Six lessons from the 2015 BRW Rich List

Six lessons from the 2015 BRW Rich List

The annual BRW Rich List is a treasure trove of success stories and inspiration for budding entrepreneurs.

From the entrepreneurs behind some of Australia’s most successful technology companies to the executives who have taken their families’ business to new heights, there is plenty to learn from the 200 names on this year’s list.

Here are six lessons from the Rich List class of 2015.

1. Age is no barrier – at both ends of the spectrum

Making his debut on the Rich List this year is Patrick Grove, the founder of Catcha Group. At the age of 40, Grove is one of the youngest entrepreneurs on the list.

But Grove started Catcha Group back in 1999, proving you are never too young to found a successful business.

At the other end of the age spectrum is Harry Triguboff, the 82-year-old property developer who is celebrating his 52nd year in business this year. Triguboff is one of the biggest movers this year, almost doubling his wealth to $10.23 billion and jumping up to third place.

2. Property and mining are still wealth generators

While much has been made of the downward trend in the Australian mining sector, the resources industry continues to account for the wealth of numerous members of the Rich List.

Prominent miners Gina Rinehart, Ivan Glasenberg and Andrew Forrest appear in the top 10 this year, followed by Kerry Stokes at number 16 and Leonie Baldock and Alexandra Burt, daughters of the late Michael Wright, at number 22 and 23.

And given the strength in Australia’s property market, it’s also not surprising to see eight of the top 20 Rich Listers generating wealth from property investments. Property investment has also helped maintain the wealth of mining-magnate-turned politician Clive Palmer, who appears at number 30 on this year’s list with estimated wealth of $1.4 billion.

3. But don’t overlook traditional industries – like selling cars

Selling used cars is not an occupation that you would normally associate with the Rich List, but that’s exactly how Tony Denny has made his $320 fortune.

Another entrepreneur to make his debut on this year’s list, Denny established his used car business AAA Auto in Europe with a loan from his friend John Winning, founder of Winning Appliances. He sold that business last year to private equity group Abris Capital Partners for $233 million and still holds a 23% share.


4. Find the right business partner

Having a solid business partnership has been a key ingredient in the success of many of the entrepreneurs on this year’s Rich List, particularly those in the tech space.

Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar founded Atlassian after taking the same course in business information technology at the University of New South Wales, while Campaign Monitor founders David Greiner and Ben Richardson also entered business together while both studying at the University of Wollongong.

Also on this year’s Rich List is Owen Kerr, one half of the duo behind online foreign currency trader Pepperstone, with wealth of $250 million.

When Kerr and co-founder Joe Davenport were named EY Entrepreneurs of the Year last year, he told SmartCompany successful entrepreneurs need “someone to drag you up over the top of the trenches when things get tough”.

“I don’t think we each could have done this by ourselves,” Kerr said.

“We play to each other strengths, we both have areas we do well in [and] we definitely share the responsibilities.”

5. Diversify your investments

The Sussan Group’s profits may have fallen last year, but owner and managing director Naomi Milgrom has managed to increase her wealth year-on-year thanks to an outside investment—her shareholding in public company Magellan Financial Group.

Coming in at number 101 on this year’s list, Milgrom’s wealth increased from $520 million in 2014 to $526 million this year.

Another entrepreneur who has made his fortune in a number of industries is Bob Oatley, number 49 on this year’s Rich List with estimated wealth of $1 billion. Oatley and his family amassed most of their wealth from the Rosemount wine business, but he also owns $250 million business and tourist destination, Hamilton Island.

6. Take risks

Flight Centre co-founder Geoff Harris is a serial entrepreneur and his business success has been built by backing himself in new industries. At number 53 on this year’s Rich List, Harris’ personal wealth is estimated to be $881 million.

Harris founded Flight Centre with Graham Turner and Bill James in the 1970s with European bus tours. But he has not been sitting back twiddling his thumbs after stepping down from the company’s board in 2008. He backed Janine Allis to help spearhead the success of Boost Juice, resuscitated travel company Topdeck and more recently has invested in casual Mexican dining chain Fonda, which is in the midst of an expansion in Melbourne.


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