Inspiring business leaders of 2016

My Business has profiled some truly remarkable business leaders in 2016. In case you missed them, or need a source of inspiration when planning for the new year ahead, here are some of our favourites.

Alborz Fallah, CarAdvice

Taking a hobby and turning it into a business that you then sell for $35 million sounds like a dream to many people in business.

But it’s pretty inspiring when you achieve that despite competing against some of Australia’s largest media companies, and your clients telling you that “people who research our cars online are the ones who steal them, not the ones who buy them”.

Antonio Cerqueira, Oporto

Not many people can say they started out with a humble charcoal chicken shop and turned it into a household name franchise spanning Australia and New Zealand. Yet this is exactly what Oporto founder Antonio Cerqueira (pictured right) did.Antonino Cerqueira, founder of Oporto

He shared with My Business his journey in taking the fast food giant from a single store on Bondi Beach to a reported $60 million sale in 2007, and how he has returned to the business to drive its expansion.

Gary Elphick, Disrupt Sports

Many people are fearful of the word ‘disruption’, as it conjures ideas of change and threats.

When Gary Elphick identified a gap in the market for personalised sports gear, however, he opted to work with retailers rather than against them to get his business off the ground and improve the end result for customers.

Jim Andrews, Reload Bar & Games

Pubs and clubs are a tried and tested business. Yet what is inspiring about Jim Andrews is the way he tapped into the Pokémon Go craze to drive new customers to his business.

It was a small feat of innovating thinking that delivered big results – and one that other business owners can easily emulate.

Lauren Chang Sommer, Moi Moi Fine Jewellery

In 2016, My Business caught up with this working mother and business owner, who graced the cover of the magazine several years previously.

What impressed us most was her forward-thinking plans to take ownership of her entire product chain, ensuring her business will maintain relevance and full control of its customer experience for years to come.

Mark Ottley, Sleep Republic

Sleep Republic founder Mark OttleyInnovation is often thought to be the domain of tech companies. Yet Mark Ottley (pictured left) has developed his business Sleep Republic to overhaul the way consumers buy and receive mattresses.

He used new technologies that allow mattresses to be rolled up, saving space and making deliveries and installations much easier and more cost-effective.

Ramzey Choker, The Grounds of Alexandria

Bankruptcy can be one of the lowest points a person experiences in their life.

While it could have been the end of Ramzey Choker's desire to create and own his future, he instead brushed the experience aside and used what he had learnt to build a thriving new business, which now boasts a 300-strong workforce.

Samantha Wills, independent jewellery designer

Becoming an internationally renowned designer was no easy feat for this Port Macquarie woman.

Having started out making earrings on her dining table and selling them from her car boot, with just $90 in the bank, Samantha’s business empire now sells into 80 countries, with turnover exceeding $12 million, and her products have been worn by the likes of actress Drew Barrymore and singer Rihanna.

Shaynna Blaze, TV presenter

Shaynna Blaze, interior designer and presenter on The Block and Selling Houses AustraliaBest known as a bubbly TV presenter on Selling Houses Australia and The Block, Shaynna Blaze (pictured right) is also a business owner, having operated her interior design firm blankcanvas INTERIORS since 2000.

The story of how she got to where she is, and the challenge of juggling her business, filming and speaking commitments, national travel and writing books, is a perfect example of the arts of delegation, putting yourself out there and “learning to say no”.

Steve Plarre, Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses

Statistics paint a cruel picture of the survival rate of businesses in their first three years.

However, when your business has been operating for many years and has developed a loyal following, managing the threat of upstart competitors can bring a different set of pressures.

For Steve Plarre, co-owner of the 115-year old bakery chain, ensuring the survival of a much-loved brand is a delicate balancing act on two fronts: innovating for new customers and maintaining familiarity for existing ones, and uniting his succession plans for the future with the needs of the business today.

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