This interview was originally published here by Ninemsn.
From a young age Jack Delosa knew he was destined to help others, but he didn’t know his hunger to influence the world would lead to him running a multi-million dollar education business.
Mr Delosa was five when his parents started a not-for-profit organisation in Melbourne to help long term unemployed youths.
“I would see these kids coming in looking half dead, go to a program and then jumping into more sustainable employment,” Mr Delosa, The Entourage founder and CEO, told ninemsn.
Unfortunately the program ended when the government restructured how not-for-profits were funded.
Observing his parents’ efforts made him realise from a young age commercial backing was needed if you wanted to contribute something.
“One of the things my father said afterwards is that ‘you cannot live off love, trust and pixie dust’.”
In his early teens, Mr Delosa thought politics was how he would make a difference in people’s lives.
“I started studying management, leadership, education and psychology.
“I was always more interested in people than I was business and I thought politics was the way you influenced things.”
He realised at 17 it was entrepreneurs and innovators who made a difference in societies, not politicians.
When studying at Melbourne’s Deakin University he worked at a call centre, which he had done during his teenage years, and his boss wanted to recruit him to start their own call centre.
Mr Delosa was frustrated at university and didn’t see real life potential extenuating from his degree, and with the business opportunity, he decided to drop out.
“I hated call centres, but I knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur and I had an opportunity to become a shareholder and managing director in a new business – so I did that.”
His brother and business partner Tom died from drug use when Mr Delosa was 18, only three days before their business launch. It seemed to set the tone for that business.
He borrowed $20,000 from a reluctant bank and that business was never able to pay it back.
“That business went terrible, we made every mistake in the book, we lost money we didn’t have, I was working harder than anybody else I knew and that business never succeeded.
“But that was kind of the point, and what I needed. I needed an apprentice period that taught me what not to do, it taught me a little about what to do and it gave me realistic expectations of just how difficult it truly is to start a successful business.”
The bad experience made him realise running a business would not come easy.
“You go into business with a naivety and romanticism around what it is to be a business owner.
“We see Richard Branson on his hammock on Necker Island running 400 companies from his iPhone and he is worth $6 billion, and we go ‘well I’ll have a crack at that’.”
He never considered giving up and moved onto his second business, which helped small businesses raise capital.
Surrounding himself with mentors and being willing to learn gave him the credibility he needed to succeed.
But it was his third business, The Entourage (Australia’s largest school for entrepreneurs and innovators), which saw him flourish.
Six years on from The Entourage launch, he has a team of 90 and a network of 300,000 entrepreneurs, who lead some of Australia’s most successful companies.
“Great careers and great businesses aren’t founded or built in lustrous accomplishments; they’re built one day at a time.”