If you saw her walking down the street, you'd never guess at the heights of Eli Censor's success.
Dressed in active wear and sporting a youthful grin, the former personal trainer looks like any other health-obsessed young Melburnian.
But, a decade after ditching her office job to pursue the entrepreneurial dream, Censor is raking it in with a lifestyle business that turns over a combined $7 million a year, through a portfolio of KX Pilates studios and Nutrition Bar outlets.
She's among a growing number of young Australians eschewing the nine-to-five routine in favour of being their own bosses.
Data from Seek Business reveals that the age of people looking to buy a business or franchise is dropping, with an increase in transactions involving buyers in their mid-to-late 20s.
Entrepreneurship has never been so trendy among Gen Ys, with social media littered with inspirational business coaches peddling the dream.
And while going into business means taking on financial risk, those who play their cards right are reaping the rewards.
BUILDING AN EMPIRE
For Censor, becoming an entrepreneur was the antidote to the misery of working in a fashion job she hated that saw her bursting into tears on her way to work.
"I was just wishing my life away," she told news.com.au, recalling the days when she would count down the seconds until home time.
"I felt like my creativity was stunted, working for someone else and having KPIs and targets, rules, were just not in my personality ... I wasn't very productive, either, because I was always trying to do personal stuff and sneak out and go to the bank ... I was probably the worst employee that you could find."
After having a "breakdown" on the phone to her parents - both self employed, as a photographer and a bookkeeper - Censor decided to make a change.
Wary of the risks involved, she kept her fulltime job while plotting her next move, qualifying as a personal trainer and taking on clients before and after work in outdoor boot camp sessions.
"I thought it was a better idea to try and transition out of the job rather than just quitting and throwing myself into something when I didn't know if it would work," she said.
Leveraging her own 30kg weight loss story as a marketing tool, Ms Censor began to build up her client base and, more importantly, commercial nous.
I thought it was a better idea to try and transition out of the job rather than just quitting and throwing myself into something when I didn't know if it would work.
"It was my first introduction to business, stuff I hadn't thought about like invoicing and cashing money and just dealing with people's issues and complaints, the confrontation with people not turning up, not paying," she said.
"It was weather dependent and I hadn't done any feasibility study, hadn't thought about fact it might rain me out for six months of the year."
After throwing in her fashion job in 2006, then aged 24, Censor started working part time at a new fitness studio called KX Pilates to supplement her personal training income.
Unhappy with the reality of being an employee yet again - "I still had to turn up at a certain time, I wasn't getting that freedom" - she approached the boss in 2011 and negotiated a partnership.
It took just nine months to pay back the $40,000 she'd borrowed from family, then Censor started building a health and fitness empire.
She now owns three KX studios under the partnership and holds another three as a franchisee, plus three outlets of the Nutrition Bar brand she launched with her mum.
Profits are ploughed back into the business after she pays herself a comfortable six-figure salary; Ms Censor has self-funded a new KX franchise set to open this month at Dee Why on Sydney's northern beaches.
LIVING THE DREAM
A typical day begins at 6.30am with meditation, followed by a two-hour workout.
"I'll respond to emails while walking, and check in with the studio managers," Censor said.
No longer needed in the day-to-day running of the businesses, her duties centre on trouble shooting, crisis management and marketing strategy, with a careful analysis of data on studio attendance and product inventory.
"Whatever I miss during the day on emails I usually catch up on at night," she said. "I'm a massive homebody, I try and avoid going out."
It's a far cry from the life of a reluctant employee.
"I couldn't imagine turning up to work and working nine to five now," Censor said.
"When I listen to my friends that still do, they are actually all miserable. They're just not getting job satisfaction, because at the end of the day you don't have ownership of what you're doing."
The importance of self determination has informed her approach to hiring, with part ownership offered to high performing staff.
That's the thing about being self employed - even if you do a business course at uni, it doesn't prepare you for the actual stuff that happens.
"I think people need to have some kind of actual monetary ownership or be incentivised to actually get the best out of people," she said.
It's just one of the insights she's gained in running a business, which she says can only be learned through real-life experience.
"That's the thing about being self employed - even if you do a business course at uni, it doesn't prepare you for the actual stuff that happens. Even with leadership courses, until you actually face a problem it's hard to guess how you'll react. The older I get, the more people aware I am. I'm way better at confrontation and getting the best out of people now."
Of course, small business is risky, with many ventures destined for failure.
Censor advocates taking a gradual approach to transitioning out of fulltime employment, having watched friends take the plunge only to be disappointed.
"Some people leave their job prematurely," she said. "You need to have that income coming in to prop you up while you're going through that first 12-month period of establishing yourself ... A lot of people get really excited about their concept and it's not been proven yet, they kind of put all their eggs in one basket."
LOW START-UP COSTS
That said, it's a richly rewarding path for those who succeed.
"I don't really have many people in my life that work nine-to-five anymore," Censor said.
"I feel like in 2016 it's so easy to start a business - You don't need much, you can do it from your couch with Facebook and Instagram advertising and creating websites, registering business names.
"That whole first part is very low cost and very low risk compared to what it was 30 years ago, and a lot of people are just taking the risk now."
Head of Seek Business Ben Johnston said technological change was a big driver of the Gen Y entrepreneurial trend.
"Getting into business has become more accessible," Mr Johnston said. "The cost of many business necessities like setting up websites and social media marketing have all come down significantly ... This combined with new businesses like food trucks and coffee vans are all combining to make being your own boss more obtainable than perhaps it was 10 years ago."
He reported "a notable increase in younger Australians visiting seekbusiness.com.au to research franchise and small business opportunities", with 49 per cent of visits to the site now coming from those aged under 40, and 20 per cent under the age of 30.