Business mentor’s advice for entrepreneurs

Business mentor’s advice for entrepreneurs

A growing number of Australians want to ditch conventional employment in favour of doing their own thing and being their own boss.

And Mark Bouris, one of the country’s most recognisable entrepreneurs, knows the secret to success — being selfish.

“I think you need it to succeed on your own,” Mr Bouris told

“You’ve got to be single-minded. A bit selfish. You have to have a strong sense of self and put that first.”

Research shows young people are among the most mobile in the workforce, happy to change jobs when it suits them in favour of flexibility and happiness.

Mr Bouris said at workshops he ran on business success, the majority of the audience was young.

“My generation, it didn’t matter if you liked your job or not, you stuck it out,” he said.

“Today, people are much more mobile and have no issue with changing jobs and exploring other options. And one option a lot of young people want to explore is starting their own business. They have their own ideas and they want to make them happen.

“The younger ones are very open to learning, probably more than the next generation along. They’re switched on, they do their research, and they’re always keeping up with what’s new.”

Mr Bouris is running a series of business workshops across Australia this month called the Mentor Masterclass, appearing in Brisbane on February 21, Melbourne on February 25 and Sydney on February 27.

The digital revolution had made it easier to achieve scale, reach new markets and innovate business operations, Mr Bouris said.

“There are so many tools now that we’ve never had before. Assuming you’ve got the right product, you can achieve scale. You can take a garage or kitchen table business to the world,” he said.

“When I was young, to be national in those days was not a realistic prospect. It just wasn’t something you considered.

“Even being self-employed was not so common. My generation didn’t really think about doing our own thing. Those who worked for themselves were builders or had a shop.

“Things have really changed. There are so many new creative businesses around. There’s far more opportunity to go out on your own.”

Queensland teenager Scott Millar started his own business at 14 and now heads up a holographic events and marketing business.

Now 18, the BOP Industries boss, whose operation sells holographic displays, also runs educational workshops for other young hopeful entrepreneurs.

“The work that regional schools and students are doing is truly exceptional,” he told The Courier-Mail.

“We’re seeing students in Rockhampton using new and emerging technologies to create marketing campaigns for their farmers, students in Hervey Bay tackling youth unemployment and students in Cairns diving into the exciting world of e-commerce.”

The Queensland Government has a chief entrepreneur, a role designed to encourage innovation and support self-employed people to grow businesses.

Leanne Kemp, who founded the blockchain start-up Everledger, took over the role from tech millionaire Steve Baxter last year.

While the internet had made digital commerce easier, it had also made operating a business more difficult, Mr Bouris said.

“It’s harder because of increased competition. You’re almost never the only one to have thought of something. You can be sure someone else has. And don’t think you’re the only one with drive,” he said.

“The pool of people who can compete with you is bigger than ever, thanks to the digital landscape. And also, consumers have much more to choose from. You have to be strategic to stand out.”

When he was in his 20s and 30s, working in accounting and then for a law firm, Mr Bouris said he didn’t really have a strong desire to run his own empire.

But he loathed the idea of working for someone else.

“I didn’t really have that same entrepreneurial spirit like young people do today. I always wanted to work for myself. I didn’t like working for other people,” he said.

“But I definitely had a selfish streak in me.”

That selfish streak was one of the main secrets to success for those who wanted to take the leap and be self-employed, Mr Bouris said.

It’s also necessary for existing small business operators who want to either grow their operations and safeguard them from the threats of an ever-changing landscape.

“But there’s no beating around the bush — it’s a difficult environment. It has personal costs. The single-minded person suffers a lot too. They can be lonely, they might not have as much time for friends. It’s a hard life, going out on your own,” Mr Bouris said.

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