Four lessons in business success from Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris

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Four lessons in business success from Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris

Not enough business owners speak openly about how tough it is to start up and run a successful company, according to the founder of Australia’s first online beauty retailer.

Speaking at the Above All Human conference in Melbourne on Friday afternoon, Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris said the idea that entrepreneurs find success overnight is a myth.

While Adore Beauty now turns over around $14 million, the business has come a long way since starting in Morris’s garage 16 years ago.

Here are four Morris’s four tips for business success. 

1. Recognise that business is a hard slog

 

Morris told conference attendees many businesses don’t get off the ground and soon fail after launching, but that’s OK.

“This is the truth for so many businesses,” Morris says.

“Ninety-nine point nine per cent of us are not going to be Atlassian. For most businesses, the ones that survive and eventually find some success, it’s a really long story of slow grind, patience and persistence to eventually get to that growth.”

2. Have a strong vision

 

Morris says having a strong vision has helped her steer her company through the good times as well as bad.

“What is going to get you through those long and slow years?” she says.

“When I went to uni I got a job working on the beauty counters. It was there I realised most women found the whole experience really intimidating – there was this high pressure sales environment, a scary saleswoman looking down their nose at you.“

“I thought this didn’t make sense. The products are meant to make you feel empowered and fantastic but the shopping experience makes you feel the opposite.”

3. Be persistent

 

Adore Beauty snapped up its first employee in 2005 and, at the same time, customers were starting to embrace online shopping more.

However, in the previous five years countless brands knocked Morris back.

The lesson, she says, is for entrepreneurs to stick to their guns.

“Eventually everybody says yes,” she says.

“Except Chanel. But that’s another story.”

4. Understand you will have your ups and downs, but have strategies to cope

 

At the end of 2010, Adore Beauty had around $2 million in turnover, but Morris says she was feeling a bit stuck.

“They’d just given me Telstra Young Businesswoman of the Year but I didn’t know if I was the right person to be running this business anymore,” she says.

“I didn’t know where the growth was going to come from, I didn’t know what to do next. I thought maybe I should hire a CEO or just chuck it in and move on.”

Fortunately, Morris saw a business coach which helped her “turn the lights back on”.

“I hadn’t realised how bad it had gotten,” she says.

“I reconnected with my passion and purpose and all of a sudden I knew what I had to do. I knew the time was right to pull out all the stops and take some big steps on the brands I was missing and finally invest in some marketing.”

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Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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