Lessons from an entrepreneur who lost it all and came back fighting
Written on the 1 February 2018 by David Simmons
Every entrepreneur knows what it's like to suffer from a setback. Things don't always go according to plan, and sometimes it feels like nothing's going right.
For Mia Plecic that reality of entrepreneurship is all too familiar. Massive setbacks have, unfortunately, been a big part of her story. But they've only made her more resilient.
Mia founded her first company, Pearly Whites Australia, three years ago. At the time, Plecic was jumping on the trend of at-home teeth whitening kits, but was steaming ahead of the competition thanks to her strong talent for branding and marketing.
"At the time there wasn't much competition, I think I was probably one of the first Australian companies to start," says Plecic.
"At the time I was dead broke, but I had a dream, I knew I had the entrepreneurial bones in my body."
Plecic bought one of the prototype teeth-whitening kits, loved the result, built a website overnight, and by the next morning she had made her first sale.
"I didn't even have any stock in hand!" says Plecic.
Fast forward six months and Pearly Whites was turning over $2 million in revenue, shipping all around the world.
"I went from having it all to having nothing again, and it was a really tough time in my life."
With no experience in e-commerce at the time, Plecic took on a business partner and an accountant to help take the company to the US. That was when her fortunes took a turn for the worse.
"It was just one of those moments where I had two male figures on either side telling me what I was signing was the best decision for the business," says Plecic.
She signed some papers and within 48 hours she received a letter from her partner's solicitor saying she had been removed as director from the company as she was no longer the majority shareholder.
"I went from having it all to having nothing again, and it was a really tough time in my life. It was absolutely gut wrenching," says Plecic.
Around the same time, Plecic and her Pearly Whites business partner were establishing a pressed juice company. She had invented the juice recipes, the packaging, the factory fitout, and created all the IP. But just two weeks after removing her from Pearly Whites her business partner forced her out of the juice company too and took it over himself.
"I lost two companies in a period of about three weeks," says Plecic.
"But I remember saying to myself that I needed to move forward and continue on my entrepreneurship journey. I knew it was always going to be something in my DNA. But at the same time it was horrible, I didn't have any money, I was kicked out of my home, I lost everything."
To fight back, Plecic went into direct competition with her ex-business partner. She started up two companies - Bondi Smile (another teeth-whitening kit business) and Downtown Pressed Juice Co.
Shortly after founding Downtown Pressed Juice Co Plecic sold the company to New Zealand Natural Ice Cream and everything quickly fell into place for Plecic.
Since then Plecic has been running a school for budding entrepreneurs called The Mia Plecic Entrepreneurs Academy, an online platform where Plecic helps to inspire entrepreneurs with their e-commerce ideas.
"Everything happens for a reason"
So after all the turmoil and trouble Plecic went through to finally find success what's the main lesson she'd pass onto young entrepreneurs?
"Definitely be able to fully understand that everything happens for a reason," says Plecic.
"Even the times where you hit rock bottom and don't think there's hope, there is always a light. Knowing that I've grown so much more resilient. I have the ability to brush myself off and move forward. I don't have that fear any more because I feel like it can't get much worse."
"My true vision is to help other women in business to really believe in themselves, and if shit does happen then you'll get through it. Where there's a will there's a way."
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons