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Jack Delosa talks bootstrapping, business mistakes and the talent myth

Jack Delosa is reclaiming the word ‘unprofessional’. The Australian entrepreneur, who’s started four businesses (two of which he’s still involved in) says it’s not about disrespect or laziness. His book of the same name (scroll down for details on how to win a copy) argues that the new ‘unprofessional’ is to be authentic and unconventional, unafraid to break new ground.

jack delosa unprofessional author“I wrote this book as a call to arms and a guide for entrepreneurs to start building businesses like they need to be built in 2014.  I think the entire business world has changed in the last 10 years and if you’re building businesses like it’s 2004 your lifespan is limited,” he says.

He shared a few other thoughts with us, as below, on bootstrapping, education, the talent myth and more.

Why university isn’t as valuable as it used to be

It’s great in a lot of instances and it’s necessary if you’re going into a field that requires you to have a qualification. I think what people are starting to question is how useful is a university degree if you are going to go out and start your own business.

We recently surveyed a community of 35,000 entrepreneurs here in Australia. People that had gone on to start their own business gave their degree a 3.4 out of 10 in terms of effectiveness in preparing them for the business world.

Traditional education teaches you how things have always been done. In order to be an entrepreneur you need to be dreaming of things that never were.

The rate of change in today’s business world is so fast that universities by simple virtue of their size cannot change to keep up.

Why you don’t have to be talented to be successful

Talent is overrated. If you look at the greats of history, be they the Mozarts, the Tiger Woods, the Michael Jordans, the Richard Bransons, it’s blindingly obvious that early on in their careers they didn’t have a high degree of talent but underwent a very proactive training regime to build skill and capacity in that particular field.

What creates success is hard work combined with ongoing learning. If you can marry those two and continue to engage in those two then you will become successful.

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The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make

I think the biggest mistake I made, that I think most early stage business owners make, is to have a lack of focus in the early days. As entrepreneurs we typically tend to take on too much – we’ve never started a business before but now want to start three businesses all at once. Or we’ve only been running a business for a year but want to start another.

To diversify too early is what stifles the growth of most early stage businesses around the world. What worked for me and I believe will work for other entrepreneurs is to pick one thing and try to become the best in the world at it. Until it’s bringing in a profit of $1 million a year do not go on to your second venture.

How startups can find their first customers

I think the best way to develop business as a startup is through leveraged means. You need to be able to reach tens of thousands of people without spending any money.

The two most effective ways are strategic partnerships – with organisations that have a large audience that you can structure a deal with so that they market your business to their audience – and PR, being able to package a story in a way the media want to run with it.

Why entrepreneurs will remain the exception rather than the norm

I do think that there will always be more people looking to work for others than there will be entrepreneurs, because an entrepreneur is a rare breed of individual. They thrive on challenge. They have probably overcome significant adversity through their life. They shoulder stress and responsibility exceptionally well. They are comfortable being uncomfortable.

Entrepreneurship as a game isn’t for everyone. I think we’ll never have a shortage of people to employ.


We have one copy of Unprofessional by Jack Delosa, detailing his journey from university dropout to millionaire and his best advice for others, to give away. To enter, leave a comment and tell us about one business mistake you’ve made (and what you learned from it). Open to NZ residents only, closes March 31. jack delosa book unprofessional author

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