Starting a successful business: pain and gain

Bare Escentuals (BE) is an American manufacturer of mineral-based cosmetics. Starting out as a cottage industry in 1994, the firm is valued today at over US$1.7 billion, approximately. The story of everybody’s dreams, but is it a reality available to all?

If you read about BE, you begin to identify 3 common themes which can be seen in many successful businesses.

First, no pain means no gain. I have met several people recently, who are good, intelligent, decent folk. And they feel that this should be enough to ‘make it through”. The horrible truth is often very different. However you cut it, most people do not get on without some sacrifices and a lot of sweat.

Take it from another angle. How many of us go through tough patches on our home (or private) turf. Not everything comes easy. So we should not expect anything different in commercial life. My good friend Mike Faibisch recently gave true expression to this and serves as an inspiration for others.

Next up is planning. At a very early stage, entrepreneurs must think through their vision and ask if it makes sense. If so, how and why. It is almost invariably the role of the big chief and founder to steer the set up period around many obstacles, and this in turn requires a firm plan of action.

I recently sat down with a CEO. He had three action items on the immediate agenda. But their timing was out of sync with each other. He was afraid that tasks would be completed and effort expended, but the overall effect would be minimal. Brilliant!

And the third factor is all about “seizing the moment”. Sometimes, entrepreneurs need to just go for it. I was once working with an inventor. His product was simple but effective. He was offered a route to market by a single importer.

However, my client could only see bigger dollar signs in front of his eyes. Eventually, all his contacts became tired of him and he was left with his hopes, a worthless patent and a dwindling bank account.

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One Comment on “Starting a successful business: pain and gain”


  1. […] I have said it before and I will say it again. Planning with a defined, logical vision is essential, before you kick off. […]


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