How These Entrepreneurs Turned Their Passion Into a Profession

Lauren Powell

Many of us dream about hailing farewell to the 9-5 grind to pursue a business idea or a passion, but for many of taking that leap of faith or finding the time within our busy schedules puts a halt to those aspirations. But not for these entrepreneurs who have proved that it can be done. With a cutting-edge idea, hard work, and determination it really can become a reality for anyone. We found out exactly how these successful entrepreneurs turned their idea into thriving businesses. Read on to ignite that push you might just need.

Jasmine Lindsay, Jasmine and Will

What was your previous job and profession before starting your sleepwear brand, Jasmine and Will?

I worked in finance for 10 years, with the last five of those in Dubai. I worked in-house for listed companies running their Investor Relations function, which in a nutshell, is communicating a company’s financial results and price sensitive information such as acquisitions and transactions to investors and analysts.

When did you leave your previous full-time profession to start your own business?

I returned to Australia at the end of 2015— the same time I left my corporate job and took Jasmine and Will full-time. 

What gave you the courage to leave the security of your full-time role to start Jasmine and Will? 

It was timing more than courage.  Working 10 hour days in finance while running Jasmine & Will became unfeasible as sales grew. There’s extensive logistics involved in manufacturing and the need to be on the ground making important day-to-day decisions became paramount. That said, I’m relatively risk averse and willing to work hard to minimize risk so I stretched myself as much as possible across the two jobs until I felt financially comfortable making Jasmine and Will my full time gig. 

How long was the process, from coming up with the business idea to then making it happen?

A long one! Jasmine and Will was established back in 2009 and whilst it had decent traction it didn’t have the cash flow to sustain a full-time pay cheque. At that stage, my corporate career was also progressing and ultimately took precedence.  So from 2012 to 2015 I took a break from Jasmine and Will and focused on my corporate career.

I look back now and the journey makes a lot of sense, I needed more time in the corporate world to better equip myself with the knowledge and tools necessary for running a successful business, I was also able to develop my management style, save some capital, and use the down time to reassess how I wanted to position the brand for re-launch.

What advice would you have for other aspiring business owners and budding entrepreneurs thinking about leaving their current jobs? 

I’m a big believer in the “side hustle” so long as you maintain integrity with your corporate job.  It’s a great way to mitigate financial risk for yourself by working on your idea on the side.  You can slowly grow it and not be panicked about cash flow because you have your regular pay cheque to take care of your expenses.

Set a time frame and if it’s a feasible project at the end of that period make the switch—it took me two attempts but eventually the side hustle paid off! 

What do you believe is the most important quality or skill to have to turn your passion into your full-time profession?

Resilience.

Is there anything you would have done differently? Or anything you regret? 

Not really, I’ve embraced the journey.  I’ve learnt to view bad decisions as catalysts for improvement and take time out to celebrate the successes. 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from starting your own business?

Hard work will often outweigh talent. 

What was the hardest part of leaving your full-time job? 
Accountability—knowing I was 100% accountable for the success of Jasmine and Will—it wasn’t my side hustle anymore! 

Kieran Birchall, MyFlowerMan

What was your previous job and profession before starting your floristry, MyFlowerMan?

I was working in a corporate job when I first started MyFlowerMan, it was really a passion project that took off and allowed me to leave that job and focus on a more creative outlet and business idea. 

When did you leave your previous full-time profession to start your own business?

It’s been 18 months since the inception of MyFlowerMan, but around one year since going full time. 

What gave you the courage to leave the security of your full-time role to start MyFlowerMan? 

It was a mixture of wanting to do something different knowing that an office role wasn’t the best match for me and the positive reception I received in the first six months of starting MyFlowerMan Seeing how much potential the business had allowed me to take that leap. 

How long was the process, from coming up with the business idea to then making it happen?

It all happened really quickly in the first six months considering I never set out to create a fully functioning business. A friend of mine took me to the flower markets in Flemington as he had an event on and I was just going for kicks, I came back with a whole new appreciation and thought I’d try and go on Friday’s as I had that day off work. I started asking friends if they wanted any and then that started to expand. My girlfriend started me an Instagram to share images and that’s where the name came from and it really just went from there. After six months I had some great clients and didn’t want to turn down more jobs so had to quit my corporate job to not let that happen.

It was great to have that organic growth, but I also learnt how important the business side is—we may have started a little backwards with the planning but now we have it ironed out and can really focus on growing. 

What advice would you have for other aspiring business owners and budding entrepreneurs thinking about leaving their current jobs? 

My advice from my experience so far is simple—just go for it. It’s great to plan and be prepared but that can only go so far and then you just have to start making it happen. 

What do you believe is the most important quality or skill to have to turn your passion into your full-time profession?

A uniqueness. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel but know what makes you or your product unique for your market and focus on evolving that. MyFlowerMan literally started with $50 and an Instagram account so you really can build a strong business from a passion if what you’re offering is unique and you listen to your market (also hard work and long hours are essential). 

Is there anything you would have done differently? Or anything you regret? 

No regrets here, if anything, I wish I did it sooner. 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from starting your own business?

So many. Every day is different and you have to learn to juggle all departments and expectations which can be hard and really taxing. I think the biggest lesson is not sweat the small stuff and think big picture. 

What was the hardest part of leaving your full-time job? 

The hardest part of leaving a full-time job to work for yourself has to the losing the security, and also having the confidence to back yourself when everyone else thinks you’re a little crazy. But once you get past those reservations I don’t see how you could go back. 

Hannah Staples, Peppermint Grove

What was your previous job and profession before starting candle library, Peppermint Grove?

I worked in a similar industry across all sectors of the organisation. Fragrance was my passion so I made it my business to work in an organisation where I could learn and absorb as much as I could. I started on the factory floor, making product and packing orders and worked my way into an office role assisting with everyday duties and eventually the marketing and sales side of the business.

When did you leave your previous full-time profession to start your own business?

During the development and design stage I worked full-time and put every spare minute I had into Peppermint Grove. About a month before launch things were ramping up so I quit my job, moved back home, and the rest is history really!

What gave you the courage to leave the security of your full-time role to start Peppermint Grove? 

Belief in what we were doing! We knew there was an opportunity—our design was right and focus groups confirmed this. There was no question that the brand would not be successful. Failure was not an option and I needed to put my absolute everything into it to ensure this was the case.

How long was the process, from coming up with the business idea to then making it happen?

We worked on the design, concept, and business plan for 9 months before we finally launched and took our product to market.

What advice would you have for other aspiring business owners and budding entrepreneurs thinking about leaving their current jobs? 

If you have your business plan, you’ve done the design work, you’ve tested it in the marketplace, and all the indicators are there to be successful, go for it! Don’t believe what you want to believe, believe what the market tells you.

What do you believe is the most important quality or skill to have to turn your passion into your full-time profession?

A combination of drive, determination, resilience, and damn hard work!

Is there anything you would have done differently? Or anything you regret? 

You can always look back and be critical of some of the things you have done, however these are often the stepping stones to move you closer to your goal. Mistakes are part of the process of learning and for that, I have no regrets.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from starting your own business?

Business is tough! It’s hard work, long hours, and filled with obstacles and steep learning curves. The glamorous moments are rare and the spotlight is only temporary. Love the excitement, love the challenge, and enjoy the ride.

What was the hardest part of leaving your full-time job? 

Moving back home with my parents. Enough said.

Lana Hopkins, Mon Purse

What was your previous job and profession before starting your leather goods brand, Mon Purse?

I came from a media background and I worked in magazine ad sales at News Ltd. I was also part of another startup called iCoverLover as Marketing and Sales Director prior to founding Mon Purse.

When did you leave your previous full-time profession to start your own business?

I left the media industry in September 2012 to focus on iCoverLover which we sold in 2014. My husband, James, founded this business.

What gave you the courage to leave the security of your full-time role to start Mon Purse?

The ability to make a real difference in the world has always been the driving force behind my ambition. However, without the exceptionally selfless support of my husband, James, this would have never happened. He believed in my vision and helped turn my dream into a reality. Not only did he enable me to focus on launching Mon Purse but also personally extending his expertise by moonlighting at Mon Purse while working in a demanding media job himself.

How long was the process, from coming up with the business idea to then making it happen?

We started discussing the possibility of this conceptually in late 2013. By early 2014, we started scoping the viability of the project, travelling to Europe to source the finest leathers and set up our atelier. We then built a tech team and deployed our first version of the bag builder in late October 2014. By October 2015, we had opened up a flagship store in Paddington, the MYER Melbourne concession launched and was quickly followed by another concession in MYER Sydney two weeks before Christmas 2015. Mon Purse is now a vertically integrated Omni channel retailer with an online store, bricks and mortar retailers as well as our own custom production supply chain solution.

What advice would you have for other aspiring business owners and budding entrepreneurs thinking about leaving their current jobs?

  • Just go for it and back yourself.
  • Stay focused on one thing at a time.
  • Build an amazing team of talented people around you.
  • When you feel like giving up, don’t.

What do you believe is the most important quality or skill to have to turn your passion into your full-time profession?

Focus, passion, and the ability to inspire, lead, and motivate others—an A-class team is everything.

Is there anything you would have done differently? Or anything you regret?

I don’t believe you should have regrets—mistakes are great if you can learn from them. Over time, I have learned to say no to things. You can’t always be everywhere, to succeed you need to stay 200% focused.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from starting your own business?

How to pivot—your customers will show you what success looks like. Listen to your customers, always.

What was the hardest part of leaving your full-time job?

A staple stream of income, at least before our first round of funding whilst we bootstrapped.   

Shop the products from these impressive businesses below.

Did you turn your passion into a profession? If so, we’d love to hear your advice, tips, and insights!

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