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.


  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