Dorry Kordahi is the Co-Founder of DKM Blue, a multi-award winning promotional marketing and corporate clothing company. From a high school failure and apprentice hairdresser, Dorry Kordahi has become a celebrated and respected entrepreneur who has been listed on BRW’s Young Rich List for the last four years. He is also an author, having written not only his autobiography, The Power to Act, but also co-authored The Wealth Diaries. Dorry will be speaking at this year’s Entrepreneurs’ Unconvention.
We had the privilege of conducting an interview with Dorry where he shed some light onto how he has been able to achieve such high levels of success and also some advice he has for budding entrepreneurs.
1. You started your business in your parents’ garage, and today you’ve been in BRW’s Young Rich List for the past four years. What is your best advice for young start-ups looking to build a similar success story?
I think for me it was all about getting the basics right. The end result always looks good now in what I have achieved, but to get to this point I needed to focus on hundreds of small things that make the big things look good.
Patience was an important lesson I learnt, and understanding the industry before I could go out and do my own thing.
2. You played professional basketball in Lebanon and had an ownership stake in the Sydney Kings at the age of 31 – what are the key lessons that you learned from these experiences, and what do you think business people can learn from professional athletes?
Considering I failed my HSC and didn’t go to University, I took lessons from my sporting success which taught me teamwork, focus, visualisation and the understanding of hard work. Owning the Sydney Kings was something I wanted to do on a personal level, I wouldn’t say owning a sporting team is a profitable investment, but when you build your business and build your cash flow you can afford to have a hobby you love.
3. You’ve been able to grow your business via licensing deals and acquisitions amongst other strategies – what skills do entrepreneurs need to learn in order to execute these more complex deals?
For me, the last year has been very hectic. We bought a 70-year-old clothing business called Ambassador and its retail brands Zambelli & Nic Green, and recently acquired another four fashion labels. We also signed a global licensing deal with Akubra which was a first in their 110-year history, to diversify their brand into luggage and accessories.
Expansion via purchasing or licensing is risky, yet can be rewarding. You need to have a clear understanding as to why you are doing it and what leverage can it add to your business. All of our acquisitions have added value in terms of clients, factories, and diverse business channels which DKM Blue didn’t have in the past. But before I decided to go down this path, I was confident and made sure that my business was ready for growth and that we had the personnel and systems in place to handle such a rapid expansion.
4. What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make when they first start out in business?
I see many mistakes. One of them is people not being prepared for the job on hand. I think at times people read too many success stories in the papers and assume it is easy – behind every successful business there are thousands that are failing. So go in prepared and know what you are getting yourself into.
5. In your experience, what’s the difference between building a business and building a brand? How can entrepreneurs ensure that their brand is one that stands the test of time?
I believe your business is your brand. And you as an individual are a brand of your business. So I think they both work hand in hand. You need to understand your industry and your competitors, and build something that will give you a point of difference from the rest.
6. Finally, what are the main topics you’ll be covering in your keynote presentations at the Unconventions in Perth and Adelaide?
Normally Jack and myself do a Q&A style interview on the day and we discuss my story and how I built my business followed by questions from the audience.
Be sure not to miss Dorry Kordahi during his appearances at the Unconvention in Perth on the 23rd of August 2014, and in Adelaide on the 20th of September 2014. You can register for free by clicking through here.