Starting up in start-ups

Many people have a desire to start their own business – but how do you get there?

Lewis Back and Bonnie Jones are similar in some ways. After graduating from QUT (Lewis with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and Bonnie with a Master of Business – Advanced, Human Resource Management (HR) and a Bachelor of Business and Psychology), they both decided to start their own business.

Bonnie started Happy Humans Consulting after working at a start-up in Denmark during 2015. She saw an opportunity to apply what she saw in Denmark – affordable, tailored solutions for small businesses – to an Australian market.

Lewis developed a solution to sitting uncomfortably in his first office job. After building his own stand-up desk in 2012, the enthusiasm of his colleagues and friends indicated an opportunity to grow a brand that could have a positive impact on the way people work. Zen Space Desks was launched at the start of 2016 and provides ergonomic solutions to improve health and productivity in the workplace.

So how did two entrepreneurs in different industries get to where they are now? We sat down with them for their take on starting up a start-up.

How did your study help you on your journey?

Bonnie: Study fed my curiosity, ambition and creativity to tackle the world of HR with a fresh perspective. The academic content is only part of the journey. My choice in university for both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees was the ultimate stepping stone in allowing me to reach these milestones today through Happy Humans.

Lewis: Uni gave me the ability to network with industry professionals, which helped build a personal network. These are the contacts I went to once I launched the brand and they helped me to get the ball rolling.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Bonnie: Networking was most certainly my biggest challenge in the beginning. As a true introvert, I was panicked at the prospect of the elevator pitch and spent many, many evenings practicing my spiel until it almost became second nature. We are now engaging clients we met back at the start, which again reinforces to us the paramount importance of building and maintaining authentic relationships.

Lewis: Resource management and efficient use of time. It’s not hard to quickly become caught up in the day to day running of a business and forget to steer the ship. I’ve quickly learnt that time is a precious commodity and if not used wisely, it will provide you with little ability to get your priorities straight.

What advice do you have for people interested in starting their own business?

Bonnie: Stay true to your values, and remain humble through the successes and pit-falls. You are so much more capable than you realise and I truly feel that anybody has the aptitude and tenacity to create their own space in the small business world.

Lewis: Persistence is key. If you’re not prepared to work doubly as hard as those competing against you, how do you expect to outmanoeuvre their strategies? Also, keep it simple and focus on one service or product that you can do well.




Master’s qualified published author with a passion for communication, organisational psychology and transformative change for individuals and organisations.

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