Four start-up lessons to learn from Anita Roddick
Posted: Wed 1st May 2013
Enterprise Nation's marketing and business development ace Lorna Bladen considers Body Shop founder Anita Roddick as one of her business heroes. We asked Lorna why, and this is what she told us.
I've always been impressed by the story of Anita Roddick, writes Lorna left, and she was one of the people who inspired me to get involvedwith start-ups and small enterprises. Anita proved that's possible to run a successful, ethical business AND support a family at the same time. Quite simply, I totally admire everything she achieved and think there's a lot that people can learn from her story. Here's why.
1. You don't need a business degree to become your own boss
Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in 1976, despite having no training or experience in starting and running a retail business. But she did have a bold solution to a problem she identified in the beauty industry. Anita's motivations were to provide for her family and to support a cause she believed in - and these motivations pushed her to transform her idea into a great business. The first Body Shop store opened in Brighton in 1976 and the chain now has more than 2,500 stores in 60+ markets worldwide. What this has taught me is that people with no formal business training should not be afraid of becoming their own boss - a good idea and determination can take you a long way.
"Running her first shop taught Anita that business is not financial science, but buying, selling and creating a product so good that people will want to pay for it."
2. Stand for something you believe in
Anita had a powerful dream to introduce sustainable beauty products into the market. At that time, no-one really understood the benefits of 'green business' or just how popular natural products would become. But Anita knew saw a lucrative - and sustainable - market opportunity and she fought tirelessly to plug the gap! When you start your own company, it's something that you could be working on day-in and day-out for years, so you need to make sure you start-up in a sector that doesn't bore you. It's essential to always be one step ahead of the game when you're your own boss.
"It is impossible to separate the company values from the issues that I care passionately about."
3. Live a better life, build a better business
I question whether Anita knew that The Body Shop would become such a phenomenal success, but the motivation to start the business was to build a better life for her and her family. Running your own boss can enable you to decide where you work, allow you to balance your priorities better around your family or together commitments and ultimately help you to live the life you want to live.
"If you can create an honourable livelihood, where you take your skills and earn a living from them, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want."
4. Go niche, go global!
The Body Shop was such a unique business that it really stood out from the crowd. The company's target audience picked up on its old values quickly, and remained loyal because the products themselves were high quality. In fact, Anita was against spending money on advertising and instead relied on clever PR and producing products that encouraged word-of-mouth recommendation - perhaps the most influential form of marketing. Refining your products for a niche audience enables you to target your marketing strategies more efficiently and makes it easy to position yourself as an expert in your field.
"If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just."
Read more words of wisdom from leading entrepreneurs for just Â£5
Compiled by Danny Bailey and Andrew Blackman, Dear Entrepreneur: Letters from those that have made it and are making it happen is a collection of more than 70 letters from successful entrepreneurs that offers their personal insights, anecdotes and business lessons for new business-owners. It's a great read and it's available as both and ebook and a paperback from the Enterprise Nation shop.
Photo credits: (c) BBC (main); V Villamon via Compfight cc (stones and flowers), Thorsons (book cover). Others: freely available promotional images - please don't violate copyright, folks!