From bushwalks to business
Ory Purhonen has always had the entrepreneurial bug. At the age of seven, he started his first business venture - offering guided bushwalks to kids at school in the local national park behind his house. Today, his Nowra-based web marketing company has over 300 clients and is extremely successful.
Turning a hobby into a business
When I was 14 I started getting interested in IT and websites. During this phase, I had support from a family friend who asked if I could make a website for their business. After I successfully delivered my first product it took off from there.
I first established Webics in 2008 while I was in year 10 in high school. The business began to thrive while I was in year 12 so I made the decision to leave school and apply to study a Bachelor of IT at RMIT University.
I realised Webics' full potential during my first semester at university and make the leap of faith and decided to leave to further pursue the business. Only three years later in 2011, I incorporated Webics.
Within three years, I had gone from operating in my parent’s granny flat to taking up a lease in the CBD in our local area.
My tip for those thinking about starting a business is to start today, and don't make excuses. I didn't know anything about business when I started. If you're slightly good at something, there will be someone out there who will use your services. If you keep practising your craft, you will eventually become a master.
Also don't give up. Success is never an easy thing to achieve. You have to learn to fail and treat every failure as a learning experience. Business in the first few years is always two steps forward, one step back.
A wise man once told me to "never listen to someone who isn't in a position where you want to be". This could be teachers, parents or friends – most people won’t understand where you are and where you are going.
If after two years your business is not making money, people may tell you to give up and get a job. But if you listen to successful entrepreneurs, they will tell you you're not even halfway and to keep grinding.
Another thing I would recommend is to find a mentor – you need someone really experienced. Finding a good mentor is actually really difficult.
I tried approaching a CEO of an Australian company worth over $100 million for mentoring, and he replied saying he was not interested. But once he saw me taking action, he actually reached out to say he would be happy to do some mentoring. Working hard and taking action is something you just have to do.
Develop systems and build networks
Systems, systems, systems! If there's one thing you need to grow your business, it's systems. We developed a "wiki" which contains procedures on how to do everything in the business. This has allowed us to bring on staff and replace staff with ease.
It’s also important to have a good marketing approach. One of my mentors once told me to “say yes to everything”. It's hard to do this, but I’ve said yes to every networking event or opportunity that I come across.
The amount of people you can meet just through networking is incredible. They say your network is your network.
Webics has grown from just me to five permanent employees and five sub-contractors. It hasn't been easy. I brought on a business partner, and had to buy him back out. This was one of the best decisions I ever made.
If you choose to have a business partner, you need to make sure you are a perfect match. You need people who are as obsessed with business/changing the world as you are. Since taking back over the business, I've managed to double our client base and revenue.
Perks about running a business?
I'm doing something I actually enjoy. Every moment I'm thinking of ways to grow the business. I've grown the business to a stage that I don't really need to go to the office every day, but I still go to push the team and improve our systems.
I also found that as my business became more successful, I was also able to fulfil my desire to assist the local community. I regularly donate websites and sponsor events for local community organisations and charities.
I also enjoy interacting with other business owners and leaders through networking events across the country and hold a position on the management committee for the local business chamber.