Take the Leap: Bobbi's Advice for Would-Be Entrepreneurs

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I’ve always believed that a fresh perspective is the key to disrupting an industry or acing a new career. I’ve switched up my career multiple times and it keeps things interesting. If you are ready to go for the life and job you really want, Take the Leap by Sara Bliss is the go-to book for anyone making a career change. I'm excited to share this excerpt, my advice for budding entrepreneurs, from the new book.

You need to create something new.

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, 2018 found Bobbi Brown back in major-launch mode. She started a lifestyle website, JustBobbi, a new health and beauty brand, Evolution_18, and she opened a hotel in Montclair, New Jersey, the George. On top of all that, she’s back in school studying nutrition. The makeup artist turned mogul shares her experience and advice for would-be entrepreneurs.

LOOK FOR A GAP IN THE MARKET

When I started my brand, I had no clue what I was doing. I did not go to business school. I just knew that I couldn’t find makeup that looked natural, so I went for it. I teamed up with a chemist to make ten lipsticks in natural shades. It disrupted the market, which in the 1990s was all about over-the-top colors. My makeup was different. That’s the key; you need to create something new.

MAKE SURE YOU ARE BETTER THAN THE COMPETITION

Whatever you are making needs to stand out from what’s already out there. Copying other products isn’t a business plan. How many people can put shea butter in a jar and call it a business? Think about why people would buy your product over what’s out there. If there’s a solid reason to try yours, then you’re on to something.

Invest in your business, but cut out everything else that’s not essential to what you are building.

SAVE MONEY

Invest in your business, but cut out everything else that’s not essential to what you are building. Live with relatives or friends to save on rent. Keep your day job, and work nights and weekends until your new gig takes off.

ASK FRIENDS TO HELP

When you have an exciting new idea, people want to help and be involved. Let them. When I started Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, my husband used to mail lipsticks, and my sister-in-law helped with accounting. If you don’t have the money to hire a lawyer, ask a friend with legal training to help you with contracts and negotiations. Calling in a few favors at first can really pay off.

TEST YOUR PRODUCT

When I was creating my lipsticks, I had my friends try them out. They let me know what they liked and what they didn’t. Their input was crucial to making the product better. You don’t need to pay money for an official focus group like the big brands do. Find your target market, and let them sample the product in exchange for a mention on social media or honest feedback.

CREATE A LOOK THAT’S ALL YOUR OWN

A signature visual style and cool packaging is as important as the actual product. It’s the first thing people see, and people make judgments. You don’t need fancy, expensive packaging—you just want something that stands out. Sometimes simple is best. Take a look at all the cool indie brands out there for #inspo.

You need organic growth to launch a brand.

BE STRONG ON SOCIAL

You need organic growth to launch a brand. That happens through word of mouth, whether that is people telling their friends in person or on social. I think Instagram is the single greatest tool to grow a business. It is all about visual branding. The hashtags help you target your audience. The comments act as feedback to make your brand stronger. It acts as marketing and PR. Most important, it is free.

CALM DOWN

A lot of people are frantic when they start a new business. They think they have to be an overnight success. You need to slow down, hit the pause button every once in a while. Take a day to ask yourself, What’s working? What isn’t? What else can I do?

KNOW WHEN TO TRY SOMETHING NEW

You’re going to have a lot of obstacles, so prepare for those. But after a certain amount of time, if everything is going wrong, you’re not making money, you’re not getting good feedback, people aren’t offering to help, you’re not able to produce what you had in mind: step back. It could just be timing, but it may be a sign to pivot your idea or go for something new. Just because one idea doesn’t work doesn’t mean the next one won’t.

From TAKE THE LEAP: Change Your Career, Change Your Life by Sara Bliss. Copyright © 2018 by Sara Bliss. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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