Fast Lane: The women who fell out of SmartCompany’s top 30 female entrepreneurs list

Fast Lane: The women who fell out of SmartCompany’s top 30 female entrepreneurs list

We’ve just published SmartCompany’s top 30 female entrepreneurs list.

It’s a great read and a celebration of women who have succeeded in building successful businesses. 

But what about the women who didn’t make the list this year?

The most high profile woman to fall out of SmartCompany’s top 30 list is Jan Cameron, who was previously number five on the list.

Cameron proved her entrepreneurial nous by founding outdoor retailer Kathmandu and then heading up competitor company MacPac.

But Cameron’s next move has misfired, as she spent most of 2013 battling her creditors and suppliers, attempting to regain control of Retail Adventures.

The company (which owns discount brands Go-Lo, Sam’s Warehouse, Chickenfeed and Crazy Clark’s) was placed into receivership in October 2012 with debts to unsecured creditors of $165 million before Cameron, in a controversial move, bought it back from administrators for $58.9 million in February 2013.

The decision cost Cameron $215 million of the $247 million fortune she amassed after selling her 50% share of Kathmandu in 2006.

Despite implementing various cost-cutting measures, the business racked up $144 million in losses between 2010 and 2012, according to The Australian Financial Review.

It currently has sales of around $600 million, a severe drop from the days it was generating close to $1 billion in annual revenues.

Another top entrepreneur to tumble from the list was Amber Ferguson who ranked 26th on last year’s list thanks to her business, Carbon Management Solutions, which had a turnover of $20-30 million.

The solar energy business is a previous winner of SmartCompany’s Smart50 awards but sadly collapsed last year.

Carbon Management Solutions and Aussie Solar Installations were placed in voluntary administration, with Ferguson saying a new, single entity would be formed to focus on the commercial market instead of residential installations.

Ferguson stresses the company is not disappearing through the voluntary administration, and is instead forming a new group, Carbon Management Solutions Group, which will trade as Aussie Solar.

“We’re merging the two companies together in order to reduce overheads, costs and minimise the pressures on running the business,” she says.

“But we’re opening up into different fields as well.”

The company has been working on a battery technology for the past two years, which is now ready to be released to the market.

“It’s been a huge investment,” says Ferguson.

Both women are working hard to try to turn their respective companies around and we hope we’ll see them back on SmartCompany’s top 30 female entrepreneurs list in years to come.

But their fall is a word of warning for all entrepreneurs, male and female, as a quickly made fortune can be lost just as quickly.


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