Like many founders have experienced at one time or another, Rosie Jane Johnston was trying to build a business, yet it just wasn’t working out. That is, until she discovered five truths that helped her build a seven-figure brand.
As a celebrity makeup artist, Johnston created a cosmetic product when she couldn’t find one that she liked for her clients. But when it failed to get meaningful traction, she thought she had reached the end of her road.
In the wake of her failure, a friend suggested something Johnston had never thought of: starting a perfume line. She decided to give it a go, diving headlong into the idea and applying what she had learned from her failed startup. She has since built a million-dollar brand, by/ Rosie Jane, that is sold internationally and carried by major retailers such as Sephora. On the Female Startup Club podcast, Johnston revealed five key truths that made the difference between building a startup that failed and one that is making her millions.
1. Crowded Markets Have Benefits
The best idea is not always the one that fills a gap in the market. That’s often seen as an entrepreneurial sweet spot, but what it also means is that you are stuck creating a new market. Which also means spending more time explaining what your product or service is or does–rather than why consumers would want it.
The pursuit of gaining market share in a saturated market is often viewed as a fruitless endeavor. However, crowded markets come with a major benefit: they have customers. So instead of being afraid that you won’t pull customers away from your competitors, be wary of entering a market where there aren’t any.
2. Sell What You Know–and Use
Johnston’s original business, a new type of blush, is an example of selling what you know and use. Though she created it for her clients, it wasn’t necessarily a product she used on herself. On the other hand, Johnston had been using her own custom-blended fragrance for years as part of her own personal routine.
The idea of selling the fragrance had never previously crossed Johnston’s mind, let alone that there would be a mass market for it. But the difference between her makeup line and fragrance line is that she had a desire for the fragrance in her personal life every day–not just within her work.
3. To Go Big, Start Small
Johnston knew that to sell her products, she had to get them in front of the right people. So she started by making a list of all of the local businesses she knew (and loved) that she thought would be a good fit for her product. With a list of potential retailers in hand, she got to work by cold-calling them one by one.
In time her brand was carried in dozens of stores. By starting small and local, she managed to get her product into the hands of consumers, built a reputation and eventually big brands called her to discuss carrying her line. As much as founders need to dream big, starting small has its benefits, and is often vital to achieving goals.
4. Do It Yourself
Founders are no strangers to the work that needs to be done, and in many cases it’s not exactly pretty. For Johnston, someone had to tackle her list of potential retailers by cold-calling each one, and she knew that someone needed to be her.
There may be times when you have a genius idea that you’re not necessarily capable of–or interested in–pursuing. Part of the viability of a new venture isn’t just the idea, but your ability to execute on it, which is part of Elon Musk’s “Innovation Equation.” By doing it yourself, you retain full control.
5. Some Corners Are OK To Cut
When Johnston received her first large order, she couldn’t afford product packaging. She asked people she knew to invest in her business, without luck. Rather than calling it quits, she decided to forgo superfluous packaging. While competing brands sold fragrance products in boxes, that didn’t mean she needed to. By not doing so, she could not only afford to fulfill her order, but it helped her brand stand out from her competitors on the shelves.
Every business owner discovers their own truths along the way from both their successes and failures. It’s a crucial element to ultimate success in business–and life, according to a five-word quote to live by from Warren Buffett. In doing so, you can help move the dial from a flailing (or failing) startup to a seven-figure business.