Over the past year, innovation has been promoted by national and state governments as a recipe for economic renewal and survival. But it’s entrepreneurship that will really change the state of the game.
With the shift of the manufacturing sector to lower-cost countries, and the ending of the minerals boom, innovation is seen as the solution to filling the gaps that Australia is facing in terms of employment. But in reality, innovation is only a starting point. Defined as novelty, newness or invention that provides value, innovation can, no doubt, be a catalyst for growth, but alone, cannot deliver on its promise of economic renewal.
Certainly, innovation is critical for our economy, but entrepreneurship is necessary to turn an innovation into wealth and jobs.
SO WHAT SPARKS ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVITY?
Entrepreneurship is all about identifying a marketplace problem and finding “innovative solutions to resolve,” that problem. It involves building a new venture team and finding and organising the resources to create a viable business that will deliver economic and social outcomes.
Because of the success of online ventures such as Facebook, entrepreneurship is often seen as an activity that sits squarely in the domain of young people, particularly males, who are engaged in internet start-ups. But this typecast has little to do with the real spirit of entrepreneurship, which of course, attracts all kinds of people.
There are many different dimensions of entrepreneurship—from the stereotypical ‘techno-geek’, to the sophisticated opportunist—but whether an entrepreneur’s skills lie in creating or finding a scalable opportunity, their personal scenario is often the catalyst that embarks them upon their entrepreneurial journey. And for some, this has been quite a ride.
“THE BOND BETWEEN ACCOUNTANT AND ENTREPRENEUR WILL BE STRONGER THAN EVER. BEHIND EVERY GOOD CEO WILL BE A GOOD ACCOUNTANT—THE CEO’S CONFIDANT AND MOST TRUSTED FRIEND IN BUSINESS.“
THE STATE OF THE GAME
Take for example, Chris Hooper. A UniSA Bachelor of Commerce graduate (and more recently, a graduate of UniSA’s Master of Business Administration), Hooper never saw himself as an accountant, it just so happened that it was his profession.
“What I saw was an industry in a state of flux and in dire need of inspiration,” he says. “I wanted to be a leader, an entrepreneur, a game changer.”
Working for an accounting firm during his first year of university, Hooper knew even then, that he wanted to go into business for himself.
In 2011, he co-founded Cirillo Hooper and Company, and spent four years building the business as a high-tech accounting firm. He then realised other millennials were walking away from their jobs to start their own accounting practices and running into the very problems he had already solved through his own business start-up.
“I started looking at these young accountants as my customers,” he says. It was then that Cirillo Hooper and Company merged with National Accounts to form Accodex—a high tech support solution for freelance accountants.
The business is built around providing young accountants with the corporate infrastructure and technology they need to succeed in practice.
And without doubt, industry has been paying close attention to this self-starter.
Awarded Innovator of the Year 2015 at the Australian Accounting Awards and featured in Anthill Magazine’s coveted Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 in 2015, Hooper is confident his innovative approach to the profession will revolutionise the industry.
“My personal mission is to inspire the next generation of leaders and change the accounting game forever,” he says. “The bond between accountant and entrepreneur will be stronger than ever. Behind every good CEO will be a good accountant—the CEO’s confidant and their most trusted friend in business.”
“SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE; NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK; SPEAK TO PEOPLE YOU WOULDN’T NORMALLY MIX WITH AND YOUR WHOLE WORLD WILL OPEN UP.“
THE BALANCING ACT
For Rachel Kidwell, it was the pull of life as a new mum that prompted her to leave her corporate position in international project management and start her own business.
The flexibility it afforded was appealing; and while balancing the needs of career and family was the catalyst for Kidwell’s venture into self-employment, what began as a lifestyle business is now rapidly developing into a globally scalable success story.
Founded in 2009, Kidwell Coordination provides tenancy coordination services to landlords and shopping centre developers, working on major South Australian retail developments such as Brickworks Marketplace, Rundle Place, Adelaide Central Plaza and Playford Town Centre.
Yet, it was a plan to expand interstate that evolved a new product, TCPinpoint, a cloud-based software management tool that brings all stakeholders involved in the tenancy delivery process to the one platform. And it’s this product that has taken her business to a new level.
“TCPinpoint provides positive change to the future of tenancy coordination,” she says. “It will enable high-level collaboration among all consultants involved in the delivery of shops.”
The product has generated significant industry interest too, with Kidwell announced as a winner of the 2016 UniSA-State Government’s Venture Catalyst program, receiving $50,000 in seed funding, mentoring support and work space at the UniSA Innovation and Collaboration Centre. Two months later, she was awarded an additional $30,000 from investors in the SouthStart Accelerate program for entrepreneurs.
With the goal to make TCPinpoint the best tenancy delivery software in the world, Kidwell isn’t short of ambition.
“I challenge those who work in a corporate position, to look at their industry and see how they can create positive change. Surround yourself with like-minded people; network, network, network; speak to people you wouldn’t normally mix with and your whole world will open up,” she says.
“It’s the only job where you’re happy to work 100 hours a week in an effort to avoid working 40 for someone else.”
“THE STORIES OF EVERYDAY PEOPLE FORM PART OF AUSTRALIA'S LIVING HISTORY AND ARE BEING LOST AT A HUGE RATE. MY GOAL IS TO AWAKEN AUSTRALIANS TO THE FACT THAT AS TIME PASSES, MEMORIES FADE, AND WE TAKE OUR STORIES WITH US AS WE GO. I WANT TO CHANGE THAT.“
THE ENCORE CAREER
For Annie Payne, it was a change of pace that led her to her current ‘encore career’. A Personal Historian, whose primary career began in nursing, her entrepreneurial journey started after a health scare in 2005. Instead of returning to her high-pressure career in the medical profession, she decided to create her own career path by reviving a love of curating Australian stories.
What began in 1988 as part of an Australian Bicentennial project, sparked a passion that eventually led Payne to launch her small, home-based business, History from the Heart in 2006, which helps people collect and save their family stories.
Much more than genealogy, Payne is capturing the true essence of a family. “Family trees don’t tell you how your ancestors lived, the challenges they faced or how their decisions may have affected you and your family,” she says.
“The big appeal of creating my own business was that it was a unique concept.”
The other advantage, is the ability to manage her own schedule and workload. With young grandchildren an important part of her life, the flexibility self-employment affords is a significant benefit at this point in her career.
As a member of the Adelaide SeniorPreneurs group, co-founded as a national network by UniSA Business School’s Dr Peter Balan OAM, Payne advises those considering an encore career to join entrepreneurial network groups. “They provide a great opportunity for support and the exchange of ideas,” she says.
Payne is a Board member of the Association of Personal Historians (APH) and is the organisation’s current Professional Development Director. She is also Founder of the Oceania APH regional group covering the Philippines to Hawaii, and is the first person to have held this office outside of North America. Clearly, Payne has not only carved out a successful encore career for herself, but has also helped pave the way for the profession in Australia.
“The stories of everyday people form part of Australia’s living history and are being lost at a huge rate,” she says. “My goal is to awaken Australians to the fact that time passes, memories fade, and we take our stories with us when we go.
“Too many Australians have not yet started writing down their life stories–stories that will inspire their family’s future generations. I want to change that.”
ANYONE CAN BE AN ENTREPRENEUR
What these stories tell us is that, importantly, anyone can be an entrepreneur.
It all comes down to scanning your environment and looking for opportunities. Of course, expertise and passion are important, but so too are your own capabilities and having the business acumen to assess and develop your innovation so that it can turn into a viable business.