Being a successful business leader requires not only the ability to see the bigger picture but also making it a reality against all odds. And Heather Mills is no different – although you might know her as the ex-wife of The Beatles legend Paul McCartney, she has more to her fame.
From becoming a millionaire at 19 to giving thousands of amputees prosthetic limbs, the entrepreneur and philanthropist has taken her plant-based company Vbites to more than 24 countries globally. But getting to this point wasn’t an easy ride for Mills. Having lost her mother, who succumbed to health issues when she was nine, Mills started her own business when during her teenage years. Her father was sent to prison when she 13 and consequentially she lived on the streets for a long time until she picked herself up by selling stick-on bras. “My mother’s death made me realise that money doesn’t matter, health is everything,” Mills said at The Business Show on Wednesday November 14. And that’s what drives her despite uncountable challenges.
Having lost a limb due to an accident in London, Mills was in a near-death situation surviving on antibiotics for almost half a year. But when a vegan diet healed her injuries, she then made it her mission to spread the message of a plant-based lifestyle. “It’s the only way forward,” she said. She now has a venture capital fund which helps vegan startups to get their products on supermarket shelves. “I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I made and with all my experience, I’m helping a lot of plant-based companies in all areas,” she said.
One can see how passionate Mills is about her business. Having spearheaded 42 companies in the past and 16 currently, she is now venturing into vegan makeup and accessories, which she said were missing in the market. Her company is also looking at launching algae oil – a prime source of omega 3 for vegans. “If people and entrepreneurs can think on that scale to help save the planet then they are on the right track as it’s the future,” she told Elite Business.
With more than two decades worth experience in business, she said potential and new entrepreneurs must weigh the purpose of starting a business and it must be beyond just a bigger bank account. “If you think you want a business because you’re in la la land and you want a bigger house, let me tell you: the bigger your house gets and the nicer your car gets, the more stress there is, the more services you need on your Ferrari,” she added speaking to us. “You should be able to wake up at 4am and work until midnight. Only then you can make a good business. There’s no shortcut and you have to work your backside off.”
It’s easy to see how Mills turned every adversity in her life to her advantage. Getting hit by boulders only motivated her to get more creative with ideas and she capitalised on her strengths. “My whole life in business has been about problem solving,” she said. “I don’t see hurdles, I see solutions. That’s what drives me – being able to make a difference in people’s lives through earning more money.”
Given how she quite literally went from rags to riches, Mills’ advice is definitely food for thought.