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A while back I read an article about a company that sparked a thought.

You see, in 2013, when my wife started her fashion label and I was scouring the internet to learn more about this business. At the time I came across an article about a company called “Nasty Gal“. You might wonder the content considering the name however this company started as an eBay clothing retailer out of a tiny apartment, that in 2013 nearly made $100 million in sales. That’s right, $100m! Now, while this business has had it’s up and down’s over the years and the company isn’t or hasn’t been making any great headlines, reading a bit on them again, there is a piece that sparks my interest and goes along the following line:

The founder of Nasty Gal dropped out of college and started selling vintage designer clothes as a side project to her “normal” day job. She’d buy old designer clothes for a few bucks at flea markets and resell them for several hundred to thousand % markups and quickly starting earning money online.

Just think about that the next time you think a silly idea of yours has already been done or isn’t worth the effort. While reading this it made me ponder to my days as a small entrepreneur with a bunch of crazy ideas;

  • I started a forum back in the hay days of the internet and sold it for a very over priced value at the time.
  • My brother and I started a gaming clan that had a significant amount of players competing for top prizes.
  • I started a specialty delivery service just to travel around.

The list goes on and on – there was even one where I wanted to build a search engine better than google (that’s for a different post), but those are just a few to give you an idea of some of the wacky things I’ve done. Perhaps not my proudest moments, but they did get me from one point to another. And on top of that I earned some money as well. I wasn’t solving world problems, but I was working hard trying to build various businesses – passions of mine whether with or without the intent of earning something.

Witnessing individuals embark on the adventure of developing their own business is one of the things that truly excites me. I am lucky to be surrounded by a wide group of acquaintances and friends who are pursuing entrepreneurship as a full-time endeavor or as a passionate side business. It’s a great experience for me since I’ve personally traversed the hurdles of entrepreneurship, and I’m eager to pay it forward by assisting others on their route to success, just as you extend your expertise to help individuals grow in the corporate world. I love giving back, it’s part of karma, and I want these individuals to succeed.

When I think about the people in my network who are starting businesses, I can’t help but notice some characteristics that they all have in common. These characteristics, in one way or another, are critical to their success. Let me go over some of the extraordinary traits I’ve noticed:

A Constraint Breeds Creativity

When compared to the established giants in their field, most businesses begin their journey with next to nothing in terms of resources. The route of entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart; it demands whole dedication, consistent effort, and unflinching consistency. But here’s the important twist: the instant you begin to consider a novel solution to a problem, one that hasn’t yet occurred to anybody else, you’re on the entrepreneurial path. What’s more, the best part? You are not required to reinvent the wheel.

Starting a business, whether it’s a little one or a large one, is a daunting task. You’re frequently up against well-known competitors with large funds and enormous resources. It’s like David vs numerous Goliaths, and it’s anything but easy.

What distinguishes entrepreneurs is their ability to see challenges from a new angle. It is not necessary to invent something completely fresh or an original thought every time. It is about examining the current picture and spotting gaps, unmet needs, and pain spots that others may have overlooked. Even if it just starting another cafe.

Think about it. Some of the most successful companies did not create completely new industries or concepts. They just discovered more efficient, customer-friendly, or inventive solutions to problems that people were already experiencing. They took the original wheel and added turbochargers to make it faster and smoother to roll.

Consider the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft. They did not invent the automobile, nor did they invent the concept of transportation. They combined an existing resource (people with automobiles) with a common need (the need for easy transportation) in a novel and brilliant way. They didn’t invent the wheel; they merely made it spin in a different direction.

So, if you’re thinking about a solution to a problem, even if it appears like a little modification or a novel approach to an old problem, you’re already thinking like an entrepreneur. You’re on the path to entrepreneurship and innovation, and who knows, your fresh perspective might just be the key to unlocking new prospects and success in the business world. Remember that you don’t always have to invent the wheel; you just have to discover a better way to turn it.

Obstacles. Pfff.

When you consider how Sophia Amoruso took the reins and founded Nasty Gal, it’s quite an amazing journey. I’m sure nobody could have imagined that she’d turn it into an established company worth a whooping $100 million in only a few years. Her strategy of purchasing items for pennies on the dollar and then reselling them for hundreds of dollars is undeniably impressive. It’s the kind of activity that most people would avoid. After all, who doesn’t want for a simpler path? The allure of simplicity cannot be denied.

In today’s environment, where quick satisfaction is often the rule, we tend to seek out the smoother, more convenient paths to success. Many people may find the prospect of addressing a challenge as difficult as Sophia’s with Nasty Gal intimidating, if not impossible. After all, grit, dedication, and the courage to roll up your sleeves and dive headfirst into the hustle are required.

But here’s the thing: genuine success rarely comes with a silver spoon. It is the outcome of pushing boundaries, accepting difficulties, and refusing to be intimidated by the uphill fights that life throws at you. Sophia Amoruso’s experience with Nasty Gal exemplifies this spirit. And while I don’t know her as a person, hats off to what she did.

While it may be tempting to pursue the path of least resistance, it is vital to remember that true growth, both emotionally and professionally, frequently resides in the obstacles we face. Don’t be held back by the fear of hard effort or the temptation of an easier path. Accept the difficulties as stepping stones to your own version of success. Sophia’s story is a reminder that no obstacle should dissuade you, because with determination and a never-say-die attitude, you, too, can carve your road to greatness.

One Believer Is All It Takes

Religions or belief systems frequently require large numbers of believers, possibly in the thousands or even millions, to create a major presence or following. However, the mechanics of business are refreshingly different – you only need one believer, and that believer is none other than yourself!

Consider the following scenario: you come upon a piece of vintage designer clothing for $8 and decide to resell it for several hundred dollars. There will definitely be others who challenge your sanity, put doubt on your vision, and try to drag it down like an anchor. What truly matters as an entrepreneur, though, is your unflinching belief in that vision and your desire to carry it out, regardless of the skeptics and their opposing views. I’ve done it dozens of times.

Sure, someone might argue you’re going off the deep end, questioning the accepted standards of purchasing and selling. But keep in mind that some of the most innovative business concepts have emerged in unexpected ways. Consider the innovators who began with a garage and a vision, such as Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Their bold trust in their own vision finally transformed the technology industry.

At its foundation, entrepreneurship is about believing in yourself and your vision when others may not. It’s about seeing chances that others miss and having the bravery to take advantage of them. It’s about charting your own path, even when it appears to be unexplored land.

“What about the customers?” you may be wondering. That’s the allure of the business world. Customers that share your vision, value your product or service, and are prepared to spend in it will always be there if you efficiently target and reach the right demographic. You don’t need a swarm of followers; you just need to connect with the right people who are interested in what you’re offering.

Entrepreneurs who dare to be different, who trust their own instincts, and who relentlessly pursue their objectives are frequently the ones who leave the most lasting imprints on the big fabric of business. So embrace your belief in your idea, tune out the naysayers (as Arnold would say), and march forward with the conviction that your entrepreneurial path is powered by your believe in yourself and your ability to make a difference in the business world.

Knowledge, Knowledge, Knowledge

I can’t stress this enough: the pursuit of continuous education, in its fullest sense, is a lifelong commitment that applies to each and every one of us. It is not a one-time event; rather, it is an ongoing journey. This notion is equally applicable in the corporate sector.

Allow me to emphasize a critical concept here: the knowledge gap. The savvy mind behind Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, understands this concept like few others. She recognized the significance of knowing where and how to find one-of-a-kind products that her customers couldn’t easily find elsewhere. This strong awareness offered her a significant edge because it allowed her to offer these sought-after things to her clients at a profit.

Let’s take a closer look at this. Customers, at their heart, are obsessed with convenience. If you can make their lives easier, if you can close the gap between what they want and where they can obtain it, they will not only appreciate your efforts, but they will be prepared to pay for that convenience in the long run.

Consider this: if you can give a solution or a product that people cannot readily obtain on their own, you become the bridge that connects their desires with reality. This elevates you to a position of worth and trust.

To constantly perform in this capacity, however, you must never disregard the “knowledge gap.” Always be on the lookout for new insights, innovative methods to meeting client demands, and fresh approaches to delivering solutions. The business world is constantly changing, and what works today may not work tomorrow.

You’ll be more positioned to identify and exploit knowledge gaps if you’re always educating yourself, keeping up with market trends, and looking for opportunities to expand your expertise. This portrays you not only as a product or service provider, but also as a problem solver and source of ease for your customers.

So, remember to embrace the idea that learning never ceases, in both your personal journey and your entrepreneurial activities. Opportunities lurk in the knowledge gap, waiting to be recognized and capitalized on. Sophia Amoruso’s success with Nasty Gal exemplifies this notion, and it serves as a compelling reminder to never overlook the “knowledge gap” in your own route to success.

Now will this post make you go out and start your own business. Maybe. Perhaps not.

Entrepreneurs are a different breed altogether. Not everyone is an entrepreneur. Not everyone can be a leader. Not all of us are meant to save lives being doctors. To some, things come easier than to others, but the above four areas in my opinion can be learned! All it requires is a different way of thinking about taking a chance and executing on your vision and passions. Conquer and crush limits!

Make it happen.