“Never walk into a room you can’t walk out of”: 6 lessons from launching 8 startups
Like most entrepreneurs, there’s not a day that goes past when I don’t come up with a new idea for a business, product or service.
I’ve always been passionate about building things from the ground up and began my career as an architect – but soon saw an opportunity to build something different. I turned my passion for great wine into my first business, Wine Ark, an off-site climate-controlled storage for wine collectors.
It was the first of its kind in the world to provide customers with online access to their collections, and later sold for $8.5 million.
Great businesses take time to build. They never happen overnight. If you’re looking to launch a business, it’s critical to have a vision that you are passionate about which will continue to get you out of bed in 3, 4, 5 years from now.
After Wine Ark launched, leveraged technology to launch Wine Exchange an online trading platform; The Cellar Club, a premium wine club and Crackawines.com.au – an online marketplace that allowed wineries to sell direct-to-consumer. These sat under the Online Liquor Group.
In late 2018, after eight years of blood sweat and tears building the Online Liquor Group, I decided to merge the company founded with The Wine Society – Australia’s oldest wine club.
Now called The Wine Collective it’s one of the largest independent retail groups in the country.
As part of that transaction I inherited a CEO, which gave me the unique opportunity to remove myself from day-to-day operations of the business and concentrate on what I could see was a much bigger opportunity – disrupting the global wine supply chain.
That’s what I’m hoping to achieve with my latest venture – WINEDEPOT – which has just launched in partnership with Australia Post to connect wine industry stakeholders.
Bringing your business idea to life requires courage, integrity, humility, focus and patience, belief and the ability to plan strategically and communicate well. W
hen you believe in your idea and can demonstrate the need for it in the market, you’ll find the right people to rally around you. Lead by example, projecting a positive attitude and always look into the future (not dwell in the past).
As the founder of 8 technology-focused wine ventures, here are 6 things I’ve learnt:
1. Surround yourself with great people, whose skills compliment your own. Don’t be afraid to let average people go to make room for great people to come in. Hire long and fire fast.
2. Create a workplace with a great culture. Use that to attract great staff, who will in turn attract great suppliers and great customers. Most importantly it will also keep everyone there.
3. Always make the happiness of your customers your number one priority. If you do this well you’ll never need to spend a cent on advertising and marketing.
4. The biggest opportunities in business come in times of major structural change.
5. The only way to survive is to be a technology company. If you’re not a technology company, you are about to be disrupted by one.
6. Never walk into a room you can’t walk out of. If there’s only one deal available, then there’s every chance it’s not a deal not worth doing.