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Spotting opportunity and embracing risk: Borian Milic on the journey so far

December 18, 20234 min read

It’s all gas no brake right now for Borian Milic – but being bold and staying focused is nothing new for the entrepreneur. In five years, EO member Borian has gone from a small contractor operation to a three-business conglomerate of reputable, niche services across powder coating, steel windows and doors, industrial coatings and other building products. 

What’s made it all possible? Borian says it’s been a mix between seeking out a narrow market, doing what it takes to deliver new products to quality, and leaning on EO to strategically align his business for growth and success.

It all starts with a plunge

Borian’s career started with a Master’s in Architecture. Practising independently as an architect for six years gave him a solid sense of not just how to manage a sole-trader business, but also a deep understanding of the high-end market.

Borian explains, “By 2018, I noticed there were quite a few customers who really wanted a particular kind of product – steel framed windows – that offered slim minimalist lines for quite modern projects. The only problem was they were next to impossible to source, as current suppliers were so busy.”

Ultra-niche, high price point, and months-long waiting list for manufacturing and installation – it was a classic case of supply and demand, and Borian saw a golden opportunity.

“If I could sum up the decision to start that first business, it would be – naivete. What I thought would be a straightforward fabrication process turned out to be the opposite. It’s an incredibly complicated, difficult material to work with and the barriers to entry in this field were higher than I ever imagined.”

Like all good things, however, the steep learning curve paid off in folds. 

Steel Windows and Doors began as a fully-outsourced operation, but Borian quickly learned that there would be far more opportunity if he could bring in a core team and legitimise the business with a fulltime workshop space. Within just a couple of years, the company saw nearly 150 percent growth. It was clear – the market was crying out for a bespoke service, a quality product, and reasonable timeframes. And Borian became the obvious choice.

“I’ve learned that being open to taking risks is huge. There’s no other way to do something new other than to simply try it out and give it everything you have.” 

Finding a “rock” with EO

Joining a community was something Borian considered for years. When he finally signed on officially in December 2020, he never looked back.

Borian says, “I can definitely say without a doubt that being in EO has been beneficial for my business, my growth, and for me as a person and a leader.”

“Every situation, every deep dive discussion, every event just brings so much value. It’s truly a group of kind, open people, always keen to hear you and your story. Everyone’s in the same boat at different stages of the river, just trying to help each other out.”

Joining EO also introduced him to a key investor and business partner who would become instrumental in starting his next business with him – this time focused on powder coating.

Expanding a mile a minute

2023 was a huge year for Borian, to say the least.

In June, preparations for the new powder coating business kicked off, with the official opening in August. Borian facilitated all of it – getting investment, bringing in customers, putting forward his own equity, and systematising the operation. Within three months, the business went from being run by two or three people to incorporating an 18-person team. 

“With what I had learned around building a streamlined system and managing staff and customer service the first time around, setting up shop with the second business was infinitely easier.”

By November, Borian and the business partner had acquired a third business, also focused on powder coating services. Safe to say, it’s only the next feature – not the last – in Borian’s portfolio.

“You don’t need a blue ocean to build something successful,” says Borian. “In my experience, entrepreneurship is about seeing the gaps – where there isn’t a service that meets the needs or standards of the market. From there, it’s just about following through, being fair, and learning as much as you can along the way.”

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