The entrepreneurial spirit

What makes a successful entrepreneur? We asked a selection of recently interviewed business owners.

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What makes a successful entrepreneur? We asked a selection of recently interviewed business owners to share what they consider to be the essential qualities required, as well as the turning point in their own entrepreneurial journey.

HAYDEN COX
FOUNDER, HAYDENSHAPES

Qualities of an entrepreneur

Every entrepreneur has a different set of skills that they utilise around a passion. My passion is surfboards and the business behind the brand. You have to have the confidence to take risks to go after your vision, and then back it up with great execution – being stubborn enough to keep at it, but open-minded enough to adopt change where it’s needed. It also takes a great team of staff to grow an initial idea into a successful business. You will not always have the resources at hand, so you have to learn to be resourceful with what you have. Carving your own path, taking risks and not being afraid to do things the way you want to do them is what being an entrepreneur means to me.

The turning point

I’ve never felt … I reached a turning point per se. I’ve had a strong vision from the get-go and had been dreaming up this stuff since I was a kid. There has always been the next stage to take the business. Continuing to innovate and improve is what excites me and keeps me going.

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MICHELLE MCQUAID
AUTHOR AND WORKPLACE WELLBEING TEACHER

Qualities of an entrepreneur

An entrepreneur is someone who is willing to risk everything to live his or her dreams. This requires a clear sense of purpose and [of] the positive impact you want to have on others; an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and how to do what you do best; the grit to navigate the setbacks, plateaus and disappointments; and the ability to cultivate strong relationships with people who can support you, encourage you and keep you sane.

The turning point

My “Aha!” moment was being able to see the power of focusing on one offering and doing it exceptionally well before embarking on the next one. Staying focused, sweating the assets I’ve already built and finding ways to scale the distribution of these products or services has been the key to my success.

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CAROLINE MCCULLOCH
FOUNDER, FRANKIE4

Qualities of an entrepreneur

Passion ahead of profit. You have to love what you’re doing – 100 per cent. The reason I say this is that our podiatry clinic is a good business, so there was never any “need” for us to launch FRANKIE4. At any given time, we could have walked away from FRANKIE4. It’s because I love it so much – designing and making these shoes is my passion – and so for me it doesn’t ever feel hard to do. I think without that underlying passion and purpose it would be very hard to stay the course and overcome all the challenges and obstacles that come with getting a new business off the ground, designing and manufacturing your own range, making it successful and sustainable.

The turning point

The feedback we started getting from retailers that stocked other brands – bigger, more established brands – was so heartening in the early days. Having a retailer tell us how well our product was going when I knew that they sold really good labels in their store made it real for me. Receiving this outside feedback – it felt objective, hearing that my shoes were stacking up against theirs. I also experienced this same feedback with ladies in my store, assisting them to choose shoes as part of their podiatry treatment.

When I’m serving a customer or patient and they don’t know I’m the designer – I prefer to keep it that way so I get objective feedback. Fitting your own product is a fantastic source of market research and a great way to ensure you continue to improve. When ladies are saying to me, “These feel amazing” or they are back for their fourth or fifth pair – that direct feedback drives my passion.

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CAMERON HARRISON
CO-FOUNDER, THE ROLLING FIX

Qualities of an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are visionary, devoted, driven and not afraid of failure. It’s that final one that is both the most important and the most difficult to maintain. You always learn your most valuable lessons by making mistakes. Describing myself as an “entrepreneur” isn’t that important to me. What’s significant on a personal level is getting to do work I’m passionate about and heavily invested in. That makes getting up in the morning easy.

The turning point

The turning point came in July 2014. That was when a particular client asked us to service six of their premium office buildings. That convinced my business partner Thomas Treloar and I to focus 100 per cent of our energies in The Rolling Fix, get an office and get serious.

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OSCAR DE VRIES
FOUNDER, OSCAR RAZOR AND OSCAR NATURAL

Qualities of an entrepreneur

I love the saying, “As one door closes, another one slams in your face!” The essential quality every entrepreneur has to have is persistence in the face of setbacks. If you’re the kind of person who gets upset when things don’t work out as planned, then you’ll soon learn there are much easier ways to make a living. You’ve got to be able to roll with the punches and be prepared for things to be difficult before they become easy.

The turning point

For me there hasn’t been a pivotal moment – a point where I was suddenly on the fast track. It’s been a long, slow building process. That said, you can think you’ve got a great product but don’t know if you’re onto something until you start getting customer validation. When I started seeing positive reviews of my products on the Oscar Razor website, I was reassured that I was really onto something. We now have well over 300 [rave] reviews, and they keep coming in.

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