Boost's Janine Allis: Confidence and common sense trump experience and qualifications

Boost Juice founder Janine Allis often forgets her age. She says she's "46 or 47, one of those, I can never remember". Whatever it is, she believes she's finally old enough to share what she's learnt throughout her career.

Allis has just released a book, The Secret of My Success, documenting how she launched a major franchising business. She tells me that after 14 years of having very little time for herself, she's now at a point where she can put her mind and energy into projects like writing books.

But while Allis is finally comfortable sharing what's worked for her, she's always had plenty of confidence to make it work in the first place. Having never finished a high school leaving certificate or university degree, she networked her way into an eclectic mix of jobs prior to launching Boost, and has used such confidence to build and sustain her own business ever since.

The former yacht stewardess, cinema manager and publicist started the Boost juice bar idea on a blank piece of paper while holidaying in the US where she saw first-hand how big the market for juice and smoothies could be. Raising young children at the time, she and her husband Jeff wanted to take better control of their careers and were looking for a business idea. Jeff worked in radio, Janine had been doing publicity with movie stars -- neither had experience in food, retailing or franchising. Now with more than 250 Boost bars around the world, the pair have certainly done something right -- secret or not -- Janine's in a good position to share what worked and what didn't.

In terms of her personal career, Allis has always appreciated the need to make the most of chance encounters, and to make the first move on contacting people and asking for help -- or even a job. "I always knew you had to make the most of opportunities so off I'd go. I'd think, 'right, pinpoint who is the top guy, make sure he gets to know me and drop him a line saying I want a job'. You make your own luck and opportunity."

Indeed a lack of qualifications or experience never bothered Allis, nor prevented her from chasing a job she wanted. "Had I been a publicist before? No. A cinema manager? No. A stewardess on a yacht? No. But you work it out as you go. I don't have the experience, but I'm a quick learner and I think common sense is very much underrated."

Building and sustaining the success of Boost hasn't been easy. Allis, now with four children, says she's been through things that she wouldn't wish upon her worst enemy. She says there were times when she was completely stressed out of her mind and in tears, experienced periods of losing money and made plenty of mistake. Often, the perception we've seen of her publicly is far from the reality. She recalls making the BRW Young Rich List one year, despite having not paid herself a cent in the previous five years and being up to her neck in liabilities and debt. "Apparently I was rich!" she says. "I thought, 'I wish. I'm going to make this a reality'."

But everything she's been through -- stress, tears and mistakes included -- she says has contributed to the person she is today, and enabled her to finally afford a balanced life. When we talk on the phone one lunchtime, she explains she's already been for a long walk with her husband, gone to yoga for an hour and a half and dropped her youngest child at kindergarten before heading into the office.

She's at a point, she says, where she can finally appreciate her own success. And share it with others.

"Now, I have the opportunity to sit back and reflect," she says. "I was never really that good at looking back and celebrating success because I was so worried about a new problem occurring, or that someone would catch me out and that we'd be in trouble."

Allis credits much of what she's achieved to the support of her husband, especially his continued belief that she can "do anything" (and her having that confidence to believe him). She explains that as well as documenting her journey, writing the book has offered an opportunity to dispel some rumours about the success of Boost -- everything from it all being Jeff's work, to Jeff being a puppet and spending his wife's money ("he hates that one!") to even a friend's grandfather claiming he sold juice door-to-door at one point with Janine.

Such rumours never bothered Allis. Even those spread by "old men" who claimed a woman could never have built such a large business. "Really, if people are going to think that way, you can't stop them."

But you can confidently declare just what you've achieved -- whether they're listening or not.

Angela Priestley

Angela Priestley is the Publisher and founding editor of Women's Agenda. She's an author, journalist and passionate advocate for workplace gender equality and diversity. Her first book is Women Who Seize the Moment.

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