Adam Jelic had a dream… to own a diary in which he could write his goals so that they weren’t floating around on scraps of paper. He couldn’t find anything he liked on the market, so he made his own, then started selling it. Five years later, hello Mi Goals empire!

The very cool Adam Jelic from Mi Goals was one of our sponsors for the last Cereal Entrepreneurs event in 2015, and will also be featured on the couch at our very first Melbourne event in 2016. Winning!

Adam’s story dates back to 2010 when he launched the first diary – just one single diary for himself. It was a hit (with himself) so he thought, ‘May as well try and sell them.’ His best mate and now-business partner, Alec Kach, designed it and then had it printed at their Uni. From there, the two boys printed and sold 800 in their first year. Mi Goals was beginning to take shape.

It’s the age-old tale of entrepreneurs who realise they need something, can’t find it on the market, so create it themselves and build an empire from there, almost accidentally. Such is the case with Adam. A keen goal-setter from his more youthful days of playing professional soccer, he remembers having three separate notebooks he’d write in each day – one for budget, one as a diary, and then random goals on scraps of paper. “I compiled it into one to make it presentable and something I could be proud of. It really helped my goalsetting, it became more structured.”

With just the one diary product, Adam started approaching independent bookstores and boutique shops like Magnation and the like, who were more than happy to stock the Mi Goals diary. From there, it kept expanding, introducing new products each year like the Get Shit Done notebook that’s become almost synonymous with the brand and instantly recognisable, doubling – even tripling – their sales.

The year after they launched, Mi Goals sold 4,000 units. In 2014, it was 40,000. Cut to 2015 and they produced a whopping 100,000 units. “It used to be very much a part-time thing, because diary season was only three-four months of the year and then it would die off until the next year. This year (2015) we’ve been selling notebooks like hotcakes and it’s become sustainable.”

Another cool thing about Mi Goals is that they keep their printing in Melbourne, which means the margins are quite a lot lower than if they were to print overseas. But the guys love keepin’ it real – and local – though they’re not averse to moving overseas should the market expand there. “We have some opportunities this year to open into US and Asian markets, and it’s quite costly to ship so we’re open to printing overseas and need to look at options for a business perspective.”

With a background in sales and account management, Adam now works full time in the Mi Goals business, with co-founder and designer Alec as well as a few other staff members. “I could’ve taken the leap sooner, to be honest, but I’ve got a family, mortgage and other responsibilities which meant I stayed in my full-time job longer, until I was comfortable supporting the lifestyle.” Adam and Alec have also launched a design studio that they co-run alongside Mi Goals.

It’s a kind of cyclical business to be in – selling the diaries helps achieve Adam’s personal and business goals, and those who buy are also receiving the Mi Goals help with achieving their own. “We created a product to almost help people help themselves… To be honest it’s a tough market to get into if you want to make money, but the product was born from personal frustration and passion, so they pretty much sold themselves.”

Adam and Al work as a team, balancing their different styles – “Al is definitely more street cool and I’m mainstream” – to appeal to several markets and impact as many people as they can. Adam is the ideas man, and Alec is the designer. The bonus is that the end product looks cool, but also slick and professional. I recently bought their 2016 diary in hologram and it’s an epic love affair, that’s for sure.

So, does the man behind Mi Goals have goals of his own? It would seem so, with plans in motion to move into accessories, and branch further into educational workshops for teenagers and kids. He’s gone about it the right way, that’s for sure – starting with a solid, recognisable product that’s allowed their brand to gain traction before leveraging a following to launch more coolness.

And Adam’s advice to those of us with goals of our own? “Believe in yourself. Try not to listen to people who are getting down on your idea. You don’t want to look back and say, ‘Shit, I should’ve done this or that’. What you realise is that it’s not that hard to get your idea out there.” Alright, kids, you heard the man. Go forth and conquer!

By Amy Lovat