Success in business is not easy to attain – but it is doable. As entrepreneurs who made it big have shown, there are a number of strategies that you can use to increase the chances for success of your business. To succeed, you need to overcome obstacles, take risks and learn from mistakes.
This is the main lesson of the excellent new book “The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Who Built Great Businesses Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies For Success by Renee and Don Martin. The book shares the stories of 16 entrepreneurs (including one of the authors, Don Martin) who founded, mostly from shoestring resources and despite overwhelming challenges, businesses that eventually grew to become multi-million dollar businesses such as Build-A-Bear Workshop , Kinko’s, Geek Squad, Curves International, among others.
What the Book is About
“The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Who Built Great Businesses Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies For Success shows you that you don’t have to follow conventional wisdom to succeed in business. One of the recurring themes of the book is how these highly successful entrepreneurs trusted their guts, even if it means bucking conventional wisdom. To succeed, you sometimes need to have a strong belief and passion about your idea – even if everyone around you tells you that it is not going to work.
Liz Lange, in deciding to start an upscale clothing maternity line, was told by her friends that the clothes would cost more than what pregnant women will be willing to pay. Even the department store buyers she knew from her previous jobs advised her that pregnant women didn’t care about fashion during pregnancy; and hence, a clothing line for this target market will not work. But Liz persisted. She trusted her gut, went against conventional wisdom, and started her upscale Liz Lange Maternity clothing line. Today, in addition to the original line, Lange has a less-expensive line sold exclusively by the retailer giant Target. She sold her business for an estimated $50-60 million.
Successful entrepreneurs also do not let their limitations in life hinder them from tapping their full potentials. Barbara Corcoran, founder of the real estate giant The Corcoran Group, was dyslexic as a child and even considered slow in school. Yet she built from scratch a real estate business she eventually sold for $66 million.
A huge part of success in entrepreneurship is finding a lucrative area in an underserved niche. Gary Heavin, founder and CEO of the fitness chain Curves International, saw that opportunity among out of shape older women who wanted to exercise but felt intimidated amid young and fit bodies in traditional gyms and health clubs. He started Curves International to cater to the health and fitness needs of this market starting with one center in Harlington, Texas. Today, there are more than 10,000 Curves centers including overseas.
These successful entrepreneurs also didn’t let adversity or failure defeat them. One such entrepreneur is John Paul DeJoria, co-founder and Chairman of Paul Mitchell Hair Products as well as the ultra-premium tequila Patron Spirits Company. DeJoria was once so destitute he collected soda bottles in the streets and exchanged them at the corner drugstore for food. During this time in his life, he and his son were homeless and slept in his car. Yet despite those hardships, he didn’t lose hope and was able to find ways to get out of that deep slump in his life and be on the road to entrepreneurship. Today, John Paul Mitchell Systems currently produces over 90 products sold through 100,000 hair salons across the United States and in 45 countries worldwide with annual retail sales topping $900 million.
Lessons from the Book
The stories of the entrepreneurs featured are all fascinating. They may have different paths in entrepreneurship, but they all demonstrated unique understanding of what they want to achieve, persistence in the face of adversities, the ability to spot opportunities and creativity to address problems they encounter. Reading the stories of these highly accomplished men and women can inspire and push you to follow their paths.
What sets The Risk Takers apart from other biographies or collection of entrepreneur stories is its singular focus of imparting the lessons that can be learned from these highly successful business owners. Sometimes you read a story about an entrepreneur’s rise to fame, yet find it hard to pinpoint the factors that helped push his/her business to success.
This book changes that by including a one-page summary of the featured entrepreneur’s Strategies for Success. In a distilled summary, the authors pinpoints the specific strategies these entrepreneurs used – whether persistence, creativity, breaking the limits that their environment set for them – and how they used these strategies to reach the top of their careers.
The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Who Built Great Businesses Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies For Success simply makes it easy for readers to learn from the experiences of these successful entrepreneurs. In fact, they last chapter called Strategies for Success is a summary of all the strategies used by the 16 successful entrepreneurs. According to the authors, following are the lessons from these accomplished business owners:
- Trust Your Gut = successful, independent-minded entrepreneurs know when to trust their gut.
- Buck the Conventional Wisdom = you can veer away from established formulas and ways of thinking.
- Never Let Adversity or Failure Defeat You = don’t accept the limits that others or circumstances place upon you.
- Go on a Treasure Hunt and Find an Undeserved Niche = find an underserved niche representing a lucrative market that everyone else has failed to spot and target.
- Spot a new Trend and Pounce = recognize emerging consumer needs and desires that signaled new market opportunities.
- Hit ‘Em Where They Ain’t = whenever possible, set your sights on areas that your competitors have neglected or ignored.
- Just Start = If you have an idea for a business, truly believe it will succeed, and are willing to push yourself harder than you ever have before, then take the risk and just get started.
- Save Your Bucks and Get Noticed Without Expensive Advertising = If your start-up business is on a tight budget, there are plenty of ways to get customers’ attention without spending money on advertising.
- Exploit Your Competitor’s Weakness and Make It Your Strength = sharpest entrepreneurs have a knack for viewing the world from the perspective of their customers
- Never Stop Reinventing Your Company = complacency in business is like a slow leak in a tire.
If you are looking for an inspiration on starting a business or overcoming the challenges thrown your way, get a copy of the book The Risk Takers. It is an absolute delight to read.