Last week, the Accessory Council co-sponsored a launch party for my new book, From Living Room to Boardroom How I Launched and Sold a Multi-million Dollar Business. At this event, I shared about my personal journey and why I was inspired to write this book.
The reason I wrote my book is to support other entrepreneurs, like you, in their journeys.
I believe that I was born an entrepreneur. From my earliest memories, I was figuring out how to make money to buy clothes. I was also was born to be in fashion. Funny story, when I was 13 years old, I got a job in our local Chinese restaurant so that I could buy clothes. My first purchase an Ellen Tracy 3 piece suit and a corduroy dress with matching pants. I am sure you will agree, these are unusual choices for a pre-teenage girl. But that was what I wanted. Ellen Tracy was a hot junior brand, and I wanted the latest and newest fashions.
Let’s fast forward to 1993 which is the year that I started Corinne McCormack Inc. I had been employed by Trifari Jewelry and they had gone into bankruptcy. When my position was eliminated, I was given a severance. I had wanted to have my own company for years but never had the courage to just stop working. But now, I used this opportunity to create a new business
I launched a jewelry company with a line of earrings and necklaces. I also designed a key item that was an eyeglass chain. Within 6 months we had orders from Sunglass Hut, Lenscrafters and 2 major accessory retailers. The eyeglass chain is the item that drove the sales in our business.
Five years later, I realized that reading glasses were horrible looking. I didn’t need them yet, but I knew that when I did, I would want glasses that were fashionable and an accessory to my ready to wear. The reading glasses at retail were what you expected your grandmother to wear. I saw this opportunity and became the first designer to create sexy, fashionable reading glasses
I ran the company for 18 years and then sold it to FGX International, company that has the Foster Grant brand of sunglasses and reading glasses.
My book is about my journey of starting and building this business. It includes stories about my successes but also about issues that we faced along the way. Often you read about entrepreneurs who start a business and it sounds so simple. Usually, they have financial backers or family money supporting them. When I started this business, I did it without much money but a lot of passion and drive.
I mention Passion and Drive because these are two of the 8 Entrepreneurial Essentials that I discuss in my book. I want to start with these because they are the most important qualities that a business owner needs to be successful.
Passion is an intense desire or enthusiasm for your business. This is critical because people can sense or feel a person’s passion and want to join or follow them. If you ask me how my trip to Venice was and I say, “It was fine,” you won’t really want to hear more about the trip or want to visit yourself. But if I tell you, “I loved it, the food was delicious and the city itself was so beautiful”, you will want to know more.
I am a business coach and recently someone reached out to me about becoming a client. As is usual, I had a conversation with this person so we could learn about each other and see if this would be a good collaboration.
This person started selling glasses on Amazon and was doing OK, but they wanted to grow the business. My first question was, “What do you see your company looking like in the near future?” I asked this question because a business owner needs to have vision. They need to know what type of business they want and be able to describe it. When I started my business, I knew that I wanted to sell my collection to better department stores and that I wanted to offer a great fashionable collection, with superior quality at very reasonable prices.
When I asked this person to describe the business, the reply was, “I want to make more money and sell more glasses. You are the consultant you tell me how to do this.” Nice try, but the role of a consultant is not to help define your business, the entrepreneur needs to have an idea of what they want to build.
So I asked another question that would hopefully help this person to describe their business. I asked, “What are you passionate about your business?”. The answer was, “I am not passionate about this business, I just want to make money.”
We spoke for a few more minutes, but it was clear that I could not work with this company. That was the end of our conversation. I can’t support people who are not passionate about what they are doing. Growing a business can be challenging and if you don’t love it, you won’t have what it takes to make it.
A business owner must be passionate about their business otherwise they won’t be successful. Wanting to make money is not a reason to have a business. Start a business that you are passionate about and the money will come.