Lara Morgan: "Do What You Like And Be Passionate About It"
Lara Morgan began to develop the skills of an entrepreneur at an early age. Her parents lived and worked in Hong Kong, whilst Lara and her brother would travel halfway around the world to attend school in Scotland. She attributes her independent childhood and her parents being wonderful ‘leaders by example’ to her understanding of business today.
Lara finished school at the age of 18, fully expecting to attend university. However, that same year her father was declared bankrupt. As a result, she found herself borrowing her first business clothes from a friend of her mother's and went for an interview. At the age of 18, she taught herself the art of sales, and by age 21 she was managing a Yellow Pages sales team in six countries in the Gulf.
In 1991, at the age of 23, she started her first business, Pacific Direct Ltd, which manufactured and sold brand licensed toiletries and amenities to the hotel industry. Seventeen years later in 2008, she sold her majority share (99%) for the sum of £20million.
Lara is also the Co-Founder of Company Shortcuts, a consultancy dedicated to excellence in sales and leadership. Company Shortcuts' products, services and exciting events have already inspired hundreds of ambitious business leaders to achieve accelerated growth.
We spoke to Lara about the challenges she faced in building a successful business without any experience, the way in which she balances work with family life, and her advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs.
TNW: Where did the idea of creating Pacific Direct originate from?
LM: It wasn't an idea, but a necessity. At that time, I needed a job to put food on the table. I started out with no real idea of a business plan and no actual business training or experience.
TNW: Did you encounter any obstacles when you first got started?
LM: I was only 23, and thus had a lot to learn. However, I didn't think of these challenges as obstacles, but as things that needed to get done.
TNW: What do you think every female entrepreneur should know about building a business?
I believe that the ability to sell is extremely powerful. You can't run a company and grow it unless you know how to sell.
TNW: What leadership qualities do you value when hiring employees?
LM: Open-mindedness, willingness to learn, energy and enthusiasm, not being afraid to ask questions, specific skills sets for specific roles, as well as flexibility and the ability to get things done.
TNW: If you were advising young women, what kind of degree or designation do you feel would best arm them for success?
Do what you like and be passionate about it. Not having a degree myself, I don't believe that going to university is necessary in order to succeed in the business world.
No school can teach you how to be enterprising. On the contrary, it can delay opportunities and prevent you from getting a few years' head start.
TNW: What sacrifices should one be prepared for when building a business to the scale you have?
I think that the key is to be able to prioritise and do the important things that matter to you. For example, I never miss my three daughters' sports games and nativity plays.
It's important to set boundaries around what you are prepared to do.
TNW: What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs just starting out?
LM: Focus is critical to getting to success fast. Aspiring female entrepreneurs should develop skills like actually learning to say no and having a clear strategic intent, which can mean turning down opportunities that aren't relevant.
Business is about building relationships, being able to sell and being 100% committed to what you're doing.
I also believe that confidence is key, and you should never be afraid to ask. Even if at first you don't succeed, you should try, and try again.
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