The itch is back

Five years since she lost her marriage, and interest in her business, Eve Ash is on the upward path again and feeling the passion once more. The internet is making her company easier to run and more profitable.

 By Amanda Gome

At 45, Eve Ash had it all. The psychologist who started her training business Seven Dimensions in 1979 had won a swag of awards, had a cavernous house in South Yarra, a global business with gross revenue of $3 million which, she says, was quite profitable.

But by 50, a lot in her life had changed. The house and her husband went and she had downsized the business.

Now at 55, she is starting out again, with a new boyfriend, a virtual company, barely any expenses and the local café is her office.

Ash, a typical baby boomer, tells SmartCompany how the internet has enabled her to start again.

“The turning point was in 1999. I got vertigo. It wasn’t serious but I was giddy for a few weeks.

“Until then I had spent about 20 years building the business. Back in the late 1970s, I saw there would be growing demand for Australian-made training videos. The market at that time was dominated by US and UK products and were made by film makers who didn’t know anything about business.

“So we made our mark by creating really good content and getting real people who had experience in a particular role, like customer service, to act out that role.

“In 1994 I set up an office in the US and we started doing really well. But I was running a sales operation and my love was to create content. A training levy was also scrapped by the Government and the market became very competitive.

“I didn’t want to travel that much any more. My kids were teenagers and my relationship was breaking up. Also worldwide, training took a nosedive and businesses were saturated with training material. Costs were cut and training was one area that businesses cut.

“In 1999 I had gross revenue of $1 million but was making more profit [than previously]. I had offices in Australia, the US and New Zealand with 30 staff but had begun downsizing geographically, licensing out New Zealand and the US.

“Then when I got vertigo, I began to downsize physically. I had to work from home and loved it so much I never went back. I suddenly realised I didn’t have to work from an office: that all I needed to run my business was a website, a mobile and an email address. I gave my office to my sales staff and they came to my house for meetings.

“I got rid of the huge place in South Yarra and the big warehouse because content had gone from being stored on VHS to DVD to online so we no longer had huge storage needs. We also outsourced our distribution and just keep a small amount of content in a small storage area. I started to provide a boutique service to clients

“I didn’t produce anything new for three years. I thought I had had enough. But I fell in love and now we are poised on the crest of a whole new wave as counties get online. We have spent 25 years building the business and now we can distribute that content to laptops, hand-held devices … to anyone in the world through a virtual company and virtual office. And I can do that combining life choices.

“I have also started creating again.

“We have just created 25 new programs and there is great interest in new areas such as understanding depression and managing trauma and distress caused by bombings. Companies will be able to put content on their internet by getting a licence.

“There are also new ways to do things such as putting videos on the internet and getting people to send in their training videos, so training can become two way.

“Yesterday I went to bed at 11am and got up at 2 pm. I worked all night, I am so excited. I am creating a whole lot of content for Maria Stopes International, which helps women with women’s health issues.

“Now I have a new boyfriend, I virtually have no expenses working from home and I have four staff who work from their homes. The office is a local café.

“I think by 60 I would like to be living for slabs of time in Europe and other countries and from wherever I am, speaking, producing and creating content. I am absolutely passionate again.”


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