Successful entrepreneurs share a common trait: they trust their guts.
They have a talent for zeroing and identifying profitable opportunities, that others may not even see. They are willing to break conventional wisdom and turn deaf ears to expert advice, and simply go through what their instincts tell them. They know that their talent and commitment can overcome any obstacles that come their way.
The massive success of Liz Lange, founder of the designer maternity line that carries her name, is a result of Lange’s predisposition to following her instincts. While working at the fashion mecca Vogue as a writer, a visit to the tiny one-room studio of an upcoming designer inspired her to go into design. She decided to make a leap of faith and become a designer instead. Born in the tony Upper East side of Manhattan, she left her glamorous job at Vogue to become an unpaid apprentice of a struggling but talented fashion designer. She agreed to work for nothing as long as she can learn the ropes of the fashion design business.
When her pregnant fashionista friends in the Manhattan’s elite complained that they can’t find fashionable maternity clothes, she first pitched the idea to make maternity outfits to the designer she was working with. However, the designer was not interested and scoffed at her idea. Trusting her instinct that there is a demand in this underserved niche, she left the designer and decided to create her own haute couture maternity line. She started Liz Lange Maternity against everyone’s advice – her designer mentor, even department store buyers she’s previously worked with – telling her that there’s little demand and profitability in this niche.
But her instincts proved to be correct: there was a big demand for designer maternity clothes. Pregnant women want to look good, too! Today, Liz Lange Maternity is one of the most successful maternity lines, creating maternity clothes for business, formal and even every day wear. To expand the market of her maternity clothes, she created a less expensive line for Target, which is carried exclusively by the huge retailer.
Like Lange, it is important to listen to your gut. It allows you to muster up the courage to go ahead and take the risks that you need to succeed. Gut, or intuition, is this special innate “knowing” that you have. Psychologists would say that intuition-based decisions are the very best decisions; because they are based on your own “higher consciousness”. You just feel it, and know that something is right. Your body may give you some clues about what your gut is telling you – e.g. that palpable sense of excitement, tingling sensation, or that immediate sense of ease when talking with the person.
Listening to your guts to make business decisions means trusting your own experience, and the wisdom that you have gained from your life experiences. Lange knew – even if she has never been pregnant at that time – that there was a demand for quality maternity clothes because she saw it from her circle of friends and acquaintances. Her pregnant friends were coming to the atelier of her designer boss because they want to look and feel good. Even if the clothes he was making were not made for pregnant women, his use of stretch fabrics in his design made for better maternity clothes than the tent clothes available elsewhere. Lange got the idea that she could use stretch fabrics to create form-fitting maternity clothes that hug the pregnant bellies of these well-heeled women.
Trusting your gut is also important in choosing the people you work with. A person’s resume, deep pockets, past experience, glib talking, and impressive network will mean little if you don’t trust the person. Choose the wrong person as a business partner, investor or even as an employee, and you will be asking for a big headache. You need to choose the person that you trust, and to do that, you need to listen to your instinct.
You can’t teach trusting your instinct. You can teach computer programming, carpentry, hairstyling, or even writing. But there’s nothing that can teach you to using your gut, except to feel it and learn how to listen to it.
Have you listened to what your gut tells you? Is it right on the money? Please share your stories in the comments below!
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