29 September 2021
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Don’t you just love an Aussie success story?

Peter Switzer
3 September 2021

Last week we learnt a young Australian woman “earnt her stripes” (as she put it) to be hailed as a successful entrepreneur, selling a controlling chunk of her Go-To Skincare business to the listed company BWX.

The SMH’s Cara Waters told us that Zoe Foster Blake sold her skincare operation, with BWX owning 50.1% of the Go-To business, effectively valuing the business at $177 million.

Not one to be too engaged with the A-list set, I was surprised to learn that Zoe is married to that great Aussie comedian and radio broadcaster, Hamish Blake of Hamish and Andy fame.

I was also surprised to learn she was a former beauty columnist for Cosmopolitan magazine and has written successful books such as The Wrong Girl and No One Likes A Fart!

If you want to read the full yarn, go to: https://www.smh.com.au/business/entrepreneurship/bwx-buys-stake-in-zo-foster-blake-s-skincare-company-in-89m-deal-20210827-p58mfj.html but I want to focus on one of Zoe’s observations about herself.

Reflecting on her achievement (along with her founding colleagues), Zoe explained the entrepreneur title didn’t always rest easy with her but she did tell Waters that, “I’ve earned my stripes.”

Zoe clearly had a good business before the Coronavirus but the stay-at-home orders boosted the company’s online sales such that 60% of revenue came from direct purchases over the Internet.

Back in my student days, the best subject I studied in my Masters programme was Business History, which was taken by Professor Gordon Rimmer, Head of the Commerce Faculty at the University of New South Wales.

There were only three of us enrolled for the course so he invited us to his home in the afternoon instead of sitting in a cold lecture hall. We had scones and tea and it was so old world, but it was one of the best subjects I ever studied.

Professor Rimmer defined a successful entrepreneur as someone who could make the right decision at the right time, whether he was on the factory floor, in the office or on the golf course!

And Zoe has clearly nailed the tough businesses around entrepreneurial success, as Cara Waters pointed out.

“Go-To garnered a devoted customer base through savvy use of Foster Blake’s extensive social media following, with the brand amassing more than 1 million followers,” she wrote.

In the new online age, where it’s so easy to become a direct seller and even an exporter via the Internet, building up a following is the Holy Grail of a successful business builder.

But you don’t have to be successful to be an entrepreneur. In economics, there are four factors of production — land, labour, capital and enterprise. And enterprise was the resource that combined land (a natural resource) with labour and capital (i.e. money) to actually produce and sell goods and services.

The Oxford Dictionary define an entrepreneur as a person who sets up a business, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.

So most business owners are entrepreneurs, with the only difference being the calibre of their success.

Interestingly, the pandemic hasn’t only killed off many entrepreneur’s dreams, it has helped some entrepreneurs like Zoe. It has also created an army of new entrepreneurs, who built their businesses part-time in lockdown, while working for someone else!

In lockdown, Deborah Ho came up with the idea for Timeblock Planner that helps you organise your time. She debuted on TikTok and it went crazy, mad, popular.

This is the kind of smart story Deb has wacked online and so her business grows: “The Timeblock Planner is a tool I created to manage my busy schedule and to make myself more productive.  Harvard Business Review named Timeblocking the #1 most effective way to manage time, but I couldn’t find a Timeblocking tool that I found effective, so I made one!

“In the middle of 2020, I posted a Tiktok about my planner … and it went viral. Since then, my Tiktok has been viewed over 2 million times, and I’ve received an incredible amount of positive feedback for its life-changing and effective format.”

An army of Deborah Ho’s has been created in the pandemic, as the latest ABS numbers show. The lockdowns and virus killed off 277,674 entrepreneurs but it created 365,480 new ones!

They’re not tech/Internet entrepreneurs, they’re Uber drivers, Deliveroo bike riders, personal trainers, online teachers, mental health mentors, child-minders and so on.

This pandemic has shown potential entrepreneurs what entrepreneurs do — they see a market of unsatisfied consumers and risk a lot to try and keep the customer satisfied.

They’re often unhailed champions who create jobs, train others, pay a lot of tax and, invariably, inspire the people they’ve helped in the workplace to go on and become entrepreneurs themselves.  Sometimes the people they help even stoop so low that they steal their former employer’s customers, but I guess all great stories can have some disappointing aspects!

That said, anyone who doesn’t get the same kind of pride at seeing a successful entrepreneur in the same light as a successful athlete or actor, neither understands how hard it is to be a business success, nor appreciates that their efforts actually help the people who work with them to achieve their dreams.

Go the entrepreneurs of Australia and long may you grow in number!

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