Told ‘No’ 100 Times.
Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur’s “20 Questions” series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.
So much of success is knowing when to stay the course, even when you’re met with rejection after rejection.
30-year-old Melanie Perkins has been launching creative businesses since she was a teenager. Her first venture, designing and selling handmade scarves to sell in her hometown of Perth, Australia, was launched when she was just 14.
At the age of 22, Perkins founded her next company, an online system for schools to design their yearbooks called Fusion Books. Today, Fusion Books is the largest yearbook publisher in Australia and has a presence in France and New Zealand.
In 2013, Perkins launched her third business, Canva, a platform that allows anyone to create professional-quality designs no matter their level of expertise. Today Canva boasts more than 10 million registered users in 190 different countries. The platform is available in 100 languages and has a library of over 3 million images, with new inspiration added every day. The company, which has a team of over 250 employees, was valued at $1 billion dollars as of January 2018.
It all sounds like it came pretty easily — but it didn’t.
We caught up with Perkins to ask her 20 questions and find out what makes her tick.
1. How is your day started?
Every morning, the first thing I do is log on to Canva’s social media channels and see what our community has been up to. I find it very motivating to hear their amazing design stories and also hear their feedback on what they’d like to see improved on our platform.
2. How is your day your ended?
I’ve always found it difficult to stop whatever I’m working on and go to sleep. I’m making an extra effort this year. I have a physical calendar keeping me on track and I tick off the days when I get at least 8 hours sleep a night.
3. What book has changed your mind and why?
I learned a lot from reading a book called Designing the Obvious by Robert Hoekman. It explains how to create online experiences that people will find easy, intuitive and enjoyable to use.
4. What book do you always recommend and why?
Designing the Obvious. It’ll change the way you think [about developing user experiences]
5. What’s a strategy to keep focused?
Good communication is one of the most important aspects of being a good leader and helping the team make good decisions on achieving their goals. At the start, there were just a few of us sitting around one table and everyone always knew what everyone else was working on. Now that we’ve grown to more than two hundred people across our two offices in Sydney and Manila, it’s important that we have a focus on making sure everyone has as much context as possible.
6. As a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I guess you could say that design had always played a big role in my life. When I was 14 I started my first business creating handmade scarves that I sold at shops and markets throughout Perth, and I never forgot the freedom and excitement of being able to build a business.
7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
I can’t say I’ve ever had a terrible boss, but I did learn from fear-inducing experiences of rejection early on that it was very important for me to focus on my goal and remain persistent. Every time we got a hard question from an investor or a reason why they wouldn’t invest, we stayed focused on what we could change. I revised our pitch deck after every meeting, more than a hundred times in a year, to answer the questions or fix the reason for rejection from the last time.
8. Who influenced you most how you approach your work?
A key moment for me was when I first met with Lars Rasmussen, a co-founder of Google Maps.
9. What trip has changed you?
Traveling to India probably had the most impact on me. It’s like another world, the people were so welcoming and friendly and it challenged every belief that I had about life and its meaning.
10. What inspires you and why?
Our team have been incredibly motivated to hear stories from our community.