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Valerie Khoo

Entrepreneur, Founder and National Director Australian Writers' Centre

Valerie Khoo

"Tenacity, vision, and a willingness to take risks. You also need to be passionate about what you do, as well as have the determination to ride out the tough times. And you need to be adaptable to change because there will always be curve balls thrown your way."

Valerie Khoo is the founder and national director of the Australian Writers' Centre. She is also a journalist and author of the bestselling book Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. Valerie is an advisor and mentor to startups and businesses. She previously founded a fashion/homewares label, and co-founded a digital business connecting social influencers. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, she held senior editorial roles in women's magazines, including four years at Cleo. Valerie also contributed regularly to Fairfax Media publications for 13 years.

1 In a couple of short sentences, tell us about your career path and how it has evolved over time.

These days, I am the founder and national director of the Australian Writers' Centre. Before starting this business 10 years ago, I had a career in magazine publishing as a journalist. And prior to that, I was a senior consultant in a national public relations firm. And believe it or not, my first job was as an accountant in a professional services firm. So it's been a circuitous route to get to where I am now but I really value the experience my various roles have given me.

2 What's the secret to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Tenacity, vision, and a willingness to take risks. You also need to be passionate about what you do, as well as have the determination to ride out the tough times. And you need to be adaptable to change because there will always be curve balls thrown your way.

3 What are your top tips for building a strong team?

You need to hire the right people. So you need to be really clear on what kind of skills, experience, and attitude that your team member needs. Even more importantly, you need to ensure that they will fit with the rest of the team and with your overall culture. I also try to determine the personal and professional goals each team member might have and to help them achieve those goals within the context of their role. You also need to celebrate with your team and show them how much you value them.

4 How can we inspire more women to become entrepreneurs?

I think that many women are already becoming entrepreneurs. The issue is to inspire them to last the distance, to keep going with their businesses even when they are faced with obstacles and struggles. Whether you're a woman or a man, I think that it's vital to hang out with like-minded people, with other entrepreneurs who know what you are going through and can relate to your hopes, fears, and dreams. It's a lot easier to succeed when you have the right people in your corner.

5 What's next for you?

We're in a period of growth at the Australian Writers' Centre. Almost 26,000 students have graduated from the centre and our courses are more popular than ever. Half of our students learn online, which means our courses can reach people from all over the world. So that means I'm busy managing this growth and ensuring we have the strategies in place to keep serving our community and to help more people get published, write with confidence, and achieve their writing dreams.

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