Becoming an entrepreneur can be both challenging and rewarding for people with a strong sense of innovation, an appetite for risk and an unwavering thirst for change.

The road from business ideation to transformation isn’t for everyone. However, entrepreneurship could be your calling if you yearn for autonomy, crave the challenge of building something from the ground up and are determined to see your visions come to life.

Whether you dream of launching a tech start-up, a social enterprise or an e-commerce company, preparation is crucial for aspiring entrepreneurs keen to start and scale a business. Enhancing your knowledge and skills in business planning, operations, finance, leadership and strategic innovation can help you navigate the complex journey from start-up to success. Here’s how to become an entrepreneur and how an MBA can get you there.

What is an entrepreneur?

In simple terms, an entrepreneur spots a gap in the market and works to fill it, often by creating a new business. Unlike traditional business owners who tend to operate within established models, entrepreneurs are synonymous with innovation, risk-taking and pursuing new opportunities. They are not just setting up a business — they are creating solutions, disrupting industries and even changing how we work and live.

Caterina Sullivan, a successful business consultant, mentor and thought leader, says entrepreneurship “is a way of life” that requires a different mindset than business ownership. “It is about seeing opportunities for innovation and development everywhere. It’s about analysing information, not just consuming it.”

If you tend to notice gaps in the market, dream up new products or services, feel limited by the rigidity of conventional employment or are considering a career change, you could be well-suited for the entrepreneurial life.

Keep in mind, though, that this path is not just about spotting opportunities. It demands creativity, strategic thinking and the resilience to adapt and persevere in the face of uncertainty. It is a career suited to visionaries and problem solvers who are motivated by the potential for substantial personal and financial rewards and unfazed by the prospect of failure.

“Entrepreneurship also isn’t always necessarily about profits or money,” adds Sullivan. She explains that social entrepreneurs look for opportunities to further develop our social and environmental landscape into something more sustainable. “This disruption still falls under entrepreneurship, even if the goal isn’t huge profits and accumulating personal wealth.”

Entrepreneurship can become a deeply rewarding career path for go-getters ready to embrace challenges, enjoy more professional freedom and chart a unique course.

How to become an entrepreneur

Becoming an entrepreneur in Australia involves several key steps:

  1. Self-assessment: This is a foundational step where you take a deep dive into your personal attributes, pinpointing your motivations, recognising your strengths and identifying any weaknesses you hope to improve. This introspection is crucial, as the entrepreneurial path demands passion, the ability to bounce back from setbacks and the foresight to navigate potential risks wisely.
  2. Idea generation: Every great business starts with an idea. Ideation marks the inception of your entrepreneurial journey. It begins with that spark of creativity — spotting an unmet need in the market or a problem that is yet to be solved. This is where your venture starts to take shape as you mould your innovative concept into a viable business.
  3. Market research: Adequate research allows you to gather and analyse information about the industry, potential customers and competitors. This step is instrumental in validating your idea to ensure there’s a demand for your product or service. Through diligent market research, you can gain insights into consumer behaviour, market trends and the competitive landscape, enabling you to tailor your business strategy for optimal positioning in the market. This informed approach helps make data-driven decisions and sets your venture on a path to success.
  4. Skill development: Seeking further education and training to enhance your knowledge base and skill set can significantly enhance your chances of success. Engaging an experienced mentor can provide valuable insights and guidance, but furthering your education, particularly through studying for an MBA, can equip you with a comprehensive business leadership and management toolkit.
  5. Business planning: Business planning is a crucial step where you detail your vision and the roadmap to achieve it. This includes defining your business model, identifying strategies to overcome potential challenges, assessing risks and forecasting financials to ensure sustainability and profitability.
  6. Legal setup: Legal setup involves selecting an appropriate business structure — sole trader, partnership, company, or trust — and officially registering your business with the relevant authorities. This step also includes understanding and complying with your legal obligations, securing necessary permits and licenses, and considering intellectual property protections.
  7. Funding: Funding your venture is critical, with various options available based on the scale and nature of your business. This could range from self-funding or “bootstrapping” to seeking external investors through venture capital, government grants and loans designed to support start-ups.
  8. Launch: Launching your business is a significant milestone. This phase is about putting your plan into action, establishing your brand, building a customer base and developing relationships with stakeholders. Marketing strategies and customer engagement become key focuses to drive initial sales and build your business reputation.
  9. Growth: Growth is an ongoing process of adaptation and expansion. Continually seeking feedback, being open to innovation and readiness for scaling up is essential for long-term success. This may involve diversifying product lines, entering new markets or optimising operational efficiencies.

Top entrepreneurs in Australia

Australia has produced many entrepreneurs who have made a significant impact locally and globally.

The driving force behind Mecca, Jo Horgan redefined the Australian beauty landscape, championing retail innovation to build an empire of more than 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand. Privately owned and operated, the company has previously and consistently ranked in the BRW Best Places To Work Top 5 and turned over $688.9 million in the 12 months to the end of December 2021. According to the Australian Financial Review, Mecca was estimated to be valued at about $10.4 billion in 2023.

Meanwhile, Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht co-founded Canva, which revolutionised graphic design software, transforming how people create graphics for the web, print and other mediums. The company reported in October 2023 that it was expecting $US1.7 billion in revenue for the 2023-24 financial year, growing by 21 per cent.

No list of Australian entrepreneurs would be complete without mentioning Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, the dynamic duo behind the global software giant Atlassian. Their remarkable path from university friends to co-founders of a multibillion-dollar company is a testament to their visionary leadership and innovative spirit.

Under their guidance, Atlassian has not only transformed team collaboration and project management software with products like Jira and Trello but has also achieved impressive financial success. The company boasts a turnover that reflects its status as a tech powerhouse, with reported revenues reaching over $3.5 billion in 2023.

These entrepreneurs show that success doesn’t come from following a set path but from harnessing unique ideas, overcoming challenges and moving forward with tenacity. Their stories highlight that anyone can achieve great things with innovation, persistence and the right team.

Characteristics of an entrepreneur

Successful entrepreneurs tend to share common characteristics that help them ride the waves in the business world. These include:

  • Resilience and risk-taking: They embrace calculated risks and possess the resilience to recover from setbacks, viewing failures as stepping stones rather than roadblocks.
  • Innovative thinking: Their knack for innovation enables them to constantly find new solutions, disrupting the status quo to bring about positive change.
  • Visionary leadership: With clear goals and a strong drive, entrepreneurs inspire and rally others around their vision, leading by example and fostering a culture of support and growth.
  • Lateral problem-solving: They approach problems through a unique lens, seeing beyond the present to innovate and improve, often making them pioneers in their field.
  • Adaptability: Understanding that change is the only constant, entrepreneurs remain flexible and responsive, ready to pivot strategies in response to market evolution and societal shifts.

These traits not only set successful entrepreneurs apart but also underscore the essence of entrepreneurship: the courage to challenge the familiar, the resilience to weather adversity and the vision to shape the future.

What skills should an entrepreneur have?

To thrive as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to sharpen your skill set across various business functions. Thankfully, you can learn new skills through an MBA, other professional training or mentorship programs.

Skills of an entrepreneur:

  • Strategic thinking will allow you to plan and execute strategies to achieve business goals.
  • Financial literacy will help you make informed decisions.
  • Marketing skills will allow you to effectively promote your product or service to the right audience.
  • Leadership skills will help you lead your team towards a common vision while inspiring creativity, drive and results.
  • Networking can help you build relationships that support and grow your business.
  • Time management is crucial when planning and prioritising tasks to keep the wheels turning.

“It can be lonely as an entrepreneur. You have to take on the majority, if not all, the responsibility for your vision,” says Sullivan. “So, the ability to think critically is also an incredibly important skill.”

Advantages and disadvantages of becoming an entrepreneur

Embarking on the path of entrepreneurship can be incredibly fulfilling, rewarding and empowering, offering the freedom to make pivotal decisions and steer your business in any direction you like.

Entrepreneurs in Australia enjoy the unique opportunity to bring innovative ideas to life, potentially reaping significant financial rewards and making a substantial impact — economically, socially and environmentally — if their values are aligned.


  • Autonomy: Entrepreneurs enjoy the liberty to shape the future of their business in their own way.
  • Innovation: The ability to be innovative gives them a platform to introduce novel ideas.
  • Financial reward: Successful ideas and ventures can lead to considerable financial gains.

However, entrepreneurship is not without its challenges. It’s a journey fraught with risk and uncertainty, requiring substantial investment, both financial and in terms of time and energy. The early stages of a start-up are particularly demanding, often earmarked by long hours and high stress. Plus, the volatile nature of market dynamics can swiftly impact business viability, making the entrepreneurial path high-risk.

Sullivan adds that if you have a family, you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons to decide if this is “the life you will adopt and embrace together” because it can disrupt the rhythm of a usual home life.


  • Risk: Entrepreneurs can face significant financial and personal risks.
  • Uncertainty: Rapid changes in the market can threaten business operations and demand critical decision-making.
  • Workload: The initial phases often involve long hours and substantial stress, which can affect family and personal dynamics.

While entrepreneurship can be immensely satisfying and potentially lucrative, it demands a level of commitment and resilience that is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a choice that can transform lives, but it requires careful consideration and collective decision-making with loved ones.

How an MBA can benefit an entrepreneur

Pursuing an MBA can be a game-changer for entrepreneurs. MBA Discovery partner universities offer courses that equip aspiring entrepreneurs with critical knowledge and skills across different business functions to place them in good stead for success.

James Cook University’s Master of Business Administration Global includes a Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship unit with a strong focus on data-driven decision-making.

RMIT University’s Master of Business Administration (RMIT) offers a Digital Entrepreneurship unit alongside Design Thinking and Leadership units.

Victoria University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a great choice for students who want to gain practical skills through the Managing Innovation and Entrepreneurship unit.

Beyond the curriculum, MBA students gain access to a network of peers, mentors and investors, laying a solid foundation for entrepreneurial success.

Applying for an MBA is relatively straightforward and can be achieved in around six steps.

A stepping stone to success

The entrepreneurial path is not without its challenges, but for those armed with the right knowledge, skills and mindset, it promises immense growth, learning and fulfilment.

Do you want to know more about how an MBA can support your entrepreneurial journey? Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor today.

Speak to a Student Enrolment Advisor

Whether you’re ready to enrol, or just have a quick question, simply fill out the enquiry form below to speak directly to the university’s enrolment team. They will be able to guide you through:

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