Entrepreneurs, Smart 30 Under 30 2018

Three ways to build a thriving business, according to 2018’s Smart 30 Under 30

Emma Koehn /

Canav founders

Canva founders Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams. Source: Supplied

Say you’re at the very start of your working life with decades ahead to learn from those more senior and hone your skills beyond the classroom: what would make you confident enough to strike out on your own?

Many members of this year’s Smart 30 Under 30 list were running their own shows before the ink had even dried on their uni or high school diploma certificates.

Whether their goals were to reinvent a popular snack product or come up with a brand new way to approach customer loyalty, the entrepreneurs on this year’s list latched onto gaps across a range of markets and developed strong ideas to deliver more to clients and customers.

This year’s list is split across four main sector categories, with the 11 businesses that operate online platforms and digital services leading the pack.

So what lessons can other entrepreneurs take from this year’s list? Here’s three.

Act fast to solve a problem

Several of the entrepreneurs on this year’s list noticed very early on in their careers there were problems that needed fixing in their sectors. Instead of hesitating, they acted on these quickly, leaving office life to start their own things.

Nicole Buskiewicz and Harry Curotta, for example, took lessons from life in the world of government and public policy and applied these to their platform Advoc8, which is designed to allow better planning and project managing for those in the advocacy space.

In the same vein, Monica Wulff and co-founder Murray Hurps noticed a lack of data on the makeup and priorities of the Australian startup space. Their solution Startup Muster is the country’s largest survey of startup founders and a project that has so far asked those in the startup ecosystem 300,000 questions about their experiences.

Advoc8 founders Nicole Buskiewicz and Harry Curotta. Source: Supplied

Work as a team

Seventeen of the 30 businesses on this year’s list have more than one founder, including graphic design startup Canva. Founders Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cam Adams have now been featured on the Smart 30 list multiple years running.

Some of these co-founders have been lifelong friends, others professional colleagues, but no matter how the partnership formed, these teams have been able to divide and conquer by using each individual’s unique skill sets.

The three founders of swimwear and shorts brand Skwosh say that with each focusing on one area of the business, they have been able to get more done and grow the offer: AFL footballer Jack Watts acts in the role of marketing, Adam Walsh in business operations and Jack Turner in the role of designer, for example.

Other Smart 30 listers, like Tara Baker and Arlia Hassell of Dancing with Her are partners in both life and business. Baker and Hassell started their LGBTQ wedding publication as a newly-engaged couple, having been disappointed with the lack of diversity on show in the wedding industry.

Focus on community

Finally, several businesses on this year’s list have focused on communities to build success.

Startup Vollie is a platform developed to link the volunteering community directly to opportunities through one easy to use portal.

Meanwhile, paralympians Dylan Alcott and Nick Morris have used their Get Skilled Access business to discuss gaps in disability access right across the community, meeting face-to-face with organisations to discuss how this relates to their own day-to-day circumstances.

Founders of Share With Oscar, Louise Chen and Lisa Qi, are focused on expanding Australia’s sharing economy, while Holly Stephens’ network Triangles is aimed at connecting female entrepreneurs across Australia.

The entrepreneur behind House of White, Olivia White, also taps into the power of community, explaining to The Gazette that she started her business at a time when she needed to connect with other mothers.

I was a young mum, I didn’t have any friends with babies,” she said.

“I wouldn’t say it was dark days, but a very anxious time for me.”

NOW READ: The full Smart 30 Under 30 list for 2018 

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior journalist at SmartCompany.

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