5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Silicon Valley Executive, Heidi Roizen

heidi-roizen

Heidi Roizen was one of the first women Silicon Valley CEOs, sits on multiple boards, and was a VP at Apple. Today, she teaches a class called the Spirit of Entrepreneurship at Stanford’s School of Engineering.

Here are 5 entrepreneurial lessons from Heidi Roizen:

  1. Don’t take ethics lightly
    Roizen believes that ethics have a trickle-down effect and she’s right. If you excuse unethical behavior or exhibit it yourself, your employees and team members will follow your footsteps. Set a good tone for your company by stressing ethics as a priority.

Ethics are more important than ever. Especially in the internet age with the demand for transparency. Start with values from day 1 of your company.

  1. Do the hard things
    Roizen says the hard things are the important things and they also save you from boredom.

No one ever got where they wanted to be by avoiding the hard stuff. If you want to make a real impact, you won’t get there by playing it safe.

Skip the tasks that you enjoy but simply aren’t that helpful for moving forward and growing your company. This might mean focusing on sales and networking instead of website edits or social media. Every day, determine four tasks that will have the biggest impact on your company and do the hardest ones first.

Learn more about this prioritization technique in our interview with Paul Klipp.

  1. Build genuine connections with people you actually want to network with
    One of Roizen’s main claims to fame are her network skills, which have played a big part in getting her where she is today.

Many think networking is a numbers game that involves connecting with as many people as possible. It’s far more effective to connect with people you are actually interested in and want to build a relationship with. Make sure you are investing your time and energy into people you want to have around.

  1. Don’t be afraid to be social
    Despite living in the age of social media, many are still hesitant about being social about their careers or businesses. Or we don’t want to bug our existing network by talking about our businesses.

Roizen’s methods tell us to do just the opposite. If you make who you are, what you do, and what’s important to you very known on social media, you are more likely to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. This can lead to partnerships opportunities or even just help you build a support network.

  1. Surviving misogyny in a male-dominated industry
    Roizen is the poster child for this one and experienced sexism frequently, including a business partner who became inappropriate very quickly. And she’s not the only one. Just like any other industry or profession, females everywhere are living through uncomfortable and demeaning situations with their male counterparts while they are building their businesses.

This includes Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, who wasn’t taken seriously at all by the all-male run panty hose manufacturing plants she was trying to work with to bring her idea to life. It literally took the urging of the daughters of these plant owners to open their minds to working with Spanx. Read more about Blakely’s story here.

If you are wanting to enter a market that is typically male, do not let your fear of uncomfortable situations (because they WILL happen) scare you away. The only way these industries will change is if females persevere, set their boundaries, and take action when they experience misogyny.

If you want to read more inspiring lessons from fempreneurs, check out the rest of the series:

5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal

Is Ida Tarbell the OG Arianna Huffington

10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Coco Chanel

6 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sara Blakely of Spanx

5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Victoria Tsai of Tatcha

Do you have any fempreneurs you’d like us to cover in our next post? Comment below or send a note to care@eazl.co.

5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Victoria Tsai of Tatcha

victoria-tsai


Victoria Tsai is the founder of Tatcha, a skincare line inspired by the beauty secrets of geishas. The former analyst for Merrill Lynch and Harvard graduate built a business around the use of ancient Japanese traditions to solve common skin problems.

Tatcha’s sales have tripled every year since its founding.

Here are 5 entrepreneurial lessons from Victoria Tsai:

  1. Take control of your future
    Upon the founding of Tatcha, Tsai was an exhausted, pregnant employee who had experience as an analyst for a Fortune 500 company. She knew she wanted a change and saw the opportunity when she discovered a product while on a trip in Japan that she thought women could get behind.

You can find inspiration in the world around you. Chances are, if you are in need of a solution to a problem…other people probably experience that problem as well. What can you offer that will make life better for others?

Businesses that focus in this way have greater chances of survival. And you can gain financial independence in the process!

  1. Invest in something outside of yourself
    Tsai has her eyes set on success for more than just herself and her immediate family. She wants to keep Tatcha profitable and within the family name so it can be passed down for generations to come. Her 100+ year perspective shows her understanding of the impact that a family business can have on prosperity.

Tsai’s approach is understandable since she grew up working in her mother’s beauty store in Houston, where she was first exposed entrepreneurship.

Think about the impact of your successful business on more than just your personal bank account.

  1. Be different
    The first product Tsai decided to focus on was skin blotting paper, which absorb excess oil to prevent breakouts and blemishes. Tatcha makes use of natural ingredients like green tea, oatmeal, rose, and seaweed to make products like their signature blotting paper.

Compare this to the list of ingredients you would typically see on beauty product labels in the US. Many American skin care and cosmetic companies use parabens, synthetic fragrances, and sulfate detergents. The FDA does not regulate skin care products like other countries do, but the market is becoming increasingly more aware of the skin’s absorption of anything that is applied topically.

Think about how can you provide something different that your market wants. What improvements can you make to everyday products or services? How can you make life easier for a specific market? What market trends can you use to your advantage?

  1. The fruits of sacrifice
    Tsai sold her engagement ring and car to finance her business. Surely, this was a hard decision but these material possession are replaceable. Years of your life as an unhappily employed person are not.

You might not need to get as drastic as selling something sentimental or getting rid of all your possessions, but there are sacrifices you have to make if you want to be an entrepreneur. Whether it’s socializing less to focus on your business, delaying starting a family, or forgoing some comforts that you’ve become accustomed to having, you will probably have to make some hard decisions. Just keep your eye on the prize and focus on the abundant and creative future that is made possible through entrepreneurship.

  1. The power of PR
    What sealed the deal for Tatcha’s success? Something we hear over and over again at Eazl when we talk to successful entrepreneurs: public relations. In the beginning, after the common discovery that taking a website live does not equal sales, Tsai sent loads of samples to magazine editors and makeup artists.

People started to take notice and Tatcha was featured on far reaching media like Oprah Magazine and the Today Show.

Get your product or service in the hands of influencers right away and when you have a budget to work with, whether it’s from raising funds or selling product, don’t forget about PR!

Check out the rest of the Fempreneur Series:
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal
Is Ida Tarbell the OG Arianna Huffington
10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Coco Chanel
6 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sara Blakely of Spanx

6 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sara Blakely of Spanx

sara blakely

Before she founded an undergarment company that would later be valued at $1 billion dollars, Sara Blakely was a failed law school applicant turned ride greeter at Disneyland. And then a door-to-door fax machine saleswoman.

When you learn about Blakely’s childhood, her values, and her unique business approach, you’ll understand how she was able to move from failure to failure and then create a company that brings in $400 million in annually.

Here are 6 entrepreneurial lessons from the Spanx founder:

  1. Looking for inspiration in everyday life
    Blakely knew she wanted out of her door-to-door sales gig and that she wanted to start her own company by creating an original product. She resolved to make this happen, but wasn’t sure what the product would be until she noticed that panty lines made her feel uncomfortable in her white slacks and normal pantyhose wouldn’t solve the problem (since the Florida climate required open-toed shoes).

The original Spanx prototype was a pair of pantyhose with the feet cut off. Blakely was determined to find the right product to sell and immediately knew that she would work on a panty hose innovation.

One of the best ways to think of a product idea is to keep your eyes open and even get inspiration from the problems in your own life that you would like to solve.

  1. Developing sales skills and handling rejection
    During her time selling fax machines door-to-door, Blakely learned how to deal with doors-slamming-in-the-face rejection. She eventually became a high performer and now admits that sales is one of her core strengths.

Later, she would use the skills she gained in the fax machine industry to get Spanx into department stores in the US. She turned a bad meeting around at Neiman Marcus by giving a live before and after demonstration in the women’s restroom. She landed her product in 7 Neiman Marcus stores after that meeting.

After you’ve developed a solid product, you need to focus on creating a sales engine and developing those skills, especially if you don’t have a team to help you build. People will say no. They might even slam the door. But learn from every interaction and continuously make improvements when you know what works. Eliminate what doesn’t work.

Ultimately, there are a lot of people and companies and money in the world. Even if a lot of people reject you, you still haven’t made a dent and there are infinite possibilities.

Just make sure you listen to feedback so you can spot trends and make changes if necessary.

  1. Bootstrapping will help you focus on creating a great product
    Many aspiring business owners think the first step is the idea or the product and the second step is getting funding, but this isn’t the only way to start a profitable business.

Blakely started Spanx with $5,000 from her own bank account and kept her day job until the company was able to turn a profit. She still owns 100% of the company, having never taken outside investment, and she has never formally advertised Spanx.

It is possible to turn a side hustle into a full time self-employment situation if you simplify and focus on what matters. You will have to work hard and manage money wisely, but you’ll have a lot more freedom without taking outside investment.

Plus, raising funds is a skill within itself. A lot of business owners find themselves trying to secure funds more than they actually work on the business. This isn’t always the best approach to starting a business.

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  1. Fake it ‘til you make it
    After sending a basket of Spanx to Oprah, Blakely received the news that her product would be featured on Oprah’s list of favorite things. The show needed a couple of things in order to feature her: her website, her ability to handle high sales volumes, and some footage of her and her team at the Spanx headquarters.

Blakely didn’t have a website. She didn’t have the ability to fulfill high quantities of orders or and office to film in because she was still working from her home (doing all the packing and shipping herself) and didn’t have any employees.

Instead of backing out of a seemingly complicated situation, she confirmed with Oprah’s team that she could delivery in these three areas. Within a couple of weeks, Blakely had a website up and running, confirmed manufacturing capabilities, and a staged office space and team that she borrowed from another company.

Throughout the life of your business, you’ll be making a lot of decisions as far as what opportunities to chase, which opportunities are better to forgo, and what is clearly worth your time. Like Blakely, you’ll probably have a “fake it ‘til you make it” decision or two and I’m sure you can agree that being featured on Oprah –an absolute business-making opportunity– is something that you just have to make work.

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  1. Shut the doubters out
    The first year that Blakely worked on creating Spanx, she didn’t tell anyone about her idea or plans except the manufacturers and business partners that she was dealing with. Her own family didn’t even know the specifics.

This was a strategic move because she new that she would be discouraged if she didn’t find support from her family and friends. She kept them in the dark so she could stay on track. She didn’t want any doubters to come in between her and following her instincts.

As an entrepreneur, you will definitely have people that doubt you and make you doubt yourself. Unfortunately, it’s mostly friends and family that are the problem. It might be a good idea to limit the details you share about your product and look for feedback and opinions of other entrepreneurs and business partners instead.

  1. Determine your fears and go towards them
    Blakely is afraid of public speaking and flying in airplanes. She does both often for her work. She knows that if she tried to avoid these fears, she wouldn’t experience the same success. She doesn’t want to miss out on opportunities so she sucks it up a faces her fears.

There are some necessary parts of your business that you might be scared of doing (or maybe you aren’t excited to do them). Do yourself a favor and get in the mindset right now that you will do whatever it takes to make big strides for your company.

That might mean public speaking or having to get on the phone and cold call. If you are committed to your business and independence, you’ll face those fears and overcome them.

 

Check out the rest of the Fempreneur Series:
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal
Is Ida Tarbell the OG Arianna Huffington
10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Coco Chanel
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Victoria Tsai of Tatcha

10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Coco Chanel

coco chanel

There is no denying the impact that Coco Chanel had on the fashion world. A true rags-to-riches story, Chanel’s life left us with some POWERFUL entrepreneurial lessons.

  1. The power of doing your own thing + standing out
    At a time when women were bound in corsets and adorned with feathers and jewels, Chanel created her own flavor and a fashion revolution that focused on style AND comfort.

She was a natural rebel and that showed in her designs. There just wasn’t anything like it.

You can make it work if your product is similar to someone else’s, but you can make it easier on yourself if you offer unique value to a specific market.

  1. The power of a name
    Coco built a strong brand behind her name, which became a source of power in the fashion world.

Focus on building a powerful and unique product that makes your company name mean something to someone.

  1. The power of simplicity
    Chanel changed the way women looked and dressed through her simple and elegant designs.

You, too, can change someone’s life with a simple product or service that adds tons of value. We tend to think big and ambitious, but what practical things can you offer your target market?

  1. The power of a strong network
    Chanel had a habit of befriending people in high places. I’m not encouraging you to social climb, but do learn from her ability to make connections with people who add value to your life and your work.

Also, always be on the lookout for ways you can help others.

  1. The power of diversifying
    After founding a fashion house, Chanel released Chanel No. 5 (the first perfume to bear the name of the designer) in 1924. The profits enabled her to survive through the war after closing her design business.

Diversification is one of the best ways to ensure financial security as an entrepreneur. If one revenue stream or business line falls through, you can still stay afloat.

Regardless of your opinion of the the family, the Kardashians are the reigning entrepreneurs when it comes to diversifying. Series, spin-offs, beauty products, apps, modeling, etc. Once you master one source of income, start looking at how you can add another.

  1. The power of creative  advertising
    Chanel No. 5 was advertised as “A very improper perfume for nicely brought-up ladies.” This is right on par with the rebelliousness of the brand.

Invest some solid time into developing creative messaging for your brand.

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  1. The power of feeling limitless
    Chanel went from nothing to one of the biggest fashion brands, which still lives on today under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld. There is literally nothing you can’t do or anything that will keep you from making your business work.

It’s all about mindset and resourcefulness.

You don’t need big bucks to launch your company and you can learn how in our 8 Step Business Launch course if you are interested.

  1. The power of responding to the needs of the market
    I like to think of Chanel as the Steve Jobs of the fashion world. Women weren’t aware of the possibility of not conforming to the use of corsets and bulky, inhibiting clothes. Really, they needed someone to tell them that there were other ways to dress…and Chanel did that.

She created a product that made it possible to be chic and comfortable at the same time.

How can you innovate and satisfy the needs of your market?

  1. The power of flipping the table
    Chanel took black –a color once associated with mourning– and showed how it could be used well in a different way, through evening wear. Today, we refer to it as the Little Black Dress.

What can you do that is unexpected? How can you take existing resources and use them in a different way to provide a product or service that no one has thought of before? How can you flip the table and create your own Little Black Dress?

  1. The power of a good story
    Chanel was the ultimate self-mythologizing, which is something we can all learn from! I’m not suggesting that lying about your background is a good thing…but definitely invest in your story as the founder of your company and the company story that you communicate to the market.

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Check out the rest of the Fempreneur Series:
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal
Is Ida Tarbell the OG Arianna Huffington
6 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sara Blakely of Spanx
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Victoria Tsai of Tatcha

Is Ida Tarbell the OG Arianna Huffington?

Eazl Ida Tarbell

Ida Tarbell was the pioneer of investigative journalism and one of the main “muckrakers” (or reform journalists) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is most known for her work The History of Standard Oil, an exposé on the business operations of the Rockefeller family, and a twenty-part series she wrote on Abraham Lincoln for McClure’s Magazine. She later became the leading authority on Lincoln’s life after his assassination.

Ida was achieving all of these incredible feats at a time when women simply did not have this kind of impact or voice. Everything she did was a reflection of true independence, disregard for the constraints society tried to impose on women at that time, and sheer drive to achieve her ambitious career goals.

Most people today don’t know who Ida Tarbell was. You may have come across her name in a journalism or politics class but, for someone who accomplished a lot despite the limits on women at the time, it’s surprising she isn’t remembered more.

A lot of Ida’s approaches and choices reveal her industrious approach to her life and work. Here are 4 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Ida Tarbell:

1. Taking risks is a proven path to success
You might describe Ida Tarbell as an epic risk taker. She put herself on the line as she dug into the dealings of some very powerful and influential people to expose corruption. These risks might seem scary, but they are the essential decisions that lead to her success. You might call it her personal brand.

Any time you choose to do something different; something that stands out; something that no one has done before, you are taking a risk. When you choose to take risks in your business, sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose, but it’s the only way you can make big changes in people’s lives that will, in turn, help you build a profitable business and continue helping people.

You won’t succeed if you do everything the way someone else before you did it. Through risk, we can find our unique offering and really connect with other people.

2. Learn from the past and let it positively inform your future
Ida Tarbell was very much influenced from her childhood experiences as she saw her father, the owner of a small oil company, overrun and put out of business by monopolistic oil giants like Standard Oil Company. She used this family tragedy to fuel her passion and begin a career in investigative journalism.

You, too, can use your past experiences and passions to create a product or service that people will love and appreciate. When you go out in the world and share your story about why you do what you do, you’ll be a magnet for the right customer.

This passion-fueled approach to business is much more powerful than starting a company solely on the basis that the market will likely buy what you are offering.

It’s more about money and storytelling is important.

3. Don’t let anyone place limits on you
Ida Tarbell lived in Paris and traveled around the world at a time when women simply didn’t do that by themselves. She also opted to focus on her career instead of getting married and having children.

The point isn’t to not get married or not have children, but to not let others’ expectations of you determine your actions.

You will have people in your life who doubt you and not support you in the building of your business…at least not in the way that you would like them to. What really matters is that you are inspired, willing to take a risk and do the work, and that you learn the skills you need to make your business happen.

Do not let the voices of disapproval or doubt get to you. Work that much harder to prove them wrong.

4. Integrate ethics and morality into your business activities
Unfortunately, business gets a bad rap. The few bad ones ruin it for rest of us. Business is a lot different with today’s entrepreneurs and the focus on transparency compared to those who were running the show in Ida’s time. There are still some dinosaurs that have yet to either get with the program or die out, but most of us just want to provide something unique that solves a problem. We want to do good.

Just make sure that everything is done in good faith and run your company with solid values, especially if you have employees looking to you for leadership. Bad behaviors and questionable actions will trickle down and permeate your entire operation. Set the standards and enforce them…or today’s Ida Tarbell might come after you!

Learn more about our 8 Step Business Launch Course here.

Check out the rest of the Fempreneur Series:
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal
10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Coco Chanel
6 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sara Blakely of Spanx
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Victoria Tsai of Tatcha

5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal

sophia amoruso

In her 2014 New York Times Best Seller, #Girlboss, Sophia Amoruso shares her change in life and mindset as she grew from a dumpster diving anti-capitalist to founding Nasty Gal, one of the fastest growing retailers on the planet.

A lot of her experiences as a budding entrepreneur hit close to home for me and I’m sure you will find a little bit of yourself in her and these 7 entrepreneurial lessons you can learn from Sophia Amoruso:

  1. It’s not easy. Expect to put in a lot of hard work.
    A successful business doesn’t just happen overnight and it’s certainly not a matter of luck. Sophia Amoruso proves that a focus on quality, excellent customer service, and putting in the hours will lead you to profit. These elements led to the growth of a business from a single person operation on ebay to a huge operation with hundreds of employees and a distribution center in Kentucky.

“I took every item I sold seriously, obsessing to ensure my customers had a great experience,” she writes about the start of her business. “I cared as much about the process as I did about the results. No decision was too small. Whether it was the word choice in a product description or the expression on a model’s face, I treated everything with the utmost care.”

No one is going to lay opportunities in your lap or hold your hand to make success happen for you. The fact is, no one will care more about your future than you do. You have to decide on your path and take actions that will make your business happen. You can’t just sit around hoping and wishing for a profitable business so you can leave your day job. You need momentum and the only way to get it is to work on it every day.

  1. Your attitude and perspective will absolutely affect the outcome.
    If you aren’t passionate about what you do, you are not going to perform well. That goes for anyone in the traditional job market and anyone trying to branch out on their own. “If you’re bored and hating it,” Sophia Amoruso says, “It’s a big sign that you’re most likely in the wrong place.”

This is why starting with the primary goal of making money -asking yourself what will make you a shitload of money and going with that idea- is not going to get you where you want to go.

It all starts with taking something you are good at and passionate about and packaging it in a way that truly helps other people.

You also will not do well in life if you opt to not give a damn about profits or view business as something unattainable…or even evil. Anti-capitalism is the antithesis of bringing your gift to the world. Working hard to earn the resources that will help you do more good things, including creating more products that help people or even supporting nonprofits that you believe in is, in fact, the whole point of business.

Amoruso explains the importance of perspective perfectly when she said, “I entered adulthood believing that capitalism was a scam, but I’ve instead found that it’s a kind of alchemy. You combine hard work, creativity, and self-determination, and things start to happen. And once you start to understand that alchemy, or even just recognize it, you can begin to see the world in a different way.”

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The economy is not a zero sum game. If you decide to participate and be valuable -to someone else other than yourself- you can succeed and you will make money. And you can even make a difference in many people’s lives in the process.

  1. You don’t have to do things a certain way just because it’s the way other people are doing them or because it’s the way it’s always been done.
    Straight and narrow is not the only path to success and Sophia Amuroso is the poster child. Not formally educated and a self-described rebel, she proves that there are many lessons about business to be learned and you cannot get them all at university. Amoruso learned how to build a business in the real world.
  1. Focus on small tests and follow the number to hit it big.
    “We started buying units of six, testing the waters to see what sold and what didn’t,” wrote Sophia Amoruso. “If it sold, we learned. If it didn’t sell, we learned.”

This talented woman was testing the market without even knowing she was testing the market. She also intuitively performed customer research to get to know the typical Nasty Gal customer. Knowing that this was an important part of developing inventory that would fly off the shelves was obviously a main contributor to the retailer’s growth.

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  1. As your business grows, you’ll grow too.
    You will change a lot as you grow your business, learn new skills, and become a leader who is depended on by your employees and partners. Amoruso went from solitary work in a tiny guesthouse to leading hundreds of employees and putting other capable people in management roles.

Every day will be a learning experience and, as long as you continue loving your company and loving what you do, the mistakes and failures will only get you closer to where you want to be.

“As the business grew, I grew, and the ambiguity that once terrified me became something I thrived on.”

 

Check out the rest of the Fempreneur Series:
Is Ida Tarbell the OG Arianna Huffington
10 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Coco Chanel
6 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Sara Blakely of Spanx
5 Entrepreneurial Lessons from Victoria Tsai of Tatcha