It is always a privilege to get to know female entrepreneurs who challenge society’s stereotypical beliefs about women and business and have the courage and passion to do what they deem best. It can be the women who were told that by being mothers they “couldn’t grow a company fast enough” (Amy Norman and Stella Ma of Little Passports fame) or a writer whose manuscript for a novel was rejected by 12 publishing houses (JK Rowling), before she reached fame and fortune doing what she loved.
Today we want to add another great example to our list of inspiration while reading about the exploding success of Australian online job platform OneShift.
Founder & CEO at 21
Gen George started OneShift when she was 21 years-old, and despite the many exceptions that prove otherwise, the business world still takes young entrepreneurs lightly. However, almost three years later, Gen has scooped five honors at the Stevie Awards for Women in Business and with countless other accolades and recognition under her belt, she is absolutely killing it. All at 24.
Bizify’s Bhawna Saini caught up with the “young and the restless” Gen George. She was proud and humble, optimistic and cautious, funny and wise, all at the same time. Definitely a delightful surprise from the many other entrepreneurs we have met till date. Watch out for her, this girl is definitely on fire!
Your brainchild OneShift is becoming a phenomenon in Australia!
Thank you, but there is a whole team behind me making this happen.
To the world you are the founder of OneShift. Who are you to yourself?
Just Gen. I am very down-to-earth. Not really too fussy about titles, it is what it. For me, it’s about creating a culture where everyone’s voice can be heard, doesn’t matter what position or what anything is. It’s always about making everybody feel part of the team.
Looking back on your childhood, did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
I wanted to be a chef. I don’t know at what point that changed or I just fell into it. I wonder, if I sold the business tomorrow what else would I do? It’s like, I love this and I am really passionate about what we are doing.
How confident were you about yourself when you started OneShift?
I was fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment where there wasn’t such thing as failure. If you stuff up you learn from it and you move on. So it was not about being sure. It was about trying things out, seeing what could happen and just learning from it and move on.
It’s actually one of the OneShift values as well. We are always in a test-fail -learn situation where we will always be testing, failing and learning. As a person I have learnt a lot over the last 2 and half years of doing this and hopefully I am getting better at doing what I am doing.
Are you a leader?
I try to be. I am always trying to improve on how I can better enable my team members to do what they do. It’s always about how to stretch the team, make them achieve more and empower them to do so. So the point is how do I educate myself to better push my team.
And also lead by example. It’s about trying to create the culture for everybody to kind of be in that space.
Female entrepreneurship in Australia is at a very good place right now. Few months back, Dell came out with a gender-focused entrepreneurship index, GEDI. According to that report, Australia is the second best place in the world for a female entrepreneur. Would you agree?
Yeah, definitely. We have been fortunate to have some really amazing opportunities, and not just from a gender point of view, just for being a startup as well. Being given so many opportunities and support, mentorship from anyone man or woman in the industry is really amazing. I think what’s great is that in Australia we have a lot of opportunities and people just need to make the most of them.
Female entrepreneurs often have to deal with unique challenges that their male counterparts never face. How do you tackle the challenges you face as a woman?
By just taking a no bullshit approach. We have faced old-school mentality from some people in business. I am going to call it old school because it is not the proper way of doing business. We have comments such as ‘oh you are just being emotional’ and things like that.
The approach from us has always been ‘just no bullshit.’ Straight up, this is how we want it. You are either going to play ball or we are not interested in playing ball with people who are going have an old-school mentality.
There is a big misconception that a business idea should be a unique and brilliant one. Many entrepreneurs are interested in business but often wait for that ‘one’ brilliant idea. What are your thoughts on that?
I don’t think it is about a brilliant idea. I think it is about starting something, get moving. It doesn’t have to be something that nobody else is doing. It’s about you doing the best that you possibly can. It can be giving good service at the right price, great customer service or even a great product.
I think one can be successful in no matter what you do. We need to give it a go and try something because that something will lead to something else. Don’t wait, just go!
Do you consider OneShift successful?
I think we are unfinished. There’s still so much to do so, success is kind of when you are done. For me we are only halfway through the journey.
How big will be OneShift in another 5 years?
The above interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.