A leading independent creative agency, an iconic venue, office buildings, and an online memorial platform. Andrew MacKinnon, Taboo Founder and Managing Director, has built these ventures and more, and he’s not stopping there. His passion, positive outlook, and innovative character drive him to keep creating ideas and making cool things.
Andrew was oozing with enthusiasm as he reminisced his colourful business journey, which began in the cold streets of London at the age of 19. It was supposed to be a “dream job”, as described in an article he read. As it turned out, he had to stand on street corners, stop people, and sell them coupons for gyms, hair salons, day spas, and the like. From a neophyte salesman, his need to make money for travel drove him to become good at his role, and eventually emerged as a great marketer at the streets.
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An accidental entrepreneur. That is how Co-founder of retail company Blue Illusion, Donna Guest, describes herself. It was not something that she envisioned when she married her late husband and then business partner, Danny Guest. Moreover, becoming a CEO of a company was not something she contemplated when they started the business 20 years ago. She came into the position when Danny passed away suddenly last year.
Losing a business partner is one thing. The demise of a spouse is another matter. It was like a double tragedy for Donna. Someone who’s been a huge part of her life has departed. Business-wise, the difficulty was that she was more responsible for the creative side of the venture. Negotiating contracts, overseeing leases, and transacting with banks were Danny’s responsibilities. With the turn of events, Donna has to be comfortable with various aspects of the business.
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Bradley Hampel is into the business of activations, movie premieres, corporate events, and brand experiences. But before he founded his event and entertainment agency, Solution Entertainment, more than ten years ago, Brad didn’t imagine starting a business of his own. A trip to Lagos, Portugal and the circumstances that occurred there lured him towards the entrepreneurial path, not expecting that such experiences would lead him to success.
It was in 2002 when Brad spent a few months in the small party town of Lagos. “I probably never thought that I would start my own business. It was not my intention. I had no idea what I was planning or doing with my life. And then, I went travelling,” he began. While in Lagos, he needed a job, so he posed as a DJ, which paved the way for an exciting career in business and entertainment.
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With almost 25 years in the property industry and four property businesses under his belt, Hugh Jones, property expert and entrepreneur, has a long track record when it comes to this line of work. In reality, his true passion lies in helping people, and the property industry provided Hugh with a platform for discovering this. “It wasn’t so much the property management or the property transactions that I enjoyed. It was my natural interest in people buying or selling the property and becoming their trusted advisor through the ups and downs of life. To do that, I needed to have cash flow, and that’s why I started a property business,” the Director and Founder of Garcia and Jones explained.
Hugh has always understood the importance of hard work, even as a teenager. “In school holidays, I used to work with my cousins in a family law firm. From a young age, we spent about half our school holidays working in the family practice. So, we learned about working hard from a relatively young age,” he shared. After a brief stint studying Economics at University, Hugh deferred his studies for a year and made his first move into Property. Since then, there was no turning back for Hugh as he continued to hone his proficiency in the industry.
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Business owner Ben Hirons is due north, where his entrepreneurial compass points him. It’s a trip he wants to savour. “One thing I realised is that business is a journey. It’s not a destination. It’s all about how you plan, structure, execute and implement the right journey. It’s always about getting to somewhere,” he says. As a wise man once said, “if you’re not heading north, you’re not heading anywhere!” Loving the play on words, Ben founded a business and named it Due North.
His educational training, passion for business and love of the outdoors all come into play in his company name. With a double degree in Business and Aerospace Engineering, Ben charts his entrepreneurial flight plan heading north. His destination is to succeed in growing his business and achieving his dreams for the future. For this reason, he pilots his business with precision through the dynamic and ever-changing terrain of sales and marketing.
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One’s entrepreneurial journey may differ from others. However, there are patterns, challenges or wins that may resemble other people’s business experiences. These similarities are key learnings that can prepare upcoming entrepreneurs for the impediments ahead. It is to convey to those on the starting line that there are mavens who can relate to their trials and are willing to help them out.
That is the essence of EO. If you have browsed through the stories shared on this site, you will find inspiration from the people who braved tough times to make their businesses grow. They have mentioned certain elements or pieces to help us grasp their entrepreneurial passage better. Some of these experiences you can relate to a particular item that can provide a visual illustration of how a business journey unfolds. It will help you to fully comprehend what is to come and how you can approach your entrepreneurial voyage with the right attitude and mindset.
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Actor and comedian Milton Berle once mouthed, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” And that is what Joseph Di Benedetto, Executive Director at Designer Doorware, exactly did. Joseph is the kind who would never stop at anything. He recognises that persistence and patience are qualities that are significant in running a business. As long as there are doors of opportunities, he will not stop knocking until these doors open to bigger breaks.
Every morning, Joseph wakes up thinking that he has just started his business that day. Even when his company has already been running for over 20 years old, he constantly regards it as a startup and aims to develop it further. He asks himself each morning, “What am I going to do to make it better, streamline and get customers to like me more and buy our products more?”
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It is a tale of success that began from something unexpected. “It was never a planned journey. It just happened,” describes WAG’s Founder and Director Jeremy Goldman on how his business started. His entrepreneurial journey stemmed from his love for dogs and the desire for a little bit of extra money on the side. Seeing a need and an opportunity in the natural dog treats space, he came up with a passion project that grew to something huge. Henceforth, there is no turning back for Jeremy as he wags his entrepreneurial tail towards success.
The scenario is still fresh from his memory. Ten years ago, Jeremy was yet at university when he thought of selling natural dog treats at a local farmers market. Every single week, he would set up his goods at five in the morning and sell them out from the back of his car. By 10 o’clock, everything he brought to the market would be sold out. “One day, after doing it for about two months, someone came along and said, ‘I own 22 pet stores in Melbourne. I’d like to put your range in our pet stores.’ And like overnight, the business was born,” Jeremy narrated.
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Getting caught in a traffic jam can sometimes be stressful or boring. When the flow seems slow-moving, how do you keep yourself amused on the road? Take a good look at your surroundings to get an idea or two. Better yet, read those bumper stickers that can sometimes be funny or inspiring. People often put them out for others to know who they are or what they believe or represent. As an entrepreneur, what do you want to convey to others behind you, who are on the way to their entrepreneurial journey?
Here are some lines that you can stick on your vehicle bumper and inspire those who are at the crossroads of their lives. These are tips gathered from EO Melbourne members we have interviewed. Budding entrepreneurs or those who are contemplating to start a business can learn a thing or two from the following passages. Those who are ahead can pass it on to others. Nevertheless, it’s a good cue for anyone who is on the business path.
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ManBrands Creative Director and Norman Connell Advertising Managing Director Trent Dyball started doing marketing at a time when there were still no emails and social media sites. Through the changing landscape of the industry he is in, Trent learned that keeping the creative fresh is what matters most. With over 20 years under his belt, Trent has an intensive creative and marketing experience that has got him to where he is right now in his business journey.
Trent looks back at the starting point of his career. While he did see himself in advertising, he never truly imagined himself to be in this position of owning a business. He rose from the ranks from being a casual employee to be fully employed, and now, taking the steering wheel and driving his agencies to greater heights.
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