Failure in business is not the end – it’s just the beginning

Not everyone can survive the hard knocks of both life and business. But Ebru Sak has proven she’s able to rise above hardships to build a business against all the odds.

The successful entrepreneur and innovator has overcome more than most. She proves that some of the best business lessons come from failure, and it is possible to rise above the experience and grow an even better business second time around.

She’s not alone. Failures of Australian businesses increased 12.7 per cent, according to data registry and analytics business Illion (formerly Dun & Bradstreet), which was published in the media last year.

The figures show the pace of failures rose sharply during the final three months of the financial year, with a total of 250,242 entities deregistered from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission by June 30.

Hard knocks started at an early age for Ebru. She was forced into an arranged marriage with a man ten years her senior at sixteen. With courage, she divorced him, despite being ostracised by her family.

Influenced by her uncle in Istanbul who has his own hair salon, she started cutting hair. “I loved the energy of being in the salon. I thrived in there just sweeping the floor. I loved the smell of baguettes and brewing tea.”

Ebru opened her own salon next to a florist in 1992 in suburban Melbourne called Saks. With employees in place and the business under control, she focused on launching a makeup brand, Duo. “I was absent from the salon a lot of the time and it began to suffer. I wasn’t there for my clients and my employees weren’t looking after them as I would. Eventually, I sold my salon.”

The experience taught her about the importance of systems in business and ensuring you’ve got the right support. “Nothing was computerised. Everything was done with a pencil and rubber at the time. It was my greatest learning experience.”

Not one to give up, Ebru started cutting hair from home while raising her two young children. She opened a retail shop and lived on the premises and built her business from 160 clients in the first year to 420 clients in the second year.

“Now we’ve been able to move back home, and I really enjoy that drive to and from the salon.”