Perth’s cupid queen Debbie Rivers considers herself an accidental entrepreneur.
She’d always worked in finance – most recently in auditing and compliance – but had a lifelong aversion to owning her own business after watching her time-poor parents slog it out in delis and off-licences for so many years.
That all changed, however, from the 2011 night she had her arm-twisted to hold Perth’s biggest speed dating event.
Newly single after 21 years of marriage, Debbie knew how tough it was to navigate the strange new world of bread-crumbing, ghosting, orbiting, and benching – don’t worry, we had to Google those terms too – and wanted to help others find love.
But it took her until 2018 to take the leap full-time with her new one-stop dating shop, Dare2Date.
Today, the 55-year-old has her hands full with everything from hosting singles events, to relationship coaching and matchmaking, and has never been happier.
We caught up with the vivacious WA mum to glean a few of the secrets behind her successful midlife career switch, and to ask her to share some of the lessons she’s learned along the way.
Below is an edited excerpt from our chat.
What made you commit to Dare2Date full-time?
I was an accidental entrepreneur. It was something I’d never ever considered doing. It took me a while to be brave enough to do it. I was scared of it not working out and losing my ‘security’. I was dying on the inside working in a job I felt didn’t fit me and I knew I couldn’t keep doing something that I knew was killing my soul.
Were there moments when you thought, ‘oh no, this isn’t going to work’?
Of course, I think we all have those. A lot of people think business is an easy thing but it’s not always the case because it can be so all-consuming. Sometimes I would wonder why I couldn’t just be that person who goes to a job and comes home again at the end of the day. But I really couldn’t imagine that because it’s that passion for what I’m doing that keeps me going. My ‘why’ [for doing this] is always a greater than the thought of not doing it. I feel that what I do makes a real difference.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Money is a big hurdle, but because I ran the business parallel to my job for so many years, I knew I could make it happen. I kind of thing you shouldn’t just jump into something. Running it while I was working gave me the assurance that I knew I could make enough money out of it. I don’t think people research what they’re doing enough. The technology side has also been challenging; I’m on to my third web site in 10 years.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since you started?
Research what you’re doing first. I know I jumped into it without doing a lot of that, and be really clear about what your message is. To be successful in business you’ve got to solve people’s problem, and then still be able to give them what they need. Be passionate about what you want, and don’t over commit. I’ve seen people in business lose houses because they keep thinking they’ll make money next year, but the business never makes money, so understanding your financial position is really important and a lot of business owners don’t understand that. Find a way to make some money, otherwise it’s really just a hobby.
What are some of the most rewarding parts of your new role?
Since 2011 I have expanded to all things dating and I love coaching people to get the love they have imagined as well as just to simply navigate the new dating world. I realised it was one thing for people to meet but another to create a successful relationship – as there are so many ways to ‘f…k’ it up!
What is your message to others thinking of taking the leap into running their own business?
Just do it. Trust yourself. When you know you can do it, take a chance, it’s really rewarding. I’m so not an auditor, but probably just took the step and jumped and knew it would work. Maybe I was just sick of being sensible, so it’s kind of the balance between the two. You can’t wait for that perfect moment. If you wait and wait, it will never happen for you and you’ll miss your chance. It’s never too late to live the life that you imagined, and sometimes I think it’s more satisfying at this age.