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The most inspiring business leaders of 2018

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
02 January 2019 3 minute readShare
Light bulb, idea, spark, hand, innovation

In preparation for a new, and hopefully prosperous year, My Business takes a look back at some inspiring business leaders who made their mark on 2018 and the lessons they can teach us all on the road to success.

All of the guests on The Mentor

It takes an awful lot of guts, courage and determination to open up your business to harsh truths and public criticism, in a bid to turn around your struggling operations. But doing that on national TV takes that to a whole other level.

So the leaders of the business to have appeared on Mark Bouris’ show The Mentor all deserve a special mention for doing just that.

They recognised that they were struggling, their viability was at stake, and so they stuck their neck out to seek external advice in a bid to save their business. Not only that, they did so in front of the TV cameras, documenting all the highs and lows of the process, in a bid to help other people in business learn those same lessons.

Kudos to them all for asking for help, and for doing so in a public forum to help other businesses also learn, including:

Hazem Sedda, Redfern Convenience Store

While they serve a valuable purpose, convenience stores may not seem like the sexiest of businesses. So taking such a business and propelling it onto the national, and even international, stage is a real achievement worthy of admiring.

That is exactly what Hazem Sedda, the owner of Redfern Convenience store in Sydney’s inner suburb of Redfern, did by experimenting with Instagram and a “Customer of the Day” challenge.

His efforts have amassed 14,600 followers as at 2 January, 2019, and have seen him achieve massive media exposure for his small business through appearances on TV, radio and of course by interviewed by My Business.

Charlie Ercan, Unique Muscle

Ms Ercan is a great example of rags to riches. Having found herself homeless, unable to hold down a job and repeatedly hospitalised with a chronic illness at just 24 years of age, she co-founded a business to try and support herself using the information she garnered while researching how to manage her own health challenges.

From those humble beginnings and her “absolute lowest”, Ms Ercan has built a multimillion dollar business that provides for herself, her business partner and their employees, but does so in a way that enables her to look after her health first and foremost.

Subhaga Amarasekara, FLAYR

Entrepreneurship involves many struggles, and pitching for all-important investment to get a new product to market and scale is one of the biggest. But try to imagine doing just that while 7.5 months pregnant.

Ms Amarasekara did just that, securing half a million dollars in seed funding for her start-up that operates as a marketplace to connect local hair and beauty professionals with consumers.

“I know investors want founders who are 100 per cent focused on the business. I also knew it was clear to everyone in the room that I would soon have a pretty large extra commitment in my life – as if running a start-up wasn’t hard enough,” she said.

Sharon Melamed, Matchboard

“Size does not automatically equal success,” Ms Melamed told My Business after her business, Matchboard, was crowned Business of the Year at the 2018 Optus My Business Awards.

She said that people often think that success means being big, but that plenty of small businesses are achieving great success under different definitions, including the results they deliver to their customers and the positive impacts they bring to their respective local communities.

Indeed, all of the award winners offer inspiration in their own ways, as shining examples of hard work, dedication, triumph over tragedy and delivering meaningful, positive change for their customers, teams and communities.

Dr Richard Harris (aka one of the Thai cave divers who helped save the lives of 13 people)

The entire world was transfixed in mid-2018 at the news that 12 schoolboys and their teacher had become trapped in a cave in Thailand, after heavy rains flooded a section of the sprawling tunnel behind them.

Despite a hairy rescue operation that tragically claimed the life of one of their rescuers, all 13 were successfully evacuated from the cave. Among the team of divers involved in the rescue was Australia’s own Dr Richard Harris.

“The question I had to ask myself was whether I was prepared to personally and professionally accept the fact that I might become their executioner,” Dr Harris told My Business’ sister publication Lawyers Weekly.

His comments reflect the fundamental nature of decision-making in any task, including in business.

Tim Leatherman, Leatherman Tools

Everyone in business will agree that tenacity and perseverance are critical to success. But how many people could persevere with an idea for eight long years before making their first sale?

American businessman Tim Leatherman did just that. He believed whole-heartedly in his idea, and so stuck with it despite many knocks over such a lengthy period of time, perfecting his pocket tool and showcasing it to would-be customers.

His efforts have clearly paid off: US-based Leatherman now enjoys a cult following among its dedicated customer base, developed over its 30 years in business.


The most inspiring business leaders of 2018
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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