Hershey Hilado is a Philippine-born, Australia-based entrepreneur who is considered to be one of the most influential millennial entrepreneurs today.
At the age of 24, Hershey has built three global businesses: a high-level offshore outsourcing company called 8TASKS, a creative and branding agency called Creativevortex.com.au and an ecommerce site for women’s fashion called Ohmagosh.com.
In January, Hershey was named one of the 80 nominees in Remodista's 2017 Women2Watch in Retail Disruption, a list of US and Australian retail executives solving retail technology problems. She ranked third in Australia's top 10.
Despite all her achievements, the road to success for Hershey was not easy one.
Hershey, who grew up in Iloilo, lived in an environment of physical and emotional abuse. At a young age of 16, her mom forced her to marry a Korean businessman who was old enough to be her grandfather in exchange for money.
On the same night that she was introduced to her supposed husband, she was raped but managed to escape to Manila. With no relatives to go to and little cash to spare, Hershey lived on the streets for a year, begging for money.
It did not take long when she finally discovered her relatives from her father’s side who took care of her in Lipa, Batangas. Life became a little bit easier for Hershey since then until one day, she found herself moving to Melbourne, Australia where she would start her entrepreneurial journey.
Here are the five success lessons that every entrepreneur can learn from Hershey Hilado:
1. Believe in yourself
You may not be born into an ideal family, but blaming your parents or your situation for where you are right now is not an excuse for you not to succeed in life.
Realize that you have the ability to overcome your personal obstacles. Sometimes it may be difficult to believe in yourself when you have developed negative feelings from past experiences. It takes proper mindset to get fresh perspective of things ahead of you and believe it.
“People need to constantly invest in their mindset. It’s tough to be in business. It’s not your skillset, it’s your mindset that you need to manage first. It’s about emotional and mental intelligence. If you don’t know how to control your emotions, you are nothing. Sometimes emotions will make the decision for you not logic,” Hershey told this writer.
2. Be willing to learn new skills
When Hershey moved to Australia, she was only 18 years old. Her first job, as a crew member of McDonald’s, was cleaning toilets and wiping tables. She thought that for her to get higher pay, she needed to learn new skills so she quit her job and studied security control for two months.
“I got a job at International Galleria in Victoria as a security guard. I worked with bunch of guys that were ex-military and ex-cops. I was the only the female and youngest. Few months later, they promoted me to supervisor role,” Hershey said.
“Everytime that I do my shift working for 12 hours looking into cameras and stuff, I used that time to study. I read books from financial and entrepreneurship to personal development. I used that time to invest in myself,” Hershey added.
3. Be open to accept mistakes and learn from failures
When Hershey quit her security job and established her own business, her first shop was a brick-and-mortar store somewhere in Queensland. The business did well in the beginning but she made some mistakes in decision making.
“I did not consider that the place was a tourist spot. There was a high season and low season. I also invested my money in wrong stuff so we really did not save for the rainy days. I was losing money so I closed the shop later on,” Hershey said.
Hershey incurred huge debt after closing her first venture and she did not have the capital to open another shop. She thought of shifting her business online.
“For the first five months, no sale. I used that time to educate myself. I enrolled in a course and studied one and a half years. I learned so much from it on how to run my online business properly,” Hershey recalled.
“During that time, I started marketing on Instagram. One day, I just woke up and saw my sales went to the roof. I later found out that an influencer from the US, who is like a celebrity there that has 3.5m followers at that time, shopped at my online store and tagged my store name Ohmagosh on her account."
“My sales on that day was $8,000 and preorders kept coming in. The orders prepaid for the stocks I needed to pay and the rest was history. I did not need any capital,” she added.
4. Be willing to embrace the numbers
Many startup founders struggle with the financial aspects of the business. They fear the numbers and try to delegate the tasks of reviewing the financials to their accountants and bookkeepers.
Overcoming the fear of understanding the financial relationship of your business can spell the difference between leading your business to nowhere and growing a sustainable business.
“I put my hands into everything. I learned how to read profit and loss and the balance sheet, if I don’t know the story behind the numbers in my business, it is like I don’t how my business is doing. That was one of my turning points. You don’t need to love your numbers. You just need to make love with your numbers.” Hershey explained.
“If you don’t know what your numbers are, you will not know where you are at, how can you make that dollar count and grow your business,” she added.
5. Be the best you can be to succeed in life
No matter how successful you are right now in what you do, learning should never stop. Learning is one way to promote your personal growth. To develop a personal growth plan is less about understanding yourself but more about improving your skills and achieving your goals.
“I invest a lot in courses such as sales and marketing, business entrepreneurship and personal development. I attend events like six times a month. I was obsessed with learning,” Hershey said.
“I am always careful of what’s going on in my eyes and my ears because that will determine what will come out of my mouth and my actions and things that I will do in business,” she added.
“Life is not about me. It’s about we. If we feel like we are contributing to something then we don’t just get something. We become something. The get part is the money, the luxury and material stuff but it doesn’t mean that you are successful.”
“You may be rich but not wealthy. You may be rich in money but your soul is empty. There is no legacy when you leave one day. Being wealthy is about serving other people. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about being selfless. It’s about impacting people to be the best of themselves," Hershey explained.
Henry Ong, RFP, is president of Business Sense Financial Advisors. Email Henry for business advice firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @henryong888