In my last post I discussed an episode of the TV series Big Idea which airs stories and interviews with successful entrepreneurs. This particular episode was focused on parents who noticed what their children needed/liked, came up with clever ideas and pursued these opportunities to become millionaires. What I found most inspiring about this episode was that every single one of these millionaires were at some point regular moms and pops going about their every day business just like you and me. When opportunity came knocking, they did not hesitate to open the door. And let it walk right into their possibly very busy lives and let it change the course of their destiny. Today we look at some of the lessons we can learn from their success. Who knows, someday others might be watch you and me on TV discussing about our rags-to-riches stories 🙂
Not all success stories start with a business plan
Out of the six stories we looked at, only one started out with a formal business plan! In the other cases, it was just the business of going about the every day life that brought these people in contact with the opportunities that eventually brought them success. They just had an open mind and the enterprising spirit. How about you? Are you prepared to let an opportunity walk into your life? Or are you so busy looking for one, then you will not realize if one were to come looking for you?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
While all the stories are inspiring, there was one that touched me a lot. It was the story of Amilya of Soapworks. When she found that her child was severely allergic to allergens in common detergents, she started making her own soap. Her home made soap helped reduce her son’s allergies, so she started producing more and distributing them to other parents with children suffering from allergies. It was these people who saw the benefit of her soap that urged her to make her product commercial. Now if you are cynical, you may scoff at the story as a bunch of marketing BS. Well, it may be. And it may not be. Whatever is the truth, there is a lesson to learn here. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
If you think you have a killer product, don’t give up because others don’t see a potential yet
If someone told you they had a bar of soap they made in their kitchen sink, would you buy that? Or would you rather buy a branded soap at the super market? If someone told you they want to make toys with a lot of satin tags because “kids love them”, would you fund that project? Most likely not. And yet, these ideas made their thinkers millionaires. You need to have faith in your ideas. Until it is a success, nobody else can see the potential quite like the way you can. So if you think you have something worth pursuing, go for it. Do not listen to what others have to say.
Now is always a good time to start something
All of these people had a life going on when the ideas struck them. Some had corporate jobs. Others were home makers with three kids. They all had busy schedules. And long to-do lists. If they had put off the idea until the time was right I doubt, we would be talking about them today. Life keeps happening around you. If you think you have an idea that worth pursuing, now is as good a time as any to go for it.
Be willing to work your butt off
While all of them seem to have accomplished a lot in a very short period of time, none of it happened overnight. And during the early stages, people kept their day jobs. Launching an idea off the ground is a lot of work. One common thread I found in all these stories is how hard they had to work at it!
You need to have the passion
I am sure every single one of these ventures had a stage where things were successful enough to keep the owners very busy, while at the same time not successful enough to be able to afford additional help. And I am sure every single one of these ventures also had a time when it looked like all the efforts were in vain. Add to that the pressures and demands of every day life. In order to survive through all these, you need to have a passion for what you do!
Scope out the market, check out your competition
There is a fine line between believing in yourself in spite of what others say, and embarking on a grand venture while being completely out of touch with reality. You may believe you have the perfect product. But can you make others believe so too? If not, how do you plan on selling your product to them? What are the other products out there can eclipse you? How is the competition doing? Keep your head in the clouds, but your feet planted firmly on the ground!
Check if you can patent/copyright your idea/product
I think two of the stories talked about this. It is a brilliant idea. Yes, a patent attorney will charge you $100 for an hour of consultation. But if he can find a way such that you, and only you, have sole rights to a product that you have thought up, then I think that $100 is money well spent. If you think you really have a killer idea, then looking up the options to patent/copyright the idea, should definitely be high up on your to-do list.
If the company gets too big for you to handle, don’t hesitate to get a partner, or sell the business
Several of these people had partners. Some of them sold the business when it started to get big. Yes, it may be your baby. But you need to know when to hold on and when to let go.
One of the things I like about being in the US, is that it really is a land of opportunities. If you have an open mind, then opportunities will find their way to you. With some hard work and a dash of luck, you can really rise from wherever you are, and get to wherever you want to be. If you are one of the fortunate ones that have already started on an entrepreneurial venture, good luck! Maybe I will write about you some day 🙂 If not, then no need to fret. Just keep your mind open, and I am sure an opportunity (or two) will find its way to you!