As a small business advocate, I'm often asked whether one needs to have lots of money to start a business. My response: start with what you have. This was the mentality of Sarah Breedlove. Born to former slaves in 1867, Sarah was orphaned as a child and made a living with her older sister in the cotton fields of rural Louisiana.
Toward the turn of the century, she began experimenting with ingredients in an effort to counter a scalp condition that was causing her to lose her hair. Soon after, she launched a line of hair care products, starting with Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower. The story of how she grew that line to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history is nothing short of miraculous. Here are 3 things she did consistently to lead her business to success.
1. She Was Her Own Best Asset. Madam Walker couldn't afford models, so rather than despair about how she couldn't compete, she dug her heels in and put photos of herself on her products.
2. She Cloned Herself. Madam Walker duplicated herself by training agents to use her products and sell them to others. Eventually, she organized women into state and local chapters, making it easier for her to sell her products around the globe, while her sales agents improved their standard of living.
3. She Helped Others. Not only did Madam Walker live comfortably as a millionaire, she also helped others, including providing scholarships for black students nationwide. She also protested the segregation of military troops and lobbied for civil rights for people of color.
Against nearly impossible odds, Madam CJ Walker took aim, fired, hit her mark and led herself, her business and her family to unprecedented heights. Her story teaches us that, as one dream leads to another, one opportunity leads to another as well, and that, by starting where we are with what we have, we can change our lives and the lives of others for the better. You can learn more about Madam CJ Walker at her official website.
Question: What simple things can you do today to make the most of what you have at your disposal right now?