Business Advice from Leaders in the Beauty Industry
I started Alegna Soap about 5 years ago. I didn’t know anything about running a business, let alone a soap business. I thought it would be interesting to ask a few successful entrepreneurs in the Bath and Body business what the best business advice they ever got was. After reading the responses, I wish I had their advice when I started.
Michelle Rhodes Mossy Creek Soap
The best business advice I received was from watching TED videos from Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.”-Simon Sinek on his TED TALKS from How great leaders inspire action.
Marla Bosworth Back Porch Soap Company
My best business advice given to me by my father, William M. Smith. He is a retired general contractor who an entrepreneur was building custom homes throughout Illinois, Wyoming and Oregon for more than 50 years. “As an entrepreneur it’s important to step up to the plate and put a value on yourself and your time. No one is going to ask you if they can pay you more. So put an end to doing things for free or cheaply. And never forget that time ALWAYS equals money. Spend it wisely.”
Lela Barker Lucky Break Consulting
Many years ago, I attended a business conference in Greenville, SC in hopes of meeting two specific speakers who were presenting a workshop together. They’d been the masterminds of an uber-popular haircare brand which had made it onto QVC and was the subject of a reality television show on Bravo. I was decidedly nervous, but decided to gather up every last shred of courage that I might ever possess and approach them about my product line.
We hit it off instantly! The chemistry was amazing and both ladies cancelled their flight back to New York that evening in order to indulge in a long business dinner and mull over the possibility of collaboration. They asked me about my dreams for the company and words spilled freely from my mouth, including a rather awkward explanation of how much blood, sweat, tears and cash I’d invested into growing my little brand and why I needed to make money.
The ladies sat quietly as I rambled and the moment I finally paused to catch my breath, one of the ladies reached across the table, grabbed my hand and very intentionally said: “Lela, we’re all in business to make money. You don’t have to justify the ‘why of it. We all need to make our money honestly, but there’s no shame in wanting to make money and you should never, ever apologize for it.” That moment changed my life.
We parted company late that evening and began an 18-month long journey to connect me to an investor and bring them on to steer Bella Lucce’s growth. That journey included a deliciously wealthy investor who made a 7-figure offer, which I ultimately walked away from in the eleventh hour. I played lots of good cards during that experience and I learned heaps about the world, myself and the nature of business, but I knew in my gut that the deal wasn’t right for me. But those wisdom-filled words that were shared during the initial dinner have always stayed with me. I scrawled them on a post-it note that still clings to the edge of my computer monitor, seven years later.
In my consulting business, I work with makers every week who operate from that same place of insecurity about money. So many of us struggle with the nature of money and our relationship to it and I often find myself sharing that sage wisdom: We’re all in business to make money and there’s absolutely no shame in it. Once we make peace with that, door open, spirits lift and real movement happens. I didn’t take the million dollar deal, but that advice has proved priceless.
Roberta Perry Scrubz Body Scrub
There has been so many great ideas from so many people, but lately, the best advice was from Ash Ambirge. Her advice constantly reminds me to keep it all about my customer. What value I am offering and how can it help them solve their problems. Only sell to those who share my worldview, and keep it real.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson Indie Business Network
If you are bored, it means it’s working. Well, this is kind of true, maybe not so literally.
But it points out the importance of having systems in a business. Systems make you efficient. Systems ensure that your products are produced in a timely fashion, and efficiently, so they can get into the hands of your waiting friends and fans sooner rather than later — so you can know when you are going to make what, and move on which the business of “leading” your business. I have always known this, but I had never connected it to “boredom.” I do what I love, so how could I ever be bored?
One of my mentors helped me understand this, when I complained (whined, really) to him that I was bored in my business and wanted to do something else. In reply, he asked me if the business was profitable. I told him it was. He said, “Well, if you’re bored, that just means it’s working. Keep doing your business, boring though it may be, and either find ways to make it exciting (that don’t also cut into profits), or find other ways outside of your business to deal with your boredom.
Of course, I didn’t listen, and that’s another story. But I eventually saw the error of my ways, and returned to his sage advice. I’m glad I did. I have so many other mentors who have given me wise advice over the years, but that one has stuck with me
more than just about any other.
Alana Rivera Etta and Billie
The best business advice I’ve ever received is figure out your strengths and weaknesses and hire people to help you with those weak areas. It frees up so much mental and physical time to focus on areas that are your strengths.
Debbie May Wholesale Supplies Plus
The best business advice I have received:
- From my Uncle: “You can’t sell apples with an empty apple cart.”
- From my Accountant: “If you want to build a company that will last, learn the difference between cash flow and profit.”
- From my Mentor: “Repeat customers love consistency. Consistency takes planning.”
- From my Professor: “A successful business is 30% passion, 20% knowledge and 50% luck. Most people are not lucky more than once so stay focused and don’t become arrogant.”
My own advice to aspiring businesses: “Love what you do. If you are blessed with the luck of success your job will become your life and there are no days off.”
Anne-Marie Faiola Brambleberry
I have had so many amazing mentors over the years and my best advice that anyone ever told me is to always keep learning. There’s this phase, “Leaders are Readers” and I think it holds true. There are SO many amazing ways to get new information and best practices – from blogs, to books, to magazines, to conferences – and being strategic about consistently investing in your knowledge is key to being a successful growing entrepreneur. A second piece of advice that I received over two decades ago was that business is a marathon, not a sprint. What they meant was not to only invest in keeping your brain and knowledge base strong, but to invest in your body and your mental and physical health through key work/life balance strategies. Eat for fuel, not just for food. Work out for stress relief, not just to fit into your perfect size of jeans. Spend time with friends laughing, not just to pass the time but to be strategic about stress relief. Surround yourself with people that inspire and uplift you to help you along on your journey and consider that part of you r strategy time. There are a lot of ways to spend your time when you’re an entrepreneur; every moment is precious. Be intentional about who and what you focus on.
Ruth Esteves Sirona Springs Soaps
I have to say that the one person that is the most memorable to me (and that I enjoy reading the most) is Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project. She has a great way of getting right to the meat of the issue, and is a master with the metaphors. The one thing that I’ve taken to heart from her is that selling does not make you a slimy, conniving person trying to trick people out of their money. Asking someone to buy something from you can be so hard. You have to be feeling a certain confidence. Or at least I did. But she believes that selling is offering someone something they already need and want. It’s mutual. They give you money for something you have that they need/want. When I think of it that way, then it helps me focus on the benefits that my products have and on the kind of person that is looking for those benefits.
I really enjoyed reading the answers I received from the people I emailed. Did you get a piece of advice that helped you in your business? Let me know, I’d love to hear it, and use it next time.
Yours in Gratitude,