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Let’s Talk: Our experts reveal the skills and habits of highly effective entrepreneurs

It takes a lot of effort to start a business. The hours are long, the sacrifices are enormous, and the challenges and difficulties you encounter every day seem unending. It’s important to note that, while some of these talents may come more readily to certain people than others, many of them may be learned or developed with practice.

Entrepreneurs make their own judgments, realise their creative goals, and build long-term partnerships with other entrepreneurs and clients. We handpicked this week’s topic to help you assess your skills and determine whether you need to level up in any areas to succeed as an entrepreneur.

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Dr Jana Matthews, Director of the Australian Centre for Business Growth and ANZ Chair in Business Growth, University of South Australia

Jana Matthews
Dr Jana Matthews, Director of the Australian Centre for Business Growth and ANZ Chair in Business Growth, University of South Australia

“Based on work the Australian Centre for Business Growth has done with over 1,250 growing companies in Australia, we have identified five abilities that enable CEOs to be successful:

  1. Unrelenting focus on what customers need, want, and value. Successful CEOs listen to customers, interpret what they say they want, then produce something they value. Nobody asked for an automobile, an electric toothbrush, cloud computing, or a 3-D printed knee, but customers are grateful that CEOs listened to their complaints and came up with these highly innovative solutions which positively impacted many lives.
  2. Deep understanding of how to select, lead and manage people: Getting the right people “on your bus”, in roles that play to their strengths is one of the secrets to success.  You’ll need a compelling company mission, well-defined values, and a clear vision of where you want to take the company over the next 3 – 5 years. Once people have joined and agreed to pursue that vision, you need to communicate, delegate, share responsibility, hold them accountable, and value them as individuals and team members.
  3. Commercial acumen: Successful CEOs have a sixth sense about which products to offer which customers, in which markets, at what price, and what marketing messages will be persuasive and compelling to those customers.  But they also understand the timing and flow of money in and out of business, the drivers of the business, how/why the business is profitable – and when to reinvest vs. seek outside investment.”

Steve Maarbani, CEO, VentureCrowd

Steve Maarbani
Steve Maarbani, CEO, VentureCrowd

“At VentureCrowd, we interact with promising entrepreneurs every day and are amazed by the passion and drive they have to push their ventures toward success.

“However, passion and drive alone are not always enough. Entrepreneurs need absolute clarity of purpose because that’s what is going to help guide you through your toughest decisions and your hardest days. You will also need useful stress-management or mindfulness tools to build resilience and get you through those decisions and days.

“Entrepreneurial success also requires that you never be complacent. Definitely take the time to celebrate your wins, but then dust off the confetti and focus on building an even bigger business tomorrow.

“No entrepreneur is an island either, which is why you need a solid team around you to join you on your journey. Find people who complement or fill gaps in your skillset. Talent wins games, teams win championships!

“Finally, all businesses need fast, flexible access to capital so having a strong capital raising partner is imperative. Series A and B funding rounds can take months to come to fruition, so build partnerships that give you access to “always on” capital so that you’re set to seize every opportunity.”

Dr Joseph Badr, Founder, Dsmile and D-Spa Dental

Joseph Bard
Dr Joseph Badr, Founder, Dsmile and D-Spa Dental
  1. Problem solving – It’s a part of my DNA to want to fix problems. I love it. The bigger the issue, the more I want to find a solution that can benefit everyone.
  1. Contribution and community: giving back is what gives my life meaning. Growing up in a civil war (Lebanon) environment full of conflict impressed upon me the power of kindness and generosity at a very young age, and that has been something that has never and will never leave me. For without kindness and the generosity of others, I would not have achieved the business success I have today.  I am always trying to help as many people as I can because I know just how powerful and important that can be.
  1. Changing behaviour via superior product/service design – when I started dentistry 20 years ago I noticed a gap in the oral health journey – people hated coming to the dentist. I had to ask myself why? What were the barriers, and, more importantly, how do we minimise them? The answer was transparency at every level of business – clearly communicating fees, emphasising the importance of dental care and even re-thinking how a clinic should be designed. Dsmile is my attempt to complete the oral health journey. We are a business that is committed to making a positive difference in the world in terms of dental health outcomes, sustainability and social responsibility.”

Shahid Nizami, Regional Vice President APJ, ActiveCampaign

Shahid Nizami
Shahid Nizami, Regional Vice President APJ, ActiveCampaign

“Passion, reliability and trustworthiness. Whether you’re looking to build a beloved neighbourhood institution or a global enterprise with customers numbering in the tens of thousands, you won’t get far without an oversized dollop of the ‘Big Three’. They’re must-haves, for anyone looking to create a sustainable success story. In my book, that’s a business that stays close to its customers, earns their loyalty and secures their repeat business.

“Patience is also important. Of course, we’d all love to see ourselves at the helm of the next unicorn in double quick time but if you’re able to temper your expectations and stay focused – for the years it typically takes to turn a bright idea into something big – you’ll stand a much better chance of getting where you want to go.

“And lastly, you have to be committed to the concept of continuous improvement – getting better and better at whatever it is your business does. Doing so is easier than it used to be, thanks to digital technology that allows you to analyse customer data and extract actionable insights about how you can optimise your operations.”

Stephen Stroner, Managing Director, UPS

Stephen Stroner
Stephen Stroner, Managing Director, UPS

“With the disruption of global supply chains, we see businesses and entrepreneurs alike adapting quickly thanks to their ability to be agile and pivot business strategies as necessary. Entrepreneurs today must take up multiple roles in their business; from doing the grunt work, communicating effectively to stakeholders, marketing their products and services, all the while connecting with customers around the world. What’s unique is that we see our customers addressing their supply chain conditions in partnership with UPS and utilizing our know-how to overcome challenges. Being able to learn from mistakes and having the support of a trusted business partner to turn things around while having the courage to continue – that is the resiliency that entrepreneurs have and is a trait that will drive them to success.”

Tim Charlesworth, Customer Intelligence Specialist, SAS

Tim Charlesworth
Tim Charlesworth, Customer Intelligence Specialist, SAS

“The typical skills associated with a great entrepreneur is their drive and ability to multi-task, their communication and management skills, and perhaps most importantly – their decision-making ability. Whether someone is newly an entrepreneur, or whether they’re an experienced leader, it is their decision-making that ultimately informs the direction and success of an organisation. Using AI or data analytics is something entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to lean on at any stage of their business journey. Ultimately the technology can’t make the decision for you, however it can offer access to accurate, real-time data to assist in the decision-making process. A customer that comes to mind is Levi Strauss & Co – makers of some of the world’s most iconic jeans.

“The organisation’s key challenge was to create a supply chain geared to the preferences of individual customers, while managing the demands of its retailers and wholesalers. By using SAS® Analytics, Levi Strauss & Co. were able to optimise plans and predict opportunities through merchandise planning, allocation and inventory management. Since this integration, Levi has been able to make data-driven decisions, leading to business growth and a genuine competitive advantage.”

Vijay Sundaram, Official Member of Forbes Business Development Council and Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho

Vijay Sundaram
Vijay Sundaram, Official Member of Forbes Business Development Council and Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho

“When starting a business, it is natural to hope your business grows and is profitable as quickly as possible. However, building a successful business requires extensive planning, time, effort and commitment.

“As an entrepreneur, you must take practical steps toward success, or leads will not flood in. Experience teaches you valuable lessons, but developing business skills helps avoid potential risks and keep your business moving on the right track.

“An efficient way to manage everything from company finances, to client relations and marketing, is to use the right tools that are uncomplicated so they do not require you to spend a lot of time and money setting up. At Zoho, we offer bundled solutions such as Zoho One, Finance Plus, Marketing Plus and IT Management so businesses can unify their activities on one platform, streamlining processes.

“Most importantly, leadership skills play a huge role in determining how your business shapes up. It is imperative to guide your team through the process, helping them work together, listening to their concerns, and empowering them to use their skills and resources to reach your business goals. Walk the talk – and you will earn the right to be responsible for others’ success in the company.”

Renata Sguario, Founder and CEO, Maxme

Renata Sguario
Renata Sguario, Founder and CEO, Maxme

“Human skills are critical for entrepreneurial success. Blazing your own path is rewarding but can be a hard fought journey, which is why ‘soft’ skills such as self awareness are important. You need to pinpoint your unique strengths, have awareness of what is holding you back and combine this knowledge with a deep understanding of your purpose and what is driving you.

““Mindset and resilience is key, it is easy when things are going well but as an entrepreneur, you’re going to face resistance and challenges that you possibly never imagined. If you don’t have a winning mindset, even when you don’t feel like you are winning, you’ll find it hard to stay the distance and get back up when knocked down.

“Without strong resilience, you will lack the stamina to keep going when things get tough. As a leader, be aware of your leadership shadow and the precedent you set for the team. I’ve developed a strong purpose-driven culture and my team knows that even if we make mistakes or face a setback, we’re going to keep moving forward. You need to create a positive  environment of high collaboration.”

Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager, ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

Jason Toshack, Vice President and General Manager, ANZ, Oracle NetSuite

“Entrepreneurs typically possess a range of attitudes, beliefs, and aspirations. In my experience, there is no single equation or combination of abilities that determine success. Entrepreneurship is a lifelong journey of learning. Leaders need to be resilient, build a business with a flexible model, and deploy the right technology foundation.

“Additionally, to succeed, entrepreneurs need to adopt a trial and error approach. These leaders should constantly adjust business models, iterating until settling on the model that works most effectively. This approach assists entrepreneurs with responding better to unexpected situations. It also instils confidence that, no matter what happens, these leaders are able to pivot as needed to achieve success.

“Many entrepreneurs regard technology as a foundational factor in an agile business model. With the appropriate systems in place to manage functions like accounting, inventory management and warehouse management, business processes continue to evolve and thrive. In fact, a recent study by Frost & Sullivan and Oracle NetSuite found that 58% of Australian entrepreneurs ranked their core business software as important for business success. Entrepreneurial success not only comes down to determination, it also heavily depends on the tools and software needed to efficiently manage a business and swiftly adapt to change.”

Shiva Pillay, General Manager and Senior Vice President APJ, Veeam Software

Shiva Pillay
Shiva Pillay, General Manager and Senior Vice President APJ, Veeam Software

“Successful entrepreneurs understand that to manage and grow their business, adaptability is by far the most important trait to have. Businesses today face a multitude of challenges, and with the volatile space we live in, it’s imperative that entrepreneurs know how to pivot fast to capture market opportunities. Being a strong communicator is another important trait, especially when it comes to reaching out to and inspiring stakeholders effectively. Many successful organisations are led by people who not only put their employees first but are also highly effective communicators. The journey as an entrepreneur can be a lonely and often scary one, so having passion for what you do is all important. Be persistent and know what you want to achieve. With focus, a clear market opportunity and tight execution, success is more likely an outcome.”

Dan Bognar, Group Vice President and General Manager APJ, DocuSign

Dan Bognar
Dan Bognar, Group Vice President and General Manager APJ, DocuSign

“Being a business owner means you learn, out of necessity, the art of juggling many hats at once. Owning a business requires you to be the accountant, the marketer and the HR officer, and that demand is heightened when the business is just starting out. Entrepreneurial success comes from having clarity of purpose, a clear set of priorities and ensuring that your time is spent on driving the business forward.

“Digital tools are a great way to streamline the operations of a new venture. They ensure that work is carried out efficiently, correctly, and at a low price point. DocuSign’s Time to Value report found that the average Australian business runs eight SaaS solutions, and it’s no wonder why – digital tools are a key way to save time and money, which can be the difference between surviving and failing when it comes to start-ups.”

Rachael Greaves, Co-Founder and CEO, Castlepoint Systems

Rachael Greaves
Rachael Greaves, Co-Founder and CEO, Castlepoint Systems

“Flexibility, consistency, and diversity are the key elements.

“We have scaled up very quickly, seeing consistent 500% average year on year growth. On this trajectory, flexibility is important so we can take advantage of opportunities, including researching and expanding into new markets and client bases in a short time. While it may sound like the two don’t go together, consistency is an important factor as well – flexibility can’t happen without having a solid base of core business goals, values, and strategies. These are the backbone of our business model and keep our product and client service at a high standard.

“Scaling up has not just applied to our partner and client base, but also our team. We’ve grown exponentially in the past year alone, and it’s been important to us to build a diverse team. The different backgrounds, skills and experience of our growing team give us greater insights and capabilities that make our company stronger and more sustainable in the long term. Again, while it may sound counter-intuitive, this diversity in our team has strengthened our team culture, resulting in an incredibly collaborative and productive workplace.”

Bryan Finfrock, Director of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital, CM Group

Bryan Finfrock
Bryan Finfrock, Director of Product Marketing, Cheetah Digital, CM Group

“Tenacity, strength, knowledge and a listening ear are key to entrepreneurial success. When starting a company, it’s vital to not let hearing ‘no’ cause you to give up; sometimes it just means ‘not yet’. Keep moving forward.

“Strength and a ‘thick skin’ are important when you take a leap and go out on your own. In most cases, it’s not personal, just business. Shrug it off and continue pursuing new opportunities.

“A deep understanding of the industry you’re entering into and the people you’re interacting with are also key. By doing your homework, you’ll be better positioned to pair your knowledge with market gaps, uncovering a prosperous way forward.

“And finally, by making time to truly listen — which is different to just hearing — you won’t miss

out on important details or the opportunity to forge connections through new conversations.”

Kabir Shahani, Co-Founder, Amperity

Kabir Shahani
Kabir Shahani, Co-Founder, Amperity

“Entrepreneurial success hinges on finding a problem that needs solving and solving it well. After that, it’s all about authenticity, transparency and openness. In fact, when starting out, I told our investors that I wasn’t even sure we could solve the problem at all. But, perhaps, because of my authenticity, they backed us anyway.

“That transparency has been key throughout this journey. We eventually found out that what we were doing was theoretically possible; but until we could prove it, we remained open with investors, sharing the realistic limits of our capabilities.

“While we launched in October 2017, we were in ‘stealth mode’ building with partners for almost two years. This gave us time to work on the pilot and have something solid to present. Earlier on in the development process, it’s much easier to course correct than later. So engage your customers early on and let them build with you.

“After only two years, we managed to raise $37USD million. So, when it comes to entrepreneurial success, I’d say authenticity really pays off.”

Leigh Rust, Founder and Director, Safetyline Jalousie

Leigh Rust
Leigh Rust, Founder and Director, Safetyline Jalousie

“Performance has always been our core strength and value proposition – one that wouldn’t be possible without upholding specific standards and abilities.

“At the beginning of our entrepreneurial journey, our shared vision and relentless can-do attitude set us up for success. We had to learn to fail. Fast. And learn to move forward just as quickly.

“So we couldn’t view the glass as anything other than half full. We were determined to see our business venture succeed and had a great support system to lean on.

“Not only did we have each other and a strong brotherly bond, but we both loved the competitiveness. We are determined to win and harness our gut instinct to make decisions that keep us one step ahead of the competition.

“We could bounce ideas off each other and push each other to keep going. Of course, as we grew, we had to learn to delegate and offload tasks. But first, we had to find the right people to trust with our family business.

“The gut instinct came into play again, and we found a diverse group of team members sharing our drive and motivation to succeed.”

Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion ANZ, Deel

Shannon Karaka
Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion ANZ, Deel

“Great entrepreneurs understand the importance of building a team full of great talent. Finding the right talent can be incredibly hard, or straightforward, depending on your approach. A chronic talent shortage, visa delays, and a workforce that increasingly values flexibility have made it difficult for business leaders to rely solely on local, office-only-based talent.

“But for businesses adopting a global view to hiring, building your dream team with a tech platform that simplifies compliance has never been easier. This explains why Deel’s H2 Global Hiring Report found Australia is the APAC country with the most organisations hiring overseas remote workers. These entrepreneurs understand that global hiring raises the chances of finding people with the right qualities to create a strong and complementary team. It’s also more in tune with how people want to work as remote work has become more normalised and desired.”

Ellie Bakker, CEO, Splice Marketing

Ellie Bakker
Ellie Bakker, CEO, Splice Marketing

“Entrepreneurship is an exciting journey. From my experience, these are the attributes that have served me well through bootstrapping and growing three businesses:

  1. When faced with adversity, use it as a time to reflect, learn, innovate and pivot. It’s what sets us apart as entrepreneurs.
  2. Hire people that share your vision and are excited to join you on the journey of building and growing a business, and sharing the experiences of all the ups and downs and everything in between.
  3. Maintain grace under pressure. It’s important to maintain composure and clarity in every situation. Great advice provided to me by Your CEO Mentor and one I’ve stuck by.”

Paul Weingarth, CEO and Co-Founder, Slyp

Paul Weingarth
Paul Weingarth, CEO and Co-Founder, Slyp

“Some of the world’s most successful tech solutions are the simplest. But sometimes the more simple a technology feels to a customer, the more work has gone into the backend.

“To remain focused on delivering the best possible user experience, entrepreneurs must maintain an unrelenting “can do” mindset.

“This mindset combines a couple of things — 1) you must be “irrationally passionate” for solving the problem you are tackling and 2) grit and lots of it! These qualities bleed into everything an entrepreneur does; from growing a team to developing a prototype to launching a product to market. It’s inevitable that you will run into many extremely difficult challenges along the journey, which would normally result in a rational person giving up.

“I’ve realised over time that it is the individual who decides their limitations, as Confucius said – “the man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right”. We always encourage our team to feel empowered to expand their thinking, pressure test new ideas and fail fast. There is no better way to find success.”

Alok Kulkarni, CEO, Cyara

Alok Kulkarni
Alok Kulkarni, CEO, Cyara

“After graduating, I wrote down my goal of becoming a technology entrepreneur on a slip of paper that I kept under my pillow. I re-read it every night to stay focused. I’ve learnt so much on my journey but there are three key traits that I believe helped me get to where I am today:

  1. Learning from my mistakes
  2. Having grit and backing myself
  3. Being a lifelong learner

“Be cognizant that building a business comes at a cost – and often that cost is your time. While multitasking might feel like a “badge of honour”, I soon realised I wasn’t being present; things were taking me longer and it was holding me back.

“As an entrepreneur there’s always so much to do but you must be able to decide what’s important to you and be determined enough to say no to things that don’t make the cut.”

Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce

Marcus McNamara
Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce

“Entrepreneurial success requires consistent curiosity. At Sana Commerce, we take pride in the fact entrepreneurship is a core company value – everyone who works here comes through the door with ideas they want to test, and the freedom they need to try them out.

“Naturally, some of those tests might come with failure, but if you’re extracting lessons and growing from those, you’re on a path to answering some tough questions.

“Another key contributing factor to entrepreneurial success is team spirit – nothing happens in a silo, and cross-collaboration, whether with other colleagues or companies, can lead to learnings that are richer and more helpful to you in the long run.”

Brodie Haupt, Co-Founder and CEO, WLTH

Brodie Haupt, Co-Founder and CEO, WLTH

“Having the skill to effectively communicate the company’s values with staff, customers, and stakeholders is an essential part of an entrepreneurial mindset. Maintaining a clear focus while running my business involves constantly communicating with my team, this is to ensure trust and transparency in our interactions so that everyone is on the same page. As a company that puts purpose and sustainability at its core, we have ocean sustainability front of mind and a driving factor in our business. This will build loyalty and retention among employees and customers.

“Being innovative will give entrepreneurs an edge to compete. Understanding the market or industry, and introducing a new product to reinvent can bring a competitive advantage, and result in the success of a business. Innovation requires imagination and being the leader in agents of change.”

Viv Conway, Co-Founder, Girls Get Off

Viv Conway
Viv Conway, Co-Founder, Girls Get Off

“Our entrepreneurial success is thanks to our ability to take action and maintain focus. Not spending too much time planning is important as overthinking can be detrimental to your success.

“We suggest trying something as easy as a lean canvas to give you a visual guide and get you going. You won’t know what problems you might encounter until you actually get started.

“Then, act with courage. One of our favourite books, The Unfair Fight by Sam Hazeldine, talks about not letting what you think you know stand in the way of what’s possible.

“The world might be waiting for you to take the leap and create something great. We like to keep this in mind, following our mission to empower women and remove the stigma that comes with getting off.

“Plus, perfection doesn’t exist! Once you figure out what is needed to achieve your goals, you can step out confidently into the world with the support of your people. Although you might face some obstacles, remember not to compromise your values in the process and stay true to yourself.

“When you are ready to scale your business, ensure you hire A players that genuinely want to see you succeed. To hire the right people, you need to be people-focused. To keep them around, it is important to ensure they feel valued and heard!”


Graham Glass

“People often compare business with art, as running a business it is not an exact science and not everyone can master it. Any successful business must start with a passion. Over time, this burning passion can turn into motivation, which fuels the success of a business.

“Another important factor for budding entrepreneurs is risk-taking. Starting a company does not guarantee success, but the process of trial and error can put you on the right path and determine the future of your business – and the lessons you learn along the way are pivotal. Any knowledgeable entrepreneur will plan in advance and have a backup plan in place in case things don’t work out the first time.

“Flexibility and creative thinking are just as important when it comes to launching a successful business. Don’t be afraid to do things your own way and show those around you that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and turn a dream into reality.”

Mark Dombkins, Founder, Forever Projects

Mark Dombkins
Mark Dombkins, Founder, Forever Projects

“Entrepreneurial success starts with the ability to paint a vision of the future that people can fall in love with.

“Not all people. Just your people. Your customers. Your partners. Your team. This vision of the future certainly includes the customer overcoming their obstacles, thanks to your product or service.The best entrepreneurs don’t just help customers solve their own problems. They have the ability to create a shared sense of belonging and purpose. The entrepreneur empowers the community to find other members – people just like them – who also benefit from the product/service and community.

“In this vein, the ability to be open and welcoming pays dividends. As Seth Godin so wisely says, the key currencies in our connection economy are trust and attention. They site alongside: vision; invitation; attention; and repetition.

“We’ve applied these principles and built these cap(abilities) over time at Forever Projects, where we help women in Tanzania break the cycle of poverty and create a self-sustaining future.

“While the work we and our partners do is amazing, it requires a huge ability to trust and empower the people working with us. With this in mind, the ability to trust is critical for entrepreneurs – for growth, fresh ideas and sharing the load.”

Nic Blair, Founder, Midnight Health

Nic Blair
Nic Blair, Founder, Midnight Health
  1. “Always Learning – Remember most entrepreneurs’ first startups fail. With each failure, there are lessons to be learnt in order to develop business-building skills and increase the chances of startup success. No one’s journey is a smooth trajectory.
  1. Goal Setting – Break down your big ambitious vision into clearly defined goals. Knowing the specific steps to get there can keep you on track and help you to avoid distractions along the way. Having a goal to look forward to can help you get through difficult times and stay motivated.
  1. Being Organised – As an entrepreneur, you will wear many hats, so you might find yourself in a position where your time isn’t being used productively or effectively. Staying organised and on top of your priorities is critical, especially when your business grows.
  1. Relationship Building – Your network can have a huge impact on the success of your business. Go out of your way to meet new people and stay in contact with like-minded individuals. Whether you see immediate value or not, you might be surprised by the value someone brings to your life or business at another time.”

Michael Savanis, Chief Revenue Officer, NextMinute

Michael Savanis
Michael Savanis, Chief Revenue Officer, NextMinute

“The old adage of “it’s not what you know but who you know” certainly rings true in the life of an entrepreneur. But that’s not all, not by a long shot. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint hearted – it takes guts, mental fortitude, hard work, planning, transparency, and excelling in your niche to even have a chance at making a profit.

“For me, the most important abilities are being able to provide value in a space no one else is. Understand your customers, what they want, when they want it, and how they want it is critical to being successful. Focus on the right key performance indicators to drive business valuation and then work out the next three steps in your journey, and let the team know. Hire the right people, forego your ego, and work on the journey as one team. And may the force be with you.”

Umesh Banga, Senior Director, Practifi

Umesh Banga, Senior Director, Practifi

“Whether it’s a tech powerhouse like Apple or a boutique financial advice practice, successful high-growth firms work towards a clear vision. Entrepreneurial success comes down to four key attributes: culture, ambition, speed and scalability.

  1. Culture
    Tech start-ups are often founded by entrepreneurs who have tried working for others and decided that the corporate structure, legacy systems and processes were not for them. Attracting the right people with a growth mindset will expedite the growth of any advice business.
  2. Ambition
    Entrepreneurs have high levels of confidence and conviction that enable them to take the plunge and overcome any obstacles – the key is using ambition to fuel greater adaptability and embrace change.
  3. Speed
    Successful founders seek constant feedback and use this to inform their decisions and pivot when necessary. Sayings like ‘fail fast and pivot’ have normalised this culturally. Firms can rapidly grow client audiences through strong segmentation and clear acquisition strategies supported by business intelligence and robust CRM technology.
  4. Scalability
    High-growth businesses are almost always a scalable proposition, heavily relying on technology and automation to improve efficiency and improve rates of growth. This is key for entrepreneurial success.”

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO, Pin Payments

“Being an entrepreneur in today’s turbulent market requires skills which go beyond the business world. As we saw with the pandemic, personal skills like empathy and resilience are paramount as a leader to support the business and its staff. Entrepreneurship requires innovation, agility and adaptability to constant change. It requires a special skill set which constantly evolves as the business and wider world does. A holistic approach to entrepreneurship, which encompasses business and people, will ensure your success is measured by more than just profit.”

Gaurav Dhillon, Chairman and CEO, SnapLogic

Gaurav Dhillon
Gaurav Dhillon, Chairman and CEO, SnapLogic

‘Founding a startup is not for the faint of heart. Raising capital, building product, managing teams, winning customers, fending off competitors — the list goes on and on. Every successful entrepreneur knows you can’t go it alone, you have to find strategic, committed, supportive partners that will help you through the tough times and propel you forward in good times.

“A lot of folks in the venture capital business are well connected but less and less of them have the sense for how to build a great company, how to build something that is durable, who really take pleasure in helping someone grow. That’s when you start to say – ‘who’s going to be the best person for us on our journey’.

“And make no mistake, all companies, especially successful ones, are on a journey and they

have to deal with the twists and turns of what is going to happen in the marketplace. It’s wise to

partner with someone that has similar operational backgrounds, that has been in your shoes,

and that has experience running big products and big companies.”

Kristin Austin, Creator of 1st in Business and  Managing Director of KristinAustin.com

Kristin Austin
Kristin Austin, Creator of 1st in Business and  Managing Director of KristinAustin.com

“After a month shy of 12 years as an entrepreneur, mostly in the B2B, professional services, consulting space, by far the most important quality for an entrepreneur to have is an understanding of how to drive sales. After all, nothing happens in business until someone sells something (otherwise it’s just a hobby).

“Most people start a business because they love their product, the idea they had or what they do on a day to day basis. But without the ability to really drive sales, they’re likely to struggle – lurching from sale to sale, project to project. It really doesn’t matter whether that’s retail/online for consumer sales or the ability to win their own customers if they’re B2B. Entrepreneurs must learn/know how to initially fill, then continuously top up their sales pipeline and then because so very few people will buy on first look/conversation, it’s also about remaining consistent in communication along the client’s buying journey. Keep going until they buy, die or tell you to stop.

“Also critical is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going when life tosses its many roadblocks in your way, because it absolutely will.”

John O’Brien, Founder and executive director, Poolwerx

John O'Brien
John O’Brien, Founder and executive director, Poolwerx

“I’ve commenced 5 start-ups in 37 years, my first aged 28, all have been successful – some just! They all followed the franchise model, as I love that as an entrepreneur you can imagine an opportunity, create the brand and system, and then partner with intrapreneurial families that align their energy and drive with yours. It creates magic!

  • Vulnerability – feel confident to ask questions. In doing so, you identify consumer needs that are not being met or market opportunities.
  • Vision – The future imagining of what your creation will deliver and ability to rise above the constraints of today.
  • Reinvention – To never accept you’re done, to always and constantly improve, to keep raising the bar.
  • Connection – You first need to be connected to your invention, to feel its delivery and importance deep in your fibre. Money is the last motivator, it comes from success.
  • Courage – Everyone will give up on you at some point, at your darkest hour – best friends, family, partner. You need to have resilience and courage to find a way through, to drag yourself off the mat, to be your own greatest supporter.”

Paul Tory, Co-Founder and CEO, Foodbomb

Paul Tory
Paul Tory, Co-Founder and CEO, Foodbomb

“Building a successful food business is no easy feat, it takes time, determination and the right approach. I’ve spent my life working in the food industry and I’ve seen the pain points of the hospitality industry firsthand. It’s those experiences, where I witnessed chefs and venues using antiquated ordering methods like texting and calling, which sparked the idea for Foodbomb. Being a successful entrepreneur involves issue spotting and problem solving on a grand scale. However, as a leader you’re constantly evolving alongside the market and economy to deliver products which reflect the changing wants and needs of your customers. With sustainability now more important than ever, as entrepreneurs it’s integral we address this in our business practices. That’s why our long term vision for success includes building a smarter minimal touch ordering system where waste is virtually eliminated. Entrepreneurial ‘success’ means operating a business that seeks to solve problems for people, business and the planet.”

James Isbell, Managing Partner, Second Sphere Partners

James Isbell
James Isbell, Managing Partner, Second Sphere Partners

“Entrepreneurs absolutely must stay focused on their end-goal, but by the same token be flexible in how they get there. If things go according to plan every step of the way, it’s a miracle.

“Sharing the load sounds simple, but it’s an ability that’s tough to master, especially for entrepreneurs who are naturally passionate. Build a trusted network and inner circle … and trust it!

“Letting things wash is critical. Each ‘no’ gets you closer to a ‘yes’ in all manner of business arrangements. Learn from each ‘no’ and use it as a springboard to the ‘yes’.

“Most importantly, build the ability to tune out every now and then. Entrepreneur and founder burnout can be huge. Even though you’re in the hotseat, a quick reset every now and then will keep you firing on all cylinders. Your business will thank you for it.”

Kyle Bolto, Founder and CEO, Ohmie Go

Kyle Bolto
Kyle Bolto, Founder and CEO, Ohmie Go

“Entrepreneurship has been glamourised in recent years, but the reality is it’s much harder than anyone expects. Many successful businesses begin with what seems to be a ‘crazy’ or different idea, but that’s followed up by a lot of hard work and a product which genuinely seeks to change the world. Delivering value to your market is what differentiates your business from flash in the pan ideas. As an entrepreneur, it’s taken resilience, persistence and passion to build Ohmie Go’s sustainable tech from the ground up and turn that into a viable business.”

Tiger Malan, CEO, Ray White Burleigh Group

Tiger Malan
Tiger Malan, CEO, Ray White Burleigh Group

“It’s got to be creativity! I know one of the hallmarks of being a ‘good’ entrepreneur is to be an objective thinker, but I really believe thinking outside the square trumps that if you want to rise above the rest. Following the status quo will only keep you as one of the pack. As CEO of the Ray White Burleigh Group on the Gold Coast, I’m constantly striving for new and innovative ways to invigorate my business, my team … even myself.

“I also think discipline is key – taking shortcuts will only lead to long term failure! It’s a cliché, I know, but you have to be consistently consistent.

“And finally (and this one’s a lot more pragmatic), set non negotiable KPIs! In real estate, that’s data compilation and prospecting. For me as a CEO, that can involve recruitment and training. If you give yourself an ‘option’ to fail, you’ll often take it, even if it’s not your intent. I try to circumvent my own subconsciousness but setting goals I simply have to hit.”

John Pirlo, Founder, Ninja Parc

John Pirlo
John Pirlo, Founder, Ninja Parc

“Passion, drive, a great attitude…these are really just different words to describe the same attribute that makes for great entrepreneurial success. When you have the passion, you can make great things happen because you have the sort of energy that attracts the support of others, you have persistence and seemingly endless ideas to help get an idea off the ground. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about because rarely does a new idea just magically “take off”. Entrepreneurs need to work hard and not be dissuaded by set-backs and challenges, but rather think their way around them. I once read a saying: ‘If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it”; and as an entrepreneur this really resonated. It’s that little voice inside, that spark, that passion that is the number one key to entrepreneurial success. So if you’ve got it, don’t ignore it.”

Mark Sorensen, Co-Founder, Cleanery

Mark Sorensen
Mark Sorensen, Co-Founder, Cleanery

“Entrepreneurial success comes from a vision for a better future combined with hard work and a bit of luck to make that future happen. Building a business is hard, and so – more often than not – success requires passion found only in working on something you truly believe in.

“At Cleanery we believe that business needs to take leadership on environmental issues. We believe solutions to the environmental challenges require transformative change rather than incremental improvement. When I was 14, I wrote an essay titled “The Packaging Problem” outlining the problems caused by excessive packaging and poor product design. Now, 28 years on, we’re reinventing the cleaning and personal care categories to solve the packaging problem in an industry that touches billions of people every day.

“Our truly effective products are delivered as a powder that dissolves in water at home. This eliminates the need for single-use bottles and the emissions, hassle, and cost of shipping bulky packaging and water around the world.

“By completely reimagining how products are delivered to customers we have overcome the compromise between product performance, cost and sustainability. Our plant and mineral based formulations are inherently more sustainable while being more effective that traditional products.”

Steve Lewis, CEO, Industrial Eye Pty Ltd.

Steve Lewis
Steve Lewis, CEO, Industrial Eye Pty Ltd.

“ ‘I’d like to thank everyone who is better than me who quit.’  That line from an acceptance speech I heard at 18 is still reverberating around my head 26 years later.

“The most important characteristic of success as an entrepreneur is resilience. It’s hard.  People won’t get it. You’ll have your time wasted, your money wasted, everything you know about the people around you will be tested and it is all too common that the people who doubt you and pick meat from your bones are there to steal your success, taking the easy road and parts of your glory for themselves.

“It’s a decade long overnight success.

“Our technology at Industrial Eye, a great example, is designed to save lives, prevent injury and we still face this common assault on progress. I’ve chosen my partner wisely. We’ve both won and lost successfully and we continue to celebrate the blood, sweat, tears and cheers with a unified perspective.”

Ian Schubach, CEO, Red Leaf

Ian Schubach
Ian Schubach, CEO, Red Leaf

“In my view, to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have a sense of adventure. You cultivate this by being:

  1. Curious & paying close attention to your surroundings
  2. Trusting of your instinct to alert you to the opportunities that are everywhere
  3. Prepared to act 

“Imagine being a mountaineer stuck high up on a peak subjected to stormy weather. You observe the wind, the clouds, and the rising barometric pressure and conclude that a good weather window is approaching.  The best adventurers know when to move quickly and take advantage of every opportunity that comes to hand. No worthwhile summit has been reached through procrastination and inaction.

“I think it is similar for entrepreneurs…”

Kim Evans, Founder and Director, Lux Brows & Lashes

Kim Evans
Kim Evans, Founder and Director, Lux Brows & Lashes

“The ability to believe in yourself and the work you’re doing is a must. As an entrepreneur it’s also really important to have a support network that can encourage, guide, and cheer for you every step of the way. Running a business can be challenging, and having that network there to support you through the good and bad times can be an absolute life saver.”

Roger Smith, Director of Client Security, Care Managed IT

Roger Smith
Roger Smith, Director of Client Security, Care Managed IT

“Understand the digital risks to your new business.

“Business security is often an afterthought in business especially for SMEs and start-ups.

“Everything that you do in business and in your business will have a digital component.

“You will have intellectual property and trade secrets, access to accounts and seed money, personal identification information (PII) and other data about clients and staff, all stored, somewhere, digitally.

“It is part of today’s compliance and governance regulations that you will do everything you can to protect those systems and that information.

“It is naive to think that they would not be targeted by cybercriminals because you are a start-up.

“Each of those digital components, your assets, need to be identified and managed because they are at risk from a cyber-attack. Those identified risks then need to be assessed, removed and/or mitigated.

“You have developed a great product and/or service and your start up is starting to create buzz in the business world.

“Now is the time to think about business security before it is too late!

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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