After graduating from her BCom at the University of Melbourne in 1996, Kerri Turner worked her way up the ranks for 16 years at Ernst and Young, before taking the plunge to start her own business - Tinitrader.
In 2013 Kerri joined with the founders of Bike Exchange to launch Tinitrader - today a successful online marketplace for kids’ clothing and accessories.
As well as still having an equity stake in running Tinitrader, Kerri is a consultant with Deloitte, a Director at the Malthouse Theatre and has a busy family life with her husband and 10-year-old twins.
And in the midst of her career Kerri completed her MBA at the Melbourne Business School in 2006. We caught up with this incredible business woman to talk about the secrets of running your own business, women in leadership and basketball coaching…
How did Tinitrader come to life and what is it all about?
Tinitrader came about while I was a director at Ernst and Young. I met the founders of Bike Exchange and ended up going into partnership with these guys to white label the product and go on to create Tinitrader. Later these businesses were rolled up into a business called Marketplacer with multiple marketplaces in different industries.
We wanted to create an online marketplace where parents could find everything they were looking for, for their children. Rather than going from website to website, they can now go to one place and shop for everything for their kids.
In days gone by you might have looked at something in a magazine, but then it was tricky to find that product in real life. On our sites you can shop the look. For example, if you want to create the perfect Scandinavian nursery, we will show you what that looks like and give you the products to create that yourself.
In four years, the business has certainly grown. We have 250 plus sellers, and around 30 000 products on the site. Rather than quantity, more and more the business is about finding the best products.
You are also working as a consultant with Deloitte for the Department of Industry, what does that involve?
Using the knowledge that I’ve gained to be able to assist other businesses is really interesting. That’s why Deloitte and the Department of Industry have brought me on-board. It is fantastic running your own business but we’ve got Tinitrader ticking along now and we’ve got a really great team.
I do like the variety that I get out of consulting – it’s very dynamic, I’m always working on something different and new, and working at a very strategic level. The businesses and people I am coming across are driven and inspirational.
Over the last couple of years I have come to understand that small to medium businesses in Australia are the lifeblood of the economy. Kerri Turner
The work I am doing on behalf of the Department of Industry is really helping drive growth in this sector. Businesses apply to become part of the Government’s Entrepreneurs Program and basically if they meet a certain criteria they get consulting services from somebody like me.
So I go and work with that business over a number of sessions and come up with an action plan, and then work with them over the course of the year with implementing that plan.
What are some of the key things you have learnt from running your own business and what tips would you give to other women looking to do the same?
I have learnt about the importance of teams, getting some really good people around you and finding out who within your team has a great 'business owner' mentality.
There are people who will go through the motions - I call them worker bees. They turn up and do their job. They don’t necessarily take responsibility, they don’t step up and think outside the box. And then there is the occasional person who comes along and it’s not just about them - they think more broadly, they think about the business.
It’s also important to find really great people to go into business with to learn from and share the knowledge. You’re doing everything on a shoe string initially. You have to be resourceful and be able to call on those people who will really help you.
It does drive me crazy if women want to step aside from a corporate role and think ‘I’m going to start a business, that’ll be nice, I’ll have more work-life balance’.
This path is tougher - not easier. Don’t start a business as a hobby - do it because it’s properly thought through, there is some substance there.
Absolutely go for it – but go into it because you’ve got a solid business case. Running any small business is not a hobby. It can be incredibly rewarding but it's most definitely the riskier path.