust strategies for stellar outcomes. She's the architect behind Kaya Ventures, a pioneering strategy-as-a-service platform designed to support entrepreneurs pressed for time but in dire need of a strategic partnership.

This platform is a beacon for startup leaders and small business owners, offering comprehensive strategic guidance on demand. Katriona spearheads BVG Advisory, where she and her team of elite strategists and seasoned experts specialize in SaaS, financial services, tech, and consumer products.

At BVG Advisory, they're celebrated for devising cutting-edge pricing strategies, facilitating smooth entries into new markets, and innovating novel products for some of the globe's most cherished brands. Katriona's work epitomizes the blend of visionary leadership and practical strategy, significantly impacting various sectors.

About Kaya:

Kaya is revolutionizing business consulting, making strategic advice accessible and affordable for startups and small businesses. With a mission to simplify high-quality consulting, Kaya caters to ambitious entrepreneurs facing the dynamic challenges of the business world.

By fractionalizing the consulting value chain and leveraging technology, Kaya offers “just-in-time” support, adapting to the immediate needs of businesses. From building corporate development teams, navigating new market entries, and managing fundraising processes, Kaya is committed to delivering tangible results.

Beyond professional guidance, Kaya fosters a community of diverse, like-minded entrepreneurs, providing both companionship and networking opportunities on the entrepreneurial journey.

The membership model is flexible, adapting to changing business needs, and includes unlimited consultations and strategy document reviews. Kaya stands out by blending innovative consulting models with a strong community focus, ensuring businesses have the support they need to thrive.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Kaya website at

Check out Kaya on LinkedIn at

Check out Katriona Lee on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - A thoughtful listener before we get going. Did you know that my company up My has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my, where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my, where you'll see shows like the Optics in Action podcast hosted by the visionary Ryan Weiss, president of EPS. This daily podcast is a treasure trove of insights for anyone in the manufacturing and construction world. Are you a business leader or innovator in these industries? Then Optics in Action is your go to source for stories that inspire and strategies that really work. Ryan and his guests dive deep into the journeys of successful founders, uncovering the secrets to scaling up in today's fast paced business environment.

Josh (00:01:23) - But that's not all. If you are at the helm of a thriving company, Optics in Action is actively seeking guests like you. In those industries, leaders who are shaping the future of manufacturing and construction. Share your story, your challenges, and your triumphs with a senior leadership level audience who are eager to learn from your experience. Don't miss this chance to be a part of a community of visionaries. Visit up my Influence Comm, click on the podcast tab and look for optics in action. Whether you're tuning in as a listener or stepping up as a guest, join us in driving the conversation forward. In the world of manufacturing and construction. Your voice matters and we can't wait to amplify it. With us right now, it's Kat Lee. Kat, you are the co-founder at Kaya. You're found on the web at Team Viacom. It's Kat, thank you so much for joining us.

Katriona (00:02:29) - Great to be here. Josh. Thanks for having me.

Josh (00:02:31) - Absolutely. Well I've got your website right here.

Josh (00:02:34) - And I would really love to have you share with an on demand strategy department is.

Katriona (00:02:40) - Yeah, awesome. Um, so we call ourselves a strategy as a service platform. And really what that means is that we've built a proposition that marries top tier strategy consulting with the benefits. And I guess the dynamism of a service that works for the low admin market. So small businesses, your upstarts, your scale ups and generally businesses that are a little bit more resource constrained. So they're going to need a bit more flexibility, um, and more technology enabled support to ensure that actually we're rightsizing the service for them. And so yeah, I'll target customers, really entrepreneurs, people that work really fast, that are often having to make rapid decisions but don't necessarily have access to the right intelligence to do it. And so that's where we plug the gap. We go to market in two ways, directly with business owners and really supporting them through that journey in a membership type model. So you pay a nominal subscription fee, but you get a ton of value because you always have a companion, um, and a strategic advisor to help you level up your decision making.

Katriona (00:03:43) - And then the other path actually, which is, um, a predominant proportion of our business is really working directly with private equity funds. So we partner up with these funds and these firms to help them think about what they could do strategically across a portfolio of assets and help them drive a lot of value and returns for investors into each of their operating companies as well.

Josh (00:04:06) - Yeah. Um, so what would be some examples of of companies that you've had the opportunity to work with?

Katriona (00:04:11) - Yeah, awesome. Um, so we predominantly work with technical services businesses. That's probably a case back. We also do a lot of different things. Um, but I think we're getting really good at understanding the marriage between technology and people. So how do you offer really great service to customers whilst leveraging the benefits of technological innovation? So that's kind of where we sit. Um, so an example of of companies that we serve include, you know, waste management organizations, we do registered training organizations or technical training companies, education companies, those types of organizations, and really help them think about, firstly, how am I communicating my proposition to market? How do I continue to improve my proposition in a way that meets the demands of a competitive landscape, and that I can continue to be differentiated in the market? I think from a service orientation point of view, some required like way services, right.

Katriona (00:05:06) - But it's hard to differentiate from the next competitor that's doing the same thing. They're driving trucks, they're collecting waste. The recycling that way is the selling that is commodity. How do you make that a better proposition. And so we think about things like can they become an education company. They can they become a sustainable business and integrate best practice and then share that with their kind of micro economy? Can they leverage different types of of platforms and become a trading company, for example? And so we look at non-obvious opportunities for our business owners, and with the mindset that they can return a lot of value to all of their shareholders as well.

Josh (00:05:43) - Yeah. So, you know, just looking at the membership options. So this is how someone understand this because it's not like they're going to team hire and they're hiring a strategy consultant. Right. This is more of a platform.

Katriona (00:05:59) - Yeah. Look that's a great question. And I think that's why it makes us really unique in the sense that we don't go in and do a single project.

Katriona (00:06:06) - We go in to a business, we partner with our clients long term and really create what we call portfolio value, which means that we don't necessarily look at the business as it currently stands. We look at the potential of it in, say, five, ten years and sort of derive a roadmap to getting there. So from a membership perspective, the reason why we don't say, hey, here's a project when we deliver it, you know, you pay us the money for doing the work. It's much more outcomes driven. So we have skin in the game because we're, you know, there on the ground delivering, um, what we call practical strategy. So it might be that a business is ready for an e-commerce capability. Let's take the waste management company as an example. You know, they're not necessarily online. People don't know about them. Their website is probably, um, quite nascent. And so, you know, a great way of getting them online is to, you know, rebrand them and then potentially put a shopping cart in there and say, hey, some of the the products that we're selling offline can go online as well, and people can kind of configure them, uh, businesses that might need a, you know, regular waste collection services can just book that online.

Katriona (00:07:10) - Makes life really easy and. Extends the reach for that business. And so by virtue of kind of putting together that plan, it's a great strategy. But then we also execute that strategy with our clients, making sure that they're providing inputs and they have their, you know, decision making power and fully invested into how the projects go. And that we kind of just co-create that with them.

Josh (00:07:32) - Yeah. Help me connect the dots here. So let's say that, you know, someone obviously has a lot of things are going operationally. They they know maybe they've got some goals. Um, why partner with you. Like how do you make execution and, you know, getting those things done more effective?

Katriona (00:07:53) - Yeah. Look, I mean, first and foremost is sort of helping businesses even recognize that there is time for change. I think a lot of time we spend fighting fires, you know, doing kind of the day to day operational things, you forget to step back and go, actually, what kind of a business do I want to be next year, let alone five years in the future? And we're sort of at this point in, you know, in Australia, but I think globally as well, where we're seeing a lot of, I guess, entrepreneurs that started their businesses maybe 40 or 50 years ago, and now they're continuing to be in the daily grind but not thinking about an exit strategy.

Katriona (00:08:27) - So the options to them are pretty limited because they haven't thought about, well, how do I expand and extend the valuation of my company in the next few years so that I can exit to a really, you know, strong pipeline of opportunity from strategic buyers, potentially. And so what is the legacy of my business if I don't start thinking about it? So that's what we kind of put into the minds of entrepreneurs to say, if you're at this point in time, where do you want to be for yourself personally and financially, but also for the future of the business? What kind of business do you want to leave behind? And so that kind of creates a conversation that says, hey, now I've I've got some urgency to think about, you know, practically, but also structurally, what are the things I can start to execute on that can really boost the value of my company, not just for myself because I've, you know, unlocked a lot of potential from for my business, but to the external market that says, hey, now you're the one to watch, and maybe you're on my radar.

Katriona (00:09:20) - If I'm thinking about buying as a small business or I'm thinking about a roller, or if I'm a PE fund, I'm thinking about you as an asset, that I could kind of generate a lot of value from down the line. And so that's what it's all about, is kind of even putting them in that mindset in the first place, and then working with them collaboratively to kind of pick off the low hanging fruits and then start to think about those bigger pieces that's going to grow the pie for everybody.

Josh (00:09:45) - Um. And what is the. You know what? What's the blind spot here? Um, you know, in terms of, like, what we're talking about, does this just not in every organization or with every leader? Shouldn't they just be able to do all of these things on their own?

Katriona (00:09:59) - Yeah, you'd think so. But, you know, truthfully, and I look at myself and I think it's a it's a humbling thing. It's not possible to be great at everything. I think, you know, leaders are there and they guide the business.

Katriona (00:10:11) - But it's impossible to be great at the financials. Greater the strategy, greater operations, and also great at hiring the right people at the right time and then being future focused and then thinking about all the macros that impact, um, you know, the risk profile for your business and for the local ecosystem around you. And so to me, there's no harm in having an objective viewpoint that lets you see the bigger picture, that gives you the information at the right time to make better decisions, to challenge you, potentially to kind of look at paths that may not be obvious up front, and to really just have somebody in your corner being a business owner, being an entrepreneur is such a lonely journey. You might have a co-founder. I do, um, but still like, um, I think it's a it's a very isolated journey. And so having the ability to speak to someone at your level, spar with them, you know, kind of have that real respectful conflict and see if you can come to a solution that that may be better than the one you could have crafted on your own, I think is only a very good thing.

Josh (00:11:14) - Yeah. And so, you know, again, I'm just looking at your website, this is fairly accessible. And that's surprising to me in just in terms of the investment. This is not a, you know, $10,000 a month type of consultancy where you might expect that if you were to bring in, you know, someone that's a fractional leader or something like that in a part time basis. So it sounds like it, it kind of fills that, kind of that in-between gap, right? Where, you know, at the early, early, early stages, you're probably just consuming a lot of content, a lot of free content, trying to figure it out. You know, then you start business adulting and, you know, like, okay, now I need, you know, customized professional guidance here. But I don't necessarily have, you know, CFO money or, you know, CMO money or whatever. And so it seems like this kind of fits within that gap there.

Katriona (00:12:09) - Yeah. It does really helps, you know, businesses in two ways where you're sort of like, okay, I validated an idea, particularly for early stage entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Katriona (00:12:18) - This is a really good service. Our starter plan is a really good way to kind of brainstorm, to validate, to, you know, run some light touch experiments and really get coached along the journey of how do you think about, you know, the investment thesis over a period of time? How do you measure success? What are the right KPIs to think about whether your idea is good, and how long are you going to give that idea before pivoting? And so we give a lot of professionalization and a lot of, I guess, support guardrails, because we've seen it so many times and I've, you know, walked a businesses through that process so many times that it's yeah, pretty clear from Patent's perspective what will work, what won't work, and what needs to change for that idea to turn from, you know, a great concept into a proper, thriving business that generates revenue. So that's kind of one path. And then the other one is still, I think, if accessible, is the notion of just chief of staff, second in command type support to say, hey, we understand where you're going with your business.

Katriona (00:13:17) - You might be great at strategy, but there's only one of you. And potentially in most sort of, you know, lower mid-market businesses, there's not a lot of people thinking about strategy. There's a lot more people doing and executing the work. And so I think there is that middle ground and a bridge between the working layers of the organization and the thinking layers of the organization and connecting the dots for them, and then saying, hey, what are the things that instead of hiring permanently for, you can potentially, um, offload to a team that have smart, intuitive people that can go and hit the ground running and deliver those results for you much faster than if you were to do it in-house. And so my mission really with Kaya is, you know, it's a bit of a cliched word, but it's democratized consulting in that there are great businesses with lots of great potential and smart people that are running smaller businesses that just have limited resources. That doesn't mean they should miss out on great strategic guidance.

Katriona (00:14:09) - And so, you know, by embedding a lot of technology into my own tech stack, I make the consulting delivery model really accessible, and I can pass on those savings to the end customer and to the user to the business owners.

Josh (00:14:24) - Yeah. And just so I understand. Right. So it's not like you're not just investing in you have access to a library of good advice. Can you explain maybe a little bit more about the personal, you know, attention or, you know, the fact that this is someone, you know, a founder who wants to be a part of this platform, wants. Access to some consulting. And that's part of this.

Katriona (00:14:48) - Yes, absolutely. So they do get access to a great community, great platform, a lot of resources. But what actually is our key proposition is the people. We have a great team of consultants sort of located everywhere in the world. Um, and, you know, directly work with our clients and solving the problem. So it might be that a business owner thinking about negotiating, um, you know, new contracts for suppliers, for example, we could be part of that process.

Katriona (00:15:14) - We could be in the room guiding the conversation, facilitating some of those negotiations, coaching the the entrepreneur before they even entered the room to make sure that they've got their strategy locked down. Here are the things that you need to be aware of. Here's probably what the other guy is thinking about. And so how do we make sure that we get the very best outcome for you in every conversation and every situation? So it's absolutely, you know, the marriage of fantastic human touch and that real personal, um, and tailored approach to supporting you, but at the same time underpinned by a robust technological kind of delivery model, just to kind of strip out all the admin so you don't have a consultant sort of following up manually. It's much more that it's a systemized approach to a lot of that delivery work, which means that we free up a lot more capacity to actually deliver real world value for our customers.

Josh (00:16:07) - Yeah. All right. Uh, Kat Li again, the website is Team When somebody goes there and they want to see what you and I have been talking about, what would you recommend their next steps be?

Katriona (00:16:21) - Yeah.

Katriona (00:16:22) - Look, the best way to get in touch and just to learn more about Kaiya, um, would be to jump on our LinkedIn and subscribe to our newsletter. I write, you know, a piece every couple of weeks, and really, why I've done that is because we get a lot of questions and a lot of comments and poll results from our community that says, you know, I'm struggling with market entry, I'm struggling with pricing, I'm struggling with commercializing this great products, all these should I go down the path of creating courses when I'm not in education business, for example? So we gather a lot of this data and these inputs from our audience and produce, um, yeah, some great free content that just helps you figure out the right way to go and gives your starting points when it comes to thinking about what projects might make sense for your business, how do you solve some of those initial challenges yourself? Um, and it yeah, it's just a great resource to to learn more about the basics of strategy as well.

Josh (00:17:17) - Yeah. Kat Lee again, co-founder of Kaya, found on the web at team Kat, thank you so much for joining us.

Katriona (00:17:26) - Thanks. I had a great time. Cheers.

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