Small Business

Entrepreneurs 101, day 10 – decisive inspiration

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All entrepreneurs need inspiration and Barb de Corti’s story isn’t the first that can be summed up as a business born out of a mother’s love for her child – but it’s still a powerfully inspirational one.

“It was my son’s health problems that led to the major turning point in my life where I didn’t just decide to change my life – I embarked on a mission to change every life in Australia as well,” explains de Corti. Because of her son’s asthma, she became fanatical about keeping a clean house. She thought that if she scrubbed, disinfected and polished hard enough that she’d clean the illness away.

“Unknown to me, I did something terrible – I kept cleaning with my usual cleaning products, to the point where the overwhelming fumes from the chemicals I used were virtually killing my son,” she confesses.

Thinking back, she recalls how she would clean on a Saturday morning and then her son would be suffering the effects that same night.

After an exhaustive process of elimination covering certain foods, takeaways, colorants, preservatives, carpets and every dust collector in her house, the penny dropped.

“Finally I looked at the chemical cocktails I was using to keep my house clinically clean,” she says. “I couldn’t believe I was using a cleaner in the bathtub that recommended that I wear a mask and gloves when using it and here I was cleaning my son in the same bath that evening.”

Desperate for a solution, de Corti did what few women have ever been brave enough to try – she turned to her mother-in-law for help.

“It was on a trip to Austria that she introduced me – a sceptical chemical addict – to Enjo and I loved it so much that I decided I wanted to bring the products back to Australia,” she recalls. “I invested my life savings to make it happen and had to sell the family home along the way to keep the business afloat.”

But the effort was worth it – her son is healthier and there’s a healthy business to boot.

Business growth

For those who have missed the Enjo tale of success, we’re talking about a direct selling company that offers non-chemical cleaning products. In fact, it sells fibre products and cloths that with only clean water can eliminate up to 90 per cent of harmful chemical cleaners used in typical homes.

The business started in de Corti’s suburban garage in Perth in 1994, powered by the family’s life savings of $40,000, which bankrolled a container load of gloves to Australia.

“In the end, it took more than a year to sell that first container of products,” de Corti says. “Thankfully, that nerve-wracking decision to risk it all on Enjo paid off. Slowly our consultant base grew and extended to the east coast.”

Apart from her own business success, de Corti says her business is helping more than a thousand women run their own successful small businesses. And Australia is home to the world’s most successful Enjo consultant who, according to de Corti, consistently earns a six-figure salary!

Asked to explain why the business has done so well, she pointed to Coco Chanel, who once said, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” De Corti believes the Enjo products and the business model are unique and for 15 years, they’ve been the market leader in micro-fibre cleaning products.

“My advice is to be passionate, persistent, never stop learning and surround yourself with positive people who know more than you do,” she counsels.

Outside the square

But wait there’s more – much more.

This is an outside-the-square development but it helps to explain why de Corti and Enjo are on a roll.

“In 2007, I was privileged to become one of the few people to be trained by Al Gore to give his powerful presentation on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth,” she reveals. “Then [in 2009], I was invited back to train with Al Gore at the Asia Pacific Summit as a climate change ambassador. I’ve delivered the climate change message to more than 3000 people across Australia.”

There’s actually an Enjo-link to people who want a cleaner, greener world.

“Did you know that one Enjo glove replaces 400 sponges, one Enjo glove replaces 26 litres of chemicals, one Enjo glove in every home would eliminate 57,000 tonnes of landfill, one Enjo glove in every home would save 100,000 litres of crude oil and with one Enjo glove, one glass of water is all it takes to clean a car,” she points out.

This is an extraordinary story and one hell of an out-of-the-box glove!

Published on: Wednesday, January 05, 2011

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