The best business advice I've ever received

For almost twenty years, Kate Morris has been a pioneer of e-commerce, building Australia’s largest beauty e-tailer, Adore Beauty, with over 200 beauty brands, and a turnover in excess of $28million a year.

Along the way, Kate has had plenty of success - this year she was the first woman to receive the ORIA’s Industry Recognition Award - and to achieve all this, she’s not only had to work incredibly hard, but also rely on the advice from family, friends and other business experts to help her through.

Here Kate shares the top three pieces of advice she’s received that have helped her along the way.


1. Don’t let rejection affect you personally

Back in 1999, when I first started Adore Beauty it was particularly hard. I was working on my own and knocking on doors trying to convince beauty brands of the merits of online shopping and to stock their products with me.

It was really hard, and during those early years, it was my mum that kept me sane.

My mum used to say “no matter what happens and no matter what people say, you are still you and you’ll be fine”.  It was a good way of normalizing and minimizing the rejection.

When you start out in business a lot of people will say ‘no’ to you and you have to remember it is just one person saying ‘no’, to a small thing on that one particular day. Tomorrow that same person might change their mind and say ‘yes’, or possibly the following year that person might say ‘yes’. One brand said ‘no’ to me literally for 14 years before they said ‘yes’!

Remember to keep the rejection inperspective and keep going.


2. Get the business model right

Adore Beauty launched smack bang in the middle of the first dotcom bubble. My boyfriend’s dad was a small business owner; he loaned me the money to get started, and also gave me spectacularly good advice:

“Yes, your business is on the internet, but it’s still a business like any other - You have to make sure you have more money coming in than what’s going out. Keep your eye on building a business model that works – that actually makes money,” he said.

There’s a lot of mystery and romance about the whole idea of entrepreneurship and startups, and many people seem to think that business fundamentals don’t apply.  But they absolutely do!

It doesn’t really matter how many followers you have, or how much traffic your site receives; unless you can make more money than you spend, it’s not a real business. 

There are plenty of ideas out there, that are really good ideas, but a lot of them don’t translate to profitable, scalable businesses.

It’s incredibly important to know what your business model is - or to have a plan for how you are going to figure it out pretty quickly.

3. Clearly define your company values and live them every day

About five years ago we went through a period of growth where we grew from a team of 12 to 25 in one year.

Unfortunately, at that time we hadn’t really defined the people or behaviours that we wanted.

I received some excellent advice, to go through the process of developing our company values, and it was one of the most valuable things we’ve done.

As we’ve been growing, our values have helped us make decisions every day; whether it be hiring of new employees to get the right cultural fit, or rewarding the right behaviours in our team. We use our values as a decision-making guide and as a set of criteria to decide what to do and what not to do.

I’ve had a couple of occasions this year where I’ve had to make very difficult decisions. I use our values to work out what to do; and in every instance I’ve used them, whilst it has been hard, it’s always been the right decision in the end.

It’s incredibly important to use your values as a guide, especially when the decision is difficult, as this is when you really prove yourself as a leader. I firmly believe that the universe brings you good things if you stick to your principles.

Developing our values was a collaborative exercise with the whole team. We looked at what values were on display when things were going well; or conversely, when things weren’t so good, what values were missing.

These are our core values that guide everything we do:


If you'd like advice from Kate Morris about your business, you can book a call with her here.

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