Rule Breaker Lisa Messenger Reveals the Key to Her Success

Disruptive, Daring, Naïve: Rule Breaker Lisa Messenger Reveals the Key to Her Success

Need some girl power inspiration? Lisa Messenger is a successful serial entrepreneur, publisher, author, property magnate and business owner (13 at last count!). 

Lisa Messenger may be young, but she has lived many lives in the business world. From brokering sponsorship deals for The Wiggles and Cirque de Soleil and launching a PR company, to writing the first of her many books and creating a publishing house with more than 400 titles and authors under its belt. Then of course, she launched a highly successful magazine, Renegade Collective, while the world’s biggest publishers were closing theirs. I

Your book, Daring & Disruptive: Unleashing the Entrepreneur, sounds, well, daring! Do tell…

“There has been a certain amount of interest since I launched the Renegade Collective – people kept asking me how I created something so big in such a hard market. The thing is, I’m nothing special, but I have a very unique way of approaching things that is often counter intuitive to the norm. The book is really an insight into my philosophies on business and life to empower others and hopefully demonstrate that anything is possible. At the end of the day, I’m just an entrepreneur for entrepreneurs, and happy to live life out loud and encourage people to do the same.”

You mention your ‘spectacular failures’ in the book….

“I fail a lot. But I just fail really fast. I basically write ‘back of the envelope’ type business plans, shop it around to garner some pre-sales and interest and then either knock it on the head, iterate, revisit later or go all guns a blazing.”

Disruptive, Daring, Naïve: Rule Breaker Lisa Messenger Reveals the Key to Her Success
Disruptive, Daring, Naïve: Rule Breaker Lisa Messenger Reveals the Key to Her Success

You have 13 businesses: What the?!

“Gosh, there are so many now! It was never my intention at all to launch a publishing business. In fact, I did what was very unceremoniously called ‘veggie English at school, that is, English for people who couldn’t write or spell. I do believe if we stay open there are opportunities at every turn and my publishing foray came out of a very unexpected place. In 2004 I was extremely unhappy, so went around Australia interviewing people about what made them happy, on my own search. This culminated in a book called Happiness Is… which, through non-traditional distribution channels and pre-sales, went nuts – 36,000 copies sold in first 12 months. So then people asked me to publish their books. Four hundred odd books later, we still do custom publishing and books as marketing tools for a number of brands.

I talk a lot about my businesses in Daring & Disruptive, covering everything from property and social media to marketing and writing surfing books. I love dabbling in a number of different industries. I believe true entrepreneurs can successfully apply principles and traverse multiple industries.”

You launched the Collective when the magazine market was plummeting. What was behind that decision…

“I just saw a real opportunity for something very different in a market that I had lived and breathed for 11 years. Something that was inspirational and aspirational, and full of goodness and positivity. Naivety was my friend. I know how to run businesses successfully. I didn’t look at what was currently being done. I just applied my knowledge from other industries and markets to forge a new path.

But what about the whole ‘print is dead’ thing…?

“I love print. I don’t think it’s dead at all. I just think we need to iterate, be able to change, morph, pivot and move with the times. I also think we need to be able to operate across multiple platforms simultaneously to be where people want us, how they want us, at a time they want us, in a format they want us. It’s also very much been about looking at and quickly developing additional revenue streams and looking way beyond what is traditionally being done.”

Let’s talk $$$. When did the Collective become profitable?

“I think it will be a little while before I see the actual print magazine turning a profit. In fact, I doubt it ever will. Luckily though, I have around 18 other revenue streams associated with the magazine that keep it all afloat. I’ve had to think very, very differently.”

Lisa Messenger Reveals the Key to Her Success
Lisa Messenger Reveals the Key to Her Success

You had zippo publishing experience before launching your business and the Collective (other than the one day publishing course you mention!). How on earth did you sell the concept?

“Well, that’s pretty much the sell. I have the business acumen and marketing smarts to make it fly. But I’m not constrained by how it ‘should’ be done, or how it’s always been done. I think it’s a mixture of great content, a really engaged community and some very solid marketing strategies.”

Your three greatest lessons?

  1. “Fail Fast.
  2. Surround yourself with a great team.
  3. Do something you are absolutely passionate about in every cell in your body.”

How are female entrepreneurs different to male entrepreneurs?

“I don’t really think they are.”

Describe yourself in three words. Or five…

  1. “Fun.
  2. Young in mind.
  3. Adventurous.”

Stellar advice for women trying to launch a business?

“Just start.”

Final words of wisdom…

“Anything is Possible. I know this in every single cell of my body.”

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Has Lisa inspired you to unleash your inner entrepreneur? Tell us in the comments below! 

Written by Franki Hobson

Franki Hobson has worn many hats during her many years as a women's lifestyle journalist and editor. Her launching pad was COSMOPOLITAN magazine, where she moved from News & Entertainment Editor to Features Director, covering everything from the legalisation of the Morning After Pill to Gwen Stefani, fashion, beauty, sex, health, fitness, entertainment and relationships.

Franki Hobson is a contributing lifestyle writer for The Carousel.

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