Sunday, November 19, 2006

10 lessons from the founder of Body Shop

English Version

Chinese Version

This article gives every entrepreneur and entrepreneur-wannabe a very hand-on and practical tutorial. I could not agree more. Below is the abbreviation of the ten lessons she provides. I had added my comments.

Tell stories. The central tool for imagining the world differently and sharing that vision is not accountancy. It has more to do with the ability to tell a story.Telling stories emphasises what makes you and your company different. Business schools emphasise how to make you toe the line.

Yes. The MOST important thing in my mind is that the entrepreneur is able to inspire others' imagination about the entrepreneur's idea. Don't tell them how big the market could be, let the audience to figure out how big it could be by themselves. That's more convincing...

Concentrate on creativity. It is critical for any entrepreneur to maximise creativity and to build an atmosphere that encourages people to have ideas. That means open structures, so that accepted thinking can be challenged.

Be an opportunistic collector. When entrepreneurs walk down the street they have their antennae out, evaluating how what they see can relate back to what they are doing. It might be packaging, a word, a poem or something in a different business.

Measure the company according to fun and creativity. Business schools are obsessive about measurement. The result is vast departments of number-crunchers, but often little progress. What is most important in a company - or anything else - is unquantifiable.

Be different, but look safe. If you are different, you will stand out. But do not take risks with people who can make the difference between success and failure, especially if you are a woman trying to borrow money from the bank - which is how I came to be turned down for my original loan.

Be passionate about ideas. Entrepreneurs want to create a livelihood from an idea that has obsessed them; not necessarily a business, but a livelihood. When accumulating money drives out the ideas and the anger behind them, you are no longer an entrepreneur.

Feed your sense of outrage. Discontentment drives you to want to do something about it. There is no point in finding a new vision if you are not angry enough to want it to happen.

Make the most of the female element. Companies as we know them were created by men for men, often influenced by the military model, on complicated and hierarchical lines and are both dominated by authoritarian principles and resistant to change. By setting up their own businesses, women can challenge these models and will be welcomed by customers for doing so.

Believe in yourself and your intuition. There is a fine line between entrepreneurship and insanity. Crazy people see and feel things that others do not. But you have to believe that everything is possible. If you believe it, those around you will believe it too.

Have self-knowledge. You do not need to know how to do everything, butyou must be honest enough with yourself to know what you cannot provide yourself.

Until they can teach these lessons, business schools will remain the whited sepulchres of the status quo.

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