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Bite-sized wisdom at Bond Business Leaders Forum

cowin
Jack Cowin, Tony Quinn and Vice Chancellor Tim Brailsford at the forum.

Bad news for those dreaming of getting rich quick and work-life balance: you may not like what it takes to achieve true business success.

In the case of VIP Petfoods founder Tony Quinn, it’s been 12-hour days, six-and-a-half days a week, for decades. 

Make sure you spend some of that half day off with your mum, who might pressure you into buying a chocolate factory.

Mr Quinn and Hungry Jack’s founder Jack Cowin were guest speakers at the Bad news for those dreaming of getting rich quick and work-life balance: you may not like what it takes to achieve true business success. hosted by Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Brailsford on April 30.

Mr Quinn, whose father was a dog trainer, sold VIP Petfoods for $410 million in 2015.

His mum then convinced him tobuy struggling chocolatier Darrell Lea for $11 million, which he turned around and sold for $200 million. 

“So you’ve got six-and-a-half days. You can work 12 hours, easily. Do that for long enough - and I'm not talking about three months, I'm talking about decades - and you will become successful in whatever field you choose, you will guarantee success,” Mr Quinn said.

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It’s even tougher than that said Canadian-born Mr Cowin who is ranked as Australia’s 22nd richest person with personal wealth of $4.2 billion.

“You have to take some risks (but) you don't bet the farm. In cricket terms, you don't have to hit a six every time. Singles and doubles will get you there.

“In my case, the biggest risk I took was probably moving halfway around the world to get into a business I didn't know anything about.”

The entrepreneurs have contrasting business styles. 

Mr Quinn, who drives race cars in his spare time, prefers to build businesses up and move them on to new owners, while Mr Cowin holds and continually improves his investments.

It hasn’t been all chocolates and juicy burgers, though.

Mr Cowin said youthful exuberance led him to expand Hungry Jack’s too quickly in the company’s early days.

More recently the Cowin-backed V2food which produces plant-based ‘meat’ has not been performing as well as he would like.

“Go back a few years ago and everyone thought the cow was going to be put out of business. That hasn’t happened,” he said.

But V2Food is growing, albeit from a small base. 

For Mr Quinn, worrying about how inherited wealth might adversely impact his children and grandchildren is what keeps him up at night.

“I started with nothing,” said Mr Quinn, who grew up in a wooden caravan in Scotland.

“I don’t want to spoil my grandchildren. It’s a real conundrum.”

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