And with those twenty words, Liz Atkinson had neatly summed up the reason for 500 women in business across Australia to gather in Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Asia Centre on a blustery Saturday morning.
Liz Atkinson is the co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Women, a movement based in Melbourne that connects female entrepreneurs around the globe.
The League is known for its monthly Breakfast Series but is hailed for its annual Run The World entrepreneur conference that boasts a powerful speaker line-up of renowned women in business and hundreds of other women eager to identify with and learn from their stories.
The Run The World 2014 far surpassed its predecessor in terms of both headcount and the stellar on-stage presence of 10 female entrepreneurs. But while every story was compelling in its own right, what was truly intriguing was how the women were almost echoes of each other in their views, beliefs and approach to entrepreneurship.
The truth of the matter is that no entrepreneur is ever truly alone in her journey and experience. There are many others out there who share her hopes, dreams, tribulations and triumphs. And like the speakers at Run The World 2014, many like them have discovered the same timeless truths of entrepreneurship.
Build your business from within
Melanie Gleeson, the CEO of Endota Spa, promised that if you found your spark and aligned it, you would be unstoppable. Ditto for following your inner compass.
“The times when I made the most mistakes was when I didn’t trust myself,” she said.
Nahji Chu, the founder and creative director of MissChu, began her story with her aunt being the first person in Melbourne to offer Vietnamese cuisine from her home on Punt Road. As a child, Chu ferried steaming bowls of pho and later rice paper rolls from the kitchen to the hungry diners.
For Chu, also known as the Queen of Rice Paper Rolls, that precious childhood experience sparked the passion for Vietnamese cuisine and culminated in the iconic MissChu.
“My business is not separate from who I am,” she stated. “It’s a genuine extension of what I love. I get out of bed and I’m Miss Chu.”
Choose creativity over money as a problem solver
For the few entrepreneurs who are born with a silver spoon, money is the easiest and most obvious route to making a business problem disappear. For the ten entrepreneurs at Run The World, they had to fall back on creativity and ingenuity.
Bree, Jess and Erika, the founders of Frank Body, openly said that they relied more on ideas than money to promote their wildly successful coffee body scrub.
Frank Body, which was born of the founders’ desire to be honest with their customers about the product’s ingredients, pushed them further in this direction and has led to eye-catching Instagram pictures and clever copy.
“Money is the easy way out,” the trio said point blank. “People throw it at problems to fix them. Use your brain and ideas instead.”
MissChu takes the same approach. Chu frequently receives unsolicited offers to be her part of her marketing team and has to gently break the news that she is her own marketing team because she can’t afford one. Neither does she see the need for a marketing team.
“You don’t marketing, you need a good product. Only then do you start thinking about the branding, the logo and the colours.”
One of Chu’s creative touches is her decision to use her picture on her refugee visa as the face of MissChu. She didn’t need a marketing team to tell her that that was branding gold.
“I’ve never had a business education. I’ve winged it, I’m still winging it and I’m honest about it.”