HOOKED ON THE ENTREPRENEURIAL DRUG

Written on the 11 February 2011

HOOKED ON THE ENTREPRENEURIAL DRUG

I’M often asked about the secret to success and what advice I would give to young people with visions, such as the entrepreneurs you will read about in these pages.

What is it that’s different about me? Why is it that, rather than living my days as Terry White the local pharmacist, there are now 150 chemist shops with my name hanging over the door? When asked to analyse my journey for ideas, tips or pointers I’m often fearful the answer will disappoint.

There are no shortcuts. Long-term success is the result of hard work, persistence, lessons learned and a commitment to delivering on the promise. Contrary to what some believe, I only own four stores these days in the Terry White Chemists network, but my wife and business partner Rhonda and I have pioneered more than 30 pharmacies.

This was to demonstrate to ourselves and others that our franchise model worked. Pharmacists at the time were sceptical about franchising but our approach helped us to establish trust and deliver tangible results we could point to. Importantly, it opened the door for young pharmacists who were struggling with their goals of pharmacy ownership. Their success is the result of a vision which Rhonda and I shared in the early days, as young pharmacists with the very same goal.

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with two remarkably successful entrepreneurs – footwear designer Lindsay Phillips and makeup maestro Napoleon Perdis, who spoke at our annual conference, held in Malaysia this year. Lindsay’s only 25 and an incredible success story. Her idea started as a high school art project and has grown to become a $30 million business.

Days after the conference Lindsay appeared on the Sunrise program and was asked what advice she would give to young people with an idea. Her answer was simple – ‘believe in yourself and believe in your idea. If you have those two things then you are unstoppable’. That’s just about it in a nutshell. But I know Lindsay and I also know that she has surrounded herself with a fabulous team including her mother.

Napoleon is another case in point. To say making it in the cut-throat world of cosmetics is difficult is an understatement, but reaching the lofty heights that he has, let’s just say the odds weren’t in his favour. Now a celebrity in his own right with a reality TV show and legions of fans, LA-based Perdis has never forgotten his Australian roots or his customers.

He’s had his share of knocks but his success is undeniable and it’s a testament to the kind of person he is. He makes every one of his customers feel special and treasured and he is genuine in his devotion to them. And like Lindsay, he has surrounded himself with the very best team.

In my lifetime I have observed that successful people, whether it be in life generally or in an integrative health and retail business like pharmacy, all have a demonstrated passion and vision for what they do. Beyond the vision you need to put in place a plan, a structure and the right mix of people. One of our guiding philosophies at Terry White Chemists is ‘the people make the difference’. Even when things don’t go according to plan, a great team can pull you through. The older I get the more evident it becomes that leadership is all about carrying your team and inspiring them.

Success is fraught with danger, but most of it is self-generated. You should never be afraid to have a go. The worst that can happen is that you may fail, but in many ways failure is a great teacher. While some ascribe wisdom to older people who have succeeded, I freely admit that I have learnt a lot from failure and that is not to do it again.

My journey to professional and personal satisfaction has been littered with detours and deviations. But I think being flexible, expecting the unexpected, being willing to embrace change and use it to your advantage has played a key part in the growth of Terry White Chemists. The same could be said for my personal journey.

As fans are to rock stars, in business your customers or clients give you your wings. Be mindful of their needs and listen to them. Without their support you’re back to square one.

For success in business as in life, be open, be honest, be true. We are in exciting times. Economic turmoil brings incredible opportunity for those willing to take a punt and back themselves. Roll up your sleeves and get cracking. If you don’t, you can be sure someone else will.


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