ANNA McGregor grew up on the Sunshine Coast with parents who worked seven days a week on several businesses.
She says their example helped her achieve the life every young person today dreams about — creating and running a business that’s also a passion. Anna now lives in Melbourne and owns Sorella Organics, a sleepwear and loungewear label made in Australia and Fiji that promotes sustainable employment.
“I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family,” she told news.com.au. “Both of my parents were uneducated and had to do what they could to support the family.
“I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family,” says Anna McGregor.
“That’s the only life I know. I guess it’s in my blood a bit, that innovation and drive.”
At 38, Anna is a few years ahead of Generation Y, and she’s leading the way in carving out the type of job more and more Australians entering the workforce want for themselves.
“I’m surrounded by a network of friends who had different upbringings and were very stable in their work choices,” she said. “It’s been the norm for me to move jobs every few years.
“The generation below is very happy to take on risk, they’re really interested in how you can be in a space that’s entrepreneurial.”
Anna started her first business in occupational health rehab at the age of 23, before selling it to move into international community development. In 2011, she harnessed her knowledge to start fair-trade fashion label Sorella with her sister Alisha Watson.
At the time, having an online-only store was unusual and Anna admits they were “a bit scared” but embraced a digital strategy and gradually saw their tech-savvy approach pay off. “It’s very normal for me to be in that start-up mould,” she said. “Facebook was developing business pages, Instagram and omni-channel retailing came on board. Australia Post started supporting small businesses so you could sit at home and do your shipping.”
Anna realised new tools allowed her to be incredibly self-sufficient. In 2013, when Alisha wanted to focus on her young family and (naturally) yet another business with her husband, Anna bought her out.
“It is just me,” she said. “I get support with shipping from my mum if I go on holiday but generally I’m able to run it alone. I outsource the website and have shipping providers but the main process is locked down.”
Anna promotes the brand largely through Instagram, social media word-of-mouth and apps like Good On You, which lists ethical businesses. “My marketing spend is pretty much zero,” she said. “It’s a very easy business to run.
“We’re running at a profit and we’re sustainable.
“It is much harder than a 9-5 job, my brain doesn’t stop. From 7am to 10pm, I’m thinking about or doing something to do with the business, including weekends — but I’m doing something I love.”
Research released today by NAB found that one in four working Australians is self-employed, and of those who do not own their own business, one in seven wants to in the future.
The final chapter of the bank’s Rethink Success report discovered that 38 per cent of Gen Ys describe themselves as ‘entrepreneurs’ or their ventures as ‘start-ups’. They are embracing new technology and are much more willing than previous generations to change jobs and learn new things, with 79 per cent saying ongoing training and upskilling are essential to advance your career.
Like Anna, this emerging “entrepreneurial class” wants to pursue passions and interests in their working life, with more than half aiming for jobs that are fulfilling and meaningful.
While Anna knows she’s in a highly competitive market, she’s committed to doing what it takes to stay successful, happy and in control of her own destiny.
It’s something increasing numbers of Australians see as the ultimate goal.