fm Forbes.com Zine 29 May 15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
For the cover of Forbes’ inaugural Self-made Women issue, we profiled movie-star-turned-mogul, millennial Jessica Alba. At just 34 years old, she’s built her Honest Company into a $1B household products empire, raking in $150M in revenues in 2014 and with a public offering on the horizon. Alba’s stake in the company she conceived in her kitchen in 2008, gives her a net worth of some $200M, making her one of Hollywood’s richest actresses — and she’s just getting started. As always with these sorts of profiles, some of Alba’s words of wisdom didn’t make it through the editing process. Here are the top lessons for “would-be” entrepreneurs:
1. Refine your Idea. When Alba first decided to seek out a business partner, she approached web entrepreneur Brian Lee, a friend of her husband, who’d successfully launched LegalZoom.com & ShoeDazzle.com. Her problem: she had ideas, just lots of them, and hadn’t narrowed down her focus to a single one. She wanted to create a whole universe of non-toxic products — maybe even apparel — and hadn’t settled on diapers & wipes as the door into a shopper’s home.
2. Keep it Short & Simple. “When I first pitched Lee, I had a 50-page deck that was really too much – even for me,” she says. 18 months later, and she met Lee with a concise, 10-page PowerPoint – honed to reflect a much more succinct brand identity & offering” says Alba, “and Lee got it.”
3. Learn your Strengths. Alba knows her strengths when it comes to The Honest Company. “I really love the marketing & the design aspect,” she says. “plus the overall brand vision. That’s where I have my hands in the most.”
4. Hire your Weaknesses. Her company co-founders come with a variety of experience Alba herself doesn’t have and she isn’t ashamed to admit it. There’s Lee, with his Dot.com success stories; Christopher Gavigan, one-time head of non-profit Healthy Child, Healthy World. He has years spent in environmental activism; & finally Sean Kane, a longtime executive at discount retailer PriceGrabber.com, handling operations. If you’re not the smartest person in the room, find them, hire them.
5. Don’t “rush” to Market. The Honest Company now has 120 products on sale, but they’ve been meticulous about expanding the line, knowing a brand can become diluted, if they expand too quickly. Alba says the company’s feminine care line launching in July, has been 1.5 yrs in the making. “Finding the right manufacturer, making the product for the first time, then testing it – was all challenging,” she says. “We listened to our Customers, when they told us what they wanted and now it has a wide acceptance.“
6. You don’t have to Spend BiG on Advertising or Marketing. Of course, Alba knows her celebrity has been a factor in the success of The Honest Company: she’s been both a co-founder and the spokesman, “trying to tell my story – where ever it will have the greatest effect,” as she put it. But Alba & her team have always taken advantage of relatively inexpensive marketing tools, like Facebook, vs big national campaigns. “We’re still quite scrappy, and we’re tight with money,” she says. She knows nothing works as well as word of mouth from friends & peers when marketing to Millennial moms. If a product doesn’t work, they won’t buy it, they won’t recommend it & they may even bad-mouth it.
7. You can help solve ‘Non-profit’ problems with a “For-profit model. Alba has lobbied for the overhaul of chemical testing regulations more than once. She remains frustrated that the legislation in place — the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act — allows for 80,000 chemicals to remain in household products untested. But she knows she can make more of a tangible difference with The Honest Company than she ever could knocking on doors in Washington, D.C. “I looked at a social injustice that was a reality. I tackled it where I could have tackled it I- n a pretty conventional non-profit manner,” she says. “I went about it in creating a For-profit business around a Non-profit model. I just felt like it would be a more sustainable way to address the issue. If government isn’t going to change what they regulate & operate, giving people a real viable option and letting them vote with their dollars, is pretty strong.”
Comments: Do you have anything you could add to these Tips?