A serial wine entrepreneur, I didn’t launch my career in business, but rather as an architect. I love building things and as my passion for great wine grew, I built a small side business called Wine Ark in 2000.
The goal was to spend a few days a week on this hustle to fund my expensive taste in wine, but the idea – a temperature-controlled storage solution offering the ability to view collections online – quickly took off. Within 9 months we had totally filled our first storage site and by the end of the first year I had quit my job as an architect to grow this business.
Looking back one of the key differentiators was offering wine collectors online access to view their collections and technology has been vital to every business I’ve launched since.
From there, I launched two complimentary businesses, the first being The Wine Exchange, an online trading platform leveraging Wine Ark and the internet and allowing consumers to trade wine like stocks and shares. Those two businesses had generated a significant list of wine-loving clientele, which led to a third business, a premium wine club called The Cellar Club.
I sold these and launched Cracka Wines, an online retail platform and library for wine lovers, along with a few other businesses. I’ve most recently have launched WINEDEPOT – a logistics and storage platform connecting wineries, craft brewers and distillers with customers, by providing cost-effective same day or next day delivery of their products.
This means that many producers whose wines, beers and spirits have previously taken up to two weeks to ship to customers, will arrive almost immediately. We’ve partnered with Australia Post to bring this idea to fruition and have had some large names like Casella Wines and Vodka+ join the platform.
Throughout the process of coming up with a business idea and executing it, rinse and repeat, I’ve experienced both overwhelmingly positive and incredibly stressful periods both managing teams and delivering on promises to customers. Business is a rollercoaster, but seeing your ideas come to life and have an impact makes it all worthwhile.
There are thousands of lessons I’ve learnt in business, but here are 5 of the most poignant:
- The success or failure of your company depends on your ability to back yourself and effectively communicate your vision and plans with others. If you can’t motivate and mobilise teams to action your plans, can’t wow investors or partners or can’t communicate the gap your product or service is filling, you need to go deeper.
- Technology is absolutely critical. That may sound obvious, but in 2020 and beyond you need to be technology-forward company that is always on top of new technology platforms and trends.
- Work with people who work with you. What I mean by that is, spend the time to find the right staff and the right business partners who compliment your skill set and whose support of your ideas help move the business forward. It only takes one person who isn’t on board to cause ripples.
- The biggest opportunities in business come in times of major structural change. As humans our instinct is to resist change, but these are the periods in which we experience the most growth and insight.
- Make your customer’s happiness your number one priority. If you’ve made a promise to your customers, make sure you can deliver on it. Word of mouth can make or break a business, so make sure your customers are raving about you!
To succeed in business you need to take calculated risks and be acutely aware of the things that are serving you and the things that aren’t. Don’t be afraid to chop and change things to move the focus to areas of your business that are experiencing the most success. For anyone who is has an idea they want to bring to life, or a business they have just launched, my main advice is simply to back yourself and be patient – success is never achieved overnight!