A Current Affair: Opportunity knocks: it’s all about attitude

Reporter: Kellie Sloane

15 August 2003

He looks like the kind of guy you’re best to steer clear of — the kind of character you wouldn’t want to influence your children. But Australian entrepreneur Justin Herald is living proof that looks can be deceiving. Today on ACA, the man behind the multi-million dollar Attitude clothing label shares some of the secrets to his success.

Six years ago ACA visited Justin to report on his amazing success selling T-shirts from his garage. He started with just $50 and gradually turned it into $300,000 a year, after being told he had an “attitude problem”.

“Someone told me one day I had to do something with my attitude problem and that was only because I would challenge what they said all the time,” he says. “So I thought, ‘I just want to upset you, so I’ll start a clothing label’. I didn’t expect to be here seven years later, to be honest.”

After ACA caught up with him, the Attitude label really took off. He attracted some big-time business partners and that $50 investment has now become a $15 million turnover. But it wasn’t the money as such that really motivated Justin — it was his love of cars.

“I always had tangible goals,” he explains. “I love cars, so for me I just wanted a nice car and that’s what I focused on.”

Now this non-conventional businessman receives more than 100 e-mails a day from inspired fans. He writes books and is also a popular public speaker. It’s in this forum that he loves telling his story and sharing his insights with others, particularly his number one principle — that the main business tool is opportunity.

While some people are critical of Justin’s success, claiming he simply got lucky, opportunities don’t fall into everyone’s lap. So he’s now determined to prove them all wrong.

“[With] my new business, we wanted to prove it wasn’t a one-hit wonder. So I started the first one with $50 and I thought I’ll start another with $60 — inflation,” he says. “And that’s only been going a year-and-a-half and that will better the turnover of Attitude in probably half the time.”

Following his first foray into business, Justin thought his biggest hurdle was figuring out what was happening with his cash flow. So he and a friend set themselves the challenge of building a software package for small businesses to help them keep an eye on the all-important bottom line.

He and his friend Phil have just landed a distribution contract with retail chain Harvey Norman — neither were computer programmers and they refused to borrow a cent.

“I believe everyone can do it,” Justin says. “The biggest problem is you have to be smarter every day.”

Despite his success in business, Justin doesn’t believe you need a degree to be a businessperson. He also reckons you don’t need a business plan. The key, he says, is to work really hard and keep working really hard.

“I believe the biggest mistake is that people want it now. And they don’t want to put all the hard work into it. This you-can-be-a-success-overnight stuff is garbage,” he says. “The biggest lesson I’ve learnt over the past seven years is not how to grow a business, it’s how not to go back to the $50.”

Business aside, Justin’s other motivation is his family and he doesn’t believe you can be a success without making family a priority.

“Life’s a journey and I love my journey and I want to be a better me. It’s more than about me now. I want to help other people achieve success,” he says.