Posted: Wed 1st May 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.