What was your background?
My background was varied you could say. Definitely blue collar. Dad was a miner and truck driver, who went on to become a property developer and transport company owner. Mum looked after things on the home front and was a talented artist and poet who even taught in schools. Dad was on the road a lot and I learned to become self sufficient, responsible, disciplined and strong at a young age. My late father was a fantastic role model, as so was his dad. Hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit is in the family.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
In 2000, when working for Telstra and volunteering at the Olympic Games in Sydney. I saw other people at Telstra get promoted into more exciting business arms of the company and I put my hand up for the Olympics (technology volunteer) as was accepted. I then started "mucking around" (learning) the internet and internet business in my home garage, and I had a vision. I realised there was a business to be made involving media, sports, entertainment and the internet. I started with beach news, pro wrestling news, internet news and just kept expanding and learning. That was 8 years ago! Now I'm a publicist, media entrepreneur, talent manager and qualified journalist who has also got to do business with some of Australia's the the world's best businesses and meet and deal with some truly amazing people.
What motivated you to start the venture?
I had a strong passion for internet, entertainment and media. I basically gave myself a promotion from Telstra. In addition, my ex marriage was coming to a conclusion and I had lost about half a million bucks all told. I decided to do something for myself (for a change). I also enrolled in TAFE - News Media and Journalism Certificate III, blitzed it, got published on the front page of the local paper, and I was away! I saw I could potentially make a lot of money in this type of business. It's not an easy way to make a dollar, but largely it's enjoyable. I had more challenges on a financial and personal front than I'm prepared to document on this occasion, however I've overcome the challenges and I'm kicking some big goals.
What are your values in business in relation to employees, partners, debt etc?
Trust and honesty is a very big thing with me. In addition, I will basically only deal with people and businesses which I like. Life is too short. I treat my business associates with respect. Teamwork, hard work and people power get the job done. Some of the best businesses I have collaborated with over the years include Messages On Hold, Virgin Enterprises Limited (especially Virgin Games, Virgin Unite and Virgin Blue), Markson Sparks! and ROC Presents. Many business people find themselves in debt in the life of a business. Debt is a normal thing in business. Cash flow and performance are more important factors.
What resources did you have when you started? What networks did you have? Were there any creative methods you used to come up with the needed resources?
I had the desire, work ethic, a computer, basic knowledge and some very good community and business connections. I also obtained more credentials at TAFE and NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme - Department of State and Regional Development). I know a computer genius of sorts who helped me with the right software, technical support and just giving me there thoughts on any number of matters that arose. I think you need a few people around you how you can really trust and depend on, because life is full of people who will let you down. One needs to be reliable and strong to stay in business.
Did you feel prepared to start the venture when you did and what risks did you take?
I was as well prepared as possible. Sometimes in life or business, there is no perfect time. There is just a time, a time to take action! I risked walking away from the comfort zone of a normal job with decent working conditions, high salary, basically knowing what each day, week and month had in store. I had to trust my instinct, and trust a few friends and associates. One needs to take calculated risks, but not risk too much, or all can be lost.
How would you describe yourself? E.g. ambitious, passionate, driven etc.
Sure. All of those and very strong with a desire to give back to the world. The media allows me to help a lot of people at the same time. Have a look at our social and community entrepreneurs and charity profiles on our company website. I love to help people, but also remembering that one needs to help themselves first, to allow a way to help others. It's taken me a few years, but I've come up with a formula to help a lot of people in the world, all at once. Staying motivated can be a challenge at times, but its so important to focus on the positives, and to also do some forward planning. Fortunately, I like people, most of the time. This is a people business.
What was your typical work day like when you began the venture and has that changed as the venture grew?
Over the years the amount of phone calls, emails, website hits and interviews (face to face and otherwise) has increased a lot. So have the hours needed. I've also worked out a way to make things more automated, so I don't have to work as hard (but still get the same if not better results). The internet landscape has changed alot, where internet business is not mainstream and there's less hype involved. News media is everywhere on the web, as is talent management, the latest, greatest thing, and everything else. It's a jungle out there, but one needs to sort through all the information and make it relevant.
Did you make assumptions that turned out to be wrong? What did you learn – key mistakes (if any) and key learning curves?
I thought I would become a millionaire from this type of business within 3 years. I was wrong. I also burnt through more money to create it than what I had anticipated. I was too trusting of people I didn't know that well at first. These days I am very cautious with who and what I deal with. I am very security minded, and I don't take unnecessary risks, and of course I trust my gut instinct. I since learnt that Sir Richard Branson trusts his gut instinct also, so I was pretty happy about learning that.
Did the venture ever come close to failure and if so how did you respond?
Not really, I just put in on hold a few times, but my strength and strong desire to succeed kept me going. A few years ago I attracted a crazy stalker, who I understand later went to jail, and I'm glad to report that I helped put her there. She was a criminal and wanted publicity at any cost, even as far as telling lies, *ullshitting the media and publicly attacking people who didn't deserve to be attacked. We all live and learn. I turned that negative into a positive, and I will include more details of the story in my book when I realise it in a year or two - 'From Newport Boy To Media Man'. When you make good friends and associates in life, treasure them with your heart. You never know when you will need a friend, in life or in business.
They say hindsight is a wonderful thing – in hindsight would you have done anything differently? Do you have an exit strategy? What are your future plans and finally what advice would you give anyone starting a business/venture?
I would have exercised more caution early in the peace with who and what I got associated with. There are a few questionable types in and around the entertainment and media world. Still, its all part of the journey. I turned some negatives into positives, like for example a conman in the television business, where I was interviewed about the TV and publicity business on national television and came out looking great and gained a lot of respect (and coverage) and the stalker situation, which got me in a position to deal with some very high level individuals at the likes of Google, Yahoo!, Virgin Enterprises Limited, News Limited, Fairfax, The Australian, the ABC and even The New York Times and Australian High Tech Crime Centre. I've got an exit strategy of sorts, which continues to evolve. I also have lots of backups, and plans B and C, if plan A doesn't work out. Overall, I am extremely happy and satisfied with my successes in life and business, especially considering the huge challenges and insurmountable odds I have overcome. I plan on expanding my business venture, start some other business, and partnering up with some other ones, especially in the eco business, eco tourism, travel, gaming and aviation sector. I believe to always look to cast the net wider and see what type of businesses are growing. I pay very close attention to what's happening at Google, Virgin, Markson Sparks!, the Department of Environment, ROC Presents, News Limited and Fairfax. Keeping your finger on the pulse, adapting to change and listening to good advise is key. Hard work, smart work and trusting your instinct can pay huge dividends. Always strive to do your best, and also take some time out to smell the roses. Find some good role models. Know who your real friends are. Maintain some sort of work / life balance, and stay focused, and that's a great started to getting a new business venture off the ground.
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