Life can be unpredictable. No matter how much we try to control it, our paths can turn in a heartbeat - and so can our business destiny.
Sometimes it's those life-changing moments that spark new careers or the courage or inspiration to start a new business. Australian husband and wife team Kate and Tal Weiss created their healthy food product range, Table of Plenty, after their daughter Amy was born prematurely and later diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome.
After hitting rock bottom with depression, Weiss started the business with her husband in 2006 in a bid to reconnect with life. The products include muesli, dukkah, breads, rice cakes and children's lunch box snacks, using healthy ingredients and exotic spices. Seven years later, Table of Plenty's products are stocked in Woolworths, Coles and other supermarkets in Australia and overseas, generating millions of dollars in revenue.
Sydney-based Marie Phitidis spent 10 years working as an architect and designer travelling the world with her clients. When her husband accepted a job in London, the family moved to the UK and their lives changed.
“The move to London in 2009 was the catalyst I needed to throw caution to the wind and enrol in the famous Le Cordon Bleu cookery course,” Phitidis says.
The food-obsessed Phitidis had always wanted to work in that field, but says she got waylaid by her career in architecture.
"I feel that the reason I didn't go into food at 18 was because I was of the belief that work and passion could absolutely not co-exist."
Phitidis worked with some of London's best chefs while at Le Cordon Bleu, and now documents her food journey on her successful blog, phoodie.com.au.
“I knew from day one that I was writing this blog purely to express my complete and utter obsession with all things food and to share the food love, and that if my mother remained my one and only reader, I would continue to write anyway as I got so much joy from it,” she says.
Phitidis works on her blog while her two kids are asleep, and cooks and photographs her creations on weekends.
Tens of thousands of people now read her posts each month and her income is derived from advertising, sponsored posts and guest blogging.
“As much as I used to enjoy work when I was in the architecture world, it was never my passion. I worked to survive," Phitidis says.
"I live and breathe food, and thus my blog is basically with me at all times. Because it is my love and my passion, I don't feel the need to consciously say, 'Oh look, it's 6pm, no more work for me' because I never, ever look at it as work.”
Motivational speaker and founder of Brand Print Australia, Stacey Currie, started her working life as a funeral director's assistant, a career she thought was her calling from the age of eight, after seeing a man bleeding to death from a car accident.
But by 21, Currie had three children and was in a violent relationship, and facing the risk of her children being taken away.
She was given two choices: stay in the relationship and lose her children, or leave and agree to domestic violence counselling.
It was the turning point, with Currie vowing from that moment on to be a success.
“I wanted to know more about successful women. Why were they so confident and successful when I wasn't? What was their secret?” Currie says.
The catalyst came when her son, then aged eight, wanted to commit suicide after years of being in a violent family relationship.
“I had to find something that would allow me to work and be there for my son,” explains Currie. “My friend and now partner David had a little hobby sticker making business that he worked in on weekends. I saw an opportunity and asked Dave if I could run the business."
Despite having no sales or marketing experience, within 12 months Currie had managed to win printing jobs with companies such as BHP Billiton, the Coles Group and Clive Peeters.
"Initially the business started as a hobby that my partner was printing small stickers for his go-karting friends. Brand Print Australia started out as Signs 'n' Banners and I remember starting my first day in our little office with a 20-year-old camping table. My chair was one I found on the hard rubbish but I managed to make well over $300,000 worth of sales in the first year of business."
Currie says helping to build the business has turned her life from one of "dramas and toxic living to the most incredibly beautiful, loving life".
"I have learnt that there is nothing in this world more powerful than your very own mindset and confidence," she says. "Everyone knows what they want deep inside, however most people don't sit long enough to listen to it."