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Packing up your life, selling your house and moving your whole family to another hemisphere is a bold move. But that’s exactly what Patrick Llewellyn did when he was given the task of turning 99designs into a global business. He inspired this week’s Enterprise post.
Patrick Llewellyn was on a plane back to Australia from the US when a fellow passenger had a heart attack mid-flight. The plane was forced to turn back and stop in Hawaii so the passenger could get medical attention and Llewellyn found himself in a hotel room on an unexpected and extended stopover. “I was sitting there answering emails when I realised that I’d never been to Hawaii before,” says Llewellyn, who is the CEO of 99designs, a crowd-sourced marketplace for graphic design.
Llewellyn, 40, decided to make the most of it, venturing on to Waikiki Beach where he took his very first surfing lesson. “As soon as I stood up, I was hooked,” says Llewellyn. It’s was a rare moment of relaxation for the CEO of a fast growing company that now experiences $1.8 million in transactions each month and has over 200,000 registered designers.
I’m always interested when I hear stories of entrepreneurs who want to take over the world. This is often because I’m in awe of their sheer audacity and boldness to dream big. But I’m even more interested in the steps they plan to take to get there. When I heard serial entrepreneur Nick Cloete’s plan for his start-up Kounta, it inspired this week’s Enterprise post.
Building a successful business is like mastering a game of chess. As an entrepreneur, you not only need a strategy to win, your moves need to be timed perfectly to make the most of opportunities. Like chess, you need vision, persistence and the skill to coordinate all the players in your team to work together towards your goal.
That’s what serial entrepreneur Nick Cloete has done all his life. Apart from a one-year stint training to be a chef when he was 18, Cloete has always run his own businesses.
Masterminding a winning strategy
Cloete, now 30, is currently founder and CEO of Kounta, a point-of-sale software platform for the retail industry. The cloud-based platform is aimed at small to medium sized businesses and costs $50 per month per “cash register”.
It honestly still surprises me when business owners pooh pooh social media as a valid tool for marketing. Granted, not every business is going to thrive on social media. However, I believe that if you’re not even open to the possibilities it can bring, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. And you’ll be left behind if your competitors embrace it before you do. This attitude inspired this week’s enterprise post.
Last week I met a business owner who insists Facebook is a waste of time. Let’s call him Greg. He was chatting to a group of people at a party, some of whom tried to convince him to give it a go. Greg was adamant and insisted any time spent on Facebook – or on any other social media platform – should be spent having a conversation with a prospect or customer in person or on the phone.
While face-to-face interaction is vital in the world of business, the reality is Facebook – and other social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter – allows you to reach a much bigger audience much more efficiently.
I love the idea of bespoke accessories and fashion. And now there is an increasing number of businesses that let you design your own bag/shoes/clothes online. I’ve often wondered how in the world these businesses are able to create effective systems to ensure that customers get the product they are expecting. With this interest piqued, I interviewed two entrepreneurs who have created online stores supplying custom-made bags and suits in this week’s Enterprise post.
In the past, it would cost a small fortune to design your very own unique handbag, or get suits tailor-made to your measurements. Even you if managed to find a cheap tailor while on holidays in Thailand, you could only buy your custom-made goodies on your annual beach vacation.
However, smart entrepreneurs are cashing in on the fact that some people are keen to sport bespoke garments and accessories. Andrew Ganesan, 27, is banking on this trend and is taking bespoke design to the masses.
His family has run a leather bag manufacturing company for 25 years and his mother used to save leather offcuts and turn them into her own handbag creations.
I’m a big believer in the power of building your personal brand. And Trevor Young’s new book microDOMINATION is all about just that. His book inspired this week’s Enterprise post.
The owner of one of my favourite cafes recently started using Twitter and Facebook. However, when you interact with her business online, you get very little sense of the woman behind it. Her online footprint is polite but, frankly, it lacks personality. In reality, she is a larger than life character who epitomises her brand. She lives and breathes her cafe — and is well known (in real life) for her food, unique decor and events.
She told me: “I just don’t want to be in the spotlight. I want people to interact with my business, not with me. I don’t want to be the centre of attention.”
Fair enough. However, in a world where consumers are bombarded with marketing and advertising messages, some experts believe we are living in an age where personal branding is vital for success. And that means NOT shying away from the spotlight.
That doesn’t mean you need to sign up for a reality show or bare all the skeletons in your closet.
My recent visit to V8 Supercars event in Tasmania was an eye-opening experience. It inspired this week’s Enterprise post on “4 ways to adapt your business to the fast lane”.
The last time I went to a motor racing event I was 19, it was Mount Panorama at Bathurst, and I swore I’d never go to another one ever again. I spent most of the day trying to avoid drunken louts perched on sofas which they brought to the track on the back of utes. They were surrounded by endless slabs of beer and some smoked dubious smelling substances. At the end of the day, these sofas were unceremoniously torched after the final race and the aforesaid louts left the track with a sea of carnage in their wake.
So when I went to the Tasmania Microsoft Office 365 V8 Supercar event last weekend, I wasn’t prepared to find cappuccinos, a Disney amusement park for kids, and a crowd so well behaved you would be forgiven for thinking you were at a church picnic. (Just a very noisy one.)
The business of motor sport is, after all, a business.
Off with her head! That’s been the theme for this week. I’ve been watching The Tudors on DVD – and Henry VIII sure loved a good beheading when it came to getting rid of the traitors (or wives) that got in his way. I channelled Henry when I did the gardening earlier this week and got immense satisfaction from dead-heading 93 roses in the backyard (yes, I counted). Then I heard that publishing house Bauer Media axed another two magazines (Madison and UFC) after already putting Grazia on the chopping block. This inspires this week’s Enterprise post.
Earlier this week, publishing house Bauer Media announced the axing of two magazines: monthly fashion magazine Madison and martial arts magazine UFC. This comes hot on the heels of its decision to shut down weekly fashion rag Grazia.
These kinds of decisions are never easy – for management, owners, staff or readers – but sometimes, the best strategy is to clean house as swiftly as you can so you are not bogged down by under-performing products.
The same can be said for the products and services offered by small business owners.
There used to be a time (yes this is true) that I used to wake up each morning, reach for my phone and – before even checking emails or messages – I’d look up Icanhascheezburger. If you’re not familiar with this internet phenomenon, it’s simply a website full of cat photos accompanied by funny captions. These days, other animals of the non-feline variety also feature on the site.
I used to look up this site because I was guaranteed to have a giggle. And it was a great way to start the day. Such a simple idea, so effective. Since then the site has grown from one person blogging funny pictures of cats into a media empire which has garnered more then $37 million worth of investment.
Behind this empire is entrepreneur Ben Huh. And when I had the opportunity to interview the Seattle-based business owner when he was in Sydney earlier this week, I couldn’t pass it up. His story is this week’s Enterprise post.
I have cats. I like taking photos of them. I love sharing these pictures with my friends.
It’s been a billion years (okay, 24 years) since I’ve visited Berlin. But my interest in the city has been piqued lately because so many friends come back from their holidays raving about it. As it turns out, there is a vibrant startup scene with more than a few Aussies. This inspired this week’s Enterprise post.
German isn’t the easiest language in the world to learn. But when you’re at high level meetings with the investors who are funding your start-up, you pick up the vocabulary pretty quickly. That’s what former Brisbane writer Joel Dullroy is facing in his new life in Berlin as a start-up founder.
Dullroy is co-founder of Deskwanted.com, a site that connects co-working spaces with those looking for a work space. He is part of a growing Australian contingent of entrepreneurs who have embraced the start-up community in Berlin.
“This city has always had a good flow of highly creative Australians,” says Dullroy, 30. “Many artists and bands have spent time here. Us entrepreneurial Australians are a relatively new cohort, but we are quickly making our mark. Australian accents are becoming more common at start-up events.”
An accidental entrepreneur
Dullroy’s journey into the world of start-ups was not planned. He left his hometown of Brisbane at 24, after working as a newspaper journalist. He then spent two years living in Estonia, before moving to Berlin in 2008. “I was instantly drawn to the creativity and energy of the city. It is a magnet for dreamers, drifters, idealists, escapists, creators and opportunists. The rent was cheap and the people inspiring, so I decided to stay.” [...]
I love a good entrepreneurial story. Especially when there’s high risk and high reward. So it was great to chat to Alec Lynch from DesignCrowd. Alec threw in his fancy corporate consulting job to found his own startup. He went home to live with his mother and lived on a shoestring budget in order to make his dreams come true. His story inspired this week’s Enterprise post.
These days, it seems that everyone wants to found a startup. However, it takes more than just a smart idea to become the next Facebook or Airbnb. For every Instagram success story there are thousands of failures or entrepreneurial tales that involve struggle, conflict and drama. Startup entrepreneur Alec Lynch, 29, is a typical protagonist on a journey that has all these elements.
Lynch is the founder of DesignCrowd, an online marketplace that connects businesses looking for graphic designers with a talent pool from all over the world. Business owners can crowdsource graphic design projects – ranging from logo creation to ebook design. Last month, Sydney-based Lynch announced a milestone when DesignCrowd hit over 100,000 designers using his service. Over the last year, Lynch experienced a tipping point in his business and says that the demand for crowdsourcing from small businesses has doubled since late 2012. According to Lynch, DesignCrowd has seen more than 50 per cent growth in posted projects already in 2013 and has processed more than $10 million worth of projects since it was founded in January 2008.
While these numbers may seem impressive, they are the result of sheer hard work, blind faith and the occasional lucky break thrown in. [...]