Key points:

  • 5 years in Indigenous labour hire business
  • 4 key tips on surviving in business as an entrepreneur

In April 2010, I decided (quite naively) that I was going to change the world by starting the first Indigenous labour hire business in Australia, servicing the mining industry. It was at the right stage of the mining boom, I knew there was a gap in the market and I knew I wanted to fill it. The only problem was that I didn’t have any money, or people to put out to work, or clients to hire the people to; and I had no idea what labour hire was, how it worked or even how to make money from it. I wrote a very comprehensive 53-page business plan, thinking of every possible detail I could, and then I started to believe I could make it work. I devoted every waking minute to building the foundations and trying to find the all-important clients, whilst the influx of interested Indigenous people started to flow through. It was a very exciting period.

I have loved every minute of the roller coaster ride over the past five years. From the constant wave of challenges that have pushed me to the limits of my coping mechanisms; to the feelings of euphoria when I have gotten a perceived ‘unemployable’ bloke a job, that turns his life in a positive direction; and to the amazing opportunities to work with the high end of the corporate world.

Over time, Ochre has grown from a labour hire company servicing the mining industry, to meeting many needs in a wide range of industries. I have added training services through a Registered Training Organisation (the only RTO privately owned by an Indigenous woman in WA). In addition we offer Indigenous pre-employment training and consulting services, which help organisations employ more indigenous people.

My four key tips on how to survive as an entrepreneur:

  1. Be resilient and don’t take things personally – not everything is going to go your way, accept that as part of business and move onto the next opportunity.
  1. Keep learning all the time – make it your business to learn as much about your industry and other relevant industries as possible. A lot of sacrifice goes into running a business and being willing to be a ‘specialist’ in your field. If you don’t like reading, researching, and learning while the rest of the world is having fun, then business may not be for you.
  1. Strongly believe in what you are doing – if you don’t believe in your business then why would you expect other people (your clients) to believe in your business?
  1. Don’t ever give up.

I’m so happy I took the leap in the beginning: The journey, the people I’ve met, the networks I’ve developed, the knowledge I’ve learnt, the successes along the way have all been amazing. Now for the next five years….