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Why journalists make excellent entrepreneurs

What do the following female founders have in common: Sarah Wilson, Mia Freedman, Zoe Foster-Blake and Shameless Media’s Zara McDonald and Michelle Andrews?

They all started their successful entrepreneurial careers as journalists.

And while none of them have a commerce degree, or an MBA, they’re achieving phenomenal success in business in part due to their foundations in storytelling, content creation, resilience and an ability to problem solve.

Tasmanian founder and business owner Stephanie Trethewey spent seven years working as a reporter at some of the nation’s top television networks covering breaking news, natural disasters and coming face-to-face with hardened criminals, skills she believes have prepared her for life as an entrepreneur.

“Don’t underestimate the skills of a journalist and how critical they are in business,” said Stephanie Trethewey from her property in Tasmania’s Meander Valley.

“I lost a lot of confidence when I left journalism because my identity was tied up in being a TV reporter. But I very quickly learnt how much my skills have allowed me to thrive in the business world, skills I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t a journalist,” she said.

Stephanie is the co-founder of regenerative beef brand the Tasmanian Agricultural Company which is on a mission to produce carbon positive meat through non-conventional farming practices. Stephanie is also the founder and host of Motherland Australia, a podcast which shares the real, raw and unbelievable stories of motherhood told by women on the land. The show has been downloaded more than 160,000 times, and attracts more than 3,000 listeners per week.

“Being a journalist instills a certain amount of curiosity about the world, which in turn means you’re constantly questioning things around you, the way things are done and how they could be done differently. It fuels a sense of creativity that leads to outside the box thinking” she added.

“We need to increasingly shine a light on female journalists who have gone on to launch their own businesses, because it shows that it can be done, and they bring a lot to the table,” she said.

The mother of two believes the following characteristics of a journalist can be easily transferred into business:

  1. Resilience: The ability to work under pressure. From the moment you wake up, you’re on the chase. There’s often immense pressure and it’s highly competitive. “The business world is also incredibly competitive, but I’d argue that the journalism industry is as competitive as it gets,” said Stephanie.

  2. Rejection: Stephanie says she spent a lot of her TV career dealing with rejection. “You get rejected from jobs, promotions, or something as simple as walking down the street with a camera and asking someone for an interview and they just say ‘no’,” she said. The same goes for business, says the founder, “You have to get used to rejection before success. Some of the best entrepreneurs in the world have failed many times before finding their sweet spot.”

  3. Confrontation: It’s part of the gig as a journalist. You have to ask the hard questions. You have to confront people about their mistakes. You have to hold people to account. There’s a lot of confrontation in journalism and there’s a lot of confrontation in the business world too. “You will be walked over if you don’t have that skill set to confront people in a professional way,” said Stephanie.

  4. Crisis Communication: You spend a lot of time as a journalist picking apart other people and other businesses. “Now, as an entrepreneur, I still think like a journalist. I feel like I’m always trying to be proactive and one step ahead so things don’t go wrong.”

  5. Hustle: Any journalist knows hustle is part of the job. “When you own your own business, it’s not a 9 to 5 gig either. It’s hard work, and time is money.”

Stephanie joined other well-known Tasmanian female business women on a panel at the Accelerator for Enterprising Women Summit which took place online on July 1, an event she said provided young women with the opportunity to meet female founders – something she wished she had when starting out.

“I felt really alone starting my new career in the business world, so I’m really excited to support other women and give back by telling my story. If just one person takes something away from my journey, then it’s worth it” she said.

You can watch a recording of the online Summit event here:

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