Lessons in entrepreneurship with multi-millionaire Dorry Kordahi

Dorry Kordahi headshot - DKM Blue

Your Friday Entrepreneur Fix this week features Dorry Kordahi, the BRW Young Rich List member who failed his HSC and went on to found one of the countries most successful promotional marketing businesses.

Dorry Kordahi is living proof entrepreneurship can’t be taught.

After failing his HSC and without any tertiary education, he relied on his business flair and determination to guide him when founding Dorry Kordahi Management (DKM) in 2002, before merging the business with his brother’s start-up DK Blue to form DKM Blue.

Now, at 35 years old Kordahi’s marketing, promotion and corporate clothing business is listed at 20 on the BRW Fast Starters List and he’s amassed a tidy $21 million personal fortune, earning himself a spot on the coveted BRW Young Rich List two years running.

Despite all his success, Kordahi still takes a hands-on approach to business, working closely with his growing team of employees to deliver on client expectations and taking time out to mentor up and coming entrepreneurs.

And he still refers back to his first business plan, written on three scraps of paper and locked away in his safe.

Kordahi talks to Dynamic Business about his proudest business achievement and whether youth is an asset or a liability for an entrepreneur.

Q. Do you think entrepreneurs are born? Or is entrepreneurship something that can be learned?

If you want my honest answer I think everyone can be an entrepreneur, but the successful ones are born with it. There’s no university degree that teaches common sense and to think outside the box.

Successful entrepreneurs are people that have inner ability to see ahead and have the power to act and follow through on a idea. As humans we will always learn and develop, and it’s what we do with it that gets us ahead of the rest.

Q. What’s your proudest business achievement to date?

Launching the first promotional industry magazine called “Branded” over 6 years ago. I launched it as a way to educate the marketing industry the importance of below the line marketing and why selecting great merchandise is just as important as any media campaign.

A promotional product will last for years in the market place compared to a billboard which lasts for a month. “Branded” has now developed into a selling and educational magazine, which generates us an income on sales. It is the largest distribution in the promotional marketing industry with 30,000 copies.  

Q. You’ve seen a lot of success, and you’re only 35! Do you see youth as an asset or a liability for an entrepreneur?

I think youth can be an asset if they’re taught correctly. Gen Y are always hungry to learn and grow. I would prefer to teach them my theory than have them come to me with baggage that might be hard to change, and could mean they don’t fit within our mould.

Q. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?

I couldn’t really pin it down to one piece of advice, but I have been fortunate enough to have listened to a lot of people growing up and seen a lot through the sport I get involved with.

I guess I’ve also seen a lot of mistakes be made by others and have made sure I didn’t repeat them myself!
Q. What’s your secret to starting and growing a successful business in Australia?

I think the first thing is to have a simple plan and idea of what you want to do.

Keep your overheads low and focus on your profits, after all no profits = no growth. You’re in a race against yourself, so have patience and enjoy the start-up stage as this will be most enjoyable time before you start facing greater challenges as you grow.

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