Young entrepreneurs

10 pearls of wisdom from the Future Makers

By Oliver Milman
Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wisdom, as they say, comes with age. But when it comes to starting up, the lessons not only come thick and fast, they also come early.


One thing that our inaugural list of Future Makers have in common is that they plunged into the deep end of entrepreneurship, learning from their mistakes as they went.


We’ve picked out 10 of the best tips from Australia’s premier entrepreneurs aged 25 and under on how to make it as a fresh-faced business builder.


Nikki Durkin, 99dresses


Age: 20


“I’m mature for my age, and I hang out with a lot of older people, and I fit in, but you just need to prove yourself through your actions.”


“I’ve never had a problem being taken seriously, especially in the tech field, where there is a lot of young people.”


“You just need to do it, start something and learn from it, and I know that a lot of businesses in the start-up stage fail and fall flat on their face.”


“It’s a good learning experience for someone my age, but you should just do it, and get involved in the community, because there’s a lot of support there.”


Craig Somerville, Reload Media


Age: 22


“I think the biggest thing is you have to focus on results, and you have to earn respect.”


“You can’t get away with lying and saying, ‘I’ve been in the industry for 20 years’. You have to actually prove yourself with your results, and then I think you earn your front.”


“The biggest thing is to take advice. A lot of young entrepreneurs have good ideas, but the challenge is to have someone to bounce your idea off, and someone you’re willing to listen to and take advice from.”


Dan Murray, Sly Underwear


Age: 21


“I am of the belief that good business takes two to tango.”


“If you are dealing with another party or person, and they hold a prejudice simply because of your age, then chances are the relationship or deal was not right in the first place.”


Nathan Murphy, Audio High School


Age: 20


“Network a lot, take action and read books that inspire you.”


“The one that inspired me is Richard Branson’s ‘Losing My Virginity’.”


“He was dyslexic, he was poor, he went to jail, he was in five figures of debt, but then one day he looked at his life and completely turned it around.”


“Now he’s worth over $3 billion, he owns more than 300 companies in the Virgin Group and he’s making the world a better place every day. So, yeah, that’s the one to start with.”


Steph Wakefield, My Super Nanny


Age: 24


“Age is just a number. Given the opportunity, correct attitude and persistence, anyone can achieve what they desire.”


“Age gives you the advantage of wisdom, but doesn't stipulate a time frame on when success can be achieved.”


“Knowing this and knowing my product like the back of my hand, allows people to believe in my product as much as I do.”


“Being hesitant, at any age, plants doubt in people's mind. So what I say in business, I always say with conviction – and then back it up.”

Adam Dong,


Age: 25


“How you dress is important when people are assessing your age.”


“I have always strived to present myself in the most professional manner in all interactions with the client and suppliers.”


“Dressing well will assist you in looking the part. It reassures people that I am the co-founder and director of”


Melanie Jay Hobson, Cleaning Maid Easy


Age: 25


“It can at times be overwhelming and daunting to be all things to all people.”


“I knew I had to be accountable for everything – marketing, advertising, sales, recruitment, customer service, account management and overseeing the website.”


“My tip would be to have short-, medium- and long-term goals for your company and write lists of what needs to be done.”


“Prioritise and tackle each thing in order of importance and urgency. I had to be really disciplined with my time.”


Mike Boyd, Cupstart


Age: 23


“There will always be fear, rejection, unknown obstacles and naysayers who will pull you down, but if you learn how to push past that and continue to take action you will succeed.”


“There is never the right time to start a business, the perfect situation will never arrive, just make a start and the momentum will bring you new opportunities.”


“Work hard, put good people around you and don't be afraid to ask for help.”


Aleksandar Svetski, Green Tiger Energy


Age: 24


“I was told perhaps a million time to just declare bankruptcy, but I refused to give in.”


“I just found creative ways of delaying payments and making an extra buck here and there. I knocked on doors, I pestered people with network marketing, I bought and re-sold items on eBay, I traded the stocks here and there, I sold business to business – I tried absolutely everything.”


“It was not until 2009 that my 8th or 9th attempt at a business actually made a decent profit.”


Michael O’Brien, Fresh Events and People


Age: 25


“It can be hard (being a young entrepreneur) because people don’t want to take you seriously.”


“I turned up to a meeting with a potential customer freshly shaven and in a new suit and they seemed impressed. I didn’t hear back from them and so I chased it up with a friend who knew them.”


“They said the feedback on me was great, but they thought I looked about 12-years-old. Ever since then, I’ve grown and maintained a beard to maintain the image of an older people.”


“I highly recommend having a beard, for the male business owners out there who need to look older.”

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