With both his parents going through POW camps in WWII, Simon Fonteyn knows a lot about how to handle isolation, and believes that helped him endure the long hours of a start-up small business. His Bondi Junction based business LeaseInfo took a few years to get off the ground, but he persevered and it’s now the largest of its type in Australia, helping retailers as they manage the data around their rental expenses.
The owners of fifty Australian businesses share their stories of true grit and determination, long hours and lonely nights, in a new book, titled 50 Unsung Business Heroes, including interviews with three Eastern Suburbs-based business founders.
Potts Point-based property investment adviser Zaki Ameer, founder of Dream Design Property arrived in Australia from Sri Lanka at the age of 18 with big dreams, and tells of his days as an international student when he knew nothing about the power of property. He went from zero to 10 properties in two years, and now helps other people invest in property safely.
As a young boy Wollahra’s Ron Lee was bullied when he went to school because of the way he looked. Despite being born in Australia, as were his parents, he was derided constantly for being the odd one out. Ron’s Chinese origins lead him to learn about martial arts and the power of the mind, and he now teaches other people to take control of their lives, be more confident and also improve their presentation skills.
Other stories feature an ex-Croatian soldier who had to sell his son’s toys to pay for groceries, a teenager who slept rough on the streets, and now employs over a hundred staff, and another who started from her kitchen table, and now runs ten offices across six countries.
Small business is the backbone of the economy, and between them these fifty SMEs alone are responsible for 1,000 employees. With a combined turnover in excess of $400 million, they pay millions in taxes.
These Unsung Business Heroes are full of optimism and they never had a Plan B. Their whole life is their business.
Unsung Business Heroes is a concept created by Charles Fairlie, who was unemployed himself when he took on the task of recording these stories.
Inspired by his father, a yacht-builder, Charles found the most inspiring stories were often the ones that didn’t make the front page, but rather the quiet achievers who didn’t see themselves as special.
Writing the book’s foreword, Kate Carnell, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman said, “These stories are sure to inspire and empower potential business owners, those with great ideas, wanting to test the water – and others striving to build on what they have already created.”