8 Inspiring Women in Business to Spark Your Entrepreneurial Spirit
Hey sis! Still undecided about taking out a loan to get your business idea off the ground? Australia’s most successful and influential female entrepreneurs would tell you to stop worrying and just go for it.
These amazing women in business never let the fear of rejection and business failure stop them from pursuing their passion and building an empire of their own.
1. Melanie Perkins, Co-founder and CEO of Canva
“Having crazy big ideas and chasing after them can be intimidating but it pushes you to try harder and dream even bigger.”
The 31-year-old university drop-out now runs a $1 billion business from a “set crazy big goals and make them happen” mentality.
- An artist and entrepreneur by heart, she started creating handmade scarves and selling them at shops and markets throughout her hometown, Perth, at an early age of fourteen.
- At 22, she founded her next company, Fusion Books, which allows schools to design yearbooks online. Fusion Books is now the largest yearbook publisher in Australia.
- Three years later, she founded her third business, Canva, a platform for creating professional-quality designs. Quickly becoming a hit, Canva now has more than 10 million registered users in 190 different countries. As of January 2018, the company was valued at $1 billion.
Determined and passionate about “being able to build a business”, Perkins turned each rejection into an opportunity for improvement. Every time an investor asked a difficult question or rejected her business proposal, she focused on what she could change. She revised her pitch deck after every meeting to answer the investor's question or resolve the reason for rejection.
"The normal thing to do after your 100th ‘no’ would be to stop, but you just have to persevere. I’d continuously pour my energy into things that I could refine and fix, trying to find people who believed in my vision and would come along for the ride," she said.
2. Penny Locaso, Founder of BKindred
“So many women don’t make (the) change that could make them happier because they are waiting for the perfect plan. It’s about taking action rather than waiting for the perfect plan.”
The former Shell executive who “just kept getting promoted” left her role as a corporate cog to become an independent entrepreneur in the pursuit of happiness.
- In 2015, she founded BKindred, a professional training and coaching company that aims to amplify the Intentional Adaptability Quotient (IAQ) of individuals and organisations.
- According to the company’s website, IAQ is the measure of how skilled you are in making an intentional change in an environment that is evolving at speed.
Locaso believes that resourcefulness plays a big role in the success of businesses: "It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have multimillion-dollar budgets to develop your idea. I often believe those who bootstrap have a greater chance of success because there is no option but to get creative with your resources…That’s where the innovation is born.
3. Maree Adshead, Founder of Open Data Institute Australian Network
"I think it's about unwavering faith in what you're trying to achieve and seeing things through. I don't think enough people finish things. That’s how you press for progress, you get the job done."
Big data proponent Maree Adshead established the Open Data Institute Australian Network in 2014, shortly after co-founding a successful software startup.
- The non-profit data firm connects businesses, industries, academia, and the government through the use of government data as a strategic resource for economic and social development goals.
- Despite the reluctance of many investors, Adshead pushed through with her business concept.
- Adshead and her company were recognised for bringing small businesses in the forefront of government policy and decision-making.
By 2018, the organization also has a turnover of $500,000.
4. Linda Monique, Founder of ALMO
“Always go back to your company values, and if you don’t know those, start with your values. Keep them as a pillar to make decisions around packaging, design, marketing – everything.”
Resilience is the winning attitude that pushed Monique to stand up and get back on track after falling.
- Armed with a double degree in management and arts, the University of Melbourne alum ventured into food design mainly because of her passion for food and analysing markets.
- It was, however, her autoimmune disease and her long hospital stay in Australia (after living a great life in London) that convinced her to pursue entrepreneurship.
- She founded ALMO in 2015 and launched the product in 2016. It’s not all easy-breezy. She's overcome many business obstacles, such as logistics challenges, changing her target market, and managing changing global regulations and labelling.
ALMO is now recognised as the first Australian grown almond milk in retail stores and with a long shelf life.
5. Adala Bolto, Founder of Zadi
“Women can do so much in so little time if they have to. We are only limited by the bullshit we put in our heads – anything is possible!”
The former personal trainer and popular group fitness instructor and a franchisee of Fernwood have had a lot of negative feedback when she pitched her idea to investors—a boutique female fitness studio that would offer women a more specialised approach to fitness.
- Instead of listening to their criticisms, she continued with her business idea and in 2017, she launched her first two ZADI studios in Sydney.
- To get more investors, she had to prove that her business was up and running successfully: “When you do your best and put your best foot forward and work your hardest to achieve your goal, the right people recognise that and they come to you and ask how can they help and be a part of it? I thought, surely with all this hard work, someone will notice and say hey, I want to be a part of this!”
Today, ZADI is one of the most successful fitness studios in the country. Despite being new in the industry, it has a turnover of approximately $600,000 by the end of 2019.
6. Gina Rinehart, Executive Chairman of Hancock Prospecting
"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire. If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain — do something to make more money for yourself — spend less time drinking, or smoking and socialising, and more time working."
With a $15.2B net worth, Gina Rinehart is a formidable force not only in Australian business arena but also in the global marketplace as she continues to build her wealth mainly on iron ore.
But the richest woman in Australia doesn't just sit around and let other people do the work for her.
- The iron ore that she inherited from her father was debt-ridden and shattered.
- With her strict worth ethics, she kept tight control over the company’s operations and eventually grew it into one of Australia’s largest exporters of iron ore.
- At present, she's also Australia's third-largest cattle producer with a portfolio of properties across the country.
7. Kate Morris, Founder and CEO of Adore Beauty
“I am not a genius. I wasn’t a child prodigy. I wasn’t the dux of my school. I did not graduate with straight high distinctions. My ideas are not better than anybody else’s. What I am good at, is getting stuff done. Not getting it done perfectly. Just getting it done.”
Like other successful people, Morris ascribed her success more on proactiveness and resilience and less on having a “big idea” or making better decisions.
- The Monash University graduate started Adore Beauty, the first beauty e-commerce site in Australia, from a garage that she shared with a flatmate in Melbourne at the age of 21.
- Without “secret entrepreneur gene” and money to start her business, she borrowed $12,000 from her boyfriend’s dad and called every IT company in the Yellow Pages until she found one that could build an online store for her.
- Then she invited beauty brands to sell their products on her website, relentlessly sending business proposals despite the initial rejections.
By 2018, Adore Beauty has made $52 million in sales and Morris earned an estimated wealth of $30 million.
8. Bianca Monley, Founding Director of Eat Fit Food
“Do it yourself first to learn how to do it directly, and then bring people in to do it how you want it done with your vision.”
An inductee on the Australian businesswomen’s Hall of Fame, Monley started her nutritional home-delivery service at a young age of 22. There was no health food craze at the time; the young entrepreneur struggled to get her business off the ground but managed to keep going because of her passion for food and health.
- Without business experience and no funding, she occasionally borrowed from friends until the equipment was repossessed because of outstanding debts.
- As her business grew, Monley juggled more responsibilities as a driver, marketer, and chef.
- The 2007 global financial crises ripped 40% of her business, but she never gave up and, instead, continued strategising to stay ahead of the game as the health food trend caught on.
- Aside from perseverance and reinvention, Monley also believes that writing down long term goals with a business plan, overestimating expenses and underestimating revenues, is a key for business growth.
- She also advised finding a mentor and getting the cash flowing as early as possible: “Cash flow is the lifeline of your business. Grow organically as much as the cash flow allows.”
Eat Fit Food is now a leading health food home delivery business servicing many rich clients including Hugh Jackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachael Finch, Turia Pitt, Delta Goodrem, Miranda Kerr and Michael Klim.
Women entrepreneurs in Australia are increasing by the day. Although they're still a minority at 43%, they are gaining ground quickly with a number that's growing at a faster rate than men.
More than just the success in numbers, their increasing participation in the business world disrupts traditional male-dominated industries. By standing up for their business ideas and their traditional female values of nurture, patience, and resilience, women transform societies for the better.